Civic Engagement Calendar – Urban Chat

Monday, August 8– Petaluma City Council – Presentation of initial results from SDAT visit
This week, I’m two days late.  Have I mentioned recently that I’d be happy for someone to take over this Urban Chat task?
Luckily, this week’s tardiness didn’t cause anyone to miss either a Council meeting or a Planning Commission meeting.  More on the latter below.
The big event this week will be this evening’s Know Before You Grow forum on The Weaver, a proposed hotel at the corner of Petaluma Boulevard South and B Street.  The president of the development company will speak, as will the project architect.  More information is below.
In response to questions, KBYG hosting this forum does not imply a project endorsement.  Instead, our goal is to facilitate useful public conversations leading to the best outcomes for Petaluma.  (At this time, Urban Chat doesn’t have a project endorsement process.  However, this could be a complement to our mission.  If someone might be interested in organizing an endorsement process, please see me.)
Also, if there’s a question about the effectiveness of KBYG forums, we received positive feedback this week.  Scannell Properties, taking heed of the comments offered during the KBYG forum on their project earlier this month, asked Planning to postpone last evening’s Planning Commission meeting so the development team could revise the project.  Thanks to everyone who participated in the last forum and helped illustrate the value of KBYG.
Lastly, I have a story that is good news and an ominous foreboding.  Anyone who has recently driven the upper section of B Street has noticed the new striping.  Not only are Class II bike lanes now provided, but the travel lanes for cars are reduced, sending the message to drivers to travel more slowly.  Both are great outcomes.
Every time I drive the street, I smile.  I’ve been lobbying City Hall since 2011 for narrower car travel lanes on B Street and elsewhere in Petaluma.  By my count, I’ve had the conversation with four different City Engineers.  I’m not the only person to have advocated for this change, but I’ve been doing it longer and more diligently than anyone else.  I feel entitled to a few smiles.
But at the same time, I’m uneasy.  It took eleven years of advocacy to move a paint stripe a foot.  That’s about an inch per year.  Looking forward, we have eight years until the City-adopted goal of carbon neutrality, a goal that will require massive changes in how we conduct our lives, household electrification, greatly reduced use of cars both internal combustion and electric, changed patterns of consumption, and much more.
Looking backwards, I see a paint stripe moving one inch per year.  Looking forward, I see the need for immense lifestyle changes.  We should be at a huge inflection point.  I don’t see much evidence of that inflection point.
However, there are glimmers of hope.  The last few weeks, I’ve been noting the upcoming visit by the AIA SDAT (American Institute of Architects Sustainable Design Assessment Team) to help Petaluma formulate a fifteen-minute neighborhood policy, creating places where more of our lives can be conducted without cars.
Fifteen-minute neighborhoods won’t be a climate action panacea.  However, they should be an essential element of a comprehensive climate action plan.  If you haven’t yet signed up for the SDAT community meeting the evening of August 5, you should do so.  The link is further below.
But even if you can’t attend the community meeting, or if the community meeting is already fully booked, you should look for ways to remain involved in the fifteen-minute neighborhood effort.  Like many changes, fifteen-minute neighborhoods won’t happen in a single meeting but will be an extended process requiring many hands on the rope.  Continuing long after the SDAT visit, fifteen-minute neighborhoods will be an Urban Chat focus.
Questions or comments?  Let me know. – Dave Alden  707-338-8388
P.S. If you wish to be removed from this email list, or have folks to add, let me know.
MORE DETAILS – All events are open to the public and everyone is encouraged to participate in person or on-line.
Monday, August 8– Petaluma City Council – The Council will be given a presentation on the initial results from the SDAT visit.
The workshop will convene at 6:00pm.  Links to the agenda and to attend and participate in the workshop will be provided when published.