Help the city set its 2019 goals

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A climate change resolution. A minimum wage ordinance. A sales tax measure. Housing policy.

All of these heady issues and more are expected to come up at a marathon Petaluma City Council meeting on Saturday.

The council has set aside seven hours to discuss the major goals that the city hopes to accomplish in the next two years. The session sets the tone for the business of the city and previews the issues likely to come before the council in the coming months.

Most of the issues that make it to a city council agenda don’t appear out of the blue. City staff spends hours researching each item and making policy recommendations for the elected officials to debate. In many cases, the genesis for these debates is at the goal setting session.

There is already an indication that climate change advocates will push the city to pass a resolution declaring a climate emergency, mobilizing the city to reduce traffic, better manage waste, improve air quality, and provide high-quality jobs. It’s a worthy goal, and one that the city should adopt at its goal setting session.

Other issues likely to come up include adopting an ordinance to increase the minimum wage to $15 in Petaluma, ahead of the 2023 deadline for all businesses in the state to adopt a $15 minimum wage. To be clear, the city won’t be able to take action on any issue on Saturday, but the council will be able to add it to the list of goals to accomplish throughout the year.

As the city looks to bolster its budget, the council may consider placing a sales tax measure, potentially for public safety, on the fall ballot. Look for an early discussion of such a proposal at the goal setting session.

Creating more affordable housing has been a stated goal of several council members, so we would hope to hear solutions to the housing crisis discussed at the goal setting session. In light of the council’s tepid reaction to the regional CASA Compact, which aims to solve the housing crisis through policy prescriptions, we hope that someone proposes some alternate solutions.

The goal setting session will be the first led by new mayor Teresa Barrett, who is a former council member. It will also be the first such session for new council members D’Lynda Fischer and Kevin McDonnell as well as new city manager Peggy Flynn.

Our elected officials depend on the public for direction, and there will be ample time for public comment and discussion. If you are curious about how the city’s policy gets made or you have a goal you would like the council to consider, Saturday is the time to speak up.

The session is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lucchesi Community Center. It may not be the most exciting way to pass a Saturday. You may have to forgo watching a Final Four basketball game or enjoying some spring weather. But few days on the city council’s calendar are more important.

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