Scale of Petaluma's future development shifts

  • An indoor lumber yard at the new Friedman's Home Improvement store in Petaluma, Tuesday April 2, 2014. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2014

For years the joke in Petaluma was that there was no place in town to buy a 2-by-4.

But with Friedman's Home Improvement set to open its third Sonoma County store in Petaluma this month, that has changed.

Couple that with the Target center's opening last year, home goods, sporting goods and home improvement supplies — among the chief products Petalumans used to leave town to buy — are now a short drive away.

Friedman's Home Improvement In Petaluma


Of course, there is Orchard Supply Hardware for smaller lumber orders and Kohl's for affordable clothing.

But the proposals that yielded Petaluma's two largest shopping centers, both anchored by big-box chains, created heated disagreements among the community and the City Council on what size and style of development were appropriate for Sonoma County's second-largest city.

The Target project sparked two lawsuits and a $150,000 settlement with an opposition group, while developers of the Friedman's project agreed to fund nearly $200,000 in amenities opponents wanted in order to head off threatened litigation.

Now that the nastiest development battles of the past decade are over, with Target's East Washington Place already open and Friedman's Deer Creek center well underway, what's next for development in Petaluma?

Developers and critics alike suggest the smaller scale of future projects means that disputes are likely to take place at the neighborhood level rather than drawing in the whole city.

"Infill projects usually have a much higher component of acceptability for people, because they see there is less impact on the infrastructure," said Matt Maguire, a former city councilman who challenged the Target center and other developments as inappropriate for Petaluma.

At the same time, changes in or near established neighborhoods can create passionate opposition from those directly affected.

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