Petaluma’s State Of The Union–Part I

Last week President Obama addressed Congress on the State of the Union.  The purpose of this article is to generate a discussion about Petaluma’s State of the Union.

At one level, recent newspaper articles or letters to the editor paint a grim picture of decline in our fair city…

At the neighborhood level, foreclosures continue to plague many…

While Petaluma may be unique in having a regional and a local newspaper serving the community, they can inadvertently create an impression that the recession and governmental budget shortfalls are confined to Petaluma. It should be kept in mind, however, that the economic malaise is not unique to Petaluma. It is playing out across the nation and some areas of the country are more severely affected than here.

Overall, I suspect that we are, to borrow a phrase from Bill Gross of Pimco, seeking a “new normal” economically. This journey to the “new normal” will take many months, if not years.

So how do we cope locally?

For many, the answer lies in more retail development.  Currently, there is a great deal of  heated discussion on this issue in Petaluma. 

However, are there other avenues to explore? 

For example…

  • Faced with diminished revenues and resources, what can the City do to manage and better communicate about its ability to cope with infrastructure needs (potholes, sewers, streetlights, etc.) and public safety obligations?
  • Is there a role for neighborhood groups?
  • Is more “privatization” (contracting out) of government functions a solution? Is it a desirable solution?
  • What role will our NGO’s and service organizations (COTS, Rebuilding Together Petaluma, etc.) play in getting us through? Are they at their limits?

What do you think?

The above are merely suggested topics or areas of discussion. Feel free to suggest and comment on others.

Post your thoughts in the comment section below, or in an e-mail to 

  • If you use the comment feature, you don’t have to provide your name, but please include your e-mail address (it is not displayed) in case I may reply or want to ask a question.
  • If you elect to communicate by e-mail, the address and name will not be published.

If you live outside Petaluma, you are also welcome to comment or e-mail; however, please discuss what works, or what could work, in your community. Any and all positive ideas will be more than welcomed!

I will attempt to consolidate any thoughts, comments or ideas you care to submit with  my “two cents” in Part II on February 10.