PetRP Reaction to Davidon Jan 2014 Revised Changes

Please review Davidon's January 2014 Revised Application.

Below is our summary of the Davidon changes to its 2013 plans submitted to the City of Petaluma.

Change Homes to either 63 or 66

Davidon initially submitted a plan in 2004 for 93 homes. The plan Davidon submitted to the Planning Committee and City Council in 2013 still requested 93 homes, but the Davidon representatives orally said there would be no more than 66 homes. The public and city officials found the various alternative plans with different numbers of homes and the contradictory statements confusing.

Why the change from 93 to 66 homes? It appears that Davidon, after receiving such a negative reception at the City in 2013, has decided to re-package its proposal to make it easier to explain and more acceptable to City officials, rather than trying to preserve its legal claim to build 93 houses under the old, obsolete General Plan.

Davidon is now making two proposals.

  1. Option A: 66 homes. Relocation and rehab of the red barns across the creek.
  2. Option B: 63 homes. Allow the barns to remain in place as they are. No rehab except painting. Eliminate three homes where the red barns are currently located.

Both options would have a 300 ft. urban separator (open space buffer zone) at the south edge of the property (the City border along the hillside), a trail along Kelly Creek leading to Helen Putnam county park, a parking lot with 47 spaces, and trailhead facilities (restrooms and picnic tables).

Link to 66 Home Proposal

Link to 63 Home Proposal

Use of the 2025 General Plan

Many of you signed our petition requesting that the Davidon Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) not be evaluated using land use criteria developed 25 years ago (the "old" 1987 General Plan). You felt that the environmental data and the standards for judging the Davidon plan must be updated to the present and comply with the 2025 General Plan, which the City Council adopted in 2008.

Now Davidon is waiving its rights to use the 1987 General Plan. The Davidon project will now be evaluated using the 2025 General Plan, which many of you helped shape.

The 2025 General Plan contains Amendment 2-P-68, to preserve the uniqueness of the property at the intersection of ‘D’ Street and Windsor Drive (Scott Ranch) through certain requirements, commonly known as "bullet points."

Change to Amendment 2-P-68 "Bullet Points"

Davidon is proposing to change five out of the eight bullet points.

  • Respect the gateway value with a minimum 100'-residence and fence setback from D Street with no sound walls.
  • Maintain a minimum of a 100'- residence and fence setback from the centerline of along Kelly Creek and its tributaries protect biological values of water resources as directed by resource agencies.
  • At the City's election either:

- Preserve the red barns and two related outbuildings in place (painting the buildings but not otherwise rehabilitating them), and, designate them historic or

- Relocate the large red barn to a visually prominent location at the site, rehabilitate the barn, and designate it historic, and encourage the incorporation of a nature study area near the relocated barn.

  • Preserve and maintain habitat areas and trees.
  • Avoid slide areas and minimize grading.
  • Provide a minimum 300'-wide Urban Separator.
  • Construct dedicate, and maintain a neighborhood park to the maximum extent consistent with federal and state law, including the Quimby Act. Include an ADA-compliant, multi-use trail that meets the requirements for a Class I bicycle facility along Kelly Creek. Provide a minimum of a 3-acre park site.
  • Include the provision of Construct and dedicate trailhead facilities with restrooms and parking with a connection via the multi-use trail to Helen Putnam Regional Park
  • Respect City hillside regulations.

New Draft Environmental Impact (DEIR) Report Requested

Davidon requests a new Draft EIR provided the new EIR "can be completed within a reasonable time."

Past experiences working with the Planning Division taught us that we will receive very short notice when the DEIR becomes public. During February through April 2013, we had an incredible workload in a short period of time to analyze, hire experts, and comment upon a very detailed DEIR document. It looks like we will all go through this process again, perhaps sometime later this year, with a new DEIR that hopefully responds to all the concerns, questions, and objections we raised last year!

Petalumans for Responsible Planning - Reaction

Positive Changes

We see the following as positive changes in working with the City and Davidon.

  1. A new DEIR will be prepared, hopefully containing up-to-date data on environmental impacts including traffic, biological, and drainage studies. (Only two of the City council members voted in April 2013 to force Davidon to prepare a new DEIR, but it appears that Davidon has now realized it is the right thing to do.)
  2. The outdated 1987 General Plan will no longer be used to evaluate the project.
  3. Davidon has reduced its maximum request from 93 to 66 or 63 homes. Based on the reaction we witnessed at the April 15, 2013, City Council meeting, the final number approved may be much lower in order to mitigate the many environmental impacts of building more homes in this area of the City.
  4. The bullet points that many of you worked hard to get into the 2025 General Plan, that reflected some but not all of our concerns, will be part of the negotiations. The City should consider changes to the bullet points in the public interest from us as well as from Davidon.
  5. The red barns are acknowledged as an issue for Petalumans and alternatives are proposed. However, many details need to be developed in order to make that decision, such as: an expert engineering evaluation of the 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.

Many "If's" Remain

Generally, we believe that this latest development is an improvement in the PROCESS of Davidon’s presentation to the City, but very little changes have been made to the SUBSTANCE of what Davidon says it wants to do. And there are many “if’s”:

  • The red barns will remain where they are IF acceptable to resource agencies, given proximity to the creek (e.g. US Fish & Wildlife Service) and “if” a city, county, or nonprofit organization is willing to take them over.
  • A second trail may be built on the hillside above the stock pond in the 300 foot urban separator IF acceptable to resource agencies.
  • The expansion of Helen Putnam county park, as well as the number of homes to be built and their location, will only happen IF approved by Sonoma County parks and by a majority of the Petaluma City Council, IF the EIR is done properly, and IF Davidon agrees to public interest and environmental conditions imposed by the City.
  • A residential project of this size should only be approved IF problems of storm water drainage and especially fresh water supply (during a drought when existing Petaluma households are being asked to cut back) can be resolved.

In short, Davidon has appeared to sweeten its proposal to build 66 or 63 homes in the Kelly Creek area but has not changed it significantly.

Next Steps

From working on the last DEIR, we know that we need legal expertise. Many of you met our outstanding environmental attorney, Brian Gaffney. Thanks to those of you who helped us in August 2013 pay our bills to Brian and to an expert in environmental habitat and a geologist.

Brian is now analyzing the latest information from Davidon and requesting public records.


We know that we will need to raise funds to determine whether Davidon’s most recent development plan has been properly prepared and complies with local, state and federal law, and to be prepared to challenge it legally if necessary.

Please help us if you can. A financial gift from you will help build our reserves for legal defense and to build our capacity to influence the City Council and other government officials.

Our goal is to minimize the impact of this luxury home development and to maximize the preservation of open space and public access to parkland on the West side.

Donations are not tax-deductible since we are a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, and the money will be used for aggressive advocacy efforts with our elected officials and to enforce Davidon's legal obligations under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

If everyone on this list donated a minimum of $20 to $50, we would have funds to pay Brian for his latest research and analysis.

See PayPal link at the top of this page. Petalumans for Responsible Planning

To save us the fees that PayPal charges, you could mail a check to:

Petalumans for Responsible Planning

307 Sunnyslope Avenue

Petaluma, CA 94952

Thanks from the Steering Committee

We feel positive about the progress that we have made over the last 13 years. We are as determined as we were in 2004 to continue to protect the environment and enable the public to enjoy the recreation opportunities of this incredible, one-of-kind location. We seek to give voice to the whole community's concerns about this development, to pursue open space and parkland alternatives, and to enforce our environmental laws.

Thanks for being with us for over a decade!

Steering Committee for Petalumans for Responsible Planning

Greg Colvin, Chris Cort, Sherri Fabre-Marcia, Joe Grubaugh, Susan Jaderstrom, Chey Moore, Sigrun Seifert