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Opinion: The Rainier Myth

Yes, we need tax dollars and a place to buy construction materials, but not if it means creating gridlock and impacting our quality of life.

Recent articles about the Deer Creek project and Rainer connector, culminating in Don Bennett's diatribe last Thursday in the Argus Courier about me and former Mayor Pam Torliatt are all heat and no light.

I am not responsible for Rainer not being built and my involvement in the project over the years is not at issue now. After all, Rainer has been on the books for over forty years, starting when I was still in junior high school.  If the Rainier project was feasible it would have been built.

The real issues are, who are we and what kind of town do we want to live in.

Will we capitulate to the lure of tax dollars mainly to pay ever-increasing city workers salaries and pensions, only to lose our quality of life? Are we Orange County, where urban blight in the form of never ending gridlock is a daily agony, and where idling vehicles concentrate pollutants near houses, schools and hospitals?  Or are we still Petaluma, with a rural tradition, small businesses and, until recently, free flowing streets?

The shows that the project results in several major intersections going from E to F level traffic, the worst, and the freeway similarly clogged.  This will happen even if Rainer is built. Traffic will not just tiptoe across the E/F line, it will leap, going from bad to extremely bad.

Some of the affected intersections are Corona/McDowell, Petaluma Boulevard/Corona and McDowell/Washington. The gridlock will affect response times to the hospital. The backup on Washington Street that sometimes goes all the way to Petaluma Boulevard will get worse.

The east-west split in Petaluma will become a physical reality, not just a friendly rivalry. Who on the west side will go to G & G or Raley's when there is a gauntlet of traffic?  Who on the east side will walk Kentucky Street when it is a pain to get there and takes much longer?

As for Rainer, Petaluma has NO money and The city has a new report saying it will cost $64 to $135 million dollars and Rainier will not be considered in the Regional Transportation Plan until 2040. See the report on the right.

How does this help traffic now? That report has not been generally released to the public, even though the city paid for it.  I had to obtain it from the Transportation Agency.

A smaller project at Deer Creek would help mitigate the traffic impacts and CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) requires that feasible mitigation measures be adopted. The developer obtained the property from a defunct savings and loan at a bargain price.

According to city staff, a smaller project isn't feasible because it won't bring the developer maximum profit. Isn’t it time city staff and council members stop promising what they can’t achieve? It’s time to be honest and work with what can be accomplished!

This project should be smaller, truly multiple-use, and not so large a traffic generator. This could be done and Friedman's could still be the major tenant. I stated at the last city council meeting that I would be happy to work with the developer and the city on a compromise. We have a meeting Friday morning!

I love Petaluma and want it to remain the unique, livable city where both my grandfathers came to open businesses almost 100 years ago. Petaluma is different and has the natural and human resources to stay vital without making the deal with the Devil that most other towns do.

Let's continue to capitalize on our great downtown, our proximity to the coast, the wine country and San Francisco. Our river, parks, and wildlife habitats such as Schollenberger draw tourists, as do our excellent restaurants and small businesses. 

Yes, we need tax dollars and a place to buy boards, but not if it means killing the golden goose that is our precious home. If you agree and want to help, please contact me at trafficgridlock@gmail.com

Janice Cader-Thompson is a former Petaluma City Council Member and dental hygienist who lives across the street from the proposed Deer Creek Village development.

The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the writer and not necessarily of Petaluma Patch. We welcome letters from all Petaluma residents, irrespective of their position of controversial issues.

Ptown March 23, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Thanks for the link to the AC article.
Patrick M. March 24, 2012 at 04:07 AM
I don't know that I have read a more self-serving opinion piece in quite some time. Janice says, "I stated at the last city council meeting that I would be happy to work with the developer and the city on a compromise". Janice, represents one single citizen and nothing more. The developer should know that many of us long time Petalumans would dearly love to see this get built and sooner the better. Since Janice brings it up, my family has been in Petaluma for many generations too; but we did not sell off our family property for development.
Janice Cader-Thompson March 24, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Patrick, Only in Petaluma would someone be so misinformed and so bold as to attack the credibility of two senior citizens. I think you owe Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Cader an apology. Does it feel good to publicly discredit two senior citizens ages 90 and 89? Shame on you for not getting your facts straight.
Ptown March 24, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Even if mitigating was acceptable and a private donor paid for Rainier, it still includes chain stores, big box etc.... Tell the truth Janice. You'd still be lying in front of a mower for the first time even though you've watched it been mowed with no action on your part for decades. Oh the hypocrisy.
Petaluma Seer March 27, 2012 at 01:50 AM
We do want the Truth of it all. The possibility of a No Rainier looms large, yet it has been unstudied in the Traffic Impact study of the Ceer Creek Village proposed development, despite the citizens bringing it forward in many govt. meetings. Why is this? Many Petaluma City Council members ran for their seats on Traffic Relief. If they truly want good traffic mobillity in Petaluma, they will have to send back the DCV EIR to be completed. In a complete state to obtain the data/information necessary to make wise decisions, by including both the impacts on the small local neighborhood streets where vehicles will flock for traffic relief, and the possibility of not having Rainier anything built, due to lack of any building funds. The redevelopment funds to build them are gone and possibly the $7.5 mill that was to go to the design plan of them, may also be gone. It is time to accept what is, or at the very least to get all the facts so we can make development decisions that preserve the politicians promises of good mobility in this city.

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