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February 1-8, 2006

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News Briefs

By Patricia Lynn Henley

Book Battle

The clash between mega-chain stores and locally owned shops is escalating as Barnes & Noble Inc. prepares to move its 10,000-square-foot Larkspur operation into a 27,000-square-foot space in Corte Madera. Previously occupied by Marshalls, this site will give the retail bookstore giant three times the space of independently owned Book Passage, which is located about a block away. "It's very upsetting" says Elaine Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage. "For over 20 years, Barnes & Noble has targeted independents and worked to replace them. In many parts of the country, it has worked. My hope is that the people of Marin County will know the difference between a chain which takes money out of the community and a local business that sponsors events and authors, and puts money back into the community."

Going Political

Freelance journalist Chip McAuley is switching from covering the news to making it as a candidate for the Petaluma City Council in November. "People who know my journalism know I'm very community-minded," says McAuley, 29, who grew up in Petaluma and moved back to the area in the 1980s. "Over the years, I've been involved in a lot of different activities in town, so this is sort of the next step." He covered local politics for the Petaluma Argus-Courier from 2001 to 2004 and has written freelance pieces for the North Bay Bohemian and other publications. McAuley foresees no conflict in continuing as a freelance writer, "as long as I'm not reporting on political issues." However, he will earn a master's degree in English from SSU this year and hopes to segue into a teaching career.

A Private Appeal

St. Helena mayor Del Britton plunked down $200 on Monday, Jan. 30, to question the planning commission's approval of a four-dwelling housing project on one acre along Sulphur Creek. Unable to get two of his five fellow city council members to vote for a delay at a recent meeting, Britton filed an appeal as a private citizen, asking for additional hydrological research. Although the property in question did not flood during the recent record-level storms, there were problems farther downstream, says Carol Poole, the city's planning director. The proposed Sulphur Creek/Valley View Street project by developer Howard Spector of Oregon would divide a one-acre property into three parcels, with three homes and a guest house. Poole says the city council will hold a public hearing on Britton's appeal on Feb. 21.

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