May 25, 2019
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1962 Rohnert Park becomes a city

By: Irene Hilsendager
October 12, 2018

On August 21, 1962, residents of Rohnert Park voted to become Sonoma County’s seventh city, the county’s first new city since 1905 and California’s first master-planned city. It was a jubilant day not only for Paul Golis, the father of Rohnert Park, who along with his partner Maurice Fredericks, had been working to build their master-planned community since July 5, 1955, but also for the many citizens who worked tirelessly for months to ensure a successful election.

Early in 1962, a committee was formed to work for incorporation with Tom Bolduc and Dave Doing severing as chairmen. Enthusiasm grew and on election day out of the twenty candidates running for city councilman, the five elected were: Peter M. Callinan, Jack Buchanan, Vernon P. Smith and Dale Foust, all very dedicated residents who had been serving admirably on the Community Services District and Kenneth C. Bell, who was against incorporation and was quoted as saying: the area is not ready for it.: Upon being sworn to office, the five elected Callinan to serve as the city’s first mayor.

Previously a bitterly fought incorporation election on April 12, 1960 failed to pass leaving those who believed in Rohnert Park more determined than ever to build a successful city. By law, the area would have to wait for two more years before another election could be held.

There were detractors. Most of the residents of Cotati and Rohnert Park loved their own community and respected the diverse style of the other. However there were a small hand-full of people from Cotati who tried unsuccessfully to stop Rohnert Park from incorporating by itself. They quietly invited a few select people to meet at a private Cotati residence with intention, some believed, to file for the incorporation of the areas of Cotati and Rohnert Park combined before Rohnert Park could again file for incorporation, When questioned by an uninvited reporter if the intention of the meeting was to stop Rohnert Park from incorporating by itself or merely to study the feasibility of joint incorporation, the tenor of the meeting quickly turned to the latter.

There followed two feasibility studies. The first for joint incorporation of the cities and the second for Rohnert Park by itself. The rest is history. Rohnert Park became a city in 1962 and a year later Cotati did the very same and we all know that both wonderful cities have their own unique qualities.