Letters to the Argus-Courier editor, Sept. 30, 2022

Plenty of election endorsements this week, along with a debate over Rainier and crosstown connectors.|

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.

Beverly Alexander


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.

Mike Healy

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.

For these reasons and more, I hope you will join me in making D’Lynda Fischer our next Petaluma mayor.

Brianna Schaefer


McDonnell for mayor

EDITOR: I have known Kevin McDonnell since I was a teen. Now I see him socially and as he is a member of the Petaluma City Council I often share with him my concerns about my neighborhood and the city in general. In the last year I ran into Kevin and made sure he understood the importance of the fairground and Speedway, to my family, to Petaluma and to Sonoma County, for entertainment purposes, to agriculture, to essential services during fire season. He listened carefully, agreed with me and then strongly encouraged me to engage with community leaders.

I came away from this encounter with two thoughts: Kevin is a very good listener, and he understands the workings of local government and wants everyone he meets to be empowered to work with the city toward improvement.

When I “complained” about the fairground issues I wanted Kevin to solve my problem but instead he gave me the path to working on the solution.

I recommend Kevin for mayor as we need leaders who listen and provide a path forward. McDonnell for mayor.

Brendan O’Dwyer


Kirks’ conservation

EDITOR: I am writing to support Susan Kirks’ candidacy for mayor.

In May, Petaluma City Parks and Recreation mowed in Shollenberger Park next to a known bird nesting area. I called someone about this, and nothing was done. I was very concerned about the impacts to nearby nesting birds.

A second mowing took place in this same exact area during June. After the second mowing took place, I contacted Susan Kirks. We both agreed that educating people on the importance of nesting was our first step. At the same time, Susan verified that federal and state laws protect nesting birds and the city of Petaluma must adhere to these regulations.

An opinion piece was crafted for the Argus-Courier with Susan and myself as co-authors. This op-ed was published, including a photo of a male red-winged blackbird that populates the active nesting area. The op-ed emphasized legal protections of active nests, the known migratory bird nesting season of Feb. 15 to Aug. 31, and offered suggestions to members of the public for how to enjoy our wetlands while also being sensitive to likely nearby nests.

As a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, an honor Susan Kirks' initiative and follow-through helped achieve for Petaluma in 2018, her dedication to and knowledge about our Petaluma environment are exceptional.

During these times of on-going proposals for development and the Petaluma General Plan update, our community needs the leadership of Susan Kirks. We have never had a mayor with her level of expertise in environmental issues, and it is time that we did. She is also completing mapping of our wildlife corridors and crossings, based on many years of experience here in Petaluma. These are just a few of Susan's qualifications. Please join me and vote for Susan on Nov. 8 — to have a leader who will protect both our environment and Petaluma's rural heritage.

Craig Cherrstrom


McDonnell serves city

EDITOR: We have known Kevin McDonnell and his family for over 30 years. Donna and Kevin were neighbors in the 1980s, and her son Jared played soccer on the team that Kevin coached. The range of his commitments to serving the people of Petaluma over decades has been truly impressive.

His motivation to run for mayor of Petaluma seems a natural progression, building upon the deep learning he has accrued about how the city works and how it could work better. The program he started, Know Before You Grow, was exactly the right approach for a city that wants to grow carefully and wisely.

Kevin has a knack for getting along with everyone. His sturdy but optimistic style of leadership gets people working together for the common good. He is not doctrinaire or dogmatic. He isn't trying to pull the council to the left or the right, but to lead us toward making smart use of the opportunities we have to fulfill the public interest in concert with private interests wherever we can.

We are delighted to support Kevin for mayor. We are lucky to have an engineer who can build bridges between people, and bridges to a better future.

Greg Colvin


Send your letters to the editor to Publisher Emily Charrier at emily.charrier@arguscourier.com.

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