The City of Sebastopol offers a program to help local businesses stay looking their best, with January and April application deadlines soon approaching.  

The facade improvement program looks to encourage local businesses and property owners to make improvements by providing a significant rebate for those who qualify, according to John Jay, an associate planner for the City of Sebastopol. 

“The intent of the program, which hasn't changed, is to help provide funding for some of our small-business owners to upgrade the look and just keep up the freshness of our businesses in town,” said Kari Svanstrom, the planning director for the City of Sebastopol.

The program started in 2005 and allows property owners of commercial and industrial buildings to make upgrades, maintenance and aesthetic enhancements to their property while receiving a reimbursement for 75 percent of the improvements, up to $2,500, according to Svanstrom.

“The funding for it comes out of the city’s general fund. And so, it's something that the council approves every year. And this year, we have $20,000. I believe that's what we've had the last couple of years,” Svanstrom, who added that they had at least seven applicants get approved last year, said. 

To qualify for the program, a building owner or a tenant with the owner’s permission can apply at sebastopol.ca.us. The first deadline to apply is Jan. 18, and the final deadline is April 19. 

“It used to be just rolling whenever throughout the year until, you know, first come first serve, until the funding ran out,” Svanstrom said. “Having that deadline has actually helped us advertise at specific times and get more responses because, you know, humans react to deadlines.”

The projects are subject to funding, but if approved by the planning department, and Sebastopol’s Design Review Board, it will provide a rebate for expenses on exterior property improvements such as painting, signage, awnings, lighting, irrigation and more. 

The program’s objective is to incentivize property owners to maintain and improve the physical appearance of landscapes and buildings. 

“I don’t think we’ve had any residential projects come in, and if it did, I mean those would more along the lines fall into like an apartment complex,” Jay said. 

The Design Review Board will hear the submitted applications first on Feb. 16 and then again on either May 4 or 18. All applications must be submitted at least two weeks in advance of the meetings. 

The program is not just restricted to downtown where much of the city’s businesses reside but any existing business in town, according to Svanstrom. 

For further information, contact Svanstrom at 707-823-6167 or ksvanstrom@cityofsebastopol.org.

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