Letters to the Editor


Cuddle Positive

I attended a cuddle party in Sebastopol last month, and had an incredible experience there. I was disappointed in the recent article you published about these events (“Group Grope,” Feb. 10), since it sounded like the author had made up her mind long before she even attended the event. Maybe it’s my age or the location that made the difference, but I found this event to be incredibly nurturing, safe and a wonderful way to fill my tactile reservoir since I am choosing not to date for a while. I urge your readers to check it out for themselves and make up their own minds.


Santa Rosa

Spot Zoning is illegal

Apparently I am being given a choice: I can be a NIMBY who opposes the Best Family Investors LLC’s plan to build a grape-processing factory nearly as big as a football field in my backyard, or I can be a fool who does nothing while the county rewrites the laws of the land to allow it to happen. This facility will replace an apple orchard that runs along Highway 116 from Occidental Road to Atkinson Road just north of Sebastopol.

But guess what? When even a dolt like me begins to read the documents, he can see that this is completely inconsistent with Sonoma County’s newly revised general plan. The land-use designation of this site is rural residential, which absolutely prohibits a project of this nature.

Instead of using the existing laws of the land to protect the rights of the individual, the county can choose to amend the general plan and change the land-use designation to diverse ag (DA), thereby stripping away these rights and protections.

But the two parcels still can not be changed to DA, because even combined, they fall 2.4 acres short of the county’s required 10-acre minimum for DA zoning.

Yet it looks like the county can just amend the general plan again and create a special policy for the Best Family Investors so they won’t have to meet the county’s requirement of 10 acres.

Bottom line: the parcels do not have the proper zoning. Rezoning this land would create an island of DA zoning that does not border and is not adjacent to any other DA parcel. Spot zoning is illegal. This project would create all the resentment, frustration and conflict that occurs when government grants special privileges to one property owner without extending these privileges to the surrounding parcels.

Apparently even if something looks like spot zoning, walks like spot zoning and talks like spot zoning, we can all just pretend that it is not spot zoning. How the heck am I going to sleep with a processing plant operating 24/7?

The applicants need to file a mitigated negative declaration. There’s a mouthful I wish I never had to chew on. This MND is a checklist filled out by the applicant which asserts that the project will not cause a potentially significant impact on aesthetics, noise, traffic, water, scenic resources, land use, zoning and a dozen other factors. If even one of these factors could have a potentially significant impact that can not be mitigated, an environmental impact report is required. Surely any rational person would agree that replacing an apple orchard with a 33,000-square-foot production facility, a 5,000-square-foot tasting room, a two-lane road and three parking lots would create at least one potentially significant impact that cannot be mitigated by such measures as planting shrubs and painting buildings brown. Right? Wrong. The Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department says that no EIR is required.

Enough is enough!

It’s up to us to stop this encroachment of commercial development into our residential neighborhoods. Email, write and talk to your county supervisors. Attend the public hearing at the Board of Supervisors on March 2 at 2:10 pm. 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa. Do not allow them to turn the scenic corridor north of Sebastopol into an industrial park.

Thomas Morabito