All Posts: Petaluma gas station

Favorable ruling for No Gas Here

The Petaluma Safeway gas station proposal is still in the courts. On Oct. 21 there was a final ruling in Sonoma County Superior Court that:
• Safeway must wait on all demolition and construction until the matter is fully settled by the court.
• Save Petaluma has a case and can move forward to hopefully get an Environmental Impact Report.

This is a favorable ruling and good news. The full ruling is available here.

After this ruling, Safeway filed a writ of petition, claiming the judge’s decision was wrong. Long story short, the judge gave Save Petaluma another month and set a date for Jan. 23 to go over the administrative items and set to a date for another hearing. Safeway continues to try and get the case thrown out.

For the latest check:

Petaluma city council votes for moratorium for future gas stations

On Monday, the Petaluma City Council voted unanimously to approve Item 4b, the Moratorium on Approval of Applications for New Gas Station Users as written. Safeway asked that specific wording excepting the Safeway Gas Station be approved and D’Lynda Fischer made a motion to amend, but the other council members did not support the amendment. The Moratorium only prohibits future gas stations.

Safeway strongarms Petaluma city council in gas station fight

Despite clear public opposition to a proposed Safeway gas station in east Petaluma, the city council on April 1 approved Safeway’s plan without requiring an environmental impact report. Opponents, including Sierra Club Sonoma Group, spoke out demanding the city require environmental review on this project, as it would have undisputed harmful effects on residents and schoolchildren in proximity to the gas station.

Not only are health concerns an issue, but in a time when lawmakers and leaders should be working hard to cut greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change, adding a new gas station is going in the wrong direction. That in addition to there are already two other gas stations nearby, and the proposed site is adjacent to schools and playing fields. Yet even with all the information presented and its constituents pleading for it to do the right thing, the council succumbed to pressure from the corporation, which threatened to sue the government if it did not get its way.

Sierra Club and the grassroots group No Gas Here are not finished fighting this project, however, and other projects that pose this kind of human health and environmental threat to the community. We turn our attention to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which will need to issue a permit for the gas station. We will continue to monitor the process.

Petaluma Safeway Fuel station next to school

A new Safeway gas station in Petaluma is planned next to McDowell Elementary School which would expose children to exhaust fumes from idling cars and benzene in fuel vapor. Benzene is a carcinogen – it has been found in large amounts over 300 feet from gas stations, while this station will be only 60 feet from an on-site preschool.

Action: To support the local group fighting the station see the No Gas Here page on Facebook.

How a 2014 Petaluma moratorium on gas stations failed

Some history to the gas station debate in Petaluma:

Temporary ban on Petaluma gas stations fails

Lori Carter, The Press Democrat
March 4, 2014

The Petaluma City Council on Monday night rejected a proposed moratorium on gas stations that would have prohibited Safeway from building a fueling station in front of its North McDowell Boulevard store.

A temporary urgency ordinance – commonly called a moratorium – would have required the approval of six of seven council members.

As council members began discussing the issue, it soon became clear that Councilman Mike Healy, who sought the moratorium, wouldn’t even get a majority on his side. In a straw vote, only Healy, Gabe Kearney and Kathy Miller supported a 45-day ban to buy the council time to craft tighter regulations on gas stations.

“We should just follow the process we already have in place,” said Councilman Mike Harris, saying businesses should be able to rely on existing rules when they “make investments in our community.”

Councilwoman Teresa Barrett was conflicted in her vote. She said she opposes the gas station project on whole, but doesn’t support blanket bans.

“I don’t like moratoriums in general,” she said. “I could support some for legitimate, really serious reasons…This is sort of designer legislation: ‘We don’t like this project, so what can we do to make it go away?’ That’s just not right.”

Issues like air quality, noise, light, traffic and safety near school zones can be handled through the normal planning and environmental review, Planning Manager Heather Hines said.

Safeway applied in July to build a gas station at the front of the Washington Square Shopping Center, where a gas station is permitted by existing zoning.

Initially, other gas station owners in town voiced opposition to the plan out of fear that Safeway would sell below-cost gasoline or offer deep discounts to grocery club shoppers. Later, nearby residents and others concerned about air quality and traffic congestion also voiced opposition.

Meanwhile, Safeway gathered support from its shoppers and motorists who welcome additional competition in Petaluma’s gasoline market.

A lawfirm representing Safeway wrote a strongly worded 16-page letter arguing that a temporary ban on its existing application wouldn’t pass legal muster.

Safeway, which has operated a grocery store in Petaluma since 1929, proposes a station with eight double-sided fuel pumps under a canopy, with a charging station or electric vehicles.

The company said it will generate about $400,000 in new tax revenue for the city, although the basis for that estimate was unclear.

Healy proposed a moratorium on gas stations because of what he characterized as unfair competition Safeway would create for other gas station operators and other grocers. He wanted the council to temporarily ban all gas stations – although Safeway is the only application being processed – so the council could consider tighter regulations.

While the temporary ban failed, the project itself still must go through the planning process at the Planning Commission. Decisions there can be appealed to the council.

Several council members said they would be interested in fine-tuning the city’s regulations on gas stations or on air quality rules in general.

Longer-term options could include prohibiting all new gas stations, requiring new stations to have a conditional use permit, limiting the number of pumps at new stations or expanding the definition of “gas station” to address specific project impacts.