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Planning Commission approves Cotati roundabouts


A controversial $3.5 million plan to narrow Cotati’s main street to two lanes with two roundabouts is headed to the City Council.

“The question is cost, safety and aesthetics, and the Village Mainstreet concept hits all three criteria,” said Planning Commissioner Tim Ritter, using the name given to the street plan.

The redesign of the short stretch of Old Redwood Highway was proposed by city staff as part of a long-sought overhaul of the city’s commercial center. It was opposed by Oliver’s Markets and other downtown merchants who say the plan would hurt their businesses by constricting traffic.

Planning commissioners unanimously approved the proposal late Thursday night after a lengthy hearing.

The city’s plan for the street originally called for four lanes with traffic lights, which most merchants prefer. But it was changed, said Community Development Director Vicki Parker, when it became clear that it would not fulfill residents’ “vision” of safer streets that preserve a small-town character and also boost the economy.

Some business people acknowledged that they weren’t sure what the right choice is, but said that their livelihoods were at stake if the two-lane road proved unworkable. Others, though, were certain the design was the right type of improvement for a small town that wants to remain that way.

“It would be a nicer downtown, like Petaluma, Railroad Square or Healdsburg,” said Hub Cyclery owner Claire Fetrow.

A representative of the downtown’s newest business, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, also argued for the Village Mainstreet, which the city says would keep speeds on the street to 25 mph.

“All retail gains a lot from the whole impulse (shopping) factor that you get when traffic slows down,” said Carol Mazzetti, Peet’s real estate director. “It’s what keeps people in their towns and out of malls.”

About two dozen residents and merchants spoke for and against the plan, which the City Council needs to approve. If the council does that, Oliver’s Markets has threatened to shelve its plans, announced in June, to build a 76,000-square-foot mixed-use shopping center.

Oliver’s officials have said the two-lane road would not allow for enough future-growth traffic.

After Thursday’s meeting, Oliver’s general manager, Tom Scott, said, “We’re in the same place. We have to see it out. We respect the process.”

The company had submitted two alternative street plans — one a variation of a two-lane road, the other of the city’s original four-lane design.

At Commissioner Ben Ford’s request, the commission directed city staff to see if the two-lane design could be altered to allow for more traffic at the street’s north end, near Oliver’s proposed store.

Parker said that would occur if the council adopts the plan, a step that most expect will happen.

“We will work with Oliver’s” and other property owners “to see if there are efficiencies we’ve overlooked so we can expand,” she said.

The issue is not yet on the council’s calendar.

23 Responses to “Planning Commission approves Cotati roundabouts”

  1. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Cotati could have spent $25.K on landscaping.
    Foster, encourage, facilitate small business.
    Set the Free Market free and get out of the way.
    Behold the magic when arterpenurial spirit and the public agree.
    It’s organic, it’s honest, it works.

    Instead, you’ve got a rogue local government answering to, taking directive from an NGO who’s socially engineering your economic decline.

    Then Cotati would have money for what really serves it’s community.

    PD. When these citizens organize, and set forth an effort to undo this travesty you make sure you cover it.

    I think the people need to see what REAL citizen engagement looks like.

    I ‘wanna be there. I’d help any way I could.

    Boy this ICLEI stuff upsets me.

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  2. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Who will save your town?
    Who will save all of our towns?
    Who will preserve our Free Market?
    Our property rights, our sovereignty, our ability to shape our own communities?
    Our freedoms?

    Look in the mirror.

    Searching for information may help to make sense of that which is non-sensical,
    (and expensive).

    I promise that if you haven’t already, it’s worth your while.

    >How your community is implementing Agenda 21.
    >Redevelopment; the unknown government.
    >Dr. Michael Coffman’s
    Smart Growth Fraud.

    Cotati. What a great place to draw a line in the sand.

    A line between oppression and freedom anyway.

    A vote is the best ‘consensus’.

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  3. Anderson says:

    Ode to Cotati, Part Deux

    Forget the math you learned in school,
    And all those boring physics rules,
    In Cotati, two lanes magically equal four,
    In capacity to carry cars and more;
    The Community Director told us so,
    But inquiring minds would like to know,
    If this isn’t some crazy Marxist plot,
    To Turn Old Red into a parking lot,
    And run the capitalists out of town,
    Then why is their analysis so upside down?

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  4. Greg Karraker says:


    No mention of facts? Here are a few: The 51% accident reduction that everyone quotes is a national average. The effect roundabouts might cause in Cotati’s particular situation is unknown.

    But the real issue is not roundabouts: It is the problem created by choking four lanes down to two. In a letter to the City Manager, Fire Chief Frank Treanor said the two-lane plan would “create a safety problem within your community that cannot be ignored.” This letter was written October 24, and the city has still not shown the professionalism or courtesy to address his concerns.

    Also, numerous merchants have said the two-lane plan will destroy their businesses, many of which have been there for decades. Once again, the city could care less. When they get a vision of a sustainable, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use urban utopia in their minds, then public safety, decent businesses, and common sense be damned.

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  5. Roger Carrillo says:

    Lots of emotion, and needless name-calling, and even more speculation in most of these blogs. No mention of the facts! Like that the roundabouts will reduce traffic accidents by 51% and with lower speeds virtually eliminate serious injury accident and fatal accidents.

    No mention of the fact that pedestrians will only have to look one way and cross two 20 feet lanes to get across Old Redwood Highway instead of 80 feet looking both ways!

    No mention of the fact that slower speeds make it safer for bicycles traveling with traffic! I would much rather get hit at 25 mph than 40 mph!

    No mention of slower traffic speeds mean that people might actually look at or stop at businesses and be able to get in and out of driveways onto the roadway!

    No a lot of bureaucrat bashing with some sort of anti-government agenda but not a lot of facts! Maybe if people stopped to listen and analyze what is being said they might understand that some people would actually like Cotati to be a nicer place to drive, ride a bike or walk!

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  6. Anderson says:

    Ode to Cotati

    In Cotati, we love our roundabouts,
    Which slow traffic, and keep shoppers out,
    The council will have its final say,
    Then watch as tax dollars fly away
    To other cities, without a doubt,
    But at least will have our roundabouts.

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  7. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Cotati, you are not alone.
    Search: Kick ICLEI out.

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  8. JulieJ says:

    @Eric: “This was a community consensus, which a few selfish and shortsighted local business folks, backed up by the local George Barich Tea Party crazy-town crew…”
    Name calling is a petty and emotional response to others opinions.
    My boyfriend (member of the Tea Party) and I manage to have civil discussions in spite of his (R) and my (D) with virtually no high name calling or mud slinging.
    This issue is not personal but you made it so by naming Mr. Barich and his “Tea Party crazy-town crew”. Really?

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  9. sheryl says:

    @Eric Newman. Why must liberals resort to name calling just because someone disagrees with them? I thought progressives were all about tolerance? And just for the record, I’m not a member of the Tea Party, but I am a Cotati resident.

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  10. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Wow Eric, what a coincidence.
    It’s the same ‘vision’ in ICLEI material everywhere.
    It’s the same ‘vision’ in ICLEI towns everywhere.
    Those ‘visioning’ meetings were all manufacturing consensus utilizing the Delphi Technique, just like ICLEI teaches.
    These travesties don’t reflect genuine municipal process.
    Anything this big should have been taken to a VOTE. SIMPLE.

    I have hunch, it may still be.

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  11. Greg Karraker says:

    @Eric Newman: I hate to confuse you with facts, but in my copy of the DSP, page 3:55, the citizens were sold a 4-lane Northern Gateway with a median strip and no roundabouts. This plan promised to “transform this street into a memorable downtown boulevard”, and to …” utilize a design speed of 25 mph.” That’s the “visioning” plan and “community consensus” that’s sending shivers up your leg.

    Last month, the city claimed that very same plan would have design speeds of 40 mph. and look as scruffy as Santa Rosa Boulevard. So after wasting over three years and a million dollars on a plan the city itself admits won’t work, now they want us to buy a two-lane roundabout fantasy. Obviously, this is the only realistic solution.

    So shame on those short-sighted business folks who think keeping their doors open is important. Shame on the Rancho Adobe Fire Chief, who says the two-lane plan “creates a safety hazard.” They clearly don’t have the vision of Diane Thompson, who must get misty about the future of Cotati as she drives home to Santa Rosa every night.

    Eric Newman and Jay Behr, you can take whatever incompetence and lies the City Manager tries to stuff down your throat, but the rest of us will not. See you at the ballot box.

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  12. Eric Newman says:

    Let’s remember these actual facts: the decision to go with the bike/ped friendly Village Main Street option was not cooked up by the Planning Commission orthe Council or the city manager. The Cotati citizens who cared enough about the fuure of the city to attend dozens of community visioning meetings over the course of fifteen years of discussions over varous planning processes had arrived at the ‘complete streets’ design. This was a community consensus, which a few selfish and shortsighted local business folks, backed up by the local George Barich Tea Party crazy-town crew, are attempting to short-circuit. Where were they when all the community meetings were being held?

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  13. Jim says:

    Roundabouts are beautiful and efficient. No more stopping at stop signs and lights when there is no othere traffic. About time a city got smart and evolves beyond the 4 way stop!

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  14. Grapevines says:

    Once again the student council of Cotati has shot itself in the foot. What amuses me is that they sound so sure of themselves ever time they do this. Whatever the hot topic is on environmental issues at the time, they cite that as a reason to act for the greater stupidly of all.

    Why not just eliminate all the streets and only have pedestrian and bicycle pathways? That way they can announce that only unicycles can be used on the bike ways.

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  15. Jim says:

    Sweet. Glad to see that Cotati has $3.5 million to change the streets when every city is hurting for money. I wonder if the construction project will be encompassed with mandatory prevailing wage jobs. Well, of course they will. You know the unions wouldn’t allow it any other way. This “$3.5 million” project won’t end up that way. What’s the over/under? $5 million?

    I hope Oliver’s leaves. I hope a business will stand by their word for once and pack up, take their jobs to Rohnert Park. I’ll shop there exclusively if they leave Cotati.

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  16. Sheryl says:

    The city council in Cotati made up THEIR mind a long time ago. They have never had the public in mind. To hell with citizens…THEY want it…it will be done.

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  17. JulieJ says:

    As a long time Cotati resident I am disappointed in the Planning Commissions approval of the round-a-bouts.

    Beautiful small towns such as Healdsburg find no need for these nuisances. I would venture to guess that the difference in the popularity of small businesses making their homes in Healdsburg over Cotati has more to do with an agreeable city council that is business friendly. Cotati is notorious for scrutinizing small business out of town. As a result we may lose Olivers. They are calling this a long term plan, have they lost sight of the short term? Olivers is the crown jewel of Cotati. When their lease is up in 2014 at their current location, we may lose them as a direct result of this decision.

    What are thinking??

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  18. Planning for the Future says:

    Listening to the bureaucrats in the City of Cotati, they are building a new Carmel right here in the North Bay.

    Roundabouts, bicycles, walkers, green businesses, it all sounds too good to be true. The Village Mainstreet concept sounds like something right out of the Windsor idea of town planning.

    Cotati has had not planning for years and it shows. But going to an anti-business mentality is not the answer.

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  19. Brian Brown says:

    Great! Just great! You’ve just lost Oliver’s! Who’s going to pay salaries now, Planning Commission?!

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  20. Engineer says:

    Traffic-calming has worked well where we live. I thought Mission was too busy to be reduced from 4 to 2 lanes at its north end. It works just fine–sometimes even better than before.

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  21. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Hey Jay: you got one part right, it might profoundly change the town if the opposing citizens don’t prevail.

    So ironic you used the word ‘character’.
    None of the definitions I looked up fit.

    Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. -Abraham Lincoln

    Guess Cotati City officials failed the test.

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  22. Social Dis-Ease says:

    ‘A controversial plan’…
    lots of controversial, expensive ‘plans’ lately, huh?
    ‘Smart’ trains.
    ‘Smart’ growth.
    ‘Smart’ meters.
    ‘Sustainable this and that.
    ‘Public/Private partnerships’?
    I thought we were the stake holders, we’re the ones that have a lot at stake.

    Our ‘public servants’ throw around these big numbers like fairy dust.
    What the hell is goin’ on here?

    They de-fund, inflate or privatize the basics that we’ve come to expect,
    yet there seems to be an endless funding stream for their uncalled for, anti-intuitive ‘projects’.

    It’s like they’re PURPOSELY trying to screw us!

    If it seems like something is terribly wrong, IT’S BECAUSE THERE IS!!

    The day that Sonoma County and ALL it’s cities ‘signed up’ with ICLEI(International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives OR Local Governments for Sustainability) that was the day that our interests got circumvented by our own trusted representatives.
    That was the day (about 10 yrs. ago) they stopped being accountable to us. We were never asked-we’re not supposed to even know about it. If we all knew what it WAS REALLY ABOUT, it would be overnight revolution.

    What a great legacy Valerie Brown, something to be proud of for the kids.

    This economy calming, business diet, vision isn’t our vision.
    This Smart Train crap isn’t either.
    None of it is.

    It’s a plan, a complete plan for complete control of US.

    An Agenda actually, the Agenda for the 21st century.

    Brought to you by the same globalist cartel that have been behind ALL that is dark for the last 100+ years.

    OUR officials have aligned us with darkness.

    Pilgrims came here to get away from oppression, at great peril.

    We HAD the best, most devine societal framework ever.

    Unless you want to be a serf/slave, and make no mistake, that’s where this is headed, better work on your investigative (if you haven’t already),
    resistance skills.

    Here we go again.

    Green is the guise, ’till we open our eyes and realize, that control is how they really roll.

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  23. Jay Behr says:

    Congratulations to the Planning Commission for doing the right thing and approving the Village Main Street plan.
    This project will define the character of the community for generations to come. This is an opportunity to make the right choice and make Cotati a destination that will draw high-end retail and create a new public space.

    The key factors that went into the public support for the Village Main Street plan were city character, safety, cost-effectiveness, construction lead time, environmental quality, and attractiveness. The bicycle and pedestrian friendly design will encourage more use of alternative transportation, thereby relieving the volume of car traffic.

    Finally, the Village Main Street design will cost $1.5 million less to build, not need to use eminent domain (as in the alternative), and will take only one year construction time rather than the alternative’s two years. The cost and construction delay factors by themselves make the Village Main Street design the responsible choice.

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