September 17, 2021
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Sebastopol takes next step in gas station ban and considers improvements to hazardous intersections

By: Albert Gregory
August 6, 2021

Sebastopol progressed towards banning gas stations, joining the city of Petaluma to curb fossil fuel consumption, at the city council meeting Aug. 3 over Zoom. Additionally, the city council reviewed the second phase of its traffic corridor study, which found improvements to crosswalks and sidewalks are recommended.

The Sonoma County Transportation Authority and the Regional Climate Protection Agency adopted a climate mobilization strategy that includes asking local jurisdictions to consider prohibiting new gas station land use within each city’s limits.

Petaluma became the first city in the country to put a moratorium on new gas stations. Later, Petaluma adopted a permanent ban on March 1, 2021. Cities like Santa Rosa and Cotati have further considered gas station bans.

With all five city council members in attendance at its meeting Wednesday, Sebastopol has taken the next step in implanting the ban by directing the city’s Planning Commission and Climate Action Committee to review the gas station ban.

“I don’t want to see us building more gas stations in our city, but the other thing that I think is even more important is that they not put gas stations between cities,” said Mayor Una Glass.

Also, at Wednesday’s meeting, the council reviewed the second phase of the traffic corridor study at critical intersections in Sebastopol along SR 116. 

 On Nov. 13, 2018, Sebastopol approved the study by W-Trans, traffic engineering consultants, and on March 3, 2020, the council reviewed phase 1 of the study.

The study’s findings from phase 2 focused on concept designs and cost estimates for locations that need traffic improvements.

“When we look at the work and the recommendations, I think it’s pretty clear that road needs these upgrades. There is no one I would eliminate, really. They’re all really important for safety,” said Vice Mayor Sarah Gurney.

The study report found that the critical intersections that need improvement were at South Main St. and Burnett St., where they suggest installing curb extensions, double-sided pedestrian-activated flashings signs and warning beacons due to high collision rates.  At Petaluma Ave. and McKinley St., the study also suggests installing the double-sided signs.

For the intersection of Petaluma Ave. and Depot St., the report presented three options. The first would be changing Depot St. to a one-way street running eastbound. The two other options would eliminate the Depot St. crosswalk and channel pedestrian traffic to alternative crosswalks on Sebastopol Ave., McKinley St. or a new midblock crosswalk.

The study also suggested new enhanced crosswalks be installed at Gravenstein Hwy. and Fellers Lane and Gravenstein Hwy. and Fircrest Ave.

The report also proposed eliminating sidewalk gaps along SR 116 and recommended new concrete curbs, gutters and sidewalks be constructed where necessary.

Lastly, it recommended either a roundabout or a traffic signal be installed at the intersection of Healdsburg Ave. and Covert Lane, which experiences the highest traffic flow at peak hours of the critical intersections. Steve Weinberger, a founding principal at W-Trans, estimated the signal would cost less than $1 million and that the roundabout would be over $3 million.

“I’m all-in favor of that roundabout. I think what that does for traffic calming is enormous. It marks an entry to a city; it slows traffic; it calms traffic; it’s the safer way to go. I know it’s two or three times more expensive; we need to figure out how to make that happen because I think the benefits of that roundabout are immeasurable and significant,” said councilmember Patrick Slayter. Mayor Glass, Vice Mayor Gurney and Council member Neysa Hinton joined in Slayter's support of the roundabout.