Sebastopol Citizens

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Occupy Sebastopol

March 11, 2013 - Read John Necker's letter to the editor at the PD under the title "Plaza: Unoccupied."

March 5, 2013 - City Council Meeting - among the results and actions, Occupy Sebastopol announces they will remove their tent by April 8. Read David Abbott's story in the Sonoma West. And read John Necker's meeting notes.

Jan 31, 2013 - Is it time for the tent to vacate the town square? Click here to read David Abbott's front-page Sonoma West article To tent or not to tent: ‘Occupation,’ eyesore or free speech?

Plus, Abbott interviews John Necker in this story Local group wants space to distribute political material, in which Necker makes the case for Sebastopol Citizens to place their own tent on the City Plaza.

Dec 6, 2011 - City Council passes resolution in support of the Occupy Movement by 4-0 vote (Councilmember Shaffer absent), read Bob Norberg's PD story.

Nov 22, 2011 - The PD reports that the "occupy" part of the protest has ended, in fulfillment of the agreement with the City last week, read Bob Norberg's story.

Nov 17, 2011 - A third Special Meeting is held. The permit application submitted was not signed and had other omissions that made it unacceptable to the city (PD story). A compromise planwas presented by Occupy that would keep a presence at the square, but eliminate overnight camping. Council found the plan to be acceptable, but all must await approval from Occupy for the plan, since Occupy has not yet voted on this plan. Expectation is that it will be approved, and that overnight camping will cease by Monday, 11/21. Story at the PD...

More details from SC:
After an over three hour special meeting, the City Council and an element of the Occupy Sebastopol group produced plans that they felt would reduce "...unnecessary friction.." between the two bodies. There was significant discussion around the issues of first ammendment rights, any limits that can be applied to those rights, and the challenges of and interaction with existing City and State law. Nearly everyone present, including the Council members, supported the message of the Occupy movement. The method of expression (occupation, overnight camping) is what needs to be addressed, and is the reason for multiple Council meetings on the topic.

Although as of 10:00pm on the 17th it had yet to be ratified by all members of the Occupy Sebastopol group, when pressed by Council Member Shaffer, they acknowledged it was their good faith intent to adhere to an "Occupy Sebastopol Peacetown Compromise" they had produced that afternoon. Key elements include: A wish to avoid conflict while maintaining their right to free expression, to be allowed indefinitely "...a protest table, educational resources, and a tent enclosure to protect the area from the elements.."(a white pop up tent), and to form an "intergovernmental working group" that is recognized by the City Council as a "new citizens' advisory committee."

In return Occupy Sebastopol will "...disband all sleeping tents within 48 hours and agree not to have people sleep in the park." Also, they will "...continue to obey all applicable park regulations, and not interfere in any way with the normal community uses for this park."

The City Council was supportive of the proposal, and agreed to allowing the pop up tent (10' x10') with three tables providing it wasn't occupied from 10:00pm to 6:00am, the hours that the park is closed. The sidewalk and the parking lot are not subject to those hours of operation and could be used for protest, but not the use of the tent. The pop up tent is to be removed for Sebastopol's tree lighting event on Thursday, December 1st, with adequate time for the setup and teardown for those fesitivities (24-36 hours). The encampment itself is to be removed by Monday, November 21st. Restrooms at the park will remain open 24/7 unless issues arise. The "citizens' advisory group" aspect of the proposal was left unresolved.

This all, of course, depends on Occupy Sebastopol affirming this with their voting process and not introducing new elements to the proposal.

Nov 15, 2011 - Council Meeting - permit application received at the Council Meeting, to be reviewed and acted upon by close of business the next day. Read more in Bob Norberg's story at the PD.

Nov 12, 2011 Protest continues, PD story. And on Nov 13, two men are arrested on outstanding warrants, PD story. And on Nov 15, a third arrest occurs, PD story.

Nov 9, 2011 - A second Special Meeting is held, pre-meeting story in PD. Protesters given until Tuesday to apply for a permit, read Bob Norberg's coverage in the PD.

Nov 3, 2011 - Special Meeting of City Council - was held to discuss impact of expected "Occupy Sebastopol" event on Nov 5.

Read Sam Scott's coverage in the PD, and the following notes from SC's John Necker:

City Manager: The City first became aware of a potential Occupy Sebastopol event last Tuesday. They have not been able to determine who is organizing it or how many people may participate.

The main areas of concern are the City ordinances that prohibit camping in City parks and the Plaza and the potential conflict with the permitted Farmers Market which takes place on the following Sunday, the 6th.

Current ordinances prohibit camping or using camping paraphernalia in the Plaza or parks which must be vacated between the hours of 11:00pm and 6:00am.

Council member Kyes suggested an alternative location might be acceptable-such as the Ives or Laguna Park or even the lawn at the police station. The City attorney and the City Manager both raised the issue of liability and setting a precedent that could apply to other unrelated events.

Both Council Member Shaffer and Slayter also expressed concern about the impact on businesses in the Plaza and the potential safety issues of the coming together of Occupy Sebastopol and those wishing to park in the Plaza.

The City Council, after discussion, decided the best approach would be to not interfere with the Occupy Sebastopol event as long as it didn't conflict with existing City ordinances particularly regarding camping and/or the Farmer's Market which has a permit to use the plaza the next day.

The Chief of Police felt that dialog and discretion would go a long way in avoiding any conflicts between any Occupy Sebastopol event and the police department.