Petaluma Small Craft Center (PSCC)
PSCC is a local group of river enthusiasts and advocates. Our mission is to make the Petaluma River more accessible to everyone who loves small craft moved by paddles and oars. We do this through on-the-water programming and the development of The Floathouse rental center and a Community Boathouse.
Through events, activities, and advocacy, PSCC leads the community in bringing together people and boats on the Petaluma River. PSCC members also participate in other community activities, like the Butter & Egg Days Parade, Petaluma River Cleanup, Lighted Boat Parade, Rivertown Revival, Petaluma River Marathon/Half-marathon, the Wine Country Rowing Classic, Post-Turkey Day Relays and various races around the San Francisco Bay Area. We Put Petaluma on the River!
Timeline of Accomplishments
Members of PSCC have volunteered on various City of Petaluma committees with a river focus, culminating in the Petaluma River Access and Enhancement Plan of 1996 and the Central Petaluma Specific Plan of 2003
- PSCC was launched at a meeting representing various boating clubs, river organizations, and businesses and individuals with a strong interest in the Petaluma River. They felt that if they worked together, they would have a better chance at building a community boathouse where they could come together, store and use their small craft and grow to their fullest potential on the Petaluma River.
- PSCC interviewed aquatic centers and clubs with boathouses up and down the West Coast to learn best practices for multi-sport small craft centers, the do’s and don’ts of governance and public-private partnerships, and looked to identify potential funding sources. From this research it became clear that successful aquatic centers and their facilities were built upon a base of solid small craft programming.
- PSCC embarked on cooperative programming, hosting its first annual Day on the River, a one-day, one-stop opportunity for the public to sample a wide variety of small craft sports. PSCC began its first season of youth small craft summer camps, teaching rowing, outrigger canoeing, kayaking, and eventually including standup paddling and a Red Cross water safety component.
- Four years later, PSCC added an introduction to sailing camp in the turning basin and the following year added a K-1 Kayak Racing Camp.
- In late 2007, PSCC held several community focus groups among key community leaders to gauge community feeling about the river, river access issues, and a community boathouse.
- PSCC advocates participated in the City of Petaluma’s General Plan 2025 update (2008), focusing on river access issues and specifically, the inclusion of river access sites including a community boathouse.
- In 2008, PSCC also partnered with the City of Petaluma to apply for a National Parks Service grant which resulted in the Petaluma River Access Partnership(P-RAP), which brought together river interests and City staff; with facilitation, design assistance and guidance from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. P-RAP hopes to broaden its base and expand the possibilities of promoting and implementing the existing River Plan and some exciting new ideas including river access projects such as the rental center and community boathouse.
These efforts led to the development of another PSCC project, a small craft rental center to be built in the Turning Basin, the focal point of Petaluma and its public life. This new business would fill a critical community need for boating rentals—after all, what’s a “River Town” without a place to rent a boat? It would also complement Petaluma’s recreational and educational resources with an offering of classes, camps, and a variety of boating promotions and events. The entirely dock-based facility would also be far less expensive to build than a community boathouse and would serve as a first step toward that long-term project.
- In January of 2011, PRAP hosted a community open house highlighting over 30 projects under the encompassing vision of a “Petaluma Water Ways” to an enthusiastic crowd of several hundred people, eager to see the vision become reality.
- The California State Lands Commission became involved in summer of 2011, and in late fall, the agency ruled that a community boathouse would be allowable within the public easement along the Petaluma River.
Shortly thereafter, PSCC began preliminary talks with a variety of departments within the City of Petaluma to determine the feasibility of building and operating a dock-based small craft rental center in the downtown Turning Basin.
- In June of 2012, PSCC’s Board of Directors hired the local firm of MAD Architecture to develop the project design plans and coordinate the permitting process for the rental center. In the meantime, the City of Petaluma and PSCC began talks with Basin Street Properties about a potential community boathouse site within their proposed River Place development in southern Petaluma.
- The City of Petaluma and PSCC are currently working with another state agency, CalTrans, to improve the feasibility of the project.
As all of this work continues, PSCC is taking steps to transition the organization from a loose coalition of enthusiastic but overworked volunteers to a stronger community based non profit, one with sufficient staff and volunteers to continue to provide quality community programming and raise the funds necessary to build and manage a rental center and a community boathouse.