2022 Petaluma Fairgrounds Advisory Panel

First-of-its-kind in California!

The Panel

Residents were invited to participate through a mailing sent to 10,000 randomly selected residential addresses. At a public Lottery Selection Event on April 13th, 2022, a 36-person Panel was selected. Out of 1,000 potential Panels generated by the open source software, Panelot, all of which were random and demographically representative, Panel number 811 was selected.

The 36 selected Panelists were chosen to reflect a microcosm of the city in terms of age, gender, race/ethnicity, geographic location of residence, experience of a disability, housing status, and educational attainment. In an effort by the City Council to prioritize equity in the selection process, the demographic targets were based on the K-12 aged population and oversampled some groups who had previously been underrepresented in City processes. For details about demographics on the Panel, including reselection for Panelists who dropped out, see the demographic profile and notes.

See what Panelists have to say about the Panel process.

This process takes accessibility in public engagement to a new level. Panelists are paid a stipend, equivalent to $20 an hour, for their time participating in the process. They are provided with any accommodations they need to participate fully, such as child/elder care, transportation costs, laptops and tech support, and comprehensive language access services (interpretation and translation). While not all community members were selected to participate on the Panel, this process is part of a larger City process to engage the entire community in the visioning of the Fairgrounds.

Between mid-May to mid-July 2022, Panelists met for about 90 hours of deliberation to consider the question, “How might we use the City’s fairgrounds property to create the experiences, activities, resources, and places that our community needs and desires now and for the foreseeable future?” 

With the help of professional moderators and meticulous process design, the Panel wrote three reports to help answer that question, each one building on the last (see ‘Panel Deliverables’). Each report was developed, written, and edited exclusively by Panelists themselves and delivered to the decision makers – City Council on July 11th and the 4th District Agricultural Association  on July 20th.

The Panel Sessions were held in person in Petaluma from 9 am to 4:30pm on the following dates:

  • May 13, 14, & 15
  • June 4
  • June 17, 18, & 19 – (Remote sessions due to Covid cases)
  • July 2
  • July 8, 9, 10, & 11

Recordings of all Panel sessions are available in perpetuity on our Youtube Channel. In an effort to balance transparency with Panelist privacy, all large group activities are live streamed while all small group activities are not. For more information, see our Transparency & Privacy Policy.

After the Panel made its recommendations to decision makers in July 2022, Panelists were funded for an additional 15 hours with compensation to continue to engage with the community and decision makers about their recommendations. Throughout the summer of 2022, those four subcommittees met with community organizations and city staff, spoke with the media, evaluated the Panel process, and hosted a charrette-style workshop with local architects to visualize the site use plans in their final report. To learn more about this, go to our FAQ section.

Panelist testimonials created for the July 11th Council meeting.

Community Survey Results

The Evaluation Subcommittee of the PFAP surveyed 226 community members regarding the outcomes & impact of the Panel. Most respondents understood the nature of a lottery system for choosing the panelists; 39% were aware of the Panel’s recommendations for the Fairgrounds.

See more results.

The Evaluation Subcommittee also asked how community members felt about using this kind of model in the future. 61% of respondents felt the City Council should use more advisory panels in decision making.

Panel Deliverables


A prioritized list of overarching values, decision-making criteria, key interests, and important activities that any final recommendation should take into consideration. Click here to see the Principles Report (English / Spanish)


An outline of the possibilities and visions for the Fairgrounds site, including options considered and rationales based on lived experience and outside evidence. Click here to see the Pathways Report (English / Spanish)

Final Report

The Panel’s final recommendations, including preferred Fairgrounds land use(s) and rationales, dissenting opinions, and supporting details. Click here to see the Final Report (English / Spanish)

Charrette Outcome

Informational Advisory Committee (IAC)

These panels differ from traditional advisory boards in that they engage new voices – those who aren’t usually involved in public decision making – and they give Panelists significant time to learn about the topic before forming recommendations. The Informational Advisory Committee is made up of stakeholders who will support the Panel in that information gathering effort. The IAC’s primary role is to curate quality, balanced information for the Panel. The IAC will meet weekly during April and May. Healthy Democracy is currently coordinating with organizations who were nominated for the IAC. See below for more information about the IAC.

The IAC has wrapped up their primary role in the Advisory Panel process. IAC members will meet one final time on July 25th to debrief the full process. Thanks to IAC members’ generous contributions, the Panel has been presented with high quality, balanced information.

Petaluma Fairgrounds Advisory Panel Session Materials

July 8, 9, 10, & 11th

July, 2nd

June 17, 18, 19th

June 4th

May 13, 14, 15th

Public Meetings
Documents Requested by Panel
Documents Release Mid-Process
Informational Advisory Committee

IAC Meeting 6 Materials

IAC Meeting 5 Materials

IAC Meeting 4 Materials

IAC Meeting 3 Materials

IAC Meeting 2 Materials


City of Petaluma

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