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

Petaluma Tomorrow
Council Watch Report
April 4, ampoule 2016

Attendance
Councilmembers Mike Healy, hospital Chris Albertson, and 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

 

Proclamation

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.”

Visit PetalumaParentsAgainstDrugs.org

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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Mike Harris: Some things you may not know

harris screen shot

The things you should know about Mike Harris (and share with others who don’t know)

…The Harris record on Fiscal Responsibility and taxes, Rainier funding, public safety and politics…

The Overview:

  • Fiscal Responsibility and Taxes: Harris has consistently worked to let developers and certain business interests off the hook for their fair share of infrastructure costs while seeking to increase the burden on residents through higher taxes. Most recently it’s Measure Q, the Harris, no strings attached, forever sales tax increase.

  • Rainier: Harris says he supports building the Rainier cross connector but in his 12 years as a council member he has never secured a penny to fund it. Further the Harris, no strings attached, forever tax increase does not provide any guarantee that any monies will go to Rainier.

  • Public Safety: After the Sandy Hook school shooting the city council voted on an common sense public safety proposal – to ban assault weapons. Harris was the only council member to oppose banning assault weapons. (January 2013 council meeting)

  • Politics: Despite being a non partisan race, Harris’ political objectives are decidedly partisan Republican.   His objectives include registering and electing Republicans and he has been active in Republican leadership supporting Bush, Cheney, McCain, Palin and organizations promoting climate deniers Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry and others.

The Detail:

HARRIS IS NOT FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE: As the PD states, Harris “fails to demonstrate the kind of fiscal responsibility the city needs.” Press Democrat, September 29, 2014

Taxes: Harris has consistently sought to unfairly shift the burden for the cost of managing our city to taxes on the residents of Petaluma

2010  Opposed an increase in the Visitor/Hotel Tax that would have raised taxes for out-of-town visitors staying in local hotels but now he wants to tax you (June 2010 Council Meeting)

2012   Supported taxing residents to pay for playing fields,          but two years later was letting developers off the hook for funding fields.

2014  Let developer Basin Street off the hook for the costs of a badly needed all weather play field

2014  Supports Measure Q, the Harris, no strings   attached, forever sales tax increase.  The tax will result in among the highest rates in the bay area — at 9.25% a full half percent higher than San Francisco!

The Harris, no strings attached, forever sales tax increase is seriously flawed:

  • As a sales tax it has a proportionately greater impact on those with fixed or lower incomes;

 Screen Shot

      A reflection of the Harris view of a Petaluma Sales Tax Increase?

  • The tax continues forever – there is no sunset clause and effectively no way to eliminate it if it is voted in;

  • The tax has no strings attached – the money can be used for whatever the Council decides and as a general tax there is absolutely no guarantee that any, let alone all of it, will  go to fund Rainier, fix our streets, hire police or any of the other things it promises to address.

 Fiscally Irresponsible: In addition to the Harris, no strings attached, forever sales tax, Mr. Harris is unable to articulate a clear plan for meeting the financial needs of the city. He relies on promises of money from development but shows no appreciation for the numbers. The Mike Maher, aka, Petaluma Pete interviews (Petaluma Mayor Race – 5 Questions, 5 Answers) of Candidates Glass and Harris make this clear.  Note that Harris avoids or is unable to put the numbers together to show how we will meet our financial needs.

HARRIS LACKS A PLAN TO DELIVER ON RAINIER PROMISES:  For years Harris has played political football with the Rainier Cross town Connector stating support to win favor with voters yet failing to deliver on the one thing needed — funding.

  • Talk is cheap:  Harris campaign literature states that he is the “only candidate for Mayor who has supported the Rainier Cross-town Connector” when it came before City Council.  But…

  • Rainier is expensive:  …and all the hollow promises and campaign mailers will not pay for it.  In his 12 years as a Council member he has never secured a penny dedicated to funding Rainier.  And, the Harris, no strings attached, forever sales tax increase he is now promoting as an answer provides no assurance that any proceeds will go to Rainier over the many other possible uses listed.

Harris’ inability to articulate a clear plan for Rainier and the city in general is clear in an enlightening commentary in the The Raucous Rooster.

 

HARRIS’ POLITICS SUPPORT THE EXTREME OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: Since city elections are non partisan a candidate’s political party should not matter.  One could argue this is the reason that many do not know that Harris is a Republican and, before the radicalization of the Republican Party, most would not care.  However, Harris is not just  a Republican leader  but one who has taken leadership positions in Northern California in support of its most concerning candidates.  His Republican resume:

  • 2002 Sonoma County Republican Party Chairman

  • 2004 Republican National Convention Delegate for George Bush (Bush/Cheney)

  • 2008 Regional Deputy Chairman, McCain’s California Presidential Campaign/Sarah Palin Vice President

  • Supported the Northern California Lincoln Club with contributions out of his Council campaigns.  The club promotes climate change deniers like Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry and like minded Tea Party members.

Summing it up:

In addition to saying that Harris lacks the fiscal responsibility needed, a look at his record and his words confirms the other two comments the Press Democrat made about Harris when they endorsed David Glass:

  • “[Harris] has done little to distinguish himself as a leader on the council…”

  • “[Harris] fails to make a good argument for why he should replace the existing mayor…”

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Please Vote November 4!

Petaluma Tomorrow
General Election
November 4, 2014

Endorsements

Mayor
David Glass
http://www.votedavidglass.com

Council
Teresa Barrett
http://barrett4petaluma.com

Janice Cader-Thompson
http://democracy.com/Janicecader-thompson4petaluma2014/issues.aspx?Tag=Community

SRJC Board of Trustees Area 2
Maggie Fishman
http://democracy.com/MaggieFishman

Thank you to the many members who responded to our Summer Endorsements Poll and request for member feedback. We really appreciate all the constructive, honest responses– this gives us a lot to work on after the election. And the complete summary of our Members’ Poll will follow shortly!

Absentee ballots will be arriving any day. These are crucial races for sustaining a Progressive voice on the City Council and developing a community voice on the SRJC Board of Trustees.

Those of you who watched the recent City Council Candidates forums could see clear differences among the candidates.

Please use the candidates’ web addresses to contact the campaigns directly and to donate, volunteer and place a sign in your yard.

Please remember to vote on Tuesday, November 4!

PT Board of Directors

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