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Plans for new east Santa Rosa 7-Eleven store with gas pumps run into opposition

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.”

The project’s timing is unclear. 7-Eleven needs approval to demolish or build anything on the site, according to a review of current city documents.

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.

He noted that the city has asked 7-Eleven to assess the project’s impacts on traffic, noise, air quality and cultural resources - a review which the company has yet to provide.

“We’re not there yet,” Ross said of 7-Eleven’s application.

The store shares a fence with a 100-year-old home, occupied by a family who would have to leave if the project proceeds.

They did not wish to speak publicly about the project or their potential eviction.

The anti-gas station movement, working under the banner of the Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations, previously scuttled an attempt to install fuel pumps at the intersection of Highway 116 and Stony Point Road west of Santa Rosa.

A separate effort prevented Safeway from putting in gas pumps in Petaluma, Hastings said Monday. He noted that Chevron already has a gas station across Middle Rincon Road from the 7-Eleven.

“There’s no case to be made that this is needed,” Hastings said.

You can reach Staff Writer Will Schmitt at 707-521-5207 or will.schmitt@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @wsreports.

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