Sherman R. Frederick
It was a night of a variant of NIMBY-ism that might be called NIYBY –“not in YOUR back yard.”
People predominantly from outside of Novato told Novato City County to vote down a request from Costco to build a gas station next to its store at the Vintage Oaks shopping center in Novato.
NIYBY-ers urged the council to do as Petaluma has done (Novato’s neighbor to the north) and ban new fossil fuel gas stations to facilitate pricier gasoline and hasten the age of electric vehicles.
The plea failed, but the Novato City Council approved the Costco gas station with the stipulation that 10 EV charging stations also be added.
The battle at the March 9 Council meeting featured a lengthy public hearing. People were asked to give their name and declare where they are from to speak. Many of the out-of-town speakers bridled about being asked to name their home city because they saw this as a regional and global issue.
One woman from San Francisco said: “To those of you who think that people outside of Novato should not comment, I want to say that I don’t want to spend my Tuesday commenting on a neighbor’s city council meeting.”
Here’s how the argument broke down by the Novato Advance’s unofficial count:
— 47 people spoke at the public hearing.
— 25 hailed from cities outside of Novato. All were against the gas station.
— 22 were from Novato, 11 against, 11 for.
Susanna from San Anselmo captured the angst of those opposed to the project when she said: “There is a high price for cheap gas. A cheap gas station will encourage people to buy gas cars. Gas cars bought today will have little value in 5 years.”
Members of the Novato Chamber of Commerce argued for the approval of the gas station because it will add revenue to the city’s tax base, which has been crippled by the government shutdown related to COVID-19. Costco has said that if the gas station is approved they will sign a 20-year extension on their Vintage Oaks lease.
“This is a good thing for Novato,” one board member of the Novato Chamber told the council.
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