What Do You Want Your City To Be?

OPEN PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD EXTENDED THROUGH SEPTEMBER 14th- The Draft Environmental Impact Report is now available for Regency Center’s massive retail development proposal at the old Kenilworth site. This 380,000 sq. ft. retail shopping strip mall has a all the makings of a crudely designed bunker style shopping strip plaza, right in the heart of our community use areas and adjacent to our serene neighborhoods. Please take time to review this DEIR at http://www.cityofpetaluma.net/cdd/plan-eir.html and voice your opinion. Now is the time to address the adverse impacts a proposal such as this will have on our community and ask for a better designed project that will enhance the East Washington street corridor and not detract from it.

Impacts to consider:
– Increased Traffic Volume
– Who are the tenants?
– Poor “auto-centric” Design
– Road way encompassing our pool center
– Pedestrian and Bike access
– Impacts on Surrounding Neighborhoods
– Who pays for additional infrastructure needed to support such a project?
– What will be the impacts on (pool center and skate park, library, Fairgrounds, Kenilworth Park) our community use areas?

Allowing development based on such a mindless design would be to allow a disastrous continuum that has fueled so many of the problems in this community. Please read the DEIR and submit your comments to build a better Petaluma.

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Building for Us

One of the biggest complaints from those on both sides of the big box debate is the architecture. Hardly a soul would say they are aesthetically pleasing nor designed to last. The cookie cutter design is what is easiest for the developer and what takes the hardest hit aesthetically on our communities. The malls of the eighties no longer exist. We now have car based centers focused on the parking lot rather than the person behind the wheel. It’s a model evident in every regard of these projects.

If the projects are so great then why are there PR folks working on selling their project from the project’s inception? Why do they find it necessary to hand out cookies, granola bars and bottled water at our city council meetings? Why do they sponsor petting zoos at the fair?
Why not save their money and build a better project? Despite these bleak times we have excellent prospects growing here. The SMART train is coming- is this evident in any of the large scale developments slated for Petaluma? NO! What about our emerging “locavor” reputation. We are so fortunate to live in an area where we could sustain on what is grown and produced within mere miles of us- is this evident in any of the large scale developments slated for Petaluma? NO!
When PR folks come to city hall and tell our council what they are willing to build and what just isn’t feasible for a community of our size then we have a problem. Either our community is too small for their project if they can’t afford to build it right or their project is too shoddy for our community.

Show Me the Tenants?

Again and again the residents of Petaluma ask who the tenants for East Washington Place and Deer Creek Developments are? The answer is always Target and Lowes. The reality is we really don’t know.
Target recently postponed their planned expansion in San Rafael. Let us recognize that the trade area for that Target would have been all the way from Novato to South San Francisco, West to the coastline and East to Albany. Quite a sizable trade area in location with no existing KMart, Walmart, or Costco stores for competition. A Petaluma Target’s trade area would be 9 miles to our North and 10 miles to our South. Now why would Target continue to pursue a location in Petaluma and postpone the more sizable potential investment in San Rafael? (http://www.busjrnl.com/article/20090330/BUSINESSJOURNAL/903269881)
Speculation that Friedman’s proposed Petauma location may be at East Washington, Deer Creek or elsewhere has started stirring (http://www.petaluma360.com/article/20090504/COMMUNITY/905049938/1362?Title=Friedman-Bros-sets-sights-on-Lowe-s-proposed-site). How sure of a thing is Lowe’s if Friedman’s is being considered? It calls into question just how willing these large chains are committed to investing in our community.
In the past, many council members stated that they were okay with a Target but drew the line at a Walmart. The FEIA’s we requested show limited details and never use actual data from the “proposed” tenants. When developers seek to turn neighbors against each other, falsify support for their projects, hold unnoticed meetings, and make every attempt to barrage our community with propaganda for their projects we start to lose faith in their integrity and commitment.
How do we know what we are getting?

Regency's End Game? By Paul Francis

Published: Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 3:00 a.m. in the Argus Courier

All large retail development has direct impacts on our city’s ability to maintain economic stability and plan for future revenue.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that building development also has direct and indirect impacts upon our city’s social well-being. It is in the reticulum of our neighborhood streets, thoroughfares, walkways, buildings, parks and plazas by which our community can grow and prosper together. These are the places where the individual becomes interdependently linked to his/her community. With attention and encouragement of building designs that cultivate social interaction and discourage auto-centric design, the prosperity of the individual, through symbiosis, becomes the collective prosperity of our community as a whole. There is a direct correlation between how a city is designed and built and the social health of its community.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that any future development is carefully scrutinized for its ability to reinforce specific concepts that will lead our community to a sustainable future for many generations to come. Fortunately, for us here in Petaluma, we have a General Plan along with a Central Petaluma Specific Plan that clearly stipulates our principles.

The recent meeting held by Regency Centers was not about a “spar” between residents of Petaluma, as Corey Young reported, but about something far more important. By skimming over the real issues surrounding the retail development at the Kenilworth site, Young missed an opportunity to delve into a truly newsworthy story.

The story really lies in the fact that this is yet another example of Regency’s manipulative tactics to polarize our community (Remember the forged letters they submitted to the Argus?). The meeting held by Regency Centers at the Sheraton was just another attempt by their khaki-clad group of non-Petalumans to impose a divisive campaign to sell their anachronistic shopping center that defies the principles of our lovely community. This is Regency’s “end game.”

Regency’s representative, Bruce Qualls from Walnut Creek, said, “It was disappointing,” speaking of the outcome of the meeting. As one who attended the meeting and who sought answers to my questions concerning this large project, I was more disappointed than anyone. Here was a perfect opportunity for Petalumans to vet the issues and to get questions, pertaining to this looming 380,000-square-foot shopping center proposal, answered.

Sadly, I realized that Regency was able to exploit a small contingency of my fellow Petalumans into supporting this dismally designed project. Among this small faction and, much to my dismay, was our very own former councilwoman Karen Nau. It’s no secret to any in our community that Nau has a history of being easily misled on various issues. Remember Bryant Moynihan’s initiative that she endorsed without even reading?

It’s true, I may disagree with Ms. Nau’s decision to support a bad project in our community, but that doesn’t translate into me not embracing her as one of my own, as a fellow Petaluman.

Indeed, I think Young profoundly missed the point in his ironically charged story, the “spar” amongst, hmmm? Ourselves? Instead, writer Young might’ve shed light on Regency’s ability to cleverly divide and conquer our community just to get their dismal proposal approved. They have succeeded in funneling the discussions down to the most useless “where do I get my cheap stuff?” context.

When really the fundamental questions all of us should be asking ourselves here in Petaluma is: Should Regency’s project be built to their self-serving standards? Or, should this project be built to align with our own unique community standards?

At this stage, we must stop quibbling among ourselves and hold this project/developer to a higher standard. I think all Petalumans will agree that the Kenilworth site holds a unique opportunity for us to bring neighborhoods together, enhance our community use area, and beautify the East Washington gateway corridor. Let’s take care to plan and develop this to a standard that is uniquely Petaluma. Let’s take care of ourselves.

(Paul Francis is a Petaluma resident and co-founder of the Petaluma Neighborhood Association.)

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!

150 Trees for 150 Years! Improving our Neighborhoods One Tree at a Time!

Your Petaluma Neighborhood Association is coordinating it’s efforts to plant up to 40 trees!
A grant given to the Tree Advisory Committee and Parks and Recs has allowed the City to provide this great opportunity to plant 300 trees
throughout our neighborhoods and in our parks. The PNA has formed a volunteer group to plant trees in the Old East Side neighborhood in the coming weeks.
For more info email us:
Paul stopbigboxinpetaluma@yahoo.com
or go to: http://cityofpetaluma.net/parksnrec/community-trees.html

Show Your Support of the CIR/FCIR/FEIR

Please attend the Monday July 7th City Council Meeting @ 7pm

11 English Street