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Cotati weighs changes to Old Redwood Highway

By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Cotati residents packed City Hall on Tuesday to weigh in on proposals to transform the city’s downtown and revitalize its economy. The issue, which had become the latest controversy in a community that has seen its share, produced a three-hour, considered conversation.

Plans to refashion the small downtown — the work would happen on a stretch of Old Redwood Highway less than a half-mile long — have been under way for more than a decade and have involved dozens of public meetings. The result has been two proposals, one for a two-lane street with two roundabouts, another for a four-lane road with traffic signals.

The choice the city makes will define its northern entrance, which is its chief commercial strip, and “set the stage for development of that area for the next 20 to 30 years,” City Manager Dianne Thompson told the more than 100 people in the audience.

It was an informational meeting only. The proposals go to the city’s Planning Commission Nov. 17.

A number of Cotati merchants — most prominently the owners of Oliver’s Market — have come out against the city’s favored proposal, the two-lane version with roundabouts.

But on Tuesday, Hub Cyclery owner Claire Fetrow, who supports that plan, said “business owners come and go, but what we do, it will be a legacy of this time and the choices people make now.”

Oliver’s Market, one of the city’s biggest employers, announced in June its plans to move downtown and develop a shopping plaza there. But once the street proposals became public, company officials said the two-lane version didn’t allow for enough traffic to support the store, and that they would reverse course if the city proceeded with that option.

“The driving issue for Oliver’s is they’re investing 14 or 15 million in a store they’re going to have for 40 to 50 years,” the company’s architect, Randy Figueiredo, said Tuesday.

“We’re hesitant to move forward if we’re not comfortable with the traffic capacities on the road,” he said.

The city’s terms for the two alternatives frame them as very different visions for Cotati.

The one with roundabouts and two lanes is called Village Mainstreet and is designed for speeds of 25 mph. It would reduce traffic accidents by 51 percent, according to the city.

The other, with four lanes and designed for 40 mph, is called City Boulevard and would not change the incidence of accidents, the city says.

“It’s a fundamental question of character, what the community wants to see,” city engineer Damien O’Bid said.

The two-lane version would cost $3.5 million, financed by transportation grants and redevelopment funds, and would take a year to complete, O’Bid said. The other plan would cost $4.7 million and take two years.

City leaders and residents have been calling for years for a redesign of some sort for the stretch of Old Redwood Highway, saying it needs to happen to spur economic growth. Ironically, the news of Oliver’s plans to move there was greeted as a potentially key development in that effort.

Regardless of what Oliver’s does, the street needs to be transformed in order to redefine it as a downtown and a business community, some speakers said Tuesday.

“It’s embarrassing to go down the corridor, looking at the buildings, looking at the street,” said Mike Pastryk, owner of Liberty Valley Doors on Highway 116.

On Tuesday, O’Bid presented a plan the company had come up with, which included a larger roundabout in front of the proposed store and wider lanes.

“We’re part of this town and we want to be part of a solution,” said Tom Scott, Oliver’s general manager.





9 Responses to “Cotati weighs changes to Old Redwood Highway”

  1. Social Dis-Ease says:

    To Greg Karraker: when government
    picks winners and losers THAT IS the definition of fascism.
    That is EXACTLY what redevelopment provides for. Along with lots of other dark baggage that tears at the fabric of the Free Market, small business and Property Rights.
    Some of those citizens on the main drag ‘speculated’ years ago when the smell of cow dung filled the air, and they deserve the ‘up-side’ of that risk without their own ‘public servants’ sabotaging their investment.

    To Cotati City cronies on here giving thumbs down. We know you want to protect your project, but why don’t you explain to the citizens why redevelopment is in their interest, while you’re at it explain your ICLEI membership as well.
    I think anything that effects their community, pocket books and lives so profoundly is worthy of explanation, don’t you?
    To the serfs: search Smart Growth Fraud and Redevelopment; the unknown government.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  2. Greg Karraker says:

    Does anyone find it ironic that Cotati council and staff, who are PC to the core, and doubtless horrified about the way the white man displaced Native Americans, are now willing to drive the Old Redwood Highway merchants out of business because they have a fantasy that a superior group of merchants will move in?

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6

  3. John Lennon says:

    But on Tuesday, Hub Cyclery owner Claire Fetrow, who supports that plan, said “business owners come and go, but what we do, it will be a legacy of this time and the choices people make now.”

    WOW , Just WOW at that comment

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 7

  4. Social Dis-Ease says:

    KICK ICLEI OUT! KICK ICLEI OUT!
    A municipal, civil, fiscal wrecking ball.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 10

  5. Kay Tokerud says:

    Downtown Specific Plan? Smartgrowth, pure and simple. Mixed-use, form-based zoning (which makes everything non-conforming), high density stack and pack development. Lack of parking, expensive lease rates on ground floor retail, empty store fronts, high rents, no private space, what’s not to like? And let’s not forget that subsidies for developers will be paid for with bond financing paid with property taxes for 30 or more years.

    Smartgrowth is the name, redevelopment is their game. Is massive debt sustainable? Specific Plans are virtually identical all across America. Top down, one size fits all, no actual public input. Loss of diversity and community (in the real sense). Eminent domain.

    Today, 9AM California Channel, lawsuit to determine the future of redevelopment. Even if they strike it down, the beast will just grow another head that they will call something else. Infrastructure Financing Districts maybe? I hope Cotati didn’t pay a lot for the boiler plate urban design that anyone with a copier could do.

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 10

  6. Fast and Furious says:

    Back to the drawing board. Cotati needs to come up with a real plan, not a plan for failure. Cotati needs Oliver’s and other businesses. Roundabouts are just stupid in a business setting.

    Cotati needs a four (4) lane road in that business area to move traffic along and encourage traffic. If Cotati wants to shot themselves in the foot, they are doing a very good job.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 8

  7. Joyce Garcia says:

    This Downtown Specific Plan is wrong on so many levels! Not only will it be unfriendly to potential business to set root in the community, it will regulate the businesses that are already established! Business owners, in particular..those who sell liquor, check out the HEAL part of the plan….Healthy Eating Active Living…their ideal Cotati will have no liquor, smoking, unhealthy foods, (bye papa murphy and other restaurants who serve food that are unhealthy…you know anything with cholesterol, salt, cause little ones to become obese and diabetics.

    You can’t have delivery trucks polluting our air on the same roads that are going to be filled with bikers and tots frolicking past the business fronts? Cars? Who needs them?

    Wouldn’t this plan be considered SMART?

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 11

  8. Greg Karraker says:

    Interesting. Of the many people who spoke for over an hour, opinions were divided at least 50/50. I see quotes from the city, and quotes from the supporters, about how wonderful the roundabouts are, but see no quotes from the opposition. So let me repeat what I said last night, along with many other angry opponents:

    The city is presenting the citizens with a pair of false choices: They can either choose Santa Rosa Avenue or Disneyland. The city refuses to acknowledge that it is possible to create a 4-lane street with a small median strip that is both functional and visually attractive, e.g. Columbus Avenue in San Francisco.

    Further, after spending years, and well over a million dollars, to create the Downtown Specific Plan, they now say that their plans for a 4-lane Northern Gateway cannot succeed. So the real question is why we should trust the city to succeed at implementing a complex design when they have already failed at a simple one?

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 14

  9. Social Dis-Ease says:

    The ‘Gateways’ Redevelopment plan’s a done deal. It’s often called that in ICLEI run cities across America, and it’s usually a done deal without genuine public input. Although ‘manufacturing consensus’ is much of what ICLEI training is all about.
    What is on the table now is whether the downtown business sabotage model that ICLEI provides will be utilized, which would be their preference. As it will inflict maximum damage, or plan ‘B’.
    Incrementalism, make Cotati residents feel like your voice really does matter.
    However heads you lose, tails, you lose. They probably have a contingency plan that will still sabotage parking for the small business’ and impede traffic flow.
    Know this. With redevelopment in place, it is impossible to grow the free Market economy and healthy traditional tax base in your community.
    Forget the old paradigms you were taught in civics class about how the municipal dynamic is supposed to work, the Constitution and all that.
    As you can sense right around now, the ball game changed.
    They don’t answer to, or work for you.
    They work for, and answer to ICLEI.
    An NGO that is not the US Government!
    Doing so is in treason with the simple oath they took.
    You may want to do as 10 other cities across America have done, and KICK ICLEI OUT!
    Crashing the market and all the other atrocities aren’t enough, now these globalists want to morph YOUR community into an oppressive ‘Smart Growth’ model.
    Restructuring how your services (or lack thereof) are funded, picking winners and losers in what was a Free Market landscape, molesting your property (and civil) rights, betraying your trust.
    If something seems fishy, there’s your fish-and trust me, it has teeth.
    Might’wanna fish for more information. Search:
    >Democrats Against UN Agenda 21.
    >Smart Growth Fraud.
    >Redevelopment; the unknown government.
    >Freedom Advocates.
    >MorphCity.
    >The Post Sustainability Institute.
    You can learn about Agenda 21 on Youtube
    as well.
    It’s all like a bad ‘B’ movie, ours is to create an ending to this tyranny.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 15

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