Skip to main content


This preface is included in your selections.

This document provides detailed regulations for development and new land uses within the Transect Zones, and describes how these regulations will be used as part of the City’s development review process. These regulations are provided in the form of a “Smart Code,” and are hereafter referred to as “this Code.” This Code is intended to ensure that all new buildings are harmonious with each other and within the character of Petaluma. This Code is further intended to enable, encourage and qualify the implementation of the following policies:

A. The Region.

1. That the region shall retain its natural infrastructure and visual character derived from topography, woodlands, farmlands, riparian corridors and coastlines.

2. That growth strategies shall encourage infill and redevelopment.

3. That affordable housing shall be distributed throughout the region to match job opportunities and to avoid concentrations of poverty.

4. That transportation shall be planned and reserved in coordination with land use.

5. That green corridors shall be used to define and connect the urbanized areas.

6. That the region shall include a framework of transit, pedestrian, and bicycle systems that provide alternatives to the automobile.

B. The Community.

1. That neighborhoods and regional centers shall be compact, pedestrian-oriented, and mixed use.

2. That the size of neighborhoods reflect a five-minute walking distance for the edge to center (center meaning a railroad connecting transit stop or the existing downtown)

3. That ordinary activities of daily living shall occur within walking distance of most dwellings, allowing independence to those who do not drive.

4. That interconnected networks of thoroughfares that shall be designed to disperse traffic and reduce the length of automobile trips.

5. That a variety of thoroughfares shall be designed to serve the needs of the pedestrian, the cyclist, and the automobile equitably.

6. That within neighborhoods, a range of housing types and price levels shall be provided to accommodate diverse ages and incomes.

7. That appropriate building densities and land uses shall be provided within walking distance of transit stops.

8. That civic, institutional, and commercial activity shall be embedded in downtowns, not isolated in remote single-use complexes.

9. That schools shall be sized and located to enable children to walk or bicycle to them (safe routes to school).

10. That a range of Open Space including Parks, Squares, and playgrounds shall be distributed within neighborhoods and downtowns and provide publicly accessible places for informal social activity and recreation.

C. The Block and the Building.

1. That buildings and landscaping shall contribute to the physical definition of Thoroughfares as Civic places.

2. That development shall adequately accommodate automobiles while respecting the pedestrian and the spatial form of public areas.

3. That the design of streets and buildings shall reinforce safe environments, but not at the expense of accessibility.

4. That architecture and landscape design shall grow from local climate, topography, history, and building practice.

5. That buildings shall provide their inhabitants with a clear sense of geography and climate through energy efficient methods.

6. That civic buildings and public gathering places shall be provided as locations that reinforce community identity and support self-government.

7. That civic buildings shall be distinctive and appropriate to a role more important than the other buildings that constitute the fabric of the city.

8. That the preservation, renewal, and reuse of historic buildings shall be facilitated, to affirm the continuity and evolution of society.

9. That the harmonious and orderly evolution of urban areas shall be secured through form-based codes.

10. That new construction shall not degrade the aesthetic and civic character of the neighborhood.

D. The Transect. The Transect is an organizing principle that focuses first on the intended character and type of place and second on the mix of uses within. This differs from the framework found in conventional or Euclidean zoning in which use, rather than form, is the primary focus. Transect-based zone districts are used to regulate the preservation, evolution, and creation of walkable places.

“The Rural-to-Urban Transect is a means for considering and organizing the human habitat in a continuum of intensity that ranges from the most rural condition to the most urban. It provides a standardized method for differentiating between the intentions for urban form in various areas using gradual transitions rather than harsh distinctions. The zones are primarily classified by the physical intensity of the built form, the relationship between nature and the built environment, and the complexity of uses within the zone.”

~ Form-Based Codes: A Guide to Planners, Urban Designers, Municipalities, and Developers, by Parolek, Parolek and Crawford

1. That the Transect Zone descriptions on Table 1 shall constitute the Intent of this Code with regard to the general character of each of these environments.