As we move into the heart of August, the near-term opportunities for urbanist involvement at public meetings remain scarce, but the September calendar remains promising. Also, with issues such as municipal elections and the road diet in Petaluma looming, there are chances for neighborhood outreach. If you want to make a difference in the world, there are always opportunities to do so.
Meetings this Week
Friends of SMART, Wednesday, August 17, 11:30am – Friends of SMART is a citizens group that was instrumental in getting the SMART Train ballot measure passed and continues to fill an oversight role as SMART moves toward revenue service. I’ve been involved with FoS for more than a year and find them a passionate group, focused on the role SMART can play in the North Bay and on what the next SMART-type rail expansion should be.
If anyone is interested in attending the FoS Board meeting, let me know and I’ll arrange an invitation.
Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit Board, Wednesday, August 17, 1:30pm, 5401 Old Redwood Highway, Petaluma – The agenda for the SMART Board meeting still hasn’t been announced, but with the testing of the full schedule looming ever closer, to be closely followed by revenue service, the agenda will likely include items of urbanist interest.
Petaluma Recreation Music and Park Commission, Wednesday, August 17, 7:00pm, Petaluma Community Center, 320 N. McDowell Boulevard (Note: Not City Hall!) – Sunset Park is an odd little park, hiding in plain sight between the historic Silk Mill and Lakeville Street. I suspect that many Petalumans don’t even realize that it’s a city park, but they’re wrong.
Furthermore, the park has an upcoming opportunity to take a bigger role in civic life. As a part of the retasking of the Silk Mill into a hotel, the developer is proposing revisions to Sunset Park. Should the park serve as the frontyard of the hotel, as a neighborhood park for the children living in the nearby homes, as a waystation for bicyclists traveling Lakeville, or as some combination of the three?
That will be the question in front of the Recreation Music and Park Commission Wednesday evening. If you have an opinion, please come and share.
Meetings in the Weeks and Months to Follow
Petaluma City Council, Monday, September 12, 7:00pm, Petaluma City Hall, 111 English Street – The Petaluma Planning Commission recently rejected the site design for the proposed Marina Apartments on Lakeville Highway east of Highway 101. The reason was concern over the building massing and architecture, but disappointments were also expressed about the recent Council decision to relieve the applicant of a requirement to build a segment of multi-use path.
The applicant appealed the Planning Commission rejection. The appeal will be heard by the City Council on September 12. Although the primary focus will be the design of the building, it’s likely that the multi-use path will also be a subject of public comment. Legally, the City Council could re-impose the multi-use path condition, although it’s unlikely barring a major public outcry in support of the path.
Petaluma City Council, Monday, September 19, 7:00pm, Petaluma City Hall, 111 English Street – Petaluma staff will return to the Council for approval to submit a grant application for street improvements. To best conform to the standards of the granting agency, staff initially proposed a road diet for Petaluma Boulevard South. The Council, by directing that the item be removed from the Council agenda, effectively asked staff to look at other possible street projects as subjects for the possible grant application.
The Petaluma Boulevard South road diet reportedly remains the preferred project for City staff, setting up a potentially interesting discussion when the matter returns to the Council agenda on September 19.
I’ve been working with a group of citizens who are passionate supporters of the Petaluma Boulevard South road diet and have been working toward ensuring that the road diet returns to the Council with a strong public endorsement.
Joe Minicozzi Digs into the Municipal Finances of Urbanism, Week of September 19, Multiple locations – Many readers attended three evening of talks by Chuck Marohn of StrongTowns and Joe Minicozzi of Urban3 this past January in Santa Rosa. The two spoke about the theory of why suburbia often fails and the data that supports the theory. Conversations are underway for a return visit by Minicozzi to the North Bay later this year.
Exact dates and meeting locations are still being developed, but I encourage everyone to block out much of the week. Minicozzi’s message could have profound consequences for North Bay cities.
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 increasing density around BART stations.
Even with the paucity of opportunities in the coming week, there are still lots of opportunities to get involved. Please grab at least one and hopefully more.
When I next write, I’ll revisit the connection between suspended drivers’ licenses and urbanism. It may seem an odd link, but it’s very real.
As always, your questions or comments will be appreciated. Please comment below or email me. And thanks for reading. – Dave Alden (email@example.com)