City Council Candidates 2014


We asked the candidates to review the following questions and respond to them in 200 words:

  • How many homes should be built on this property, and should the promises of the 1986 City Council statement of intent be adhered to?
  • What should be done to protect the endangered red-legged frog habitat on the property? Knowing that off-site mitigation will probably mean extirpation of our local frogs, should their local protection be a part of this project?
  • What is your response to Petalumans when they complain about cumulative impact of traffic of the Davidon project as more development projects are approved in Petaluma?
  • What is your response to existing residents who are concerned about potential landslides, flooding, and water resources and what will you do about it?
  • Who will provide an expert engineering evaluation of the [red barn] structures, the exact plan for relocation, tree removal and landscaping, the costs involved now and in the future, the change to the appearance of the gateway scenery, and the public amenities that will or will not result?
  • Who should maintain the new trails, parking, and facilities?

City Council Candidates answer . . .

Chris Albertson

A 1986 land use recommendation does not necessarily mean that the decision is absolutely valid today. City government is aware of traffic issues and is working to alleviate them. When the Victoria housing development was built, the pre-existing residents dealt with added traffic caused by the new housing. I would like to hear the recommendation of a professional biologist who knows about red-legged frogs and the best way to protect their numbers. Slippage of soil in this region is a concern. Issues of soil compaction, enhanced construction footings, and design features might address this issue. Geologists, soils engineers, hydrologists, and flood control experts can discuss issues about any potential negative impact and offer ways to mitigate that potential negative impact. I recognize only one large “red barn” at the edge of the creek, which is in danger of damage by creek waters. The developer said that he will move the barn from the creek to insure the building’s continued use. Some trees will be cut down including non-native eucalyptus but some native oak. Petaluma's tree replacement policy has to be followed. The developer will initially fund the new improvements and maintenance. The maintenance costs should then fall to the new homeowners, similar to the landscape assessment districts throughout Petaluma and the improvement and maintenance assessments in the Victoria subdivision.

Teresa Barrett

I have no specific number in mind for this site. However, from the evidence provided in previous submittals, no homes should be built on the hillside east of Windsor Drive or on the south-facing slope of the western portion of this property. The statement of intent included with the approval of Victoria should be honored whenever possible. Whenever mitigation is possible onsite, it should be done, and it is possible here. I do not support encroaching on frog habitat. The DEIR indicated that landslides are a real possibility on this site. Construction in landslide potential areas should be avoided. Flooding effects have been sufficiently demonstrated by the residents on B Street to warrant restricting construction above their homes or in any way that further exacerbates runoff. The once seasonal runoff creek between B and D Streets from the Davidon property is a year-round creek, even in this third year of drought. This cannot be ignored. The City Council should require a temporary building moratorium until the drought restrictions have been lifted. If the County is capable of taking over the maintenance of this infrastructure, it should; if not, some arrangement with the homeowners should be written into the approval.

David King

Should the project be presented, the number of homes permitted would have to be consistent with the 2025 General Plan and factor in all environmental considerations contained therein and under CEQA. It is reasonable for Council to consider the 1986 letter of intent as part of its consideration. Any development proposal containing park development/extension would likely require a commitment by the developer to contribute to post-construction maintenance of the park. The proposal would also need to mitigate/address flooding related concerns and address traffic issues. As to water issues: The entire region will need to address water availability on a broader level than on a case-by-case basis should drought conditions continue.

Mayoral Candidates answer . . .

David Glass

Because the property line of our home is within 500 feet of the property line of the Davidon Property, I am prohibited from commenting on this particular project. It is a matter of public record that I have one of the highest grades from Sonoma County Conservation Action among elected leaders in Sonoma County for positions I have taken on issues regarding the environment. It is also a fact that my candidacy for re-election is once again endorsed by the Sierra Club as well as Sonoma County Conservation Action. Both SCCA and the Sierra Club embrace the principals of creating livable communities, Smart Growth, Transit Oriented Development, and the value of Urban Growth Boundaries. While the law prohibits me from commenting on the Davidon Property, past record indicates a clear respect for the environment and consistent stands of standing up for and protecting and respecting the environment. This translates even to the choice of car that I drive which is a zero emission compressed natural gas vehicle. With this record and the endorsements of the Sierra Club and Sonoma County Conservation Action, the choice should be clear to the voters who desire a Mayor that will take a strong stand on environmental issues.

City Council Candidates 2016


We asked the candidates to review the following questions and respond to them in 200 words:

  • Given that the 1986 City Council stated a maximum of 340 homes for this valley and 297 have been built in Victoria and West Haven, should the limit be 43 homes? What is your view on the number and location of homes to be built on this property?
  • Should the Council permit Davidon to build on the portion of the land that is habitat for the threatened red-legged frog, which would mean its death or removal?
  • Should the 2025 General Plan, which calls for preservation of the red barns where they are and wider new building setbacks from all tributaries of Kelly Creek, be enforced?
  • Should Davidon and the City work with Sonoma County Regional Parks to establish a first-class trail and trailhead facility here as a new entrance to Helen Putnam Park?
  • What is your reaction to the other concerns raised in the community including traffic, landslides, flooding, tree removal, and loss of gateway scenery and agricultural heritage?

City Council Candidates answer . . .

Mike Healy

The Petaluma City Council’s June 1986 vote to limit development of the Victoria, Varnhagen and Scott properties to a combined 340 units may technically not be binding, but it should still be honored. The increase in traffic on D Street since then has been tremendous, as commuters seek an alternative to 101. I am very focused on the fact that the CEQA “baseline” for the project’s forthcoming EIR will most likely fail to capture this increase in traffic over the past 30 years. Reducing the number of homes would also allow better setbacks from sensitive areas, including creeks, red legged frog habitat, viewscapes and potentially unstable hillsides, and also minimize removal of native trees. A new access point to Helen Putnam Park would be a nice benefit and reduce pressure on the other city access point. We must fully mitigate against accelerated storm runoff downstream. The red barn must be preserved, but I am open to whether its preservation would best be achieved by leaving it in place or moving it back from Kelly Creek. Interestingly, another place with red legged frog habitat is Lafferty Ranch. Regulatory agencies should and will insist, for both properties, that that habitat be protected.

Gabe Kearney: No response received.

Kathy Miller

Although the City Council's vote in 1986 was not binding, I believe their intent should be honored. It's a very scenic parcel and the development of the parcel should take into account and maximize the natural beauty of the land. There's been an increase in traffic along D Street as commuters use it to bypass 101 and we need to not exacerbate that problem by allowing maximum build out. There should be no building on the portion of the parcel that is habitat for the red legged frog. I do not believe that the regulatory agencies would permit building in the habitat area. I believe that all buildings on the property, including the barns, should be subject to wider building setbacks from all the tributaries of Kelly Creek. In their current location, the red barns are adjacent to the banks of Kelly Creek and subject to flooding and other damage if a large storm or earthquake were to occur. The best way to preserve them is to move them back from the creek, but keep them in the same general location. Another access point would enhance the park and eliminate some of the complaints by the neighbors in Victoria about vehicles parking in their neighborhood to access the park. I certainly support working with Sonoma County Regional Parks to provide an alternate access point to the park. I think many of those problems can and will be mitigated through the development process. A reduction in the number of homes will help with traffic, further setbacks from the creek and its tributaries, hillsides prone to slides, and red legged frog habitat will help alleviate flooding concerns, landslide concerns and sensitive habitat concerns, and I will definitely work to minimize the loss of native trees.

Bill Wolpert

I reviewed the Davidon project when it first came before the Planning Commission. It has exceptional site opportunities, such as its proximity to Helen Putnam Park and the existing historic farm structures. It is my hope that the revised plan will conserve as much of the open space as possible and propose more creative planning practices to minimize the impacts. I have stated publicly that it is important to rehab the historic structures and maintain the natural environment to preserve what is uniquely Petaluma. To comment further would jeopardize my ability to review this project at the next Planning Commission hearing.

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