On April 6, 2007, Sprawl-Busters introduced a project called the “East Washington Place,” a large development in Petaluma, California, situated between the Sonoma County Fair grounds and HWY 101. This proposal consists of 37.28 acres slated for six big box stores and 227 condos. The developer, Regency Centers, says it has committed tenants, including Target, the major anchor for the 123,800 s.f. space, plus adjoining garden center; Circuit City in the 33,862 s.f. space; a chain bookstore in a 21,000 s.f. space, and Cost Plus World Market, a specialty general merchandise store, in the 18,300 s.f. space. Two Large anchor spaces of approx. 20,000 s.f. have not reported a tenant commitment. The Petaluma Neighborhood Association, which strongly opposes what should be called “Target Place,” reports this week that the project’s developer appears to be “creating” support for the project. Here is their report from Petaluma: “Regency Centers had the audacity to attempt to hoodwink the citizens of Petaluma in regard to the new shopping center they propose to construct for the ‘benefit and wellness’ of our town. I am referencing the four fraudulent letters recently submitted by a consulting firm hired by Regency Centers to the Argus-Courier newspaper, purportedly signed by four Petaluma residents. As the newspaper reported in its May 9, 2007 article, all four residents deny writing any letters or having any knowledge of signing any letters that may have been pre-written by Regency’s hired consulting firm in favor of Regency’s proposal for Petaluma development. These women do in fact confirm that they only signed a petition in favor of Regency’s proposal, but no letters. The Vice President of Regency Centers states “The notion of forgery is absurd.” He would rather we believe that the four women residents were ignorant and didn’t realize they were writing and/or signing a letter. For Regency to expect this insulting explanation of this misleading, if not possibly fraudulent and illegal, submission to the Argus-Courier, to be accepted by Petaluma’s residents, is just another example of Regency Centers’ blatant display of arrogance and lack of consideration for our community. Regency Centers and its employees’ infiltrated Petaluma’s recent annual Butter and Eggs celebration to distribute its self-promoting misinformation, similar to the letters they submitted on their behalf to the Argus-Courier, under the guise of residents’ signatures. For Regency Centers to invite themselves to this well-established, community/family event, with history and roots that honor our ancestors and our local dairy trade, and try to force-feed our residents all the false benefits they claim their development has to offer is again another example of their insulting, arrogant behavior. The impact their proposed development will have on our environment, as well as our local economy, will be devastating. The increased traffic flow in itself will drastically change Petaluma as we know it. The required signage for a project with the proportions of Regency Centers’ proposal (totaling 800 s.f. of signage), as well as the proposed 14 foot high wall they propose to buffer the noise, will be detrimental to the aesthetics of our City, and an eyesore as you enter via the East Washington Street Gateway. The apparent water shortage that will definitely occur, and Regency Centers’ 300,000 s.f. bigbox nightmare will be one major deficit all residents will be confronted with. Downtown Petaluma will undoubtedly most severely suffer the impact of Regency Centers’ proposed plan. The very spirit of downtown Petaluma, the independent vendors, restaurants, and individuality that they bring to our City will definitely be compromised, if not brought to demise, with the fruition of Regency Centers’ proposed plan. We can have economic development without expansion; by channeling our efforts into making Petaluma better… not bigger! We must urge our city government to consider alternatives to such bigbox projects that are already antiquated, and soon to be obsolete.”
“We deserve something better than a ‘bigbox’ plan,” the Petaluma Neighborhood Association writes. “We urge our fellow Petalumans to write letters to the city council. Let our elected officials know that we have no interest in doing business with Regency Centers, a developer whose deceitful practices insult and undermine our community.” For further information and to contact the Petaluma Neighborhood Association go to: www.stopbigboxinpetaluma.com. Readers are encouraged to email Petaluma Mayor Pamela Tortliatt at: [email protected] The emails for everyone on the City Council can be found at: http://cityofpetaluma.net/cclerk/council.html. Tell the city council, the East Washington Place should be called for what it really is: The Target Box Place. Picturesque Petaluma, with its beautiful Marina, does not need this incompatible project.