Newsletter April 14, 2021

Dear Petaluma Voters,

From time to time, since the Nov. 3, 2020, election, I communicated with many supporters I’d share my positions on issues reviewed by the Petaluma City Council. Here are a few recent issues, with the input I would provide:


Riverbend residential development, downtown Petaluma:
The City Council’s approval of the modified development ignored the significant findings in the Biological Resources report submitted by concerned citizens. Definitely, additional review and changes to ensure a balance of housing with environmental protection and enhancement should have occurred.

West 6th Street historic home remodel – excavation of 5,000+ cu. ft. of soil underneath the house, several feet from 3 historic residences:
Sufficient findings existed for the City of Petaluma to request an environmental review of the planned massive excavation underneath this residence. An environmental review should have been required.

Kelly Creek/Davidon development proposal – Review of Draft Environmental Impact Report:

The DEIR contained multiple deficiencies. The City Council directed the City staff to prepare the Final EIR and return to the City Council for consideration. I submitted written comments from one of the nonprofit organizations I lead for the public record.

Fundraising to acquire and conserve the entire Scott Ranch property is the best solution for this land and the community. The updated Biological Resources opinion of Dr. Shawn Smallwood has merit and should have been reviewed more closely and considered by the City Council – it was not. A smaller acreage housing imprint with smaller townhomes, higher density, and extensive greening could be considered. The current park/trails design is too impactful for the sensitive environmental area of Kelly Creek and environs.

The fundraising to date is admirable. A serious discussion with the property owner/developer about leaving the property and selling it for conservation would be a good idea. The 28-luxury home development is currently not compatible with this property nor with current climate action goals and plans for the community of Petaluma.

The Kelly Creek Extension Project and Petalumans 4 Responsible Planning are groups with experience and dedication – working together, it is possible to find a pathway to acquire and conserve this land entirely. I will review the Final EIR when it returns to the City Council. Enough information was contained in the DEIR for me to feel comfortable providing this feedback to date.

Much energy and work have been devoted to the Extend Helen Putnam Regional Park Project. The Draft Environmental Impact Report recently reviewed by the Petaluma City Council was not adequate in multiple areas. The updated Biological Resources opinion of Dr. Shawn Smallwood, Ph.D., provided by Petalumans for Responsible Planning, was not given sufficient consideration.

The Kelly Creek property, with the amount of funds raised to date and currently a too impactful park/trail design for the extension, is exceptional habitat, serving multiple species, including the threatened California Red-Legged Frog.

A decrease in number of luxury homes to 28 may not adequately blend with the level of habitat destruction, human encroachment and all that accompanies that for this land. Either a lesser acreage footprint with more affordable housing in a higher density setting, or an emphasis on fundraising to complete a full purchase of the property, now in 2021, would be my recommendation for consideration. The Petaluma City staff was given direction to prepare the Final Environmental Impact Report. I will review that report carefully as well and post on my website my questions and conclusions when that document becomes available.

Community Safety

Advisory Committee on Community Safety:
The consultant retained by the City of Petaluma will best function in a primary role with this new committee. The City Legal Department and City Manager should take a backseat and not be present, or participate with this committee, in order for committee members to feel comfortable in expressing their concerns and experiences, without feeling intimidated or having input spun in public relations, to try and protect the City. Addressing the Police Department structure and function for Petaluma is important for our future, and hopefully the consultant will help create and maintain boundaries as well as integrity in process, to represent this process of the community as effectively as possible.

Planning for our Community’s Future

General Plan Advisory Committee:
This is an area, planning for the update of the City’s General Plan, and our future, where my experience is deep. The current committee has too many members. The best representation for the community will be a manageable sized group that can develop synergy, and the possibility of 1-3 ad hoc committees to offer input to the Advisory Committee members on housing, transportation, and the environmenta/open space.

That structure would support a dynamic communication process that the current large committee composition does not. I would not suggest more than 4 ad hoc committees, but small ad hoc committees of 1-3 individuals, researching and reporting on specific issues, would support an Advisory Committee of 15-16 people maximum, and also give many in the community an opportunity to be part of the process, not just attend meetings as members of the public.

The ad hoc committee members would be selected by the Advisory Committee members. Here’s the list of individuals I would have supported for the Advisory Committee, 16 total..

Beverly Alexander
Erin Chmielewski
Delia Diaz
Ali Gaylord
Teddy Herzog
Susan Kirks
Lance Kuehne
Iliana Madrigal
Kris Rebillot
Bill Rinehart
Elizabeth Shimozaki
Patricia Tuttle Brown
John Shribbs, PhD
Matt Brown
Janice Cader-Thompson
Panama Bartholmy


Petaluma Fairgrounds: A public effort is underway to question the City of Petaluma’s motivations and to ask for assurance of preserving the Marin-Sonoma Fair. The public voices are rising because of what can be described as suboptimal communication and process for the ad hoc committee and the Fair Board in meetings and communication.

Active engagement, a new ad hoc committee for the City, and support for the Fair remaining at this site, along with beginning the planning for emergency services support, adding farm animal sanctuaries to the Fair, looking at the site for a new Fire and Community Safety Complex, new City Hall, affordable housing, and environmental enhancement – open space, habitat assessment and wildlife movement preservation, etc, would I believe be welcomed by Petaluma voters and citizens. When citizens rise up and react, they do so related to dissatisfaction or perceived disregard for the community.

Please contact me by email at, or phone/text (707) 779-9788, with questions, interests and concerns. Best regards and thank you for your continued support!

Susan Kirks