Letters to the Argus-Courier editor, Sept. 30, 2022
Respect the river
EDITOR: Michael Healy has made it clear that he supports development, without regard for the safety and health of Petaluma residents.
Mr. Healy is eager to see Rainier constructed, but Rainier is a kind of Ponzi scheme that necessitates much development between Highway 101 and Petaluma Boulevard to pay for it. This would negate the almost infinitesimal amount of traffic relief afforded by the project, eventually producing more traffic on Rainier. The proposed building frenzy would destroy wetlands, floodway and floodplain, but some people only seem to care about profit, in spite of the fact that the city will be in the hole for all the flooding that these projects will likely cause.
Why did Petaluma and the federal government spend so many millions of dollars on the USACE flood project — only to ignore the warning that development upstream would negate the effectiveness of the project? We don’t have to build near the river.
Does anyone care about the pain caused by losses due to flooding? What about the cost of flood insurance increasing substantially? What about the fact that after declaring a climate emergency, we seem to be doing our best to make things worse by destroying the natural environment of the North Petaluma River? Will we turn our river into a sterile channel surrounded by businesses and apartments or will we be able to proudly point to the defining characteristic of Petaluma: A river runs through it.
Consider this Native American saying:
When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late ... that you can’t eat money.
Please respect the river.
Crossing the crosstown
EDITOR: I recently wrote a piece in this newspaper advocating for a revised design for the Rainier crosstown connector featuring an at-grade crossing of the SMART tracks.
At Sept. 12 council meeting, one of my council colleagues responded by citing a 2018 letter written by staff for the California Public Utilities Commission, which cited the CPUC’s policy of only allowing a new at-grade crossing when two existing ones are removed. The implication was that this requirement would doom any request by Petaluma for an at-grade crossing for Rainier.
As Colonel Potter used to say, “Horsefeathers!” There are several existing, legal at-grade crossings in town that could easily be traded away.
Two that come to mind are on East D Street, accessing the rear of the SMART downtown site. A third, related and unneeded crossing of Hopper Street is a few hundred feet away.
The tracks on D Street crossing in front of the drawbridge have been paved over for bicycle safety, but that crossing was never legally relinquished. Indeed, until quite recently the Petaluma Trolley folks planned to use them. The same goes for the old tracks crossing next to the Washington Street bridge.
Also, one crossing in town, at Cedar Grove Parkway, was closed when SMART started up; we could seek credit for that. There is one other, albeit minor, crossing on the main SMART line that could be eliminated.
Obtaining CPUC permission for an at-grade will be a complex process requiring detailed analysis. But there’s an old saying, "If you don't ask, you don't get." It sounds like some folks don't want to ask because they're afraid the answer might be yes.
Petaluma City Council
A vote for Fischer
EDITOR: D'Lynda Fischer has shown over her last three years on Petaluma City Council that she will stand up and be a voice for the many issues our community is facing. From climate change to affordable housing, river protections to transportation, she has already shaped policies and planning documents for the better. This is why I am supporting D'Lynda Fischer for Petaluma Mayor.
I was fortunate to work with D'Lynda when she was the operations manager at Daily Acts, an educational nonprofit based in Petaluma. During this time, I witnessed first-hand two of D'Lynda's most dependable traits, ones that will help her excel as mayor.
D’Lynda is proactive. She has proven time and again in her role as council member that she will ask the tough questions and prioritize community voice. This is because she truly wants to improve things, not just for efficiency’s sake but because she wants to support people. She helped lead the charge on banning no new gas stations in Petaluma – making us the first city in the country to do so and protecting the environmental health of our residents.
D’Lynda is community minded. Whether it’s a Friends of the Petaluma River clean-up event, a First Friday at Five bike ride, or speaking out at the Petaluma Women’s March, D’Lynda is an engaged community member and works collaboratively with the community to identify and address needs. To this effect she has helped launch a number of efforts to engage, listen, and design a safer, more accessible, and sustainable Petaluma. From Climate Action Petaluma, to the Sustainable Design Assessment Team, to the Cool Petaluma million-dollar grant award, D’Lynda works tirelessly to bring resources into the community, for the community.