Placeholder Image photo credit: Google Maps
The Petaluma vacant lot deemed too
flood-prone for development, even if it's temporary.

Efforts towards creating a public marketplace on the north edge of Petaluma came to a dead end this week. 

Rejected by planning staff and the city's planning commission, an appeal heard by the city council was a long shot.

Heather Kratt's proposal envisioned a public, solar-powered gathering spot on a unused lot....with tasty morsels from food trucks, as musicians serenade diners and local artisans offer wares.

But the project ran into opposition, mainly over zoning and potential for flooding.

Local resident Robert Galstadt accuses officials of grasping for ways to reject it.

"To be honest, I don't even know why we're here," Galstadt said. "Some people think that it's going to wreak havoc in Petaluma, it's the ugliest lot around, we all know that, we drive by the thing, and we keep talking about it being a floodway....when was the last time it flooded? It flooded in January," Galstadt said.

Councilwoman Janice Cader-Thompson says the project would spoil the Petaluma River with motor oil from vehicles parking there. She also wondered why local Audubon Society advocates hadn't raised concerns that music would disturb birds.

"We're not just talking food trucks, we're talking music, we're talking artisans, we're talking--this is an event area," Cader-Thompson said. "You know, I look at the fairgrounds and I see one food truck and how many people are there? All day long. And so, we're talking about multiple food trucks in an area, we don't know any traffic counts, there's just a lot of information we don't know," Cader-Thompson said.

Kratt said city officials have refused to take 'yes' for an answer.

"We did offer to shut down during the winter months," Kratt said. "If the city is concerned that we're not smart enough or not quick enough or whatever to get out of the way of a flood? We have offered to shut down in the rainiest months. We were told that wasn't good enough. I applied for the sixty-day and never got anything for that and the period that we were going to use expires, actually, I think tomorrow. I've tried everything I can to put this lot to use and I don't know what more to do," Kratt added.

The Petaluma City Council rejected Kratt's appeal on a five-to-two vote.


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