Hotel Petaluma, long a residence for people on a fixed income, including the disabled and the formerly homeless, will become a commercial hotel, forcing the 100-plus current tenants to find new housing.
The Andrews Management Company acquired the historic hotel on East Washington Street last October and since then has been renovating both the interior and exterior. It also raised rents by 10 percent, prompting anger among many residents.
On Friday, after meeting with the Sonoma County Visitors Bureau, the owners announced that the hotel will offer only short-term stays for rates between $65 to $90 a night starting as soon as this spring.
All existing tenants, meanwhile, will be given either a 30 or 60-day notice to vacate.
“There is no hotel within walking distance of downtown and it’s a natural place for visitors to stay,” said Jessica Andrews, the marketing manager for the company and daughter of Terrence Andrews, who owns the building.
“The city has encouraged us to bring the level of the hotel up and that’s what we have been doing. We want to make it a more of comfortable place and Petaluma more of a destination, instead of a place people pass through.”
The new owners have already painted the interior of all the rooms and brought in new furniture, Andrews said.
But the decision means that tenants will have to quickly find new housing, at a time when there is a critical shortage of it in Petaluma.
Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Petaluma People Services Center Executive Director Elece Hempel said she had not heard about the hotel’s decision, but said she would be discussing it with her staff.
The agency has funds available for rental assistance and is encouraging people in need of affordable housing to contact them. Petaluma People Services Center can be reached at (707) 765-8490.
What do you think about the decision? Is this a step in the right direction for Petaluma's downtown? Are you concerned about the displaced tenants? Share your thoughts in the comments below.