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Windsor exploring ban on new gas stations, gas infrastructure

Brandon McCapes, SOCONEWS

The Town of Windsor will soon join the City of Petaluma in banning new gas station infrastructure, following a recommendation by the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA).

At their Nov. 3 meeting, the town council voted unanimously to direct planning staff to explore a ban, which would not affect current gas stations, but only prevent the establishment of fueling stations providing fossil fuels, or adding to the number of fuel pumps at existing stations.

Kim Voge, a planner from the community development department, said that, following Petaluma’s ban in March of this year, the RCPA has been recommending all jurisdictions in Sonoma County follow suit.

The Town of Windsor declared a climate emergency in September 2019, and the general plan includes policies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and achieve net zero emissions.

Currently, Windsor allows gas stations in three zoning districts (community commercial, service commercial and gateway commercial), requiring a use permit; the ban would be implemented by removing gas stations from the zoning ordinance, making all gas stations “non-conforming.”

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Draft ordinance moves ahead to block new gas stations throughout Sonoma County

Woody Hastings, SIERRA CLUB SONOMA GROUP

The Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) has stepped up. On July 12, the RCPA board, consisting of representatives from each city council within Sonoma County and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, agreed unanimously to direct RCPA staff to draft a resolution urging each of its member jurisdictions to adopt its own ordinance prohibiting the permitting or construction of new gasoline stations.

The resolution, to include a model ordinance, guidance, and options for each city to consider, will be presented at the next RCPA board meeting on Sept. 13.

View the July 12 meeting recording HERE. (passcode: BOARD-scta07.12.21). The gas station item 4.6 begins at the 1:49:30 mark, about two-thirds of the way through the meeting. The powerpoint and other materials can be found HERE.

Here is the update on Sonoma County local governments taking up the issue:

Santa Rosa: A draft ordinance is in the works and will be reviewed in August at the Santa Rosa Climate Action Subcommittee before going to the Planning Commission and then full city council, probably some time in September or October.

Cotati: In response to citizen action, city staff is working on a draft ordinance to be brought to city council later this summer, early fall.

Sebastopol: On July 14 the Sebastopol Climate Action Committee held its first discussion of an ordinance prohibiting new gasoline stations to be placed on the city council’s agenda. The SCAC runs all its proposals through an equity assessment. The assessment will accompany the recommendation to the city council. The city’s planning director is drafting an ordinance to be reviewed by the SCAC prior to going to the planning commission and then city council. The plan is to wait until after the RCPA issues its guidance and adopt an ordinance that is consistent with the RCPA guidance.

How about your city? If you live in Rohnert Park, Windsor, Healdsburg, Cloverdale, or Sonoma, get the ball rolling! Contact us to see how you can help.

Sonoma County. Although each supervisor states that they support a prohibition, they have taken no action. This is despite the fact that the Coalition Against New Gas Stations (CONGAS) delivered a presentation to the board of supervisors in a Climate Action Town Hall meeting on April 6, leading to a May 11 Board Climate Action Workshop where all the supervisors continued to express support for a new gasoline station prohibition. But to date, the board has not acted. Please contact your supervisor and urge them to stop talking about it and start doing something about it.
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Do we actually need more gas stations?

Bill McKibben, THE NEW YORKER, The Climate Crisis Newsletter

If we’re really going to change, sooner or later we’ll have to actually make a change

The latest front in the fight against fossil fuels—so far, one confined to a couple of California towns—concerns what might be the most iconic element of the American commercial landscape: the gas station. Beginning in 2019, activists from the Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations have questioned whether there’s a need for big new versions of the filling station, or whether—since both California and G.M. have announced plans to end the sale of new internal-combustion vehicles in fourteen years—it might be time to decide that we have enough pumps already. Last year, they helped persuade developers to withdraw plans for two gas stations in unincorporated parts of Sonoma County, and earlier this month they helped convince the city of Petaluma to become the first in the country to ban new stations; they’ve so far lost a battle against a “mega station” that would accommodate up to twenty-eight vehicles at a time in the city of Novato, but they vow to keep fighting.

It will be a tough battle in Novato, because the opponent is not some mom-and-pop garage but Costco, the vast—and vastly successful—warehouse-store chain. Costco’s model is enormous volume allowing cheap prices. The company’s public image is sterling, because it offers employees fair wages and generous benefits (one looks forward to the day when this will not stand out enough to be a boast), but its practices are beginning to come under scrutiny: Nicholas Kristof describes in the Times precisely what practices are behind the production of a $4.99 rotisserie chicken.

Read more at https://link.newyorker.com/view/5be9d06e3f92a40469e05fc8dvqy7.cjl/1a3118b7