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Is holdup for Deer Creek Village a bump or a wall?


Site of proposed Deer Creek Village shopping center

Site of proposed Deer Creek Village shopping center (File photo)

After receiving hundreds of pages of documents in the past week protesting the proposed Deer Creek Village shopping center, the Petaluma City Council on Monday night agreed to postpone a critical hearing on the project.

The council was set to evaluate the final environmental impact report on the shopping center, essentially the deciding factor on whether the project will be allowed.

But two large document submissions came in from law firms representing neighborhood groups that oppose the center, raising the specter of lawsuits.

Deer Creek Village is planned as 344,000 square feet of retail, recreational and office uses at North McDowell Boulevard and Rainier Avenue. Friedman’s Home Improvement this month signed a long-term lease to become the anchor tenant, replacing Lowe’s, which pulled out in October.

Holding up a 3-inch-thick stack of papers Monday night, City Attorney Eric Danly said he was ready to recommend delaying the hearing based on the “extensive number of documents and comments and attachments and facts” submitted between last Tuesday and 4:15 p.m. Monday — just more than two hours before the hearing was to begin.

But shortly before 6 p.m., developer Merlone Geier Partners of San Francisco agreed with Danly’s assessment and asked the council to postpone the hearing until the documents could be reviewed.

The council voted 6-1, with Councilwoman Teresa Barrett dissenting, to delay the hearing to 6 p.m. April 2.

Merlone Geier spokesman Marko Mlikotin said the decision was disappointing but came “out of an abundance of caution and fear of potential litigation.”

The city received 74 pages of arguments against the project on Feb. 21 from the Petaluma Neighborhood Association, which had sued the city to try to stop the now-approved East Washington Place shopping center that will include a Target store.

A law firm representing ex-Councilwoman Janice Cader-Thompson, her husband and the Park Place Neighborhood Association submitted more than 100 pages Friday.

And ex-Councilwoman Pam Torliatt submitted another stack of documents with 14 attachments between noon and 3:15 p.m. Monday, Danly said.

Many of the documents included city records about the Rainier overpass, underpass or interchange as the city has discussed it over the years. The city Planning Commission ruled the Deer Creek EIR inadequate last month, citing a lack of funding for a Rainier project and traffic impacts related to it.

Danly said many of the documents overlapped and “a lot of it is misconstrued” and should be corrected.

It “may even be strategic to try to delay the proceeding,” he said.

Mayor David Glass said it was in the “best legal interest” of the city to postpone the hearing so that the documents could be “properly vetted to protect the city’s interests.”

“Under no circumstances did I or any member of the City Council take any action to delay” the hearing, he said, in reference to some residents’ complaints about the city’s planning process.

Cader-Thompson, who was booed by someone in the audience, said she would like to sit down with the developer and city leaders to come up with a redesigned project “we can live with.”

Merlone Geier has been working with the city since 2008 to develop the property, now 36.5 acres along Highway 101 that was envisioned as a large shopping center in the city’s general plan updated that year.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.

11 Responses to “Is holdup for Deer Creek Village a bump or a wall?”

  1. chicken or egg first says:

    Oh Stuck, you have it so wrong. Don’t you remember the anti-Rainier folks have fought this “crossing” for years on the premise that it would “cause” development. If Caltans or someone dropped the entire cost of a gold plated Rainier crossing in our laps it’s construction would be fought tooth and nail by you. The truth does hurt, or at least, delay.

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  2. Stuck in traffic, yet again says:

    You’d think that some of the fools who criticize the people who gave good information on clogged traffic would learn something about traffic and Rainier for a change.

    The city never collected enough money for Rainier ‘cuz it didn’t want to charge developers (like the Outlet Mall and Regency) the real costs of Rainier. Then the pro-development councilmembers spent lots of redevelopment tax money to subsidize the Auto Mall and the Marina, instead of saving it for Rainier.

    We got no Rainier anywhere in the future to help prevent traffic jams in front of the hospital. We got no Rainier in the future to help prevent traffic jams from Deer Creek “Village”.

    Deer Creek developers didn’t want the real traffic information revealed during the planning process. Now the city has to go back and give the public the real info.

    So, stop whining, and go sit in your stuck cars if you don’t like the truth. Doesn’t matter if you give a thumbs up or down- are you afraid of getting the truth?

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  3. bill me says:

    Janice Cader-Thompson and Pam Torliatt submitted a lot of paperwork at the last second. Why is that? Why would they not submit the information in a timely manner so that the FEIR can be voted on one way or another? Are they interested in what the average person in Petaluma wants? I hope the citizens of Petaluma get together and start figuring out who is holding their City’s fortunes hostage due to their obstructionist tactics. i say Boo to Paul Francis, Pam Torliatt and Janice Cader-Thompson.

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  4. Jim says:

    This isn’t a surprise to anyone who knows the morons on the Petaluma council. Look at the fiasco that surrounds the Target shopping center. When did Kenilworth get torn down? That project has been delayed and delayed for at least a decade. How many millions of dollars have been lost to Rohnert Park because of the idiots in the Petaluma City Council? Think about the shoppers that drive to Rohnert Park, shop at Target, Costco, get gas, eat, seek entertainment (remember Petaluma was without a theater for years)…we’re talking hundreds of millions over the last couple decades.

    This project will never get built. The environmental morons are too concerned about the salamander than they are about the soon-to-be-bankrupt city. Put it up there with the Target shopping center and the Rainier overpass (that also has been delayed for decades). Petaluma is just a microcosm of CA…environmental crazies control development, morons who are oblivious to finances run the cities.

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  5. Money Grubber says:


    Care to explain to us how California grew into the powerhouse of employment and manufacturing and housing success that it was before the government dreamed up the farce known a “redevelopment” ???

    The government “redevelopment” farce was an impediment to the continued success of the public as our tax dollars were stolen to line the pockets of bureaucrats adn their criminal buddies.

    The death of government “redevelopment” was a great thing for the public.

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  6. Average Joe says:

    I let the homeless guy who begs for hand outs at the exit of strip mall on North McDowell know he has nothing to worry about cause Janice Cader-Thompson and Pam Torliatt are on the case!

    I bet he will breathe a lot easier tonight in his homeless camp with the other “displaced workers” (a nicety politicians like to use) looking for a job.

    Great work ladies! I hope the Petaluma holds a special place for you.

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  7. Nancy says:

    I hope this holdup is only a bump. With the dissolution of redevelopment, all cities need all the help they can get, and the sales tax produced by the Deer Creek project will be a boon to Petaluma.

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  8. @'Tabloid Reporting" says:

    I think the point of that in the article was that it was remarkable that only one person at the hearing booed JCT. She deserves 60,000 boos, one from each resident of town.

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  9. Wilson says:

    I agree that this is tabloid reporting. I urge anyone that wants the simple truth to watch the opening minutes of this meeting on Petaluma’s website.

    What Ms. Carter left out (or her editors took out) is that the Petaluma City Council was all set to go on this item up until 6pm that night. The issue is that at some point, staff changed their recommendation from “discussion and possible action” to something along the lines of “discussion and continuation to date certain”. They wanted to fully integrate these important last minute additions into the picture but did not have the resources to do so before the meeting.

    Merlone-Geier themselves asked that the item be removed from the agenda. They chickened out. The developer pulled the item, NOT the council. Got it? The media spin time and time again puts the blame on the Petaluma City Council rather than the real culprit.

    For an eye-opening dose of the truth about the Deer Creek project, read Peter Byrne’s excellent article in the Feb. 22 edition of the Bohemian called “Paving Petaluma”.


    And give me a thumbs down if the truth hurts.

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  10. Lori's Tabloid Reporting says:

    “Cader-Thompson, who was booed by someone in the audience, said she would like to sit down with the developer and city leaders to come up with a redesigned project “we can live with.” – 

    Seriously? One rude person yells boo and you report it? It’s so obvious you are trying to slant the story without even reporting on the actual concerns. Why don’t you do real journalism and interview her or others, or actually read what they submitted. And seriously, there was one person who said boo and the Mayor quickly reminded everyone how out of order that is. Yet you report it as if to say people are rightly against her. She was very polite, and it’s incredibly unfair and insensitive to write her off when she’s representing many of her neighbors who have legitimate concerns about the increased traffic and failure of the EIR to consider the impacts without a future Rainier connector.

    Shame on you Lori. Please remove the reference or at least acknowledge that such behavior is disrespectful. For those who didn’t watch the meeting, I encourage you to do so – you’ll see that it was a single, and not very loud or long, boo – and Janice was quite dignified in replying “thank you”, rather than let it bother her. But it has no place in your report and is so obviously stuck in there to create an impression that her statement was somehow unacceptable. It’s a legal process under CEQA and no one should be booed for operating under the law and expressing their concerns on major projects with major impacts. The reality is that the CIty and Applicant should thank Janice for providing information that should be addressed to avoid potential legal issues.

    Regardless of one’s position on an issue, it’s simply unacceptable to boo people who are simply speaking their mind. It’s rude, does nothing to help your case, and is typical of much of the tea party crap we saw at the Lynn Woolsey Healthcare Forum. When you enter the Council, be polite. It’s the least you can do for your fellow residents and Council members.

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  11. GAJ says:

    Hurry up and wait.

    The project will be drowned in paperwork and never get off the ground.

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