Gas station proposals: One down, two to go

Woody Hastings & Jenny BlakerSonoma Group members

In early May the Redwood Chapter leadership agreed unanimously to oppose the mega-gas station proposal at Gravenstein Highway (116) and Stony Point Road based on a long list of environmental and other concerns. On June 25, many Club members and other Sonoma County residents attended a public meeting on the project in Cotati and forcefully voiced their opposition. On July 8, the developers withdrew their application.

While we celebrate that victory, we remain concerned about the fate of the David v. Goliath struggle between local residents and Safeway over the recently permitted gas station in Petaluma, which is now in the courts.

Yet another gas station proposal, at Llano Road and Highway 12, is wending its way through the County’s permitting process. This one is in unincorporated Sonoma County, just east of Sebastopol, in the middle of the Laguna de Santa Rosa with gasoline fueling, carwash, and minimart, all on a well. The applicant has made no case that this project is necessary; because it is not necessary. There are 7 stations within a 5-mile radius of the project address, 5300 Sebastopol Road.

The new location is a rural area with historically agricultural and rural residential uses and the project is in conflict with countywide commitment to city-centered growth. There are significant concerns about traffic congestion and adjacency to the Joe Rodota trail. The project location is in a priority groundwater basin and underground fuel storage tanks are always at risk of leaking, and the site is within California tiger salamander critical habitat.

Sonoma County has a well-established record of commitments in response to the climate crisis stretching back to 2002. Now it is 2019 and in Sonoma County we are facing new gasoline station proposals. How is this possible in a County with such a commitment to responding to the climate crisis? Permitting new gasoline stations makes a mockery of these past efforts. The rules need to be changed.

Here is where to send your comments:

The Highway 12/Llano Road proposal will next be considered at the Board of Zoning Adjustments. It could come up as soon as August 8. Send Comments to staff: Daniel Hoffman and and copy your County Supervisor and Supervisor Lynda Hopkins of District 5, where the project is located:

For more info visit:

Woody Hastings is a long-time member of the Sierra Club and lives in Sebastopol. He can be reached at woodyhastings [at]

Jenny Blaker, a resident of Cotati, is a Sierra Club life member.