Concern: Petaluma must have broad-based and diverse economic activity, including manufacturing, retail, and professional services, to position itself to weather national economic shifts while continuing to provide secure lives for its residents. And the challenge is now complicated by Covid-19.
Why a Solution Isn’t Easy: Many of us are accustomed to what Petaluma has been in the past and can too easily fall into the trap of thinking it must be preserved in amber. But the world is changing. Our children likely view their lives through different lenses than we do. And that’s a good thing. But unless we adjust to what the next generation wants in a city, Petaluma cannot thrive.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 has thrown Petaluma a huge challenge. Climbing out of the economic hole created by the pandemic will be our first and most urgent task.
Steps toward a Solution
It has been more than a century since American cities have had to recover from a pandemic. Many of the lessons from 1919 have been lost and likely wouldn't have been applicable even if they had been retained. Instead, the City must create our own roadmap.
Today, the focus of government at all levels must be on how to retain as much economic activity and public health measures as possible while the pandemic is still with us. But, as soon as the end is in sight, The Council must begin to create strategies for recovering from this nearly unprecedented situation, seeking solutions for our local businesses so that we don’t end up with vacancy signs abundantly scattered through downtown and our other shopping districts while also being aware of the deep hit that has been made on the financial resources of many local households. Solutions won’t be easy, but the City must play a role in listening to the voices of our residents and being creative in offering ideas for the difficult days still in front of us.
I will also call for a statewide sharing of ideas that can be implemented at local levels to reboot small businesses, to ramp up consumer activity, and to rebuild the household wealth that has been depleted. Like all of us, I don't know what this new roadmap will be. But I promise you that I will be at the forefront of the effort to create it.
As the impacts of the pandemic eventually wane, maintaining economic vibrancy will still require continual efforts by the City. The City must create the right livability elements so that desirable potential employees want to live in Petaluma. We must also build the conditions for existing businesses to expand and for well-targeted businesses to relocate to our city.
The City must be aware of how the coming generations view the paths of their lives. The Council must look to cities that have begun to transition to new ways of thinking and bring those ideas back to Petaluma, not to emulate but to integrate with what is already special about our town.
If the City do this successfully, we will have a community that will be economically vibrant for a long time.
As a small business owner I will fight for our businesses and ensure the Council does everything in our power to help them succeed. Because when they succeed, we succeed.