With its hip scooter vibe and emphasis on alternative transportation, Revolution Moto was viewed by many as the type of business downtown Santa Rosa needs to help kick-start its buttoned-up reputation.
But a series of disputes between city officials and shop owners Roy and Johnna Gattinella have led the couple to announce that they are shutting the store on the corner of 5th and D Streets and moving to another location.
Depending on who is asked, Revolution Moto's departure from downtown after six years is either a relatively minor dust-up over a permit issue, or a bellwether of what some say is the city's inability to meet its own stated goals of attracting unique businesses to its central hub.
Councilwoman Jane Bender, who has been privy to efforts to try and resolve the disputes between the city and the Gattinellas, suggested city ordinances may need to be rethought to accommodate a business like Revolution Moto in the downtown area.
"From my own perspective, I wish we could have kept them and I said that in the meetings," said Bender, who owns a scooter she purchased from the shop. "I would have bent over backwards to keep them."
In a letter to their property manager, however, the Gattinellas said scrutiny from Santa Rosa's parking and code enforcement divisions, as well as from outgoing City Manager Jeff Kolin, amounted to a "hostile campaign to remove us from your building from day one."
Kolin, who has accepted the job of city manager in Beverly Hills, did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment.
In an interview at their shop, the couple described numerous occasions over the years when city employees arrived unannounced at the shop to take photos of suspected code enforcement or parking violations, which centered on scooters parked outside the store.
"Every time they came it cleaned out our shop because it made us look like we were an illicit business," said Roy Gattinella, a part-time business instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College.
The couple also have not shied away from criticizing city officials for ideas to extend meter hours and for raising parking rates downtown, or for what they perceive as general anti-scooter sentiment.