February 2023


Help for Highway 37

A coalition of state traffic and environmental agencies will be working together to redesign Highway 37 which is the North Bay’s main east-west route.  New lanes will be added in each direction and there will be fixes to address chronic flooding problems.  The work will focus on the 21 mile state highway which links Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties from Interstate 80 in the east to Highway 101 at Novato.  This road has 40,000 vehicles on it every day.

The project aims to add a lane in each direction on the easternmost 10 mile stretch.  An existing lane will be converted into an HOV lane.  The cost of the widening is expected to be about $500 Million and take five years to complete.


Big Decisions in Petaluma

At the end of 2023 the Petaluma City Council will assume management of the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds.

The Council directed City Manager Peggy Flynn to negotiate a transitional use agreement with California’s 4th District Agricultural Association enabling the state agency to continue operating its annual 5 day fair within a specified footprint.  The City of Petaluma will assume control of managing and maintaining the 55 acre property.

To begin negotiations the city of Petaluma requested some basic information including exactly how much space was needed to operate the fair apart from the other enterprises subleasing space from the fair district.

Surprise!  Fair Board members stated they would provide no information unless and until they were granted a face-to-face meeting with the City Council.  Why was this done?  It appears that the board’s goal is to bring political pressure to force the council to rescind its earlier action and instead adopt a new lease that basically maintains the status quo.  There have been three new members elected to the Petaluma City Council.  However, a four member majority is necessary to keep the past policy of having the Fair maintain control of the area.  Tawny Tesconi, the board’s CEO stated that the board will pursue this goal.  She states that the fair board can do a better job managing the fairgrounds property because the city staff does not know the facility like the fair board does. 

Now of course the issue comes to money.  The fair has a $1 a year lease.  The City Council is looking at the Fair Grounds as a municipal nest egg.  Because Petaluma tax payers voted for a sales tax increase that stabilized the shaky financial situation in the city, the fairgrounds property was not put up for sale once the lease expired. 

The fair board which is state appointed has no explicit accountability to the voters.  City Manager Flynn is continuing to move ahead to enact the City Council’s directive.

Stay tuned for the next event in the continuing saga.


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