Sebastopol (USA) - Cittaslow Sebastopol works to increase low-impact tourism


by David Abbott Sonoma West Editor

Workshops and initiatives champion 'eco-tourism'
Since City Council budgeted $20,000 for its implementation in June 2013, Cittaslow Sebastopol has been working to create a niche as it moves toward achieving nonprofit status.
Sebastopol Hardware inner 7-1-09

In the past year, with the help of an entirely volunteer workforce, Cittaslow has launched several eco-tourism-related projects, including an eco-tourism poll and open house, a "Park once and Walk" initiative, and a farm stay/home stay workshop to provide an overview of the benefits and pitfalls of "peer-to-peer" lodging.

The eco-tourism poll generated more than 400 responses and was followed up in October 2013 by a follow-up open house — co-sponsored by the Sebastopol Area Chamber of Commerce, Sebastopol Entrepreneurs' Project, Sonoma County Farm Trails and the Core Project,
More than 120 residents attended to vote on results of the polls that indicated Sebastopol area residents have six primary goals for the future of town, including reducing traffic by promoting pedestrianism; connecting the downtown and The Barlow; developing an easily accessible website and mobile app with maps and a business directory; creating an eastside parking structure; reducing litter and promoting recycling in public spaces, as well as purchasing the cement plant property on Morris Street and converting it to a wetlands museum.

One result of the open house was the "Park Once and Walk initiative," which is being spearheaded by a Pedestrian Connector Task Force formed to create maps and signage designed to promote area attractions and encourage visitors to park and walk in Sebastopol, according to Tasha Beauchamp, chair of the Cittaslow Sebastopol steering committee.

"Most of our work for the coming fiscal year will be about the Park Once and Walk initiative." Beauchamp wrote in a recent e-mail. "This has a web-based map and app integrated with the City business directory so visitors and locals can more readily discover what they would like to do in Sebastopol and then be encouraged to park once and walk to get there. It's a response to the highest vote getter at the Eco-Tourism Open House, which was concern that more visitors would mean more traffic."

The farm stay/home stay workshop took place on March 1 and was attended by 45 West County residents. The workshop featured speakers addressing the financial, regulatory and personal issues involved with starting a home-based lodging business.

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