Feb 7, 2020
By Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations (CONGAS)
Sonoma County and Santa Rosa are in the throes of a serious affordable housing shortage, and both have recently declared a “climate emergency.” In Santa Rosa, 7-Eleven threatens to evict a family from their home of 35 years, demolishing a 100-year old house, in order to build a new gas station, car wash, and convenience store, that no one seems to want, creating the perfect storm, emblematic of the housing crisis and climate crisis in one place. Neighbors and a broad range of Sonoma County community groups and organizations strongly oppose this action.
“My family and I have lived here for a long time. We would like to be able to stay, and we arenot sure where we will go. We have known that 7-11 has had plans to develop this site, but we don’t understand why they need to evict us now. Breaking ground is still a long way off,” said Gretchen Carrigan, the resident facing a 60-day eviction order.
The Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations (CONGAS), a recently formed group whose mission is to stop the construction of new gas stations in Sonoma County and its nine cities, is currently opposing four proposed gas stations, as well as calling for a county-wide “pause” on the continued permitting of new gas stations in the face of the climate crisis until the old rules can be updated. This proposal is the latest in a string of proposed stations, but the one with the most immediately urgent human dimension.
The Sonoma County Tenants’ Union (SCTU) is also giving its support to this family and the other tenants facing eviction. This is another example of long time tenants being pushed out of their homes by greedy corporate landlords to improve their bottom line. The Sonoma County Tenants’ Union believes that housing is a basic human right and is committed to working with tenants in an effort to fight displacement and ensure strong tenant protections. This eviction is a clear cut case of profit over people.
“Sonoma County and Santa Rosa recently passed Climate Emergency Resolutions, Jenny Blaker of CONGAS says, “so why are they both continuing to permit new gas stations, facilitating the expansion of obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure, which threatens our collective future?” Currently CONGAS is opposing four separate proposals, each of which involves locating a new gas station, carwash, and convenience store in areas already surrounded by existing ones. One in Petaluma is in the courts (Safeway vs. Save Petaluma). Another is at 5300 Sebastopol Ave., in the unincorporated area of Sonoma County between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, at Hwy 12/Llano Road, in the Laguna de Santa Rosa and adjacent to the Joe Rodota trail. Another is in an undeveloped green open space with vernal pools and oak trees at Hwy 12/North Wright Stations within Santa Rosa city limits, and also adjacent to the Joe Rodota trail.
The latest and most urgent is at Hwy 12/43 Middle Rincon Road. Hwy 12, once known as a scenic highway, is rapidly becoming Gas Station Highway, with a string of gas stations at frequent intervals along it. Other site-specific issues at each of these range from traffic safety issues and congestion, to water quality (there are many leaking underground storage tanks already throughout the county, with the potential to create both surface and groundwater pollution). But most of all, in every site, neighbors say they have never had to queue for gas. The first question when people first hear about a new gas station proposal is usually, “Why? Aren’t there enough already? There’s an existing gas station (or several of them) just across the street/down the road. We don’t need another!”
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