All Posts: gas stations

Activists protest plans for gas pumps at new Rincon Valley 7-Eleven


The Santa Rosa Planning Commission will need to approve the company’s plans before any work on the project can occur and has not put 7-Eleven’s proposal on an agenda, said city planner Adam Ross.

7-Eleven’s plan to demolish one of its east Santa Rosa stores and several surrounding buildings to build a sleek new convenience store and add gas pumps has sparked opposition from activists who oppose new fossil fuel outlets in Sonoma County.

Texas-based 7-Eleven aims to replace the existing shop at Highway 12 and Middle Rincon Road with a new 24-hour convenience store and at least six gas pumps, according to an application filed with Santa Rosa planning officials.

Designs call for demolishing the store, a martial arts studio and at least one adjacent home, forcing longtime tenants to find another place to live.

To local climate activist Woody Hastings it doesn’t make sense to displace a family to make way for fuel pumps, noting that the Santa Rosa City Council weeks ago formally declared a climate crisis.

“If we’re going to extricate ourselves from the fossil world, we’ve got to start now,” said Hastings, who was leading about two dozen protesters outside the 7-Eleven on Monday. They held signs and chanted their opposition to the proposal.

7-Eleven in 2017 bought a chunk of land surrounding its store including an adjacent house occupied by a family. Company officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the redevelopment plans. 7-Eleven has more than 70,000 stores worldwide and 11 in the Santa Rosa area.

The company plans to hold another neighborhood meeting to “address concerns,” said Kim Barnett, director of national programs for Tait & Associates, a Rancho Cordova-based firm working with 7-Eleven on the development of the new store and gas station, in an email. She did not provide a date for the meeting.

Barnett described the Rincon Valley project as “a state of the art 7-Eleven” with “fresh foods,” featuring charging stations for electric vehicles and solar power. Though plans call for a car wash, Barnett said “there will be not be a car wash.”


Petaluma city council votes for moratorium for future gas stations

On Monday, the Petaluma City Council voted unanimously to approve Item 4b, the Moratorium on Approval of Applications for New Gas Station Users as written. Safeway asked that specific wording excepting the Safeway Gas Station be approved and D’Lynda Fischer made a motion to amend, but the other council members did not support the amendment. The Moratorium only prohibits future gas stations.

How a 2014 Petaluma moratorium on gas stations failed

Some history to the gas station debate in Petaluma:

Temporary ban on Petaluma gas stations fails

Lori Carter, The Press Democrat
March 4, 2014

The Petaluma City Council on Monday night rejected a proposed moratorium on gas stations that would have prohibited Safeway from building a fueling station in front of its North McDowell Boulevard store.

A temporary urgency ordinance – commonly called a moratorium – would have required the approval of six of seven council members.

As council members began discussing the issue, it soon became clear that Councilman Mike Healy, who sought the moratorium, wouldn’t even get a majority on his side. In a straw vote, only Healy, Gabe Kearney and Kathy Miller supported a 45-day ban to buy the council time to craft tighter regulations on gas stations.

“We should just follow the process we already have in place,” said Councilman Mike Harris, saying businesses should be able to rely on existing rules when they “make investments in our community.”

Councilwoman Teresa Barrett was conflicted in her vote. She said she opposes the gas station project on whole, but doesn’t support blanket bans.

“I don’t like moratoriums in general,” she said. “I could support some for legitimate, really serious reasons…This is sort of designer legislation: ‘We don’t like this project, so what can we do to make it go away?’ That’s just not right.”

Issues like air quality, noise, light, traffic and safety near school zones can be handled through the normal planning and environmental review, Planning Manager Heather Hines said.

Safeway applied in July to build a gas station at the front of the Washington Square Shopping Center, where a gas station is permitted by existing zoning.

Initially, other gas station owners in town voiced opposition to the plan out of fear that Safeway would sell below-cost gasoline or offer deep discounts to grocery club shoppers. Later, nearby residents and others concerned about air quality and traffic congestion also voiced opposition.

Meanwhile, Safeway gathered support from its shoppers and motorists who welcome additional competition in Petaluma’s gasoline market.

A lawfirm representing Safeway wrote a strongly worded 16-page letter arguing that a temporary ban on its existing application wouldn’t pass legal muster.

Safeway, which has operated a grocery store in Petaluma since 1929, proposes a station with eight double-sided fuel pumps under a canopy, with a charging station or electric vehicles.

The company said it will generate about $400,000 in new tax revenue for the city, although the basis for that estimate was unclear.

Healy proposed a moratorium on gas stations because of what he characterized as unfair competition Safeway would create for other gas station operators and other grocers. He wanted the council to temporarily ban all gas stations – although Safeway is the only application being processed – so the council could consider tighter regulations.

While the temporary ban failed, the project itself still must go through the planning process at the Planning Commission. Decisions there can be appealed to the council.

Several council members said they would be interested in fine-tuning the city’s regulations on gas stations or on air quality rules in general.

Longer-term options could include prohibiting all new gas stations, requiring new stations to have a conditional use permit, limiting the number of pumps at new stations or expanding the definition of “gas station” to address specific project impacts.