Durable Growth, Government, Transportation

Taking the next step – Opportunities to get involved during the week of July 10

130313006 Balshaw BridgeWe may not yet be in the doldrums of summer, but they seem to be getting closer.  There is only a handful of interesting meetings next week and those are more about information than urbanist advocacy.  But information remains power, so I hope to see familiar faces as I gather information.

Meetings this Week

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 (TOD) on the SMART-owned parcels adjoining the downtown Santa Rosa station.

My concern remains that opening day SMART ridership will be less than it should have been because SMART TOD hasn’t progressed quickly enough to create a ridership base.  But it took BART nearly forty years before TOD took hold, so at least SMART is beating that mark.

Petaluma Planning Commission, Tuesday, July 12, 7:00pm, Petaluma City Hall, 11 English Street, Petaluma – The Planning Commission will consider the site plan and architecture of the proposed Marina Apartments on Lakeville Highway, a short distance east of Highway 101.  While not an urban project, with few services within walkable distance, the apartments are well-located for train riders willing to take a short hop on Petaluma Transit to the downtown Petaluma SMART station.

Through a complicated story that needn’t be repeated here but involved a few thwacks to the head, I became invested in a possible handicap ramp between the apartments and the nearby bus stop.  I’m pleased to see it included as #37 in the proposed conditions of approval.

This is also the project that became controversial when the City Council removed a proposed bike path requirement from an earlier approval.  I don’t believe in imposing all possible exactions on proposed land developments but did support retaining the bike path condition.  The issue may again be raised during this hearing.

Petaluma Urban Chat, Wednesday, July 13, 7:00pm, Aqus Café, 2nd and H Streets, Petaluma – Urban Chat will discuss the proposed Petaluma Boulevard South road diet and other local walkable urban opportunities.  We’ll also establish a schedule of discussion topics for future meetings.  As always, everyone with an interest in the future of Petaluma is welcome.

Meetings in the Weeks and Months to Follow

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, Tuesday, July 19, 8:30am, Board of Supervisors’ Chambers, 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa – The Supervisors will take up proposed revisions to the Sonoma County community separators, lands that are limited to less intensive uses to retain agricultural and open space between communities.  Community separators and urbanism are two sides of the same coin, with the separators pushing development toward urban areas and urbanism being the study of how to accommodate that development.

I participated in a meeting earlier this week with one of the supervisors.  The summary is that the supervisors are broadly supportive of the proposed revisions, although details about the duration of the protections and the possibilities of exemptions are still being ironed out.

The Greenbelt Alliance continues to push hard for citizen support.

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit Board, Wednesday, July 20, 1:30pm, 5401 Old Redwood Highway, Petaluma – The agenda for the SMART Board meeting won’t be announced for another week, but with the testing of the full schedule looming closer, to be closely followed by revenue service, the agenda is likely to include items of urbanist interest.

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.  The coming role of SMART in the North Bay will surely be discussed, as will the increased density occurring around BART stations.

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 boulevard friendlier for non-motorists while also creating better connectivity across the boulevard, let me know.  I’ll put you in touch with the group, in which I’m participating.

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 data 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 is tentatively expected to 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 educate others, including those who hold positions from which they can make a difference.  Having the visit during the election season can make the event additionally pivotal.

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

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

When I next publish, it will be to return to CNU 24 for more highlights.

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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