Petaluma is a Charter City, meaning it was incorporated by a Charter that acts like a constitution for the City. Cities that have not adopted a charter are general law cities. General law cities are bound by the state’s general law, even with respect to municipal affairs. Of California’s 478 cities, 108 of them are charter cities.
The charter city provision of the State Constitution, commonly referred to as the “home-rule” provision, is based on the principle that a city, rather than the state, is in the best position to know what it needs and how to satisfy those needs. The home-rule provision allows charter cities to conduct their own business and control their own affairs.
A charter maximizes local control. A city charter, in effect a city’s constitution, need not set out every municipal affair the city would like to govern. So long as the charter contains a declaration that the city intends to avail itself of the full power provided by the California Constitution, any city ordinance that regulates a municipal affair will govern over a general law of the state.
How do I subscribe to city notifications so that I am notified about Council Meetings, Agenda items, and other City news?
To receive city notifications, please go to cityofpetaluma.org/subscribe and then complete and submit the form there. If you are not able to complete the form online, please send your contact information to [email protected].
Where do I go for questions about conflicts of interest, open meetings, ethics, and records
If you are a City Council or Commission/Committee member with questions about conflicts of interest, ethics, open meetings, or records, please contact the City Attorney by phone (707-778-4362) or email ([email protected]).
How do I get Zoning questions answered?
For zoning-related questions, please contact the Planning Department. If you are a business, you can also use our online zoning check tool at petaluma.opencounter.com.
Where do I get answers about City codes or City zoning?
For code-related questions, please start by viewing the City of Petaluma Municipal Code online. If you still have questions, please contact the appropriate department, e.g., Building for Building-related codes. For questions about nuisance-related codes (noise, parked cars, etc.), please contact Code Enforcement. For landscape/water conservation codes, please contact the Water Conservation team.
The City Attorney’s Office is responsible for providing, coordinating and managing the provisions of all of the City’s legal service needs. The office provides legal services and support for the City Council, all City subordinate bodies (commissions and committees), the City Manager, Assistant City Manager and all City departments.
The City Attorney’s Office does not, and cannot, represent members of the public or offer them advice. If you need legal assistance, please contact the following agencies for assistance:
The City of Petaluma’s Domestic Partnership Registry allows unmarried couples to formally declare and record their self-described status as domestic partners and to obtain written certification. Review the Domestic Partnership page and registration forms below.
To request City Public Records, please complete the Request for Public Records Form online. Or download and print the paper Request for Public Records Form, then complete and return to the City Clerk in person or by postal mail (11 English Street, Petaluma, CA 94952) or by email to [email protected]. Turnaround times and copying charges are listed on the form.
How can I find out what will be discussed at the next Council Meeting?
The Council Agenda and Staff Reports are posted on the City of Petaluma Meetings page, six days prior to the next regularly-scheduled Council meeting. Free printed copies of the agenda are also available from the Office of the City Clerk, located at 11 English Street. The City Clerk’s office is also available to answer questions, in person at 11 English Street, by phone (707-778-4360), or by email, [email protected].
How can I express my views to the City Council?
The City Council wants to hear from community members. To make sure that your input is part of the public record, it’s important to express your views by speaking during the Public Comment periods at a City Council meeting (Open Session); and/or by writing a letter that can be sent by email, postal mail, or dropped off at the City Clerk’s office.
Public Comment: Public Comment for items not on the agenda takes place at the beginning of the Council meeting. Public Comment on agendized Items takes place before each item on the agenda. If you wish to speak, you must fill out a Speaker Card (available at the rear of the Council Chambers) and give it to the City Clerk before the Public Comment period starts. Each speaker has three minutes (per Public Comment period)) to express his/her views. If you wish to make an audio/video presentation during Public Comment, please contact the City Clerk’s office.
In Writing: Letters to City Council can be mailed to or dropped off at the City Clerk’s office, 11 English Street, Petaluma, CA, 94952. You can send email to Council Members individually, as a Council, or in care of the City Clerk.
When and where are the City Council Meetings?
The City Council meets regularly on the first and third Mondays of each month. Closed Session, which is not open to the public, is generally scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Open Session, which is open to the public, is typically held at 6:45 p.m. The meetings are held at City Hall, 11 English Street, in the Council Chambers.
What does the City Clerk do?
The City Clerk is in charge of putting on elections, managing City records, and coordinating all aspects of City Council meetings (including agendas, public comment, and technical support). Many of the Clerk’s duties are prescribed by Federal, State, and local laws., either in general terms (e.g., the Clerk must have a system for managing records) or specific terms (e.g., the Clerk must respond to a public records request in a certain way and in a certain number of days). To learn more about City Clerks and their important role in government, go to the City Clerks Association of California website at https://www.californiacityclerks.org/what-is-a-city-clerk.