What is the “No Gas Movement” Trying to Accomplish
Updated: Nov 13, 2019
The Safeway Gas Epidemic
Despite the strong ongoing opposition and concerns from nearby community centers and members, on April 1, 2019, the city council officially approved the development of a Safeway Gas Station in the Washington Square Shopping Center at the corner of Maria Drive and South McDowell Boulevard. The “No Gas Here” movement, which ignited five or six years ago when the Safeway Gas Station proposition went public in 2013, has taken action to notify the public on the potential health and traffic risks this gas station site can bring.
Experts on the opposing side of the gas station debate have provided a great deal of evidence on why the gas station is not a good idea and have taken both legal and community-petition actions to spread their health concerns. Moira Sullivan, toxicologist with the “No Gas Here” movement, said, “[The] risk of cancer (particularly to children) far exceeded allowable state levels for the carcinogen benzene and other toxic air contaminants. The notion to build the gas station was still passed and the supporters are expecting Safeway’s gas station to prove efficient through more union jobs and affordable gas for Safeway reward members. Apart from health risks, people are concerned about the already “out of compliance traffic,” worsening according to the Petaluma General Plan. An extra several thousand cars per day are expected to come off the Highway 101 Washington Street exit which will complicate the already convoluted flow of traffic.
Another issue for the “No Gas Here” movement is the proximity of multiple establishments. If this gas station were to be constructed, it would be within 60 feet of the Petaluma Child Development Center, a preschool connected to McDowell Elementary, and within 100 feet of McDowell Elementary itself. On top of that, it would be 60 feet from where kids are playing outside for recess and lunch. Toxicologist Moira Sullivan says, ¨...particulate matter from car emissions is harmful to a persons’ lungs and especially children’s lungs because they are growing rapidly and breathe in more air than an adult.” The recommended distance between establishments and gas stations is 1,000 feet. Some argue that there is no need for a gas station in that specific location because there is already a gas station on McDowell Blvd, and another one close by on East Washington. Despite this, the notion to build the gas station was passed.
Even though the gas station has been approved, the No Gas Here movement has taken the issue to court. Safeway is persistent with their efforts to reap the benefits from the station, and the No Gas Here movement will not let up.