2020 City Council Candidates

Where do the candidates stand on the Davidon residential development in the Western Hills
(D Street/Windsor)?

The next City Council will decide the future of this land. But it’s not over yet!

In 2003, Davidon Homes of Walnut Creek purchased the 58 acre Scott Ranch on the edge of Petaluma at Windsor and D Street next to Helen Putnam Park for $7.8 million. Petalumans for Responsible Planning (PetRP) has been actively analyzing Davidon’s building applications and environmental reports for 16 years.

A private deal was negotiated between Kelly Creek Protection Project and the developer, Davidon Homes. This negotiation, constructed behind closed doors and not available for the public or the City to review, has no legal standing. It requires the City’s approval to build 28 homes in exchange for the unbuildable 44 acres to be added to Helen Putnam Park.

We asked the city council candidates two questions:

#1 - Does the City Council have an obligation to agree to the Kelly Creek/Davidon agreement to approve 28 homes in exchange for adding of 44 acres to Helen Putnam Park? Please explain/justify your position.

#2 - What is your opinion about building homes in an elevated fire threat area?

Note: This open space is designated as elevated risk of fire threat according to the California Public Utilities Commission (2019). https://ia.cpuc.ca.gov/firemap/

Please go to the Petaluma Area Fire Risk page to see the enlarged map and check to see whether your location is in the Tier 2, Elevated Risk, category. The categories are Tier 1 (Extreme) and Tier 2 (Elevated).

Responses from City Council Candidates

Below are the responses about the “unofficial deal” for 28 homes and building in an elevated fire threat area.

Brian Barnacle


I am not clear whether a contract (if that is what the agreement is) between two private parties obligates a public agency like the City Council to uphold it. However, my position on housing is very clear: I fully support housing development in Petaluma that targets our RHNA affordable housing objectives, is in close proximity to transit, and does not require new infrastructure to support it. I am also opposed to further development at the edge of the municipal envelope because of the resulting increased traffic and GHG emission levels. On several counts, the Davidon project does not meet my personal criteria for new housing.

Building homes in an elevated fire threat area does not make sense, particularly in light of the demonstrated fire risk of the past four years. If elected to the City Council, I would make sure this is accounted for in EIRs and city policy.

Mike Healy


My commitment is to carefully review the agreement between the Kelly Creek Protection Project and Davidon Homes, as well as the project EIR, and make the decision that is in the community’s best interest. There are many challenges here, including traffic, listed species, viewscapes, potentially unstable hillsides, drainage and localized flooding, all of which I anticipate will be addressed in the forthcoming EIR. Yet it does not go unnoticed that the current proposal is for 28 homes, compared to the 93 originally proposed, that the red barn and the most sensitive red legged frog habitat would both be preserved, that lands would be added to Putnam Park and a new park trail and parking lot would be added. It is also worth noting that adding lands to Putnam Park requires a willing seller, which we have here. At the end of the analysis, the question is likely to be whether this proposal is the best result that likely can be achieved.

The CPUC fire map is frightening, to say the least. I would note that according to that map, several existing homes in Victoria are included in the “Tier 2 – Elevated Fire Threat” area, including nine on Oxford Court, four on Dublin Court and four on Cambridge Lane. There are well over a hundred additional existing homes inside the city limits in nearby neighborhoods that are also included in the “Tier 2 – Elevated Fire Threat” area. These areas extend almost to Grant and McNear Schools. Existing homes in the “Tier 2 – Elevated Fire Threat” area include homes on Iverson Way, West Haven Way, La Cresta Drive, Scenic Way, B Street, D Street, I Street, Sunnyslope Avenue, Sunnyslope Road, Suncrest Hill Road, Sunny Hill Drive, Wallenberg Way, Pinnacle Drive, Smith Drive, Smith Court, Ridgeview Drive, Clearview Place, Mountain View Avenue, Rancho Lindo Drive and Lavender Terrace. That is a wake-up call. So regardless of whether 28 additional homes get approved (certainly with fire resistant features, in addition to sprinklers), the City needs to take proactive steps to protect existing neighborhoods from wildfire threats. To me, that provides yet another reason to support Measure U. I pledge that if Measure U passes, I will support using part of the additional funds for wildfire protection measures along the City’s southwestern edge.

Susan Kirks


The revised EIR will need to be reviewed, considering environmental impacts, including cumulative impacts and any request for overriding considerations. Direction to staff from the 2017 Council meeting was to go in the direction of evaluating the 28 homes alternative in the context of further review of environmental impacts, along with responses to multiple other questions. At this point, I could say a review of the revised EIR, including updated biological resources reports, would need to occur. A high priority to conservation and ensuring protection of habitat and the threatened California Red-Legged Frog, as well as the wildlife corridor (which I identified over 14 years, connected to the Paula Lane property and area), is one priority lens through which I would review the revised EIR. Based on this review, and upholding the highest protections possible, I would then be in a position to provide further comment and opinion.

Building homes in an elevated fire threat area is not advisable.

Dennis Pocekay


First of all, I must note that I live in the Victoria development/neighborhood. Last election, I stated that I was between 495-505 feet from the Davidon property, but this year I found a more detailed map, and I feel that I am between 485-495 feet from the nearest corner of Davidon. Based on this fact, I expect that I would need to recuse myself from this issue. That said I do not believe that the Council has any obligation to agree to the Kelly Creek/Davidon agreement. Any future Council decision will depend on the new EIR, as well as public review of agreement documents and reconsideration of the fire threat in the area.

There is increasing concern statewide about continuing to build in elevated fire threat areas. On my reading of the 2017 City Council meeting on this development, I saw no mention of fire threat in the discussion. I also recollect that the first areas outside the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) to be considered for development after General Plan “build-out” are in the western hills, just outside the UGB from Davidon. I’m sure this will be remedied in the next General Plan, but what do we do in the interim? We must do the right thing! At the very least, a Council that decides to go ahead with this project must insist on fire-resistant construction, larger distances between houses, and reduced fuel within 100 feet of structures.

Lizzie Wallack


I believe that the Council is not bound by the agreement KCPP struck with Davidon. But at the same time, I have great appreciation for citizens groups, such as Petaluma for Responsible Planning and KCPP, that are willing to play a role in our land-use planning. I hope these groups and many more will be actively engaged in the upcoming General plan update.

New homes in the Wild Urban Interface (WUI) very worrisome to me. We must look at the tragic Tubbs, Carr, and Camp Fires to understand our inability to protect homes in the WUI. These are lessons that we must heed.

The following candidates did not respond to the questions:

Robert Conklin - rconk78@gmail.com

Gabe Kearney - gkearney@cityofpetaluma.org

Kathy Miller - kmiller@cityofpetaluma.org

Above all, PetRP believes in full transparency and the public process. Follow us on Facebook or send us your thoughts by email.

Be safe and well.


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