Davidon/Scott Ranch - Tip Sheet - Commenting on the Draft EIR
A legally adequate EIR is required by law under CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) before the City can approve the proposed Davidon project. The DEIR must do the following:
- describe the project completely and accurately;
- describe “existing” conditions on and around the project site without the project;
- analyze the project’s environmental impacts;
- evaluate the cumulative impacts that would result from the project and other projects in the area;
- identify feasible and effective mitigation measures for those environmental impacts that are determined to be significant;
- identify alternatives to the project that would reduce the project’s significant impacts.
This Draft EIR focuses on issue areas including the following:
- aesthetics/ views
- hydrology (drainage, flooding, and water quality)
- geology (landslides)
- sensitive habitats and species (e.g., wetlands
- the California red legged frog) and more.
Under CEQA, the public has a “privileged position” because “citizens can make important contributions to environmental protection” based on “notions of democratic decision making."
The Draft EIR is available online at:
Hard copies of the Draft EIR are available at the Petaluma library, the City Clerk’s and Community Development offices at city hall, and Lucchesi Community Center.
Comments on the Draft EIR are due to the City no later than 5:00 p.m. June 19, 2017.
Address your comments to:
City of Petaluma
Alicia Giudice, Senior Planner
11 English Street
Petaluma CA 94952
or email to
The Subject line of email or caption at the top of your letter should state: “Comments on Davidon Homes Draft EIR”.
TIPS FOR COMMENTING
- Don’t be intimidated by the size of the Draft EIR. You could focus on a specific section of the EIR that interests you and read it thoroughly. You don’t need to read it all! If you only have limited time, and would like a brief overview of the project and its environmental impacts, you may want to review the Draft EIR’s Executive Summary (Chapter 2).
- Provide facts based on your own experience. Say where you live and what you have witnessed on and around the project site.
- However, avoid speculation or apprehension. For example, saying, “I live at this address, I’ve been counting cars that pass this intersection for the past x years, and the number has gone from 5 cars/morning to 50 with the addition of new developments” is far more factual than “I’m concerned traffic will get worse.”
- Avoid criticizing the project at this point (you can do this during the Planning Commission and City Council hearing process). Your comments should address the inadequacy of the EIR’s analyses. Ask pointed questions about the environmental impact analysis that should be investigated. Identify any errors in assumptions or methodology.
- Suggest specific mitigation measures that would reduce the project’s environmental impacts. Suggest alternatives to aspects of the proposed development that would be feasible and would reduce the impacts.
- If you have some expertise, use it. Describe your expertise and attach a CV if helpful to validate your expertise.
- You can write multiple letters, each one on a separate topic. Write early and often.
- If you wrote a letter on the prior DEIR (2013), and the issues are still applicable, copy and paste your text into a new letter to the City.
- Include evidence (photos, video, audio tapes, data records) even if collected after the deadline.
- Send copies to us, Petalumans for Responsible Planning at: PetRP@comcast.net , and send copies to other City officials, e.g. Planning Commission, City Council. See list of e-mail addresses on the last page.
- Show up and speak at the City’s public hearings; your oral presentation is also considered as comment.
- Currently, a hearing is tentatively scheduled before City Council on May 15, 2017.
EXAMPLES OF POSSIBLE COMMENT TOPICS
(Make sure your statements are true for you and based on your experience.)
- I live nearby in Victoria; we have steep, unstable, sliding hillsides. Fixing the problem requires ______ (describe). The Draft EIR ignores these slope failures. The EIR should analyze how the Davidon project will increase landslide threats in our neighborhood. Include photos of unstable slopes if you have them. Don’t forget to label the location of the photos.
- I live near the intersection of Sunnyslope Ave. and Sunnyslope Road. I have witnessed several instances where this location floods. The water backs up and causes ____ (describe impacts, e.g., street flooding, yard flooding). It is my understanding that this flooding is occurring because ____ (describe. e.g., undersized culverts at location).
- When someone washes a car or paint brushes upstream, this is what I see ____.
- The Draft EIR does not indicate whether the hillside soil and hydrology testing was conducted during recent wet months. It also does not disclose the assumptions and methodology that were used for this hydrological testing.
- The barn is an invaluable cultural resource. Its loss or relocation would destroy the cultural integrity of the area. The EIR should disclose the cost to move it vs. leaving it as is. The Draft EIR should include a project alternative that repurposes the barn as a museum, displaying the old dairying methods. As part of this museum, the cows could be kept there with a weekend milking demo for kids.
- I drive by the red barn every day. The barn, together with the creek and meadow, are a scenic treasure. Cutting down the trees will ruin this view. Moving the red barn will ruin this view. Even if the barn remains, building a subdivision around the barn will ruin this view.
- The photographs in the Draft EIR do not do justice to the beauty of the project site. The photos are taken from a perspective that appear to deliberately downplay the stunning setting of the project site.
- In order to allow the public to understand how this project will impact this scenic viewshed, the City should require Davidon to erect story poles showing where it would put these houses.
- I live downstream on Kelly Creek at ___. I’ve seen unusual creatures (photo, date) in the creek. I believe they were [tiger salamanders because ____.
- I have seen birds, owls and/or bats (describe species) nesting in the eucalyptus trees above the barn (describe what you have seen and at what times of year).
- We cherish the peace and quiet in our communities. The Draft EIR does not evaluate how the increase in traffic or noise from construction will affect the livability of our community.
- The Draft EIR explains that the emissions from construction of the project will cause a significant increased risk of cancer for nearby infants. The Draft EIR tries to explain that this impact can be “mitigated.” I don’t believe it. There are several babies in the nearby community. A heightened risk of cancer is simply unacceptable.
- The Draft EIR does not indicate whether there are any underground tanks left over from the ranch operation on this site. If you have any indication that there may be tanks on the project site, please state this and explain your reasoning.
- The project will increase recreational demand but we can find no analysis of this issue in the Draft EIR. Where is the nearest open field for recreational play? There's no place in this neighborhood to throw a frisbee, play catch, touch football, volleyball. The City should study the recreational needs on the west side.
- Will the project’s houses have solar-ready roofs? What is the carbon footprint of this development?
- The Victoria homebuilder went bankrupt and did not fix defects in construction and site preparation. The City should require that Davidon post an adequate bond, guaranty, or trust fund to cover the long-term possibilities of adverse impacts on the homeowners and the City.
- What will happen if the developer of the Davidon site goes bankrupt after all of the trees are cut down and the site is graded? The City must require that the developer grade only that portion of the site where development is imminent.
- Kelly Creek and its tributaries are critical natural resources, yet the project proposes dense development adjacent to these waterways. The project tries to downplay the existence of the large D Street tributary, running it through a culvert so that houses can be built on top of it with no setback. The project also proposes excessive density at the edge of the City’s urban growth boundary. The EIR should include an alternative that clusters houses on the less-sensitive parts of the site, away from Kelly Creek and its tributaries, and away from the urban growth boundary. Also, if there is a plan to continue grazing cattle on parts of the land, what will be done to exclude them from the creek so they don’t continue (as they do now) to affect the water quality?
- The project would build a new trail along Kelly Creek that would run behind and between the project houses' back fences, on both sides. This design would result in a degraded park experience for walkers. The EIR should mitigate this recreational impact by clearly separating the private and public areas here and by building on only one side of the creek, if at all.
Petaluma Planning Commission
Make certain that any comments go to the Petaluma City Council before
April 4, 2017
If you wish to mail a comment, it must be received before the Planning Commission meeting: Alcia Giudice, City of Petaluma, 11 English Street, Petaluma, CA 94952.
Petaluma City Council
Make certain that any comments go to the Petaluma City Council before
June 19, 2017
**** David Glass will recuse himself (not participate in this decision) because he lives within 500 feet of the proposed development. You can omit David Glass in your e-mail.