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Ask the PAC: City priority milestones

On June 6, the Petaluma City Council finalized its top-ten list of priorities for the next two fiscal years. Highlights include the restoration of the downtown railroad trestle, safety improvements to city roads, a cannabis ordinance, amendments to the tree ordinance, and the construction of a new fire station among others.

At the latest City Council meeting on Monday, Petaluma leaders broke down specific milestones to achieve each goal, and the expected time of completion by fiscal year and quarter.

But, as the staff report noted, the priorities and timelines may be subject to change come 2023, once new city council members are sworn in following the November municipal election.

Question: What actions do Petaluma leaders plan to take in order to achieve their 2023-24 goals and what is the schedule for doing so?

Answer: While none of the priorities are set to be completely achieved by the end of the first fiscal quarter of 2023 due to extensive processes, a number of milestones will move forward and some are already underway.

“I thought (the timeline) was very well put together,” said council member Mike Healy. “We have a lot of people who want to see things get done tomorrow, and I think this is realistic.” Healy also asked for city staff to provide monthly progress reports on each priority.

Vice Mayor Dennis Pocekay and council member Brian Barnacle asked for more focus on getting a retail cannabis ordinance adopted more quickly, rather than waiting six months between a draft ordinance and final adoption, as the timeline estimates.

First among the priorities will be establishing more protections for renters in the first quarter of the coming fiscal year, followed by the completion of research on recent mobile home rent challenges. A final adoption of the respective ordinances is expected by the end of the first half of fiscal 2023. The fiscal year 2023 begins next month, on July 1, and runs through the end of June 2023.

Also underway is the fairgrounds project, with the panel expected to send its recommendations for the 55-acre midtown property to the Planning Commission and City Council by March, with more community input expected in the second quarter and final decisions on the lease and land use after that.

Taking longer to be completed are the trestle restoration project and police oversight guidelines. For the trestle, the city will begin plans to turn the old rail trestle into a downtown riverwalk in the first quarter of 2023, with an environmental assessment coming in the third quarter. The project is not expected to be “shovel ready” or have funding secured until the third quarter of 2024. Construction would begin afterwards.

While a “Safe Streets” initiative has already launched with projects such as Complete Streets and trail renovations, the City also plans to adopt a local road safety plan next year as well as complete the establishment of bicycle and pedestrian framework . A long-term funding strategy plan for related projects is expected to be done by the end of 2024.

Also on the list of priorities is a new fire station, with a groundbreaking scheduled for the end of the 2023 fiscal year, and a tree preservation ordinance.

An Integrated Pest Management Plan for sustainable land management is expected to be finalized by the third quarter of 2023, and a citywide electrification plan, which includes a burnout ordinance and a clean energy mandate, is set to be adopted by the end of 2024.

A full outline can be found at https://petaluma.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=31&event_id=45951&meta_id=530235

Although city leaders don’t appear to want to add to the list, after the recent uptick in gun violence and mass shootings throughout the nation, council member Dave King called for firearms restrictions to also be placed on the agenda.

“I don’t trust the federal government to take care of this problem,” King said. “And I hope that states can do it, but I also think we need to make obtaining guns more difficult.”

Amelia Parreira is a staff writer for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at amelia.parreira@arguscourier.com or 707-521-5208.

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