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Granary to close; planning commission battle; new theatre piece and more

Posted on April 20, 2017 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Paul Grant will soon close The Granary on Eighth Street East, the pet supply and feed store that’s been in business nearly 50 years. He bought the store 10 years ago after a career in the wine industry, and for awhile did well selling a rural mix of quality and bulk pet food, chickens, bird seed and the like. Club stores and the internet began to take their toll, and then Pet Food Express moved into town. His sales immediately dropped by a third. The slide continues, as the ‘Shop Sonoma’ sentiment morphs into ‘Save Money Somewhere Else.’ Not to say Grant doesn’t have loyal customers, and he’s gratified by the friends he’s made over the years. He’ll start clearing the place with a big close-out sale starting this weekend, April 22-23. You’ll see him around town, at Moose and Sons of Italy meetings and events, but he’s got something important to do first. “I’m going fishing,” he says, with a dreamy smile… A shifting customer base with an online-first mentality — it’s a scary reality confronting small retailers throughout the Valley, where even a 50-year track record means less than a dot-com deal with free delivery. Delivery driver, maybe that’s the smart career move. Or drone repair.

In a break of traditional protocol, the Sonoma City Council voted not to name Mayor Rachel Hundley’s pick to the planning commission. Usually, the choice of the council sub-committee – comprised of the mayor and one other councilmember, in this case Amy Harrington – gets quick approval. Not so with Lynda Carrado, whose nomination was rebuffed by Councilmembers Agrimonti, Cook and Edwards. The council did agree it was time to review the suddenly acrimonious nomination procedure; a staff report on options will be prepared… Is the Planning Commission too political? It sounds like Harrington thinks so, particularly in light of heavy pressure from backers of the First Street East hotel/housing project. The city was threatened with a lawsuit, she said, “if we do not force specific commissioners to step down or recuse themselves from hearing their projects. (Proponents) have also insisted they have input over who gets selected to update our General Plan.” But, she maintains, “We can’t have any single interest group determine who our commissioners are or who will make these decisions.”

When Sonoma Arts Live Executive Artistic Director Jaime Love read James Jandak Wood’s new play, she couldn’t put it down. The company produced his “A Modern Encounter” two seasons ago. Now the Sonoma-based playwright was sneak-peeking his latest work, “The Chaotic Art of Life.” The witty, educated dialogue just leapt off the page, she recalls. “It felt like it had been written by Neil Simon’s hipper, edgier little brother.” The premiere run opens April 21; see page 23 for more.

Not that you wouldn’t hang up on PG&E anyway, but here’s the latest best reason to ignore them. Grifters posing as PG&E customer service reps call and asking for payment information over the phone, to include your bank and credit card info. Related identity-theft scams: Email scammers sending “phishing” emails to PG&E customers, asking them to make a payment online, and even fake PG&E workers going door-to-door in PG&E’s service territory to gain entry to homes.

Now that the rain has stopped (hasn’t it?) the figures on sewage overflows are really starting to smell. The season’s heavy rains at times overwhelmed the collection system, causing major overflows of raw sewage. Mixed with rainwater, 744,780 gallons of waste escaped through manhole covers, eventually draining onto streets and into creeks, according to a state Sanitary Sewer Overflow report. The problem spots: 372,180 gallons released near Fetter Hot Springs; and 372,600 gallons near Verano Avenue to Sonoma’s east side. The total number of gallons would fill about 37 in-ground swimming pools.

— Val Robichaud

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