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December 2018

Great Artist Especially in Glass; Member of Russian River Sportsman’s Club

Jennifer Barrett

Permit Sonoma will be saying farewell to our Deputy Director of Planning in January 2019.

Jennifer Barrett, who served 16 years as Deputy Director, is a statewide leader in the Planning field. Her approach throughout her career has been to make sure that everyone participates. Her legacy in our department includes her work overseeing the development of General Plan 2020 (completed in 2008) and developing the County’s housing program and code updates.

Jennifer’s work has extended to many jurisdictions within the area, including four years as the Planning Manager for the City of Novato and seven years with the City of Petaluma. Back at the beginning of her career, she interned for the City of Healdsburg. While studying at Sonoma State University, Jennifer worked on renewable energy as an intern at Sonoma County’s General Services department.

In addition to her work in public service, Jennifer also has experience as a private consultant with a focus on redevelopment work, environmental impact reports, and economic development. Originally from Chicago, Jennifer has been with her husband since 1972 (married since 1981). The couple has two sons and a grand baby. Permit Sonoma’s Director Tennis Wick shares the following memories of Jennifer:

I first met Jen when she led Petaluma’s long range planning team. I was just appointed to the city planning commission and assigned with her as lead staffer for a specific plan covering industrial properties at the south end of town. The property owners were very suspicious of city annexation, preferring to remain in the county away from urbanites who would complain about the noise and dust from their operations. Jen listened to the concerns and advised that the city end the planning process, leaving these industrial lands in the county. I and the owners were impressed that, as a managing staff member, she brought their concerns back to city hall. As a colleague at Permit Sonoma, Jen has always shown her strength as a policy developer who can take an idea and create legislation to make it law. It’s a rare talent and one she has cultivated one of Jennifer Barrett's quilts among her peers.

Now that she’s retiring, you may see Jennifer spending more time at the Russian River Sportsman’s Club or creating art such as quilts and glass jewelry. We wish Jennifer the best in her future adventures.

Permit Sonoma Welcomes Fire Prevention and Hazardous Materials Response Staff

Fire Vehicle 250 On December 11, 2018, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved the relocation of fire inspection-related activities to Permit Sonoma. This move is one component of a phased effort that reimagines how fire and emergency services will be provided in Sonoma County. Effective January 1, 2019, the Fire Prevention Division and Hazardous Materials Division will be integrated into Permit Sonoma, increasing coordination of these fee-based inspection programs. Read More

Before and After: Increased Public Safety

Permit Sonoma’s Code Enforcement team works daily to bring properties into compliance with County code to protect public health and safety. They deal with a wide range of property issues. These pictures give an example of one property that benefited from Code Enforcement activities. This property had numerous safety issues including mold, hazardous electrical wiring, and blocked evacuation access. Furthermore, the property had an estimated acre of junkyard with at least 10 non-operational vehicles.

collage of 3 images of blighted and unsafe property - before clean up

In response to Code Enforcement’s August 2018 inspections and citations, the property owner complied with actions to address these significant safety hazards. Below are November 2018 photos after the property was brought into compliance with County building code.

collage of 3 images of property - after clean up

Snap Our Coastal Beauty

Sonoma County coastPhotographers, get your cameras ready! In early 2019, we’ll be hosting a photo contest to capture images for the County’s Local Coastal Plan Update. This plan preserves coastal resources and guides development in the coastal zone. Check back on Permit Sonoma’s website next month for contest details.

When Do you Need a Traffic Study?

Traffic Engineering 250Environmental Review Guidelines have been updated and are now available to assist applicants in determining when certain studies are required for your projects. This includes guidelines for applications that require a noise analysis and/or a traffic impact study. You’ll also find details on who is qualified to conduct these studies and the protocol for each study.

Meet Planning Commissioner Todd Tamura

Todd Tamura 250For our readers who don’t know you, can you provide a bit of background about yourself and what led you to serve on the Planning Commission?

I am a professional air pollution consultant, and my work incorporates both science/technical aspects and legal/regulatory aspects. I've developed an appreciation for both the need for specific rules and the burdens associated with the overwhelming number, complexity, and ambiguities of them, and a lot of my work has been associated with dealing with the latter, largely for industrial facilities (e.g., refineries, manufacturing facilities, electric power generating stations, etc.). My work is also constantly subject to critical review by highly qualified people, and I appreciate the validating aspect of that. I live and work in Petaluma, am married and have a 10-year-old son. I grew up in Oregon to a couple of great supportive parents who always set good examples; and through a combination of both hard effort and good fortune had the opportunity to get a great education (B.S. in Chemistry from Harvey Mudd College, M.S. in Chemistry from UCLA, M.S. in Technology and Policy from MIT). In my free time I enjoy swimming, playing the piano, and playing obscure strategy board games.

I think that like most (if not all) Commissioners, what led me to serve on the Planning Commission in the first place is that my Supervisor (David Rabbitt) asked me to. I didn't really know much about what the position entailed at the time and I talked to a few Commissioners about the position to make sure that I could make that commitment.

Is the Planning Commission your first position of service to the community?

No. As a kid I was an Eagle Scout, and we did a variety of community projects; that may have set the stage for me volunteering for things later in life. As an adult, I have been a volunteer tutor, and a Big Brother; I was also a high school teacher for a short period of time (it was a paid position rather than a volunteer one, but I'll still count that as a "position of service to the community"). I served as the educational outreach chair of the Air & Waste Management Association's New England Section for many years, have served as a peer reviewer for scientific journals, was president of Petaluma's Toastmasters club, and am also a member of the Government Affairs Committee of the Petaluma Area Chamber of Commerce (and was previously a Board member). I've given math and science presentations at my son's schools, am co-chair of the education committee for the Unitarian Universalists of Petaluma, and deliver Meals on Wheels with my family. I've probably missed a few things from that history...but I can see that as I look back at the things that I've mentioned here, they reflect my overall bent towards education and communication. (I know some people who have a somewhat pessimistic outlook on human nature, and typically they have done little to no volunteer work. My advice to them has been to go do some.)

Can you name a few highlights of your time on the commission?

That's tough to say; almost everything we decide is probably going to affect someone positively and someone negatively. I appreciate hearing from all the various perspectives. I should say more specifically that I particularly appreciate the fact that although we are dealing with contentious issues, the overwhelming majority of people who participate at the County's hearings (including Permit Sonoma staff) communicate sincerely, make valid points, and communicate in a mature manner. (It surprised me a little, since I've been to public hearings in numerous other jurisdictions where exaggerations, misleading statements, hysteria, invective, and posturing/grandstanding can take over; and while that can sometimes seem effective from one party's short-term view, it is often unfortunate and counterproductive on multiple other levels.) So maybe one of the highlights for me was after one of the more heated public comment periods, Commissioner Carr saying something like "I think that first of all everybody needs to CALM DOWN" and seeing the people on both sides seem to actually do that.

20 years from now, how do you envision Sonoma County?

In college, one of my professors once told me that "predicting the future based on the past is a bit like trying to stay on the road while looking only in your rearview mirror. You can do it successfully, as long as the road doesn't change." I expect that there will continue to be strong support for maintaining the urban growth boundaries and beautiful hillsides, so I expect the more densely populated parts to grow upwards rather than outwards. I see it continuing to be a beautiful and desirable place to live, which also means that I am concerned that the county will continue to be unaffordable for too many people. I imagine the average age of people in the county may increase, as younger people move to more affordable areas to buy homes.

What is your favorite spot in Sonoma County?

I haven't been everywhere in the county yet. I drove all over District 2 shortly after I became a Commissioner, and of course I've traveled to parts of the other Districts, but there are still a lot of parts I haven't been to yet. My favorite scenic tour to take visitors on is going out on Bodega Avenue towards the Sonoma Coast, up the coast towards Jenner, and then back in through Guerneville (sometimes visiting Armstrong Woods) and then visiting some of the Dry Creek wineries. Just this year I've taken some relatives (from Germany) and my college roommate's family (from Costa Rica) on that circuit. It's a beautiful county; when my wife and I went on our honeymoon in Tuscany, she remarked on the train how beautiful the landscape was with its rolling hills and vineyards and I had to say "yes…it reminds me of Sonoma County." We are all very fortunate to live here.

Contact Information

Maggie Fleming
Communications Manager
Permit and Resource Management Department
County of Sonoma
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