|Cotati projects placed in peril
It appears as if those who were adamantly opposed to roundabouts in Cotati are getting their wish, thanks to the State of California.
The state earlier this week rejected two project proposals submitted by Cotati, which claimed they are “enforceable obligations.” The city says the two projects – a $1.9 million plan to build an East Cotati Avenue train station and the controversial $1.8 million Old Redwood Highway redevelopment which called for two roundabouts to be installed – should be funded because it had made financial commitments to them before Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated all redevelopment agencies.
The state, however, counters Cotati’s claim by saying the necessary contracts had not been signed for either project before the deadline mandated by state law. Cotati City Manager Dianne Thompson said her staff is continuing to work on ways to get the projects funded.
By state law, with the backing of the State Supreme Court, the state would continue to fund only the projects with enforceable contracts. Several proposals submitted to the state by successor agencies or oversight boards have been rejected.
“We are focused on using the identified funding and will look at other options in the future, if necessary,” Thompson said on Tuesday.
The tightening of the belt by the state has and will affect the majority of city managers throughout the state. Rohnert Park City Manager Gabe Gonzalez told the Press Democrat he’s prepared himself for state denials on projects his city has in the works.
“Given the pattern we're starting to see, it may be they're just going to reject all of them,” Gonzalez said.
The state’s decision to do away with redevelopment agencies has virtually handcuffed city planners and managers.
“The decision to eliminate redevelopment funding hampers the ability of cities and counties to conduct economic development and improve our communities,” Thompson said. “Hopefully, new economic development tools will be developed which will enable public agencies to help communities recover from the economic downturn.”
One possible way to fund the projects would be through ballot measure, a la Measure A, which was passed in 2010 and called for a half-cent sales tax that allowed the city to maintain its police force. Revenues from Measure A are expected to reach $730,000 this year.
“That has not been considered,” Thompson said. “We will need to respond and adapt to changing circumstances in order to protect and improve the city’s infrastructure as needed.”
Meanwhile, Cotati also on Tuesday acknowledged it received a petition that was circulated around town calling for the prohibition of roundabouts, traffic circles and other similar traffic features anywhere within Cotati. Tami Taylor, deputy city clerk, said the city will begin the process of validating the signatures soon. The city has 30 days to validate the signatures.
The roundabout plan has been one of the most divisive issues to hit Cotati since the 1997 fight over whether a Lucky Supermarket should be built on the city’s northern corridor on Old Redwood Highway. Because of the state’s elimination of redevelopment agencies, plans for a multi-million dollar development by Oliver’s Market remain in limbo.