Tag Archives: regency centers

A Word From Your Neighbors…

The Petaluma Neighborhood Association is a non-profit organization that was founded out of a communal desire to educate ourselves and our neighbors about the planned Big Box development projects slated for Petaluma. The project of particular interest is Merlone Geier Partners’ (MGP) “Deer Creek Village” 346,000 sq. ft. bigbox retail development a across from Petaluma Hospital. At this time, our mission is to generate community awareness and participation in letter writing, attending City Council and Planning Commission meetings, providing educational materials, and organizing community events addressing the negative impacts of proposed Big Box development in our community. We encourage the various neighborhoods of Petaluma to join us in taking an active approach in voicing our concerns and participating in the preservation and development of Petaluma for today and tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Click on map of  the big-box project below to enlarge)

Thanks to all who support us and who advocate for good planning practices and a healthy community here in Petaluma!

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Petaluma Residents Challenge Regency's Bigbox Project

On Thursday March 11, a suit was filed in Sonoma County Superior Court challenging the City of Petaluma’s approval of the Environmental Impact Report and project entitlements of Regency Centers’ East Washington Place development. The anchor tenant would be Petaluma’s first big box chain store, a 130,000 square foot Target.

The suit was filed on behalf of the Petaluma Community Coalition (PCC) by the public interest law firm of M.R. Wolfe & Associates of San Francisco. The PCC is comprised of a number of Petaluma residents and community groups, including the Petaluma Neighborhood Association, the Petaluma River Council, Petaluma Tomorrow and the OWL Foundation.

“We filed this suit because the City’s approval of the EIR and project plan did not follow the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and because the proposed project will have devastating impacts on our streets, swim center, skateboard park, and nearby neighborhoods,” said Paul Francis, co-founder of the Petaluma Neighborhood Association. “You think getting across town is bad now, wait until this thing is built. People will be furious when they discover the reality- utter gridlock.”

“The design and implementation of this project makes a mockery of our recently updated General Plan,” said former City Councilman Matt Maguire. “We’ve been trying literally for years to get Regency to work with us to make this a viable project with a lot less impacts. They’ve done nothing but stonewall us. We have no other option than to bring suit to prevent this fiasco from happening to Petaluma.”

“Those of us who live nearest the project have a lot at stake, but our larger concern has always been what this will do to Petaluma,” Francis said. “The General Plan calls for a mixed use project with improved pedestrian, bike and transit access. The project as approved doesn’t have that. What we’re getting now is a typical 1970s style big box strip mall that is completely auto dependent. There is no housing. This is not a mixed-use project. It’s the opposite of what’s called for at this site.”

The suit’s intent is to get the City to recirculate the EIR to fully account for the negative impacts that were left out and to include a number of proposed mitigations that would lessen the project’s impacts. PCC also wants the Friedman’s Home Improvement store, touted by Regency as a likely major tenant, included in the revised EIR. Better mitigations of the traffic impacting a number of major intersections and East D St. should be part of the conditions of approval, along with ways to reduce the project’s significant greenhouse gases and air pollution.
“A lot can be done to improve it,” said Paul Francis. “Members of the public have suggested structured parking, reduction of the 16-acre parking lot, and more public spaces would be more consistent with the GP. Two and three story buildings with residential units on the upper floors and better links to surrounding areas would make this a pedestrian oriented project.”

Maguire and Francis note that Regency has been uncooperative with the City as well as neighborhood and citizen groups that want the project to reflect the site’s General Plan vision. The forgery of letters of support that were published in the Argus Courier, the baseless but expensive lawsuit filed by Regency against the City in the middle of the normal public review process, the lack of complete documentation provided in a timely manner, and the resistance to consider changes that would make the project align better with the GP have all made gaining even meager consensus nearly impossible, they said.

“If nothing else, we want to see the multilane roads pulled away from all four sides of the swim center and skateboard park,” Maguire stated. “It’s a shame that Regency has been so arrogant, that they’ve resorted to intimidation tactics, because this could be a pretty good project if they would get a clue for what Petaluma is really about.”

The review process has been skewed by gross misinformation in the press, developer PR ploys and hostility from Target supporters who have unfairly attacked the current council majority for, in their opinion, not approving the project quickly enough. PCC’s members note that more important than haste is to ensure good planning and a full public review, where all the problems are revealed and honestly addressed. This hasn’t been done, in part because of the pressure on the council to satisfy critics, Regency’s threatening lawsuit and the poor financial condition of the city.

The project will have at best a negligible benefit on the City’s finances, but will have serious impacts on its infrastructure and natural environment. Regency’s and Target’s cookie-cutter approach is designed to push their investment risks and costs onto the surrounding community, which will bear the traffic, air pollution and other burdens for years to come. However, both corporations have built far more attractive, community-friendly and less environmentally damaging projects in many other cities. “That’s what we want to see here,” Francis said. “All it takes is four votes and the will to do what’s right for our city.”

Development in Petaluma over the past two decades has been mixed. The Factory Outlet Mall, built in a floodplain, has flooded and the ungainly Auto Mall sign is not what was approved. The Kohl’s shopping center with its empty stores and useless architectural embellishments is typical of obsolete and unsuccessful shopping center design. On the other hand, the Theater District, an outgrowth of the Central Petaluma Specific Plan, has received wide acclaim. That project went through more community input than any of the others.

Approving a weak EIR without meaningful or effective mitigations sets a very low benchmark for future large projects that are queuing up. “We need and would love to see Friedman’s back in Petaluma, and we want to help the Council to do this project right the first time,” Maguire said. “Their premature approval and incomplete mitigations fail to serve the best interests of all of us, so we’re proceeding with this suit. We’re hoping a much better result will come out of it.”

Breaking Petaluma…

Yet again Regency Centers has proven to the residents of Petaluma that there are no limits to how low they are willing to stoop to get their poorly designed project built. Early on in this process they submitted forged letters to the Argus Courier now, they are following up with their threats and a lawsuit filed against the city.

Retail development has changed drastically over the years. Regency Centers’ proposal has not met with those changes. Consequently, they have been unwilling to produce a good product here in Petaluma. Now, they are blaming the “planning process” and our “city council” for their ineptitude.

If Regency Centers seek approval and accolades for their project here in Petaluma they should design a project that complies with the mixed use zoning and with the General Plan. Instead they’ve chosen to obstruct the planning and development process and place the blame elsewhere.

The Most Important Thing YOU Can Do for Petaluma!!

A City Council meeting is tentatively set for February 8th, 2010 – please attend one of the most important meetings concerning the future of our community here in Petaluma. The Petaluma City Council will be considering the EIR and site design of Regency’s giant 400K sq. ft. shopping center at the Kenilworth site. The PCC will be reviewing this project’s EIR along with vetting concerns from the community.

This is NOT a discussion about Target. Or, where to shop. This is about proper planning and the future of our great community here in Petaluma.

Please attend and give our council the support they need to reject this EIR!

Please consider that the project, as it presently stands, does not comply with the objectives specifically laid out by our General Plan. See Chapter 2 Community Design, Character, and Green Building for a further perspective. (Link: http://cityofpetaluma.net/cdd/pdf/gp/ch2.pdf)

Some other EIR inadequacies to consider:

1) The impact analysis is incomplete relative to aesthetics, air quality, water resources, transportation, public services, utilities, and land use.

2)The DEIR uses an inconsistent definition of cumulative buildout scenario, which cripples the ability to accurately ID the cumulative impacts, as well as provide and objective comparison of
alternatives.

3) The EIR does not provide substantial evidence to support a number of its assumptions and conclusions, including citing documents not included in the DEIR, incomplete citations to City documents, and relying on documents that are now discredited, superseded or that are too old to
provide accurate information.

4) The EIR relies on documents that are not in the public record, which disqualifies them from use under CEQA.

5)The EIR fails to provide any project level impact analysis in several categories, instead simply offering up a cumulative analysis only.

6) The EIR relies on improper project segmentation, by severing the analysis from key surrounding uses and actions, such as installation of a new groundwater well, limiting pedestrian and vehicle flow from the project to only the Project site (excluding the Library and park-and-ride facility as required by the General Plan), the relocation of Little League facilities, etc.

7)The EIR has inconsistent assumptions regarding traffic flow between the Transportation section and the Population/Housing/Blight section, as well as the timing of infrastructure improvements. This then compromises the conclusions of the Air Quality analysis.

8) The EIR uses a changing and incorrect baseline for the Project Setting. CEQA requires the setting to be based upon the circumstances at the time of release of the Notice of Preparation for the EIR. In several cases, the EIR relies on older information.

link to city agenda:http://cityofpetaluma.net/cclerk/pdf/planning/plan-agenda2009nov24.pdf

Invasion of the big box Chains Free Showing + CIR Discussion

Learn more about planned development in Petaluma.
Attend a free community meeting
When: Saturday, January 26th, 2pm-3:30pm
Where: The Petaluma Public Library 100 Fairground Dr. (at E. Washington St.)
*The event will include a 40 minute documentary film, Invasion of the Big Box Chains!,
about proposed large scale retail projects and a
discussion of a Community Impact Report Ordinance
being considered by the City.