City Council Meeting April 15, 2013

Presentations included the following:

1. City of Petaluma Planners

2. Jeff Thayer representing Davidon Homes

3. Public comment

4. Council member comments

Greg Colvin presented a PowerPoint with a draft counterproposal from the Steering Committee of Petalumans for Responsible Planning.

Greg's PowerPoint Presentation and proposal

Greg proposed that the development include no more than 20 new homes that would be constructed only above Windsor Drive and below Oxford Court--not south of Kelly Creek or in the lower area near the creek and the Red Barn. He suggested 100-foot separators from neighboring homes and less housing density than originally proposed by Davidon. Greg described how plans for extension of Putnam Park could be improved.

Our environmental law attorney, Brian Gaffney, also presented a detailed, 59-page analysis of the DEIR’s flaws, problems, and omissions. And our staff organizer, Val Richman, delivered our “east side, west side” petition signed by almost 400 people in just two weeks.

Brian Gaffney's Letter about the DEIR

The City Council and the public speakers agreed that the DEIR is confusing and full of mistakes. At the end of the meeting, the six Council Members in attendance (Mayor David Glass was recused because he resides near the property) commented on the DEIR and gave directions to the Planning Division staff. Council opinion was split on whether to reject the DEIR and ask for a new one, or to move the DEIR into its final phase: two council members (Kearney and Barrett) wanted to reject it and request a new DEIR; the other four favored allowing it to proceed towards a final EIR, but with the need to address many criticisms.

Biologist's Letter about the DEIR

Geologist's Letter about the DEIR

Below are some of the questions and comments from Council members regarding the DEIR and the Davidon project:

  • Consensus was that the original Davidon proposal of 93 homes is not on the table in any real way, and serious doubts were expressed about Davidon’s current mitigated proposal to build 66.
  • Albertson and Healy suggested that “story poles” be erected on the ridge between Windsor and B Street to show the position of the development in relation to its neighbors and to the hilltop views.
  • The idea of imposing clear duties on the new homeowners' association was proposed by several council members to oversee maintenance of the flood water retention systems and other critical infrastructure facilities.
  • Gabe Kearney was uncomfortable that the DEIR proposed 93 houses when the Davidon representative said there would be no more than 66. Davidon apparently differs with the Petaluma city planners who believe that application of certain further mitigations should reduce the number to 58.
  • Kathy Miller, who is the Council liaison to the Planning Commission, is concerned about traffic, flooding, and landslides and would like the final EIR to include more detailed information about the project’s proximity to the Urban Growth Boundary.
  • Mike Healy voiced concerns about drainage and school capacity. He recalled the 1986 Council decision on the Victoria EIR, in which a cap of 340 homes in the valley may have been motivated in part by concern for the quality of life of D Street residents who were predicted to experience a heavy increase in traffic. Imposition of the 340-home cap would limit Davidon to building only 41.
  • Teresa Barrett found many inconsistencies and gaps in the DEIR and pointed them out to the planning staff. She said that the City should not approve the PUD (planned unit development, with more houses) that Davidon wants, unless there is a benefit to the City greater than the regular R-1 zoning.
  • Mike Harris and Chris Albertson expressed a desire that Davidon meet with PetRP to discuss the possibility of selling some of the Scott Ranch land - that would otherwise be developed - for expansion of Helen Putnam Park instead.

What is our assessment?

We did not expect the majority of the Council to reject the DEIR completely. Our goal was to make the maximum number of specific written and oral criticisms of the draft EIR and force Davidon and the EIR consultants to come up with a better, scaled-down, plan. We will probably not see the result until this coming fall or winter, and then we will pull out all the stops to influence the final vote by the Council.

We were most heartened to hear that certain Council members may become champions of some of our ideas, such as adding to the million-dollar anonymous donation we have available to buy out Davidon’s development rights and expand Putnam Park. Also, we had pushed for the cap of 41 homes on this location, for story poles to show where the houses would be built, for the new trail to be on the north side of the creek, and of course for a much lower density. They are still debating whether the red barn should stay where it is or be moved, but no real engineering study or cost analysis has been done comparing those options.

They are listening to us, because of you – because we now have over 600 members, because you came and spoke, wore the red barn pin, signed the petition, commented on the DEIR, and put a sign in your yard!

A big thank you to everyone!


The video is rather "clumsy" to work with online. Below are some locations to hopefully make this experience better for you instead of listening to all 4+ hours of the City Council meeting.

CLICK HERE to view a video of the April 15 City Council meeting.

Locations in presentation

51:42 = staff presentation

55.36 = Planning Commission recommendations

59:37 = Jeff Reilly, WRA, EIR Consultant = overview of Draft EIR

1:30:24 = Jeff Thayer, Davidon Homes

1:52:22 = First public comment

2:19:43 = Greg Colvin, representing Petalumans for Responsible Planning

2:48:15 = Brian Gaffney, lawyer representing Petalumans for Responsible Planning

3:14:56 = Comments by Mike Harris

3:20:55 = Comments by Gabe Kearney

3:27:38 = Comments by Teresa Barrett

4:04:06 = Comments by Kathy Miller

4:08:32 = Comments by Mike Healy

4:32:29 = Comments by Chris Albertson