Sebastopol Toxics Education Program (STEP)

City of Sebastopol Resolution &
Announcement Letter to Citizens

To go to the main STEP information page, click here.

City of Sebastopol Resolution








WHEREAS, the City of Sebastopol, in its efforts to make Sebastopol a more sustainable City; also wishes to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of chemical pesticides by its agencies; the business community and its residents; and

WHEREAS, the term "pesticide" is herein intended to included insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides; and

WHEREAS, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, no chemical pesticide can be considered totally safe even when used according to label instructions; and

WHEREAS, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effect of chemicals, including pesticides; and

WHEREAS, pesticides, non-biodegradable cleaning products and automobile additives can be toxic to living organisms, can remain in the environment for long periods, and can pollute surface and ground water; and

WHEREAS, pesticides have been linked to a wide range of human health conditions ranging from headaches, nausea, asthma and allergies to cancer, reproductive abnormalities, and hormone disruption; and

WHEREAS, the use of chemical pesticides can be markedly reduced by using an integrated pest management plan that relies primarily on mechanical, physical, cultural, and biological measures to control pests; and

WHEREAS, the basic principles of integrated pest management include prevention of pest problems, accurate identification of pests, using non-chemical interventions if possible or when necessary the least toxic pesticides, and monitoring pests and the effectiveness of pest control actions taken; and

WHEREAS, integrated pest management programs are an effective alternative to the use of chemical agents and serve to educate the public, staff, building occupants and others about this form of pest control; and

WHEREAS, the City of Sebastopol is committed to maintain its reputation as an environmentally conscious community by providing a safe and healthy environment for its residents and future generations; and

WHEREAS, the creation of a Voluntary Toxics-Free Zone within the City would involve educating the public regarding alternatives to pesticide use, and would serve to inspire and motivate businesses and residents to convert to environmentally safe maintenance practices and products.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Sebastopol that in order to facilitate and enhance the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens and visitors; rehabilitate and protect our precious natural resources such as the Laguna de Santa Rosa and its tributaries; and the economic viability of Sebastopol, we hereby declare the City to be a "Voluntary Toxics-Free Zone."

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Sebastopol City Council commits itself to the adoption of a Toxics-Free Zone Policies and Program of integrated pest management attached hereto as Exhibit "A", and directs the City Manager to appoint an Environmental Coordinator to collaborate with community members to design, implement and administer the Voluntary Toxics-Free Zone Program.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council hereby asks the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors to create a "Voluntary Toxics-Free Zone" for a distance of two miles around the City of Sebastopol.

ADOPTED BY COUNCIL on the 2nd Day of May, 2000.

Approved: Ken Foley, Mayor

Voting Aye:  3   Councilmembers Anderson, Robinson and Roventini
Voting No:   1    Mayor Foley
Absent:      1   Councilmember Austin
Abstain:     0 

Attest: Hollie Fiori, City Clerk





1. The City Council opposes the routine application of pesticides in City owned buildings when no pest is present.

2. The City Council opposes the use of pesticides or herbicides on or in City owned property and within and surrounding the City that carry a "Danger", Toxicity Category 1, EPA hazard rating.

3. Beginning three months after the adoption of this resolution, the City Council prohibits the application of pesticides and other toxic chemicals on or in City owned property and discourages their use on private property unless it can be demonstrated that no viable environmentally safe alternatives exist and applications are made by or under the direct supervision of a licensed applicator.

4. The City Council requires all users applying pesticides or other toxic materials, when there is no viable alternative, in or on City owned property to notify the public and City employees of such applications through signs and/or other means.

5. The Environmental Coordinator must insure that all safety standards are met, including the use of appropriate personal protective equipment, when City employees must use or apply pesticides or other toxic chemicals on or in City owned property.

6. The City Council hereby declares the City should use its public property to become a model for private property owners, businesses and other governmental entities to promote pest control and maintenance practices that protect human and environmental health.

7. Encourage business to provide clear labeling of products that are environmentally safe and to display/provide educational materials which promote the use of these products.

8. The City Council hereby asks all other municipalities within Sonoma County to support its effort in creating a safer environment by passing resolutions to create their own Voluntary Toxics-Free Zone(s).

9. The City Council opposes the use of fuels containing the additive MTBE in all City owned vehicles operated by the Police Department, Fire Department and Public Works, and directs staff to investigate the feasibility of using fuels without MTBE.

10. We hereby declare the city to be a "Voluntary Toxics-Free Zone."


1. Prepare pamphlets addressing the need, goals and programs of the Voluntary Zone. These would be offered at markets, drug stores, hardware stores and nurseries.

2. Obtain recognition decals and placards from Sustainable Sonoma to be distributed to businesses and homeowners who subscribe to the goals of the zone.

3. Enlist the cooperation of markets, drug stores, hardware stores and nurseries to provide information on environmentally safe alternatives to the use of pesticides and herbicides. Encourage the creation of discount programs and a safe product labeling program for environmentally safe products.

4. Provide information on safe environmental practices to surrounding agricultural operations.

5. Encourage and support efforts in county schools including colleges to develop curriculum that educates students in environmentally safe practices.

6. Inform and enlist the cooperation of the Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations to encourage their participation in the program to promote safe environmental practices.

7. Provide educational materials and guest speakers to inform religious institutions and non-profits to encourage them in their use of environmentally safe products.

8. Inform the media of the purpose and benefits of the Toxics-Free Zone to increase community outreach and provide recognition of participants to the community through the media.

Letter from the City Council
Published in the first issue of The Next STEP newsletter

Dear Sebastopol Citizen,

As you might know, in May of 2000 the Sebastopol City Council voted to establish Sebastopol as a Voluntary Toxics-Free Zone. We did this because we want to live in a safer environment and leave our children and their children a healthy world in which the air is safe to breathe and the water is safe to drink.

We know that urban and household use of toxic chemicals is, per acre, at least as intense as agricultural use and contributes significantly to the poisoning of the air, water, and land, and to the loss of biodiversity. We believe that people in Sebastopol don't want to harm the earth and themselves and would prefer to use safer ways to make their gardens flourish and to keep their homes clean and safe.

Since then, a volunteer citizen committee has been creating a program to implement this resolution through educating ourselves and our neighbors about effective alternatives to chemical pesticides. Part of this program will be this regular newsletter in your water and sewer bill which will provide information about safer ways to deal with common garden and household pests.

In addition, the City of Sebastopol has made a commitment to eliminate the use of all chemical pesticides on City-owned property, including our parks and play areas. We did this because we believe that we should set an example and not ask our residents to do anything we ourselves are not willing to do.

For residents, participation in the Voluntary Toxics-Free Zone is totally voluntary.

It is our hope that you share our commitment to a healthy and sustainable future, and our belief that good citizenship includes responsible stewardship of the land. And we hope that you find this newsletter's information useful!

The Sebastopol City Council

This page is on the Community Action Publications (CAP) website because we participate in and support the STEP program and want to make additional information available about its activities.

For more information about organics and other alternatives to toxics, see our Toxics and Alternatives Resources Page.

For information about Sonoma County and area toxics, organics, and environmental and political information and action, see our Sonoma County Resources Page.

Information courtesy of:

"Information Empowering Action for a Better World"


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