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Subtle Subterfuge 

Not-so-Sustainable Sebastopol

Sebastopol, long known for its conscientious, progressive approach to sustainable growth, has become the target of a ruse by a new group calling itself Sustainable Sebastopol. This group of developers and investors are the "wolf in sheep's clothing," poised to make a fast return on shortsighted, high-impact developments like the proposed CVS/Chase project. It's no surprise that this group has endorsed city council candidates Kathy Austin and Kathleen Shaffer, both of whom have received consistently low marks on their environmental scorecards by Sonoma County Conservation Action, the county's oldest and largest conservation watchdog.

The campaign contribution reports, made public this month, show that development interests heavily funded both candidates' campaigns, Austin topping Shaffer's 34 percent with a whopping 57 percent! Included in this are contributions of $1,500 each from a Los Angeles real estate PAC.

In January of this year, long before the planning and review process was completed, Kathleen Shaffer revealed that she had already made a decision, through an email in which she stated she was "working under the radar" to get the CVS/Chase development project passed. Shaffer, now attempting to distance herself from her support of this problematic project, says she "supports the rule of law," a ridiculous cover that implies her fellow council members do not follow the law.

The original Sustainable Sebastopol, formed in 2001, was truly an environmentally conscious group. Several of its founders recently sent a letter to the editor of Sonoma West exposing this new Sustainable Sebastopol as pro-development and pro–CVS/Chase, with no regard for environmental or local concerns. Signees of the letter included four former Sebastopol mayors.

Looking at the members of this new Sustainable Sebastopol confirms that their definition of "sustainable" means sustaining the high-end lifestyles of big developers. Vote this Tuesday for your best interests, not that of big developers.

Una Glass is president of Sonoma County Conservation Action and a longtime resident of Sebastopol. Open Mic is a weekly op/ed feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution.

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