.Letters to the Editor—A Petaluma Native Moves Back

A friend who has been living in New York for almost twenty years since we both graduated from Petaluma High in 2002 is moving back to the area, now with a young child and East Coast partner. I inquired as to what kind of place they wanted. They responded, “2.5 bedroom house in Petaluma or Sebastopol.” 

I moved back to the Bay in March of 2020, single with 0 kids, and moved five times before finding a semi-permanent spot. I was in San Francisco, back in Western Colorado shortly, West Marin, Petaluma, and then finally found some “affordable” housing in the heart of downtown San Rafael above some storefronts. 

Sonoma County has changed and I felt it was necessary to warn my friend about what to expect. First, Petaluma itself has taken the red path and Trumper energy has all but taken over the small city. During the Winter surge of late 2020 and early 2021, one of the most popular indoor/outdoor restaurants/bars played Fox News while no one wore a mask, even in the kitchen, and the shift manager would shame you if you asked to be seated away from the groups of mask-less patrons. Another brew pub had an ignorant “#OpenSonomaSchoolsNow” banner up while they disregarded county orders to keep people from gathering and continued to serve. At the same time, hipster barbers with non-ironic Hitler Youth haircuts flaunted their mask-less faces at Petaluma Market.

Sonoma County COVID case counts still tend to be double or triple what they are in Marin County, and are more than half of what they are in San Francisco, where there are way more people and much higher population density. 

She could look for spots in Marin County where you don’t have to drive more than five minutes to be in beautiful hiking spot and the cases are less; and where the Trumpers are at least hidden in plain sight, and the ones who are not, usually get drowned out by all the white women virtue signaling in Pixar swag while they talk down to any and all service industry workers. 

I had to move back because I wanted to spend more time and help my 91-year-old grandmother, who had to evacuate her home year after year due to fires. For that simple reason I cannot safely hang out at most places in Petaluma. But I also do not support any business that thinks it’s okay to politicize and disobey common sense safety that keeps people like my Grandma alive. I wouldn’t cough in your grandma’s face when I have the flu. 

To my friend, build a family wherever it is easiest; but don’t support anyone in Sonoma County who doesn’t give a shit about you and your families health and well-being.

Jamie Payne

San Rafael


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