Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Letter to Planning Commission- Target Big Box development

from Erin, a friend of IMPACT!, to the Planning Commission. Erin grew up in the East D St. neighborhood, which will be disproportionately affected by the proposed massive big box development at East Washington.

Dear Chairman Arras,

I grew up in this neighborhood, just 3 blocks away from this site. I know exactly what is in jeopardy here: a mixed-income, vibrant, community full of kids that play on these sidewalks and in the park and walk to the library and the fairgrounds on july 4th for fireworks. We are a special neighborhood because we DO have convenience stores located within walking distance all around us. I am not opposed to this new Target if it must be built for the economic sustainability of petaluma, but there are strategies to make it the most well-designed, mixed-use, water-wise development ever!

When I was a teenager I used to walk to downtown and have everything anyone could want at my fingertips--an amazing bookstore, lots of ice cream and coffee shops, and clothing stores. I loved shopping and the ability to get there safely without being overly concerned with traffic. I walked to the pool center and library all the time in the summer. I rode my bike. I love having stores easily accessible to Petaluma residents, and I find it encouraging that lots of folks want to walk or bike to their new Target store. It was the perfect neighborhood for a kid stay healthy and entertained.

Yet, I am terrified that this sense of security will be lost for the dozens of young kids that are growing up now in my neighborhood that is about to be transformed. I am terrified for the little lungs of kids playing at the pool center and skate park, who are just out to have fun and get some exercise--with the amount of traffic this development will generate, they are at high risk for respiratory illnesses. Please make sure Regency does a thorough air quality impact report (which they have NOT yet come close to doing) and a redesign of the site to include MUCH more pedestrian and bike accessibility and MUCH less parking. MANY more trees.

Challenge regency to draft up a plan to put in true water-wise and edible landscaping (Regency's past proposals have been far from sufficient in terms of landscaping). Ultimately, Regency could get much of their landscaping for free if they invited in the volunteer power of our quite committed community.Take a look at Petaluma City Hall lawn! Lets please challenge Regency to collaborate with us. After a long, hard fight,this is the least my neighborhood deserves.

As it stands, the East Washington Place project should be called what it really is: The ‘Target Box’ Place. Picturesque Petaluma, with its beautiful Marina, does not need this incompatible project. Your Commission has the power to cut this project down to size, to make it more pedestrian-friendly, and compatible with the rest of Petaluma. These are property design and site plan issues. These box stores are inharmonious with the rest of commercial development in Petaluma. You can insist that the Target project be made to fit Petaluma, not the reverse. I hope you will take an aggressive stand on site plan scale, open space, and character of the project, to protect the residents of this city. This is not an economic development project---so don’t swoon over the jobs and sales tax imputed to this plan. In my mind, the City Council "missed the Target" but now the Commission has a chance to address the real problems with the inappropriately-scaled project.

With my background in Urban Studies, I was one of the recent Planning Commission applicants. I am going to hold the Planning Commission accountable, as the protectors of our town's vitality and character, to ensuring the best possible design of our city spaces. I trust that you will not let us down.

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