By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Traffic roundabouts dominated conversation in Cotati for months last year. Now they are back at the fore of the city’s politics, driven
there by residents who want to ban them.
The City Council on Wednesday, responding to a voter initiative to prohibit roundabouts or any “similiar traffic features” inside the city, ordered a report on the impacts of such a move.
“It would be imprudent not to do a little further analysis on this,” Councilman John Del’Osso said.
The report will examine how the such an ordinance would affect public safety and the city’s economy, its consistency with the general plan and its financial impact.
The unanimous action presages the initiative’s almost certain appearance on the November 6 ballot. The council has the option of enacting it as an ordinance, but that is unlikely.
Initiative supporters said Wednesday the report serves no purpose and the council should decide immediately to send it the voters.
“I think it sends the wrong message to the community” to spend money on a study, longtime gadfly and former councilman George Barich said.
But Mayor Susan Harvey said voters need the information a report would provide.
“I don’t believe that what was presented to the public to get the (petition) signatures had that information about the impact to the city,” she said.
The initiative petition grew out of opposition to a plan to narrow a stretch of Old Redwood Highway, the city’s main commercial strip, and install two roundabouts.
The $3.5 million project, part of a long-planned revitalization, was intended to maintain a small-town feel, while also spurring more business and making the street more attractive and safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and shoppers.
Opponents said it would cause traffic congestion and accidents and stifle business on the half-mile corridor.
Those complaints were amplified by Oliver’s Market officials, who said they would pull out of their plan to open a store downtown if the plan was adopted.
The council approved the roundabouts in December. But elimination of redevelopment agencies already has placed the project’s future in doubt. The redesign was to rely on about $2.5 million in redevelopment funds.