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Sebastopol planners recommend complete ban on drive-thrus

A complete ban on new drive-thru services in Sebastopol was recommended by the Planning Commission after two hours of debate Tuesday night.

The commission also voted to apply the ban to current projects that have not reached the stage of having a building permit and beginning construction, which would affect the controversial CVS Pharmacy-Chase Bank branch project.

It is seen as a way of making Sebastopol more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, preserving the downtown and reducing greenhouse gases.

"The explosion of drive-thrus has destroyed many small towns," Commissioner Yvette Williams van Aggelen said. "You don't interact with people, you don't interact with your neighbors."

The city already bans new drive-thru restaurants, but this will broaden the ban and put it into an ordinance that will come back to the commission.

The commission had taken up the subject at the request of the City Council, which had enacted an emergency moratorium to ban drive-thrus for a year to allow the issue to be studied.

Sebastopol resident Ted Luthin said drive-thrus particularly don't belong downtown, where there should be higher densities.

"The land in the core of the city is precious, too precious to give up to drive-thrus," Luthin said. "Put pedestrian experience at a higher value than vehicle experience."

The ban passed on a 5-2 vote, with commissioners Colin Doyle and Michael Jacob objecting.

Doyle said the issue is driveways, which should be eliminated as much as possible downtown, and not drive-thrus. He favored regulating drive-thrus by requiring use permits.

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