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
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.