DEIR Documents for KCPP - The Road to Zero
For 13 years, Petalumans for Responsible Planning has advocated for keeping the land at the corner of Windsor and D as open space and an extension of Helen Putnam Park.
Argus Courier Article
The Argus Courier (June 15, 2017) did a great job of summarizing the issues with the Davidon development.
The article mentions the Kelly Creek Protection Project (KCPP), the 78-page document* submitted by Tamara Galanter (lawyer for KCPP), and an alternative plan for this land proposed by KCPP.
For those of you who like details, the remainder of this email provides specifics on all documents submitted by KCPP to City Council.
*19 exhibits were included for a total of 350 pages
Kelly Creek Protection Project
In 2016, the Kelly Creek Protection Project (KCPP) was formed so that charitable funds could be used to obtain the best legal support and present an alternative proposal to the city, county, and community regarding the Davidon property. Greg Colvin is the director of KCPP.
Funds: $1 million is held by Sonoma Land Trust and another $3 million is available in a donor-advised fund for acquisition and maintenance of a Helen Putnam Park extension at the Scott Ranch land.
Petalumans for Responsible Planning (PetRP) has spearheaded local opposition to this project for 13 years. PetRP communicates through yard signs, banners, brochures, petitions, and email. Fundraising is used for community awareness.
Both organizations have different attorneys, but both KCPP and PetRP are working toward compatible goals:
- enforce environmental laws that apply to use of the Scott Ranch land
- promote the expansion of Helen Putnam Park to benefit the public
DEIR Comments From Attorneys
Tamara Galanter, KCPP attorney from Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger of San Francisco, created the following document describing the inadequacies found in the 2017 Davidon DEIR.
Brian Gaffney, attorney for PetRP, analyzed the DEIR and submitted the following comments about the inadequacies found in the 2017 Davidon DEIR.
These fascinating documents help us view the DEIR from a truly professional and legal point of view.
County Park Extension 23-to-Zero Lot Alternative - The Road to Zero
Greg Colvin, KCPP Director, created a detailed and well-documented alternative plan that has been submitted to the Council. The alternative plan:
- requires no amendments to Petaluma’s 2025 General Plan
- follows the unanimous recommendation of the City’s Planning Commission that no housing units be constructed south of Kelly Creek
Petalumans for Responsible Planning supports this plan and calls it: The Road to Zero
The Road to Zero has four steps.
Step #1 - General Plan and DEIR Compliance
The Davidon Project (Option B, 63 units) should be redesigned so that it is consistent with the 2025 General Plan and implements the mitigation measures and design changes proposed in the DEIR to reduce the project’s significant and unavoidable impacts.
Each lot was analyzed according to the 2025 General Plan compliance or the constraints found in the DEIR. These compliance issues involve the stock pond, D Street tributary, creek setbacks, slopes greater than 30%, and single-loaded streets.
The elimination table (see p. 4) and map show that the site could accommodate 28 residential lots (note: these are not the same 28 lots proposed in the current DEIR). If the City Council adheres to the required General Plan policies, the 28 buildable lots would be within Davidon’s reasonable expectation of economic return on the land it owns.
The range of housing units permitted on this site under its R1 (very light residential) General Plan designation is between 26 and 110.
The City has the legal right to require new development to comply with its General Plan even if it results in fewer homes than proposed.
Step #2 - Fair Market Value Purchase (of 5 lots, reducing footprint to 23)
However, those 28 “approved” lots include five lots that would conflict greatly with preservation of the scenic, natural, and historic character of this gateway location on the outskirts of Petaluma.
The plan proposes eliminating five lots that obstruct the public view of the barns and harm the aesthetic appeal of this agricultural open space gateway to Petaluma.
The City may choose to allow Davidon to construct houses in those five locations, but it could also strongly encourage Davidon to become a willing seller and negotiate in good faith with KCPP. Hopefully, the parties could arrive at a fair market value price to relinquish development rights and allow those five lots to be integrated into the new public park.
The $3 million in charitable funds is more than enough to compensate Davidon for the fair market value of these five lots (and possibly more).
This step would reduce the housing development footprint to 23 homes.
Step #3 - Invitation to Sonoma County to Extend Putnam Park
KCPP believes that the most logical and effective owner and operator of the Scott Ranch as a public park (consisting of all the property lying outside of the lots Davidon may build upon) would be the Sonoma County Regional Parks system.
The $1 million grant held by Sonoma Land Trust could pay for the new trails, rehabilitation of the red barns, parking lots, restrooms, and other public access items.
KCPP urges the City Council to invite Second District County Supervisor David Rabbitt and the appropriate county officials from regional parks and the open space district to participate in discussions about including the land as part of Helen Putnam Park.
Step #4 - Option to Purchase all 23 Remaining Lots
Davidon Homes purchased the Scott Ranch for $7.8 million in 2003. To retrieve its initial investment, Davidon would want to receive much more than the $3-4 million we have made available. KCPP feels that it would be expensive to convert the entire 58 acres of the Scott Ranch to parkland, although it would avoid entirely the environmental impacts of building any new houses on this site.
Once the City Council has finished its work, assuming Davidon and all the interested parties then negotiate in good faith and settle on a fair market value per lot, it would be up to the community whether sufficient public and private funds could be assembled for a complete buy-out to zero.
KCPP would approach the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District for matching funds or acquisition funds. Private grants could be sought from other public agencies, private foundations, corporate funds, and wealthy individuals.
Assuming that the City Council gets to 28 lots by applying the required DEIR mitigations and General Plan policies, the final compromise with Davidon should consist of:
- a purchase of lots critical for integrated County parkland/open space -- at least five, but possibly ten or more -- with the funds available at the time a settlement is reached, and
- an option to purchase all the remaining lots for County parkland/open space at a set price if that additional amount can be raised in public and private funds within a set period of time.
Result if Steps #1-4 are Accomplished
If the four steps can be accomplished in short order, the County Park Extension Alternative can be achieved with Davidon’s home building at this site restricted to no more than 23 homes -- and maybe zero if the funds can be raised.
The alternative plan has the huge advantage of being not only environmentally superior, but also, due to the availability of sizable purchase funds, economically feasible.
Result if the City Allows any Development of this Land
If any houses are built on this site, the City will be required to file a Statement of Overriding Considerations* based upon the unmitigated significant impact contained in the final EIR, permitting traffic problems to worsen.
* Explanation of Statement of Overriding Considerations
A “statement of overriding considerations” indicates that even though a project would result in one or more unavoidable adverse impacts, specific economic, social or other stated benefits are sufficient to warrant project approval. The statement explains the justification for proceeding with the project despite the significant adverse environmental impacts.
A statement of overriding considerations provides specific reasons why the benefit of a proposed project outweighs the adverse effect. If the benefits of a project outweigh the unavoidable adverse environmental effects, those effects may be considered “acceptable” (CEQA Guidelines Section 15093 (a)).
How would you feel if the City decided that building any homes in this development is OK even though the City knows that the traffic will get worse? Do you think that worse traffic is acceptable because the Davidon development provides economic, social, or other benefits to Petaluma?
City Council Meeting - June 19
If you are still wondering what to say at the City Council meeting Monday, June 19, at 6:45 p.m., below are some suggestions:
- Agree with Tamara Galanter of Shute, Mihaly (pronounced Shoot Me-hall-ee) and/or Brian Gaffney about the deficiencies raised in the 2017 Davidon DEIR. Recommend that the DEIR be revised because it does not comply with the 2025 General Plan (or the biology studies are out of date or the traffic studies are flawed or whatever issues you have found in the DEIR).
- Support The Road to Zero process described by Greg Colvin in the KCPP document: The County Park Extension 23-to-Zero Lot Alternative
- State that the city should not approve a project that they know has the unavoidable environmental impact of worsening traffic. The benefits of building homes do not outweigh the traffic problems that people will endure.
We are here to help!
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email us at PetRP@comcast.net
As a community, we must keep pushing forward toward making this land part of Helen Putnam Park! We'll see you June 19 at City Hall!