Durable Growth

Taking the next step – Opportunities to get involved during the week of June 26

Another view of downtown Detroit

Another view of downtown Detroit

Another week is soon approaching.  With the end of the month and the holiday weekend looming at the end of the week, it’ll be a mostly quiet seven days, but there will be couple of worthwhile events.  Also, there are interesting opportunities queuing up for the weeks after the holiday.  And, with the long warm evenings settling in, many of us will also have a chance to chat with neighbors about urbanism.  As always, it’s a great time to add your voice to the urbanist discussion.

Meetings this Week

Petaluma Planning Commission, Tuesday, June 28, 7:00pm, Petaluma City Hall, 11 English Street, Petaluma – This meeting has been noted in these weekly posts several times.  The meeting has finally arrived.

The Adobe Road Winery is seeking to establish a wine-making footprint in downtown Petaluma.  But the permitting and construction steps toward that goal will be long and slow.  To make the Adobe Road name more familiar in Petaluma as the bigger project creeps ahead, the winery is seeking approval for a tasting room in the Great Petaluma Mill, at the corner of Petaluma Boulevard and B Street.

While a wine tasting room may not seem urbanist, any land uses that pull people downtown, creating a sense of activity and place, are urbanist.  A wine tasting room meets that standard.

A.G. Spanos Companies, Thursday, June 30, 6:00pm, Petaluma Women’s Club, 518 B Street, Petaluma – Spanos has been working on a development plan for the land between Petaluma Boulevard North and the Petaluma River at the current terminus of Oak Street.  In February, Spanos offered a draft plan for public review.  They’ve taken the comments they received, along with the earlier comments from the Petaluma Planning Department, and revised the earlier plan.  The plan is now ready for renewed public review.

I worked for several years on a project previously proposed for the site, a project that eventually fell victim to the recession.  It’s a challenging site, but if done well can jumpstart walkable urbanism north of E. Washington Street, perhaps helping to connect downtown to the north river district by making the walkability impediment that is E. Washington Street seem less of a barrier.

Meetings Further Out

Petaluma Pedestrian/Bicycle Advisory Committee, Wednesday, July 6, 6:00pm, Petaluma City Hall, 11 English Street, Petaluma – The agenda for this meeting currently includes review of a residential project adjoining the proposed location for the Corona Road SMART station, the SMART bike parking study, a possible bike share program, and a Caltrans bike/ped plan.  Additionally, a request has been made to include the possible Petaluma Boulevard South road diet (see below).

Novato Design Review Commission, Wednesday, July 6, 7:30pm, Novato City Hall, 901 Sherman Avenue, Novato – A public workshop will be conducted on a proposed hotel at the corner of Redwood Boulevard and Wood Hollow Drive.  The site is far from downtown, but is only a thousand marginally walkable feet from the Atherton SMART station, giving it a faint tinge of possible urbanism.

Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit, Monday,  July 11, 9:00am, Santa Rosa City Hall, 100 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa – SMART staff will introduce the proposals received for transit-oriented development on SMART-owned property adjoining the Downtown Santa Rosa station.

Rail~Volution, October 10-12, Hyatt Regency, San Francisco – The leading conference on the use of rail for community building is coming to San Francisco this fall.

Other Opportunities to Get Involved

Petaluma Boulevard South – Bikeable/walkable revisions to Petaluma Boulevard South recently flickered onto and off of the Petaluma City Council agenda.  A group of citizens was energized by the flicker and is organizing to ensure that the subject of calming Petaluma Boulevard South returns to the City Council with enough votes to approve it.

If you’re interested in advocating for improvements to Petaluma Boulevard South that will make the street more friendly for non-motorists and will allow better connectivity between the residential areas southwest of the street and the retail/recreational opportunities to the northeast, let me know.  I’ll get you in touch with the group, of which I’ll be a member.

Digging Deeper into Urbanism – Many readers attended three evening of talks by Chuck Marohn of StrongTowns and Joe Minicozzi of Urban3 last January in Santa Rosa.  They spoke about the theory of why suburbia often fails and the analysis that supports the theory.  Initial conversations are underway for a return visit by Marohn and Minicozzi to the North Bay later this year, a visit that may include time in Petaluma and other Sonoma County communities.

Petaluma was well-represented at the January meetings, but it was largely urbanists who were already familiar with the work of Marohn and Minicozzi.  If we organize properly, having the two of them visit Petaluma can be an opportunity to educate others who hold positions from which they can make a difference.

I’ll need folks to assist with organizational and fund-raising efforts.  Please let me know if you’re willing to lend a hand.

160616001 StrongTowns BadgeStrongTowns:  I usually reserve my comments about the urbanist organizations that I find worthy of membership fees to a year-end post.  But this is their membership week, I’m hopeful of Chuck Marohn visiting Petaluma later this year, and his staff asked nicely, so I’ll make an exception.

I don’t agree with everything that StrongTowns says, finding that they sometimes go too far in order to stir the pot.  But they begin conversations that need to happen and that’s an essential role.  I’m proud that they consider me within their Founding Circle and encourage all readers to consider joining StrongTowns.  If nothing else, this is the right time, with a StrongTowns visit looming, to begin reviewing the StrongTowns arguments.

Lots of opportunities to get involved.  Please grab at least one and hopefully more.

When I next publish, I’ll continue with a personal recounting of the best moments from CNU 24, the recently concluded annual meeting of the Congress for the New Urbanism.

As always, your questions or comments will be appreciated.  Please comment below or email me.  And thanks for reading. – Dave Alden (davealden53@comcast.net)

Written by Dave Alden

Dave Alden

Dave Alden is a Registered Civil Engineer. A University of California graduate, he has worked on energy and land-use projects in California, Oregon, and Washington. He was also the president of a minor league baseball team for two seasons. He lives on the west side of Petaluma with his wife and two dogs. The blog that he writes can be found at http://northbaydesignkit.blogspot.com.

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