Cotati council votes on fast food
Approval could mean more franchise restaurants outside the downtown area
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By Dave Williams  August 16, 2013 12:00 am

Cotati’s City Council on Wednesday, Aug. 14, unanimously voted to to amend its ordinance on formula-based fast food franchises (FBFFR) and increased the number from its current eight FBFFRs to 11.

As part of the ordinance, the council also voted to eliminate the 60-foot buffer zone between FBFFRs and eliminate the ban on a franchise business having more than one store in the city. Regarding the latter, a franchise business is still not allowed to have more than one store in the same commercially zoned area. Subway, which has a store on East Cotati Avenue, is almost certain to open another store in Apple Valley Plaza on Gravenstein Highway following the passage of the new amendments.

Two of the three additional allocations for franchise businesses will be on the northern corridor on Old Redwood Highway, while the other will go on East Cotati Avenue. Gravenstein Highway already has an allotment for four FBFFRs but only has one – Burger King – filled.

City staff last month presented the Cotati Planning Commission with a plan to boost the number of allocations to 20, but the commission pared the number to 11. The council had the option of increasing or decreasing that number at its meeting. The majority of those in crowded City Hall had hoped for no changes to the ordinance that has been in place since 2007. But the general consensus was if the amendments were to pass, keep them at a minimum, which was the planning commision's preference.

Currently, Cotati has five formula-based businesses – Burger King, Peet's Coffee and Tea, Papa Murphy's Pizza, Subway and Starbucks.

Even with the amendments to this ordinance, don’t expect a flood of fast food restaurants to overwhelm Cotati. For one, most fast food restaurants require the availability of drive-through facilities, and Cotati limits its drive through buildings to drug stores and banks.

Also, the ban on fast food restaurants in the heart of downtown Cotati remains intact.

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