More on Housing, Neighborhoods, Transportation and Good Government

Our focus on building new housing needs to be affordable housing. Petaluma can create a mix of town-homes, condos, apartments and smaller imprint homes to encourage sustainable population growth and housing people can actually afford to rent and purchase and be part of our greater community. This must be a #1 priority of the City Council of 2023 and going forward. Susan attends all General Plan Advisory Committee meetings and is beginning to hear discussion of goals she identified in her 2022 City Council campaign, so there is resonance for the priorities Susan identified several years ago related to the dilemmas and opportunities around housing in Petaluma.

As a community of compassion, our City government and nonprofit organizations and community members must continue to seek best solutions for our unsheltered population, cooperating and collaborating with County and State partners. As the General Plan is updated, creating neighborhoods with green and open spaces and nearby amenities as well as a connected transportation system of biking, walking, bus and private vehicle transport as needed will build areas within a City that are both distinct and connected.

For the new General Plan update underway, Susan supports the Smart Growth Network’s 10 principles of smart growth to be the lens through which zoning and density are re-planned, updating the General Plan. Here are the 10 principles:

  • Mix land uses.
  • Take advantage of compact building design.
  • Create a range of housing opportunities and choices.
  • Create walkable neighborhoods.
  • Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place.
  • Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas.
  • Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities.
  • Provide a variety of transportation choices.
  • Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective.
  • Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions.

Through the lens of Climate Leadership, Susan supports the Climate Action Framework goals and proposed actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing VMT (vehicle miles traveled), improving and enhancing transit and transportation capability (lower fares on SMART, the ability to ride SMART from north Petaluma to downtown and back, free in-city public transit, excellent bike and pedestrian trails for health, activity and safety, and electrical charge stations to support bikes and autos.

In reviewing and seeking to improve our City Government, we also must review and potentially make changes to the Planning Department within City government, as well as the planning relationship to City Management and the City Legal Department. Setting meeting agendas and time management of public meetings, in consideration of members of the public participating in our meetings, is important.

Where’s the best location for a vehicle cross-town connector? It is Caulfield. We also can create traffic relief by upgrading the Corona Road crossing in north Petaluma.

As we plan for increasing housing and supporting business opportunities, the City’s Economic Development Department needs to be more substantive. A recent new name, Department of Economic Development and Open Government, does not at all reflect the reality of Petaluma City government. The City government is not open. But, a Mayor and City Council who support such a concept becoming more of a reality could make this possible. For Petaluma’s future, the Economic Development Department will be most effective by connecting to other cities in the Bay Area, focusing on attracting green business, industry, and potentially telecommute professionals with whom the City can cultivate relationships with the tech industry, while supporting small business innovation and success here.  Also, supporting a transition to plant-based agriculture and transitioning from longstanding animal agriculture will position Petaluma to be a 21st Century City of sustainable living and compassion. Without question, this movement will attract many new residents to live and work here. Considering lands that have been used for animal agriculture or related practices and transforming these to open space and affordable residential housing areas will also resonate with sound planning practices for new residents and environmental preservation.

Let’s review permitting processes and fees to remove obstacles and burdens for businesses to locate to and remain in Petaluma. Let’s engage with all sectors of our business community to lift up their role and contributions in the City, supporting job opportunities and services and their success in our community.