Category Archives: EIR

Letter to Petaluma's Transit Advisory Committee:

Dear Transit Advisory Committee Members,

It has been brought to my attention that during a recent Transit Advisory Committee meeting (TAC) you have been asked to make comments and vet your concerns regarding Regency Center’s East Washington Place retail development proposal at the Kenilworth site and its DEIR.

For the record the September 3rd 2009 TAC meeting in reference was not notified to the list of interested parties held by the Petaluma planning department and project planner. Nor, was any attempt made to notify the public at large about the fore mentioned meeting.

At this time, please accept the following comments with my points of concern regarding the EWP/EIR and the proposed development at the Kenilworth site.

Unfortunately, the proposed retail project’s EIR does not adequately address potential negative impacts on transit in our city. Nor does it provide reasonable alternatives to its project to adequately comply with Petaluma’s General Plan objectives for development in this area.

The project site is situated just five blocks from our new transit plaza and the Petaluma SMART rail station. Yet, there is no effort to implement Transit Oriented Design (TOD) elements into the site plan. Why not?

Our GP clearly stipulates (Chapter 5-Mobility):

“Ensure that land use decisions and public
improvements enhance the viability of the
Northwestern Pacific Railroad (SMART)
corridor for use as a multi-modal mobility
corridor.”

Under “Related Planning Efforts” CPSP (page 5-3GP):

” The Central Petaluma Specific Plan
directs growth into the City’s historic core. A key
element of the Plan provides that locating new growth in
the geographic heart of the City (adjacent to downtown
and a rail corridor with future transit potential and
served by the City’s key cross-town connectors) to allow
future development to occur with reduced reliance on
motor vehicles and an increased emphasis on pedestrian,
bicycle and transit circulation.”

GOAL 2-G-4: Washington Corridor (page 2-9):

D. Ensure that development at the old
Kenilworth Jr. High school site and any future
redevelopment of the Fairgrounds property
maintains a public, pedestrian, and active face
along East Washington Street, and provides
civic and ceremonial spaces with links to the
Library and other uses.

Taking the above GP objectives into consideration shouldn’t we try to achieve the “Transit Oriented Design” potential for this site, given its close proximity to our transit hub? Shouldn’t we also consider including this site in the CPSP?

In March of 2009, Matthew Welbes the deputy administrator for the Federal Transit Administration said, “As we go forward in our country, we want to be sure that we make investments not only in transportation but, in the way we develop our land and we build our housing and our businesses so we can create choices for people, so that they can choose to travel by transit to get to school, to reach work, to visit the doctor or even to design communities so that there are trips that are not taken, so that in order to get that loaf of bread or to get a hair cut, a person can walk to some place near by. And so if we create urban forum that is less auto oriented, more supportive of transit and walking, we create places where in the future our investments will support lower emissions and fewer green house gases.”

This past summer, congress passed a $500 billion bill to fund Transportation and Infrastructure. The bill would also put big money toward transit, trains, bike paths and walkways.

The project site falls within Petaluma’s redevelopment district and is also directly adjacent to our designated community use area. This makes the surrounding city owned areas eligible for redevelopment funding. Should we not consider future investments to improve infrastructure and transit amenities in the vicinity?

Regency Center’s proposal being purely an auto-centric design; how does this fit in with future planning and transit in and around that area?

Consider the commitment that other bay area communities have made toward TOD’s, the objectives of our own GP, and the potential for future redevelopment funding/investments in our city.

As committee members with the community’s vested interest in mind, I respectfully request that your comments elaborate and reflect upon these concerns and shortfalls of the proposed project and find that the EIR has not fulfilled its requirements, to adequately address impacts on our city’s transit system or to fulfill future transit objectives within the scope of General Plan compliance.

Advertisements

East Washington Place EIR Analysis/General Plan Non-Compliance issues:

The following excerpts from our General Plan clearly stipulate what the objectives will be, not only for retail development at the Kenilworth site but, also the surrounding areas and the East Washington corridor. It provides a vision for how retail development should be integrated along the Washington Street corridor, referring to East Washington Street as “a entry gateway into Petaluma, and to create distinctive features at this point.”

The EWP/EIR fails to address the following land use objectives of our General Plan:

Chapter 1 of the General Plan reads as follows:

GOAL 1-G-1: Land Use (page 1-14)

Maintain a balanced land use program that meets
the long-term residential, employment, retail,
institutional, education, recreation, and open space
needs of the community.

Comment: Because there is no specific list of retail tenants aside from the possible anchor tenant, the project’s EIR does not comply with this GP objective to “meet the long term retail needs of our community”. The EIR is fictitious and inconclusive in this area.

A. Develop incentives in the Development Code
to encourage lot consolidation to enable
efficient multi-story buildings, and relocation of
driveways to side streets.

Comment: The project proposal makes no effort to achieve this objective. By proposing mostly inefficient large single story structures on a subdivided lot, it misses the point entirely.

1-P-6 Encourage mixed-use development, which
include opportunities for increased transit
access.

Comment: The project site is situated just five blocks from our new transit plaza and the Petaluma SMART rail station. Yet, there is no effort to implement Transit Oriented Design (TOD) elements into the site plan. Also see my TAC comments.

1-P-7 Encourage flexibility in building form and in the
nature of activities to allow for innovation and
the ability to change over time.

Comment: The proposed “building form” solely meets the minimum standards of the developer and is essentially a mono- use/mono-form design. The project EIR does not address the “flexibility of building form” therefore does not adequately provide alternatives for future innovation of the buildings.

1-P-27 Encourage innovative site and building design
to address parking solutions such as shared,
structured, and/or underground facilities.

Comment: The project proposal and the EIR both fail to address this objective in our GP. The project layout consists of a large 16.5acre patch of asphalt as the only option for providing parking at the site. The EIR does not adequately address this as a negative impact, provides no alternatives to meet the GP objective.

The EWP/EIR fails to address the following Community Design, Character, and sustainable building objectives of our General Plan:

Chapter 2 of the General Plan reads as follows:

Strong entries are another important element of community design, as
their character creates the image Petaluma presents upon
arrival.

Comment: The term “strong entries” is certainly open to interpretation. But, I think we can all agree that the backside of a large bunker style structure would do nothing to achieve this particular GP objective and would not enhance the character of Petaluma.

2-P-5 Strengthen the visual and aesthetic character of
major arterial corridors.

2-P-22 Encourage development with active ground level
uses, plazas and open spaces, while allowing
residential and commercial uses at upper floors.

2-P-23 Facilitate development patterns that provide
an urban edge along East Washington Street,
providing visual continuity and cohesiveness,
and increased safety.

2-P-23(D) Ensure that development at the old
Kenilworth Jr. High school site and any future
redevelopment of the Fairgrounds property
maintains a public, pedestrian, and active face
along East Washington Street, and provides
civic and ceremonial spaces with links to the
Library and other uses.

Comment: Sections 2-P-5, 2-P-22, 2-P-23, 2-P-23(D) of our GP provides us with a framework of how development should proceed at the Kenilworth site and the surrounding area. The EWP/EIR also quotes these policies from our GP. Why then, does the project proposal seemingly ignore these policies? Why does the project’s EIR reference these policies and yet it makes no attempt to address these critical viewpoints, nor the negative impacts relevant to a project design that is non-compliant?<

Your Attendance Needed 10/6 7PM City Hall

cir_councilflyer_oct6.pdf

Together we can get the CIR/ FEIA resolution passed, please come and show your support. We need to let our city council know we want fiscal responsibility NOW!

What's Next…

The East Washington Place Environmental Impact Report response time has been extended indefinately. Public hearings for project have yet to be scheduled and will be posted when that information is made available. Please check out the EIR and offer your written input to the Mayor, City Council, the Planning Commission, and SPARC. Copies of the EIR are available at City Hall, 11 English Street.