Planning Commission Summary March 12, 2013

Over 110 community members from all over Petaluma filled the room with many people standing along the walls or sitting on the floor. Thirty speakers from many areas of Petaluma gave impassioned and knowledgeable testimony on a variety of topics about the proposed Davidon housing project and its Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). The DEIR is currently under review by the Planning Commission and the Planning Division.

The key word for the meeting, which lasted 4-1/2 hours, was confusion. A significant point of confusion was about the number of homes being proposed. Numbers presented by the Planning Division were 93, 66, 61, 58, 44, 28, and 27. We heard numbers that were not in the DEIR, and we still do not know actually what is being proposed or what the alternative numbers might be. Not knowing the number of homes being proposed makes it very difficult to react to the DEIR.

The DEIR is confusing, and the public expressed its dismay in trying to read and understand this massive document. The public comments indicate that the DEIR is incomplete because of so many factors that were not taken into consideration. The Planning Commissioners discussed the DEIR for approximately an hour after the public comments. The Commissioners said that the DEIR should be a public document to help the public make a sound decision, but the Davidon DEIR is not easy to read or understand. Some commissioners wondered why the document was even presented in its current form.

The issue of the 2025 General Plan vs. the old General Plan was discussed. Jeff Thayer of Davidon Homes came to the podium and described why the project took so long and apologized that the DEIR was not clear. He indicated that the Commissioners' comments were "difficult to hear," but the project was "worthy of consideration." A Davidon lawyer said that "the DEIR is complete and we are not going to start over."

At the end of the meeting, the Planning Commission provided a group response on the DEIR to the Planning Division. Opinions were split on keeping the Red Barn where it is or moving it; four want it to remain where it is, two would approve it being moved, and one did not care. All Commissioners wanted it repaired. There was general consensus that the project must abide by the city’s hillside ordinance, regardless of which general plan is used to evaluate it.

These are some of the questions asked by the Commissioners regarding guidelines and information:

  • moving historical structures
  • hazardous conditions relating to building on slopes
  • the purpose for the removal of trees
  • that the traffic report reflect current conditions, such as construction on the Novato Narrows and Petaluma Boulevard South as well as baseline information on San Antonio Road
  • that the DEIR include the cumulative impact of the new project along with the existing impacts of the Victoria and Pinnacles subdivisions, particularly in the areas of traffic, drainage and potential landslides

CLICK HERE to view a video of the March 12 Planning Commission meeting.

The public comment period on the DEIR continues through April 15. Our concerns must be heard! If you already sent letters or emails to the Planning Commissioners, NOW is the time to send them to the City Council members as well.