City of Petaluma needs your help

Since 2020, the City has been engaging with community members across the city to form the long-term vision for our community through the General Plan Update. This has been accompanied by in-depth research about our business environment. Learn more about the General Plan Update on our project



Businesses are an important part of this vibrant and prosperous future, so we want to hear directly from our businesses. This brief survey, developed in partnership with the

Petaluma Chamber of Commerce, is a tool that the City is using to gather information

about what works and what we can improve to meet our business community’s needs.


The survey is available through November 16, 2023 and participants are welcome to enter into a raffle for one of four $25 Shop Petaluma gift cards!


Access the survey in both English and Spanish below:


Link to Survey in English:


Link to survey in Spanish:


Climate Column: Imagining a Brighter Future

September 22, 2022, 7:30AM

How good is your imagination?

Can you look down East Washington Street and envision a beautiful boulevard? I can see a vibrant east-west community connector made up of urban farms and playgrounds, basketball courts and skate parks, bandstands and dance floors, trees and bees and butterflies, with people of all ages laughing and playing as they wind their way across town by foot or bicycle or golf cart, while those in a hurry zip overhead in colorful gondolas. Crazy? Maybe. Maybe not.

The likelihood of such a wild transformation might also depend on how we understand time. In business, it is often said that we overestimate what we can accomplish in the near-term and underestimate what can be achieved in the long-term.

Lately, I’ve been contemplating time scales and what happens when we expand our thinking to embrace the time beyond our own lifespan.

At the end of our Cool Petaluma Leadership training, we facilitate a visualization that helps us connect to past and future generations by imagining the lives of people we love. First, we go back in time to the life of someone we loved two generations older, like my grandfather who was a small boy in the 1930s. What was the world like when he was a child? Then we move through the generations to think of a small person we love today, like my seven-year-old nephew, who seems to have inherited those same charming, mischievous qualities I adored in my grandfather. My nephew’s 90th birthday party will take place in the year 2105. What will the world be like as he blows out the candles on that cake?

If we reawaken our imagination, we can envision the future we want to see for ourselves and the generations to come.

The older we get, the more we think the world won’t change, even though we’ve bared witness to great changes in our own lifetimes. The word “internet” is not in my high school dictionary and the little pocket computing devise I carry with me everywhere would have been complete science fiction. Why do those things exist today? Because someone imagined them and was crazy enough to think they could make them real.

Taking it even further, what could the world look like in the year 4,000? Even sci-fi writers are hard pressed to think that far out. But the Roman colosseum was build 2,000 years ago and still stands today. I grew up in an ancient redwood forest and some of those oldest trees were also alive then. Given that framing, projecting out another 2,000 years shouldn’t be such a radical idea.

Unfortunately, most of the possibilities we are presented with these days are dystopian and scary. It’s very hard to conceptualize how the world a hundred years from now, let alone a thousand years from now, could possibly better. But as any athlete or entrepreneur knows, the way to create success is to imagine success. Or, as Abraham Lincoln famously advised, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

To be sure, we have a lot of hard work ahead of us and some aspects of our fate are likely baked in, no matter how much we try to create our way out of it. The Bay Area, for example, is projected to experience seven feet of sea level rise by my nephew’s 90th birthday. And, lest we forget, the Petaluma “river” is really a tidal slough that goes up and down with the ocean.

But Petaluma was only founded in 1858, 164 years ago. By the year 2186, 164 years from now, we may have built a whole new town for our great-grandchildren to thrive in.

Can you imagine that?

Natasha Juliana is the Campaign Director for Cool Petaluma. She can be reached at For information on how to get involved, visit

To try the generational visualization, listen to the Human Layers practice at

Veterans Walk and Talk

Every 1st Saturday at 10am, starting at Aqus Cafe


Other Veteran resources

An Alternative Vision for Scott Ranch

We are very fortunate to have a community of caring environmentalists. David Donnenfield is an award-winning producer, director, and cinematographer who lives in Petaluma.

David created a documentary entitled, “A Simple Question: A Story of Straw”
(Straw: Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed)

“A Simple Question” has been featured in more than 25 international film festivals where it has received multiple awards.

David’s film takes 25 minutes to watch. We assure you that you will be inspired!

PBS version

Below is David’s vision for the Scott Ranch, which Petalumans for Responsible Planning support. We are grateful for David’s positive, hopeful look into the future for this land.


An Alternative Vision for Scott Ranch
David Donnenfield

What’s an alternative use of the 58 acres of Scott Ranch from what is currently proposed? An Environmental Restoration Learning Center. On that tortured piece of property, we have the opportunity to both recover a damaged riparian landscape and also engage the community in its recovery. Rather than turn the red barn into an agricultural museum of past practices, we need a hands-on educational environmental science center where students of all ages can engage in the art and science of ecological restoration that prepares them for the future. This is one of the great environmental challenges that awaits our children. We can help them learn this critical enterprise. The irony is, we already have a nationally-proven model right here in Petaluma: STRAW — Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed. It is a nationally recognized program of innovative education and community-directed restoration. The property should become a workshop and laboratory for enlightened place-based teaching where students can get dirty doing hands-on work to bring back nature in the place near where they live. This could be a shared facility between Sonoma and Marin Counties, supported by individual schools, boards, and the county’s offices of education.

STRAW is housed within the world class science research organization, Pt. Blue Conservation Science, which itself could be a fabulous resource for students and teachers to learn of their ground-breaking projects all over the globe. Classrooms could link to them on site through telecommunications technology to learn about their fascinating work providing new insights and information: a front seat to discovery. Think of the ways that families and volunteers could be engaged on the property to help resurrect a functioning ecosystem that supports populations of American Badgers, Burrowing Owls and Western Bluebirds. Maybe that’s through building and posting Bluebird boxes, or planting native grasses, or creating willow walls to protect the creek banks. Students can learn how to do surveys, conduct transects, observe Nature and describe it, draw it, research it. Kids love being outdoors and discovering, and this is a most engaging way to introduce them to working science.

The particular values in utilizing the resource in this way is that, first of all, it protects it from use and abuse by random visitors. All visitors to the facility will be under the supervision of teachers, docents and staff so that the natural resource, and the work going on to restore it, is protected. Its connection to Helen Putnam Park will serve only as a riparian corridor for animals to transit, not as just another entrance to HPRP. Secondly, the focus is on both science-directed restoration of a wild creek and its surroundings, and on learning at various levels about the different communities, their interdependencies, and the habitat they need to survive. Third, it gives community members a way to participate and contribute to reviving a land parcel and restoring its vibrance and fecundity, now and long into the future. Fourth, I have seen this hands-on, place-based approach revive burnt-out teachers who themselves find inspiration and renewed purpose by engaging in such work.

STRAW has a history of binding communities where antagonist constituencies have come together and undertaken this special kind of work. It has brought people together in the cause of Nature and combating climate change, concern for our children’s welfare, and a yearning for Beauty. It is uplifting. It doesn’t just change minds, it changes hearts. People heal themselves as they heal the Earth. The results it produces and the inspiration it engenders becomes self-sustaining. We can do this at Scott Ranch and let it serve as an inspiration and model for our own communities and others. Let’s vision a different future . . . a better future.

Petaluma’s reduction in water use ranks among highest in state

Water conservation efforts in Petaluma appear to be working, according to the latest data from the California State Water Resources Control Board.

Water users in the city of Petaluma reduced their usage by 34.3% in June, making it the sixth greatest conserving area in the state, and No. 1 in the San Francisco Bay hydrologic area which is made up of portions of the nine-county Bay Area that drain into San Francisco Bay, according to data released by the state’s water board.

In June, water users in Petaluma used 72 gallons daily per capita, which was down from 80 gallons in June 2021 and 93 gallons in June 2020. In Sonoma County, the city of Healdsburg narrowly outpaced Petaluma in its water conservation totals, with a 34.6% reduction in June.

The highest rate of reduction from a water supplier in the state, Bella Vista Water District in Shasta County, saw a 39.6% reduction.

Petaluma water department’s environmental services analyst Chelsea Thompson said much of the reduction has stemmed from the latest water restrictions.

“I would say it’s a combination of our efforts and local leadership, also our robust outreach campaign,” Thompson said, “which has had a lot of residents come on board with conserving water and they have been really good.”

Two months after the state water board reported in March 2021 that 95% of California was experiencing drought, and that water users should prepare for impacts, the city implemented Stage 1 of its 2020 Water Shortage Contingency Plan, which encouraged voluntary water conservation.

On June 14, 2021, the state water board required Sonoma County Water Agency’s contractors, which includes Petaluma, to reduce total diversions from the Russian River by 20% to protect reservoir levels. To meet that reduction, the city implemented Stage 3 of its contingency plan that required a mandatory 25% reduction of water by those using the city’s public water system.

The city then moved to Stage 4 in September 2021, which required a mandatory 30% reduction.

Petaluma requires higher rates of water reduction than other municipalities in the county. Santa Rosa, for example, requires a mandatory 20% reduction in water use. Petaluma’s conservation measures include the allowance of irrigation only two days a week as Santa Rosa limits irrigation of landscapes daily from the hours of 8 p.m.-6 a.m.

Andrea Rodriguez, communications manager at the Sonoma County Water Agency, said the utility is appreciative of everyone doing their part and recognizes the difficulty of another year in a drought.

“I really see how our residents and cities are thinking about water in a different way,” Rodriguez said. “And making those choices to put the programs and infrastructures in place for the long-term.”

The city is also focused on its recycled water program.

Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced grant awardees of the North Bay Water Reuse Authority for the Title XVI Reuse Program. A collaborative effort between the city of Petaluma, Sonoma Water and the North Bay Water Reuse Authority has resulted in an estimated $6,934,655 awarded for Petaluma water projects.

This will fund three city projects, one of which is upgrades to the Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility to increase its daily capacity by another 2.12 million gallons of water.

Rodriguez said the city is considering the future when planning such projects and understands the reality of living in a drought.

“Petaluma is one of the first to really develop and build up their recycling water program,” she said. “This is where the city is reinvesting back to their agriculture and making it part of the infrastructure.”

Liz Platte-Bermeo, climate resilience programs manager at Daily Acts, said the nonprofit has seen a lot of community support with conservation efforts.

“Everything is interconnected, and I think nowadays I’m seeing a lot more people really recognize that and try to make change in any way they can ― no matter how big or small,” she said.

Daily Acts works with communities to inspire and advise on transformative actions for climate resilience through educational programs and free consulting on do-it-yourself, low-cost and low-technology solutions.

“People are tuned in to our water resources. We have so many different models, gardens and opportunities for water reuse, from public sites to city sites, people are able to see what’s possible through our city and county demonstrating certain techniques,” Platte-Bermeo said. “I think with state funding and emphasis on climate emergency and crisis, people are starting to wake up to it a lot more.”

Platte-Bermeo said she has witnessed a sense of responsibility from the local community when it comes to conserving water, and following the city’s restrictions.

Water reduction efforts have included limiting outdoor watering and equipping hoses with special hose-end nozzles. Some of the latest restrictions implemented by the city’s contingency plan include a prohibition of filling new pools or spas and installation of new landscapes or replanting existing ones that require water, along with the operation of ornamental water fountains in the city.

Nonprofit Cool Petaluma is partnering with Daily Acts to further encourage sustainable solutions for the community. Cool Petaluma Campaign Director Natasha Juliana said the two organizations are working to facilitate rainwater catchment systems and gray water systems.

Gray water refers to recycled water from household use, often used for landscape irrigation. These systems offer a convenient way to collect and reuse water from bathtubs, showers, washing machines and sinks.

“The city had a water conservation table at our Cool Petaluma Expo at Lagunitas and was impressed with the 100-plus highly-engaged people they were able to talk to,” Juliana said. “We worked with the city to create a form for our Cool Petaluma participants to easily request free water-saving devices.”

Their Cool Block teams collaborate on larger water conservation projects, such as the Mulch Madness program to sheet mulch lawns.

“To date, Cool Block participants have taken 659 water-related actions and have pledged to take another 799 water-related actions,” Juliana said.

To report water waste in Petaluma, call 707-778-4507 or email

Emma Molloy is an intern for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at

District Elections – who’s running and where


For more information and to FIND YOUR DISTRICT visit :

Mayor At Large


District 1
Janice Cader Thompson

Dylan Lloyd


District 2

Bob Roskoff

David Adams

John Shribbs


District 3

John Hanania

Karen Nau

Robert Konklin




Every Thursday Petaluma steps out at 7
Passeggiata – a leisurely walk or stroll, especially one taken in the evening.
Just step out of your home and take a walk every Thursday at 7pm…see what happens
If everyone this at 7pm magic will happen.

Rivertown Hoops is HERE!

Play, Sponsor or Volunteer!

In March of 2019, the City of Petaluma voted to cancel the sale of fireworks by small community-based non-profits throughout Petaluma. For many of these non-profits, this was their only fundraising tool. The City came to Petaluma People Services Center (PPSC) and asked that we create a new fundraising event, with all the impacted nonprofits, to offset some of their fundraising loss.

Based on a basketball event out of Spokane, WA, called HoopFest, PPSC is launching Rivertown Hoops. After 31 years, Spokane is now bringing together over 6,000 teams, 3,000 volunteers and 225,000 visitors. We don’t expect to get that big right away, but we do expect Rivertown Hoops to become the premier streetball tournament in Northern California.

The first inaugural tournament will be held Saturday, September 24, 2022 at Petaluma Junior High School. We are expecting at least 88 teams this year. All non-profits who participate in the tournament will receive a portion of the profits.

We are now inviting sponsors, volunteers, food vendors and court monitors to join us in this exciting endeavor. Join us and be able to say you participated in the first year!

Learn how to sponsor or register your team
It is all about community,

Elece Hempel, She/Her
Petaluma People Services Center
Executive Director

PPSC is dedicated to improving the social and economic health of our community by providing programs that strengthen the dignity and self-sufficiency of the individual. Our core services  include: Senior Services, Counseling, Youth Programing including Mentor Me, Housing, Employment and Petaluma Bounty Farms.

Explorations in Traditional Western Herbalism

September 2022 – June 2023

Wednesday Evenings from 6:30-9pm (in-person or zoom) and 2 Sundays per Month at our field campus in West Marin/Petaluma.

Learn the ancient and modern traditions of herbal medicine. This class is open to anyone with an interest in learning the craft of herbalism to care for your health, and the health of your family, friends and community. Explorations in Traditional Western Herbalism offers students a strong foundation in herbal healthcare, basic nutrition and healthy lifestyle practices to promote and enhance well-being. This class blends the scientific with earth-based traditional wisdom, and balances classroom lecture with exciting outdoor daylong herbal adventures. No prior training, experience or pre-requisites are required.

For more information and to register:

Cheryl Fromholzer (she/her)

Clinical Herbalist & Herbal Educator at Gathering Thyme

Click Here to Book a Consultation

The information contained in this email is confidential and may be privileged and protected from disclosure.  If you are not the intended recipient, dissemination, distribution or copying this communication is strictly prohibited; please notify us immediately by replying to this message and deleting it from your computer.  Thank you.