Petaluma Tomorrow Council Watch Report, October 17, 2016

Petaluma Tomorrow
Council Watch Report
October 17, 2016


Councilmembers Mike Healy, Chris Albertson, Kathy Miller, Gabe Kearney, Vice Mayor Dave King, Teresa Barrett and Mayor David Glass present.


Key Issues and Commentary


Lots of fun for public policy wonks in this meeting.


  • The city moved forward with its railroad Quiet Zones application after much pleading from the public.
  • The city agreed to expand its sewage storage capacity in the event of an emergency while everyone sought to avoid visualizing what 4 million gallons of crap looked and smelled like. Poop storage at 10 cents a gallon is worth pursuing, the council agreed.
  • The changing role of food banks is worth pondering if you have a moment. Take a tour of the Redwood Empire Food Bank and you’ll learn a great deal and appreciate the organization all the more, according to the Mayor. It’s far more than simply an emergency food pantry.
  • Councilmember Barrett once more noted in Council Comment that transportation continues to be the hard nut to crack in our response to climate change.




Domestic Violence Awareness Month – October 2016. Jane Gaskill of the Sonoma County YWCA accepted this proclamation from the city.


According to the CDC, on average, 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the U.S. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 10 million women and men. 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 7 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. The most at-risk population is of women between 18 – 24. Of that population, only 55% will report being victimized to the police.


National Park System Centennial – 410 nationally significant sites in the U.S.


Red Ribbon Week – a national campaign to encourage school kids of all ages to avoid drugs and alcohol and lead healthy, active lives which began here in Petaluma.




Redwood Empire Food Bank
David Goodman, CEO of the REFB, gave a brief presentation to the public.


82,000 people, 1 in 6 in Sonoma County, don’t get enough food to eat and obtain food assistance from the REFB, which also serves Lake, Mendocino, Del Norte and Humboldt Counties.


REFB gives $700,000 worth of food annually to Petaluma organizations. It also sells some foods to those same organizations at greatly discounted prices.


For example, COTS spent $11,000 at REFB last year for $525,000 worth of food. For every dollar they spent they received $46 worth of food.


REFB distributes 7.5 million pounds of fresh produce annually.


Open Counter Demonstration


Petaluma Economic Development Manager Ingrid Alverde gave the public a demonstration of the city’s new, now award-winning Open Counter online permitting tool.


Approval of Proposed Agenda


Approved by unanimous vote.


3. Consent Calendar
A & D  removed to be considered separately.


A. Resolution Authorizing Award of Contract for the PIPS Odor Control and Hopper Street Emergency Pumping Storage Improvement Project.
B. Resolution Accepting Completion of the Construction Contract for Transit Signal Priority Phase I Project, City Project No. C65101402.
C. Resolution Authorizing the Execution of a Professional Services Agreement for Design and Engineering Services for the Petaluma Community Sports Fields Baseball Field Project and Authorizing a Revised Project Budget.
D. Resolution Authorizing Approval of a Contract Change Order to the Community Center Roof Overlay and HVAC Replacement Project to Overlay Fire Station 2 Roof.
E. Resolution Receiving the Arbitration Panel Award and Ratifying the Tentative Agreements Executed of the Duly Authorized Representatives of the International Association of Firefighters, Local 1415, Unit 7. STAFF REPORT MADE AVAILABLE WITH AGENDA REVISION NO. 1 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2016.
F. Resolution Ratifying the Tentative Agreement Executed by the Duly Authorized Representatives of the American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees, Local 675, Unit 1 – Confidential, Unit 2 – Maintenance, Unit 3 Technical/Clerical. (Brodhun) – STAFF REPORT MADE AVAILABLE WITH AGENDA REVISION NO. 1 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2016.


Items B, C, E & F approved by unanimous vote.


Mr. Healy wondered what the options were on 3A re: the storage of 4 million gallons of raw sewage, if there’s a problem with the force main.


According to Dan St. John, city needs some emergency sewage storage capacity available, in case of a catastrophic failure. The Primary Influent Pump Station forcemain is 35 years old and cannot be inspected, as it is in continuous use and cannot be shut down. 4 million gallon emergency storage would give us less than 24 hours’ capacity. It’s the most important pipe in our sewage system. Replacing the forcemain would be a $10 million project, by today’s estimates. This emergency storage would cost about 10 cents per gallon to construct, as opposed to the Paula Lane storage tank, which cost about $1 per gallon to build.


Healy noted that this is a much larger decision to make, given the possibility that this would take the old treatment plant out of consideration for future development.


Ms. Miller noted it was difficult to tell from the staff report where this storage capacity would go. Also, are there other possibilities for location?


Mr. Albertson asked if there were alternatives and ultimately offered to move the item.


Teresa Barrett noted that we do know the implications if we’re not prepared for such an emergency (earthquake, etc – today’s the anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake) , drawing people’s attention to the cost in fines to the city if it were forced to dump sewage into the Petaluma River in an emergency. Fines would be in the millions. Barrett called putting off this investment irresponsible.


Approved by a vote of 5-2, with Healy and Miller dissenting.


Item 3D approved by unanimous vote of 6 – 0, with Mr. King recusing himself


4 New Business


A. Introduction (First Reading) of an Ordinance Repealing and Replacing Sections 17.20.010, 17.20.040, 17.20.050, and 17.20.060 of the Petaluma Municipal Code to Adopt the 2016 California Fire Code, California Building Standards Code, Title 24, Part 9, Based on the 2015 Edition of the International Fire Code.


California changes and adjusts its fire code every three years and these are suggested changes from the 2013 code.


Mayor Glass asked about the 4th of July celebrations and fireworks at the fairgrounds in relation to fire code enforcement, as this was the best opportunity he’d encountered to do so. He noted having spoken with a southern California city mayor of comparable population to Petaluma’s, who said they’d issued 17 $1,000 citations in one season for illegal fireworks use on the 4th. Glass thought Petaluma had not issued a single citation. What would it take to actually enforce the fire code?


Last 4th of July, he said that he’d seen PFD personnel in close proximity to illegal fireworks, who’d responded by doing nothing.


Chief Thompson unequivocally noted that those personnel were mistaken, and should have acted.


Approved by unanimous vote.


B. Resolution Authorizing the Filing of a Notice of Intent with the Federal Railroad Administration, California Public Utilities Commission, Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit, North Western Pacific Rail Road Company and North Coast Rail Authority to Establish a Quiet Zone in Petaluma City Limits from Corona Road to Caulfield Lane.


Dan St. John – 60 days to comment on the notice of intent, meant that the Quiet Zone ought to be ready by the new start time for SMART, recently delayed to spring 2017.


Approved by unanimous vote


5 Public Hearing


A. Public Hearing to Hear Testimony Regarding the Formation of a Landscape Assessment District for Avila Ranch Landscape Assessment District (LAD) and to Declare the Results of the Balloting, Ordering Improvements, and Confirming the Diagrams and Annual Assessment.


Approved by unanimous vote of 6 – 0, with Mr. Kearney recusing himself


B. Resolution Approving the 2016 Petaluma Transit Short Range Transit Plan.


Transit Manager Joe Rye gave an update on Petaluma’s Transit Plan. As recipients of some federal aid for transit, the city is required to update its plan every four years. From 2012 to 2016 we more than doubled our ridership, according to Rye.


Mayor David Glass thanked Mr. Rye for the many improvements to Petaluma Transit’s service and its growth, noting there had been many issues with it in the past – seven, eight years prior, but has been improving ever since.


Approved by unanimous vote.


Council Comment


Councilmember Chris Albertson read a list of events from Petaluma Downtown Association – October 28, the Petaluma International Film Festival; followed by the Dia de los Muertos event downtown; Nov. 11 O + Fest from 4 – 6 pm. Veterans Day parade that day as well.


Albertson noted the collapse of talks between St. Josephs and the Petaluma Health Care District.


Councilmember Kathy Miller reiterated Albertson’s point about the Petaluma Hospital and reassured the public that the hospital would remain open.


Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee reviewed the North River Apartments project at its recent meeting, which has a Class 1 bike path. City staff is attempting to figure out a fifty foot gap between the end of that trail and the Lynch Creek Trail. The gap is due to an existing city pump station. Also 93 covered bicycle spaces associated with the project.


Miller on the SCTA meeting: CalTrans is looking at removing the trees near the freeway due to the recent fire – some damaged, some not – and is now likely to move forward with that and build the sound walls there, once the trees are gone.


Barrett asked Miller to clarify the tree removal. There was previously no plan to do the tree removal until the widening work on 101 was done, stated Miller, but now CalTrans is inclined to expedite removing the trees and getting the sound walls built afterwards.


King – SCP had a 4.5 hr meeting. JPA was finalized following a lengthy discussion.


King said the SCP Board committed $2.5 million over a 9 month period to a combination of rebates toward the purchase of electric vehicles from participating dealerships, in an effort to reduce the use of petroleum in our transportation system. No Petaluma dealers are participating.


Barrett – The Petaluma Arts Center successfully raised $65,000.


She recently attended the Climate Forward conference in San Francisco, sponsored by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.


The real problem in the Bay Area is transportation, the primary source of greenhouse gases – 40% of the overall. Transportation creates 58% of Petaluma’s ghg emissions (56% in Sonoma County) because we have little heavy industry.


The Metropolitan Transportation Commission doesn’t appear to have any strategic plan to address this problem yet.


“Transportation really does seem to be the hard nut to crack.”


Mayor Glass congratulated the service clubs of Petaluma for the new Petaluma Police Department’s substation at Walnut Park.

Adjourned at 9:42 pm

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Council Watch Report for October 3, 2016

Petaluma Tomorrow
Council Watch Report
October 3, 2016


Councilmembers Chris Albertson, Kathy Miller, Gabe Kearney, Mike Healy and Teresa Barrett present.
Key Issues and Commentary
Just days after a fire that destroyed several homes on Stuart Drive, that event remained on the minds of many at this City Council meeting, including the perpetually racist Kathryn Babrowski, who prefaced her latest public indictment of her Latino neighbors and the PDD with a shower of praise upon the Petaluma Fire Department.


An otherwise brisk and business-like meeting was slightly derailed by a discussion of item 5B, which Councilmember Chris Albertson took to be more akin to a set-aside fee benefitting Lafferty Ranch. Adding Lafferty to the parks available to receive funding, or building a bigger pie, suggested the City Manager, was what it was all about.




Council Watch did not attend the staff’s public workshop which occurred immediately prior to the Council’s evening session. This workshop on Quiet Zones is worth reviewing, and may be viewed at the city’s webpage here. Public commentary received by the city about this agenda item overwhelmingly supported the city’s pursuit of Quiet Zones in Petaluma.


Quiet Zones will be on the October 17, 2016 City Council agenda.




Fire Prevention Week:  October 9-15, 2016


General Public Comment


Kathryn Babrowski paused to extend her thanks to the Petaluma Fire Department for their tremendous job putting out the Stuart Drive fire near Highway 1o1, before painting a self-portrait of a woman besieged by malicious neighbors at the Littlewoods Mobile Villa mobile home park.


2. Approval of Proposed Agenda


A. Approval of REVISED Agenda for Regular City Council/PCDSA Meeting of Monday, October 17, 2016. – Revision No. 1 – Monday, October 3, 2016.


Approved by unanimous vote.


3. Consent calendar


A. Resolution Approving Claims and Bills for August 2016.
B. Resolution Accepting Completion of Work by the City’s Weed Abatement Contractor and Authorizing the City Clerk to File a Notice of Completion with the Sonoma County Recorder’s Office and Authorizing City Staff to Release the 10% Retention Fee for Services Performed by the City’s Weed Abatement Contractor.
C. Resolution Ordering the Summary Vacation of an Existing Storm Flow Retention Pond Easement on Assessor Parcel Number 150-020-036, Petaluma, CA.
D. Resolution Authorizing Execution of First Amended Agreement with the Sonoma County Water Agency for the Petaluma River Stream Gauge Installation Project.
E. Resolution Ratifying the Tentative Agreement Reached by the Duly Authorized Representatives of the City of Petaluma and the Peace Officers’ Association of Petaluma.


Approved by unanimous vote in its entirety.


4. New Business


A. Resolution Amending the Classification and Compensation Plan by Establishing the Classification and Pay Range of Deputy Police Chief, Authorizing the Position Allocation of One (1.0) Deputy Police Chief, and Eliminating One (1.0) Police Lieutenant.


Approved by unanimous vote.


B. Resolution Proposing Formation of the Avila Ranch Subdivision Landscape and Lighting Assessment District; Resolution of Preliminary Approval of Engineer’s Report for Avila Ranch Subdivision Landscape and Lighting Assessment District; and Resolution of Intention to Order the Levy and Collection of Assessments for Avila Ranch Subdivision Landscape and Lighting Assessment District and Setting a Public Hearing.
This is the first of two required public meetings on this landscape assessment district.


Three resolutions in this item approved by unanimous vote of 4-0, with Kearney recusing himself.


C. Resolution Authorizing Award of Contract for the Petaluma Community Sports Fields Restroom Improvements Project.


The next step in improving the Petaluma Community Sports Field project, which involves the purchase and construction of a prefabricated restroom facility.


Approved by unanimous vote.


5. Public Hearings


A. Public Hearing and Action to Adopt Resolution Confirming the Cost of Abatement of Weeds and Confirming Approving of the Forwarding of Unpaid Bills to the County Assessor’s Office for Collection as Assessments.


Approved by unanimous vote.


B. Resolution Repealing and Replacing the Current Park Land Development Impact Fee Resolution for Future Development within the City of Petaluma, Resolution No. 2014-037 N.C.S., Adopted March 3, 2014, to add Funding for Lafferty Ranch Improvements.


One Lafferty Ranch neighbor on Sonoma Mountain Rd. – also a member of the Petaluma Service Alliance – noted that organization’s recent work on Walnut Park – so necessary yet long overdue thanks to a lack of funding – with the city’s desire to now spend funds on a trail outside city limits. He called for a vote of Petaluma’s citizenry on whether or not they wanted to spend city funds on this.


Gabe Kearney sought to clarify where this funding was coming from. These are not funds we could be using to fix potholes.


Councilmember Chris Albertson took everyone to task at length about the expenditure of funds on a project outside of town when there are so many projects in town that need money. He mentioned a great number of projects and organizations in need of funding.


“All these items are items in the city limits. All these items have a funding need.”


“I don’t want city money, resources that could be spent here in city limits, going five miles up Sonoma Mountain,” Albertson continued.


He also mentioned McNear Peninsula and other projects that might be considered for funding, inside city limits, unlike Lafferty.


Councilmember Teresa Barrett asked city staff why this adjustment to the Park Land Development Fee is written in such a way that it is 99% about Lafferty?


It is all about Lafferty in a sense, suggested Danly, as this resolution means Lafferty is now being added back to the mix of projects available to be funded.


City Manager Brown suggested the city is simply “making a bigger pie.”


Barrett responded that she’s comfortable with pursuing the development of Lafferty as a city park and with raising the park impact fees, but “what I’m never comfortable with is designer legislation,” a set-aside for Lafferty, “and I would never have supported that.” Seeing it’s not, she happily supported this.


Approved by 4 – 1 vote with Chris Albertson dissenting.


Council Comment


Mike Healy mentioned that the technical committee of the county water agency met and Lake Mendocino was at 90% of capacity, Lake Sonoma was at 87% of capacity, both very good. Water savings in August was 23%, due to pretty darn good habits the people of Petaluma have continued.

Adjourned at 8:25

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Basin Street Properties Has Solid Representation Amongst Healy-Led City Council Majority – April 4 Council Watch Report

Petaluma Tomorrow
Council Watch Report
April 4, 2016

Councilmembers Mike Healy, Chris Albertson, Kathy Miller, Gabe Kearney, Vice Mayor Dave King, Teresa Barrett and Mayor David Glass present.

Key Issues and Commentary

Numerous representatives of Petaluma Parents Against Drugs gave the alarming impression that there is both easy access to recreational drugs and an epidemic of drug abuse on Petaluma’s public school campuses. Crime statistics raised by the group were also alarmingly high.

Bill Donahue, a longtime advocate for the renters of Sandalwood Estates, took the council to task for a dysfunctional, failing rent arbitration system, which has now allowed for several Sandalwood families to be forced from their homes due to skyrocketing rents.

Basin Street Properties did itself no favors – one thing the entire council appeared to agree upon – when it sent the body a letter the afternoon of April 4 regarding its Marina Apartments project, an item on the evening’s agenda. Some councilmembers had not had the opportunity to read the letter prior to the meeting, but it suggested that:

Basin Street might not develop the Marina Apartments if the bicycle path requirement remains, calling the $200k cost prohibitive, and
It might develop a medical office complex at the site with another interested party in any case.

Ultimately a majority of the council led by Mike Healy deferred to Basin Street, moving the project forward without the city staff’s proposed bike path expansion.

Mayor Glass and Councilmember Barrett succeeded in asking “Why no solar?” enough over the course of the meeting that the company did, reluctantly, agree to put solar panels on the carports associated with the project.  The pair also took the rest of the council to task for yet another missed opportunity to build out Petaluma’s  bike and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

A Healy-led majority appears determined to avoid what the man himself calls “coloring outside-the-box-type of requirements or exactions” on developers in Petaluma.

Basin Street Properties consistently receives the concessions it seeks.

Key Quote from the meeting:

“Not to put in a Class 1 bike lane, which offers a safe and sane alternative to people getting around that area without having to worry about the traffic on Lakeville or Baywood, just doesn’t make sense for us as a city. We really need to look at improving the circulation alternatives for people in this city as we try to increase and approve infill. We want infill, but we want infill that serves our society, our community and the circulation of people within that community.”

– Petaluma Councilmember Teresa Barrett



National Crime Victims Week, April 10 – 16

General Public Comment

Alva Hernandez, formerly of Colombia, a student of the Petaluma Adult School’s citizenship class, thanked the council for its time, attention, and hospitality on behalf of her entire class. The meeting paused briefly so that the class could have its photograph taken with the councilmembers.

Cynthia Ingram, an avid runner and longtime Petaluma resident, spoke to the council about the crosswalk at the intersection of S. McDowell & McKenzie Drive and her continuing desire to stay alive. She called this intersection the most dangerous on the East side of town and asked that the city reevaluate its removal of the left turn only light (when turning onto S. McDowell) at this intersection.

Heather Elliott-Hudson, co-founder of the relatively new non-profit, Petaluma Parents Against Drugs (PPAD), spoke to the council about the need to find funding to put School Resource Officers (SRO) back on Petaluma school campuses.

Brenda Martin asked the council to help find funding for SROs again to help deal with the drug problem on Petaluma campuses, where access to drugs is much too easy.

Lawrence Stafford said that drug trafficking on our school campuses is simply unacceptable and must be stopped and asked for the council’s assistance.

Kathleen Stafford, mother of teenagers, PPAD co-founder, and owner of a local sandwich shop, said her eyes had been “ripped open to the blatant teen drug abuse going on right under our noses.”

She also noted that crime had shot up 38% over the past three years, 18% in the last year alone. “Instead of saying there’s no money, we need to reallocate.”

“When you have teens that get into a car, obliterated by popping pills and chugging alcohol, every single one of our public, as well as you, is in danger.”

Krista Gabrowski, business owner and parent noted that there is a storm brewing of teens experimenting with drugs and alcohol. She found it alarming that every weekend there are dangerous episodes of partying happening all over Petaluma.”


Mayor Glass noted the council’s concern over drug use amongst Petaluma’s school children and the successes we’ve had thus far with various drug prevention programs. He also emphasized the extremely dire straits the city continues to be in financially, pointing out that, “there are all sorts of areas where we are coming up short of what we used to do.”

Councilmember Chris Albertson pointed out that Lafferty had been on the closed session agenda 27 times over the last 32 months and expressed the hope that the city would share information about what it’s doing in this regard with the public soon. Albertson expressed surprise that the media had not been following this issue.

Councilmember Mike Healy suggested that a joint meeting with the Petaluma School Board might be in order, as had occurred on occasion before, to discuss finding funding for the return of school resource officers to Petaluma school campuses.

1. Approval of Minutes

A. Approval of Minutes of Regular City Council/PCDSA Meeting of Monday, March 21, 2016.

Approved as submitted.

2. Approval of Proposed Agenda

A. Approval of Agenda for Regular City Council/PCDSA Meeting of Monday, April 18, 2016.

3. Consent Calendar

A. Resolution Accepting Claims and Bills for February 2016.
B. Resolution Accepting the June 30, 2015 Annual AB 1600 Development Impact Fee Report.
C. Resolution Authorizing Award of Bid for a Two-Year Weed Abatement Contract and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute an Agreement with Keystone Tractor Service.
D. Resolution Authorizing Program Administration Fees for the Mobile Home Park Space Rent Stabilization Program for 2016.

Bill Donahue of Sandalwood Estates told the council that the two most recent residents to go to arbitration via the Mobile Home rent control ordinance lost, and had their rents double. He pleaded with the council to amend this ordinance to give the city council final authority over the ordinance and its decisions.

Donahue called it a disgraceful, unjust situation and suggested Petaluma “do like Santa Rosa does” and retain the ability to overturn unjust decisions.

Councilman Healy asked City Attorney Danly to respond to Mr. Donahue’s comments.

Danly agreed to return to the council with more information about the City of Santa Rosa’s ordinance and its procedures.

The Consent Calendar was approved by unanimous vote.

4. Unfinished Business

A. Resolution Authorizing Grading Prior to Final Map Approval for the Riverfront Subdivision Project.

Approved by vote of 5 – 2, with Glass and Barrett in opposition, with the latter wondering why the city would give the applicant special treatment.

Mayor Glass noted he was voting against for sake of consistency. He remained deeply disappointed that the synthetic turf soccer field had been stripped from the development by the city council, despite having made it through so many layers of the planning process.

Councilmember Teresa Barrett expressed similar objections.

“I don’t see why we should be giving special treatment to a project that didn’t live up to its end of what it was approved to provide.”

5. New Business

A. Resolution Appointing a Council Liaison to the Technology Advisory Committee for the Remainder of the 2016 Calendar Year.

The council unanimously (and enthusiastically) voted to appoint Gabe Kearney as the body’s liaison to the city’s Tech Advisory Committee.

B. Resolution Authorizing Execution of a Professional Services Agreement to Prepare a Partnership Agreement Proposal Between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Multi-Agency Proponents for Dredging the Shallow-Draft Federal Channels of San Pablo Bay.

The Army Corps has proposed to seek an alternative delivery system for dredging the shallow channels of San Pablo Bay. Mr. St. John had little information to offer the council about what the Corps’ proposed partnership agreement would look like.

Hopes to have a solid proposal to give the Corps by summertime.

The prospective partners include Petaluma, San Rafael, Vallejo, Marin County, the Sonoma County Water Agency, and the Napa County Flood Control District.

The Corps is looking for a “Poster Child” for this collaboration.

Unlikely we would get any money for dredging for at least two years.

“It’s a step forward, but it’s a little bit of a step into the unknown,” said Mr. St. John.

Mr. Healy asked what Plan B is, should this plan not work out, to which Teresa Barrett responded, “This is Plan B.”

6. Public Hearing

A. Resolution 2016-051 N.C.S. Adopting a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Marina Apartments Project Located at the Petaluma Marina, APN: 005-060-053, -054, -059, -065, -070, -072, -079, -082, -084, -085, and -089 File No: PLZT-15-0001, PLSR-15-0011; and, Resolution 2016-052 N.C.S. Granting an Appeal and Overturning the Decision of the Planning Commission to Deny Modifications to the General Development Plan for the Marina Planned Community District Located at the Petaluma Marina APN: 005-060-053, -054, -059, -065, -070, -072, -079, -082, -084, -085, and -089; File No: PLZT-15-0001, PLSR-15-0011. – Continued from the March 7, 2016 Regular City Council/PCDSA Meeting.

Kevin Colin gave the city’s staff presentation regarding this project adjacent to the Petaluma Marina. It’s part of what is called the Lakeville Highway Subarea and the Marina Planned Community Development. Marina PCD was established in 1988, one year after the Marina was constructed. This considers an amendment to the Marina PCD to permit residential uses, which are currently not permitted. Increases building height to 5 stories and proposes up to 90 units in a new 5-story apartment building.

Mayor Glass asked if anyone had analyzed what economic impact the building would have on the Marina Sheraton’s business, since it partially blocks its view.

The Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Committee asked for improved access between Lakeville and Allman Marsh.

Planning Commission adopted a mitigated negative declaration in a 3 – 1 vote.

Paul Andronico, general counsel with Basin Street Properties, sought to explain why the applicant submitted a letter to the council immediately prior to the beginning of the council meeting. Andronico noted that the project is currently in jeopardy due to rising construction costs. He asked the city to not to put another obstacle up that might prevent the project’s construction.

There’s only one thing going up faster than construction costs, and that’s rents,” said Mayor Glass.

“I wish that were true, Mr. Mayor,” replied Andronico.

Glass suggested if the margin for this was really $180,000, as he suggested, perhaps Basin should walk away now.

Melissa Hathaway of the Pedestrian committee pointed out that there is never any funding for walking and bike paths. “Please,” she pleaded, “push forward on this bike path.”

Teresa Barrett was none too pleased about this project. She voted against it at the Planning Commission because there was no solar involved, a real shame given all the carports called for in the apartment project.

“I can’t believe that this is another missed opportunity of not adding solar and that’s a real problem.”

Paraphrasing Barrett: Now Basin has suggested in a letter that it may be an medical office building anyway, after it had already metastasized from 80 to 90 units. The letter Basin belatedly sent to the council sounds like what they want is entitlements rather than what would be best for Petaluma. The area is truly gridlocked with traffic at times. Not to put in a bike lane just does not make sense for the city. They’re getting over $200k break in their impact fees, this just doesn’t wash for her. Class 1 bike lane must be built and done early in the project.

Barrett also suggested that there’s something really odd in Petaluma, whereby Basin St. claims there’s interest in a huge medical office complex, yet just two years prior the Walgreens project suggested there was an excess of office medical property in town and proposed removing some of it.

She suggested this really felt like a bait and switch on Basin Street’s part.

“Our right as a council is to decide what would be best for Petaluma, and the Mayor is right in saying that this is upzoning. This is [a] much more dense use of this property in an area that already has tremendous traffic problems.”

“Anyone familiar with the area knows” that around the time Casa Grande High School lets out on Lakeville and Baywood many other streets, “it is truly gridlocked.”

“Not to put in a Class 1 bike lane, which offers a safe and sane alternative to people getting around that area without having to worry about the traffic on Lakeville or Baywood, just doesn’t make sense for us as a city. We really need to look at improving the circulation alternatives for people in this city as we try to increase and approve infill. We want infill, but we want infill that serves our society, our community and the circulation of people within that community.”

Councilmember Mike Healy noted the bike path portion of this project, which Basin St. does not want to build, would just be one small piece. Over $40,000 in fees from this project (if it goes forward as apartments) would go into a fund which could fund future bike path construction. Those funds could accumulate and we could prioritize where to spend them.

Healy helpfully paraphrased the language of the Basin Street letter, commenting that “when I hear people talk about trying to burden this project with these additional ‘coloring outside the box-type’ of requirements or exactions, I think that’s letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. I think that 90 units of housing for this community in the midst of a regional housing crisis is a good of incredible benefit to the community.”

Albertson suggested to Mr. Andronico that the applicant’s last-minute letter to the council didn’t help matters much, but he was inclined to approve the measure without the bike path.

Miller had problems with the bike path, as it’s not going to be a completed bike path, just a tiny little section. She suggested the council prioritize bike paths, echoing Healy’s suggestion. She’ll be supporting the project due to the city’s desperate need for housing.

Kearney had no comments initially, but later added that he was not comfortable compelling the appellant to build a bike path that it did not fully control. He also suggested there would probably be money in the budget to construct the path eventually.

Councilmember King suggested that yes, it’s just a piece of a bike path, but the whole bike system is a piece by piece enterprise and every small piece is a movement in the right direction. He was inclined to approve the apartments but on the condition of bike path construction.

A proposal emerged which King said he would support that required construction of just the portion of the bike path that the city controlled.

“This is a lack of vision, I’m sorry to say,” said Barrett.

“This is giving you the beginning of a backbone of a safe way for people to get around. It’s going to happen. This is the first step.”

Mayor Glass said that one bike path piece is the least we can do. He then went on to read extensively from the city’s staff report, which details many areas of our General Plan which explicitly require the city to pursue bicycle facilities like the one in question here.

Kearney didn’t like that the piece of the bike path in question wasn’t in front of, or touching the property where the apartment complex would be built, leading him to wonder how we tell Basin to do something off the property they’re developing.

Sensing consensus, Healy tried to move the item, but Glass wasn’t finished, bringing the conversation back to the lack of solar attached to this project.

Barrett helpfully offered a motion that included the bike path and added a solar panel requirement, which was promptly seconded by King.

Healy: “I’m not quite sure why we’re doing this. We have a council consensus and then we have the side that doesn’t have the votes trying to offer a motion; I’ve never seen this happen before.”

Healy proceeded to make a motion removing the bike path requirements.

Several motions to move the item were approved by 4 – 3 votes, with Glass, Barrett and King dissenting.

The final motion – without the bike path- was approved by 5 – 2 vote.

Council Comment

Healy:  Water Advisory Committee approved its budget by unanimous vote. Lake Mendo at 100%, Lake Sonoma at 109%. He also noted there will be an extensive outreach to the Latino community soon that will focus on the safety of our tap water. The belief is that many in that community may have residual cultural beliefs that tap water is less safe than bottled, and be unnecessarily spending money on bottled water.

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