Argus Courier Other Views

March 30, 2017


Reject ‘McMansion’ project

West Petaluma luxury home development back at Planning Commission


Anyone driving west out of Petaluma is familiar with the stunning Old Scott Ranch property at the corner of D Street and Windsor Drive.

The former ranch abuts both Helen Putnam Regional Park and Victoria open space. Rolling hills dotted with grazing cattle, a striking large red barn and Kelly Creek make this one of Petaluma’s iconic spaces.

This property offers both a dramatic gateway into modern Petaluma and a window into our past, showcasing our city’s agricultural heritage. It’s a small sliver of relatively untouched land in close proximity to downtown and well-loved natural areas. The Scott Ranch property is also home to some of the best remaining habitat in our region for the endangered California red-legged frog.

Despite the many qualities that make this land unique in Petaluma, an out-of-town developer has been working for years to turn this property into yet another cluster of luxury homes at the edge of town. Davidon Homes initially hoped to cram 93 large, high-end homes onto this 58-acre property. But the plans brought before the Planning Commission were too vague, and its protections for the iconic red barns and endangered California red-legged frog were too weak to pass muster.

Davidon has gone back to the drawing board twice now, presenting progressively smaller plans for its proposed development. The latest plan and updated environmental analysis — this time, Davidon is proposing to build 66 large homes on the property — will go before the Petaluma Planning Commission at its April 4 meeting.

This time, the developer’s preferred proposal includes a plan to move the most prominent of the barns on the property and to restore it. Other options before the Planning Commission include a 63-home alternative, in which the barn would be left in place, and a 28-home alternative, which the analysis identifies as the “environmentally superior” option.

Landslides, drainage problems and flooding are common on the property. Combine that with its historic and environmental values, and it’s questionable if a development of any size would make sense on this property. The Planning Commission will also have to wrestle with the challenge of what is already very heavy traffic on eastbound D Street that is certain to be significantly worsened by a development of this scale.

The reality is that old Scott Ranch is a prime candidate for protection and preservation, not a building site for yet another cluster of million-dollar homes in a community that is struggling with an affordable housing crisis.

When the City of Petaluma updated its General Plan in 2008, it called out the red barns as landmarks to be preserved in place. Donors have already recognized the unique qualities of this property and seeded a fund with $1 million toward purchasing this land with the intention of connecting it to the well-loved and much-used Putnam Park, complete with enhanced access from the Petaluma side of the park.

Petalumans who are committed to preserving our quality of life and the unique character of our community should urge the Planning Commission to once again reject Davidon's attempt to throw an over-sized development of McMansion-style housing on this irreplaceable property. Whether you are concerned about traffic and air quality, protecting rare and endangered species, or preserving an iconic local landmark, please join us in encouraging the city of Petaluma to say “no” to this ill-conceived project.

Please consider attending the April 4 Planning Commission meeting or sharing your thoughts with the commission via email (Senior Planner Alicia Giudice: in advance of the meeting.

To learn more about what you can do to help preserve this property in perpetuity, including signing a petition in support of its protection, go to

(Sherri Fabre-Marcia is Chair and President of Petalumans for Responsible Planning. Lyn Van-Tighem lives on the east side of town and enjoys Putnam Park often.)