May 27, 2018
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State of the City with Cotati Mayor Mark Landman

By: Irene Hilsendager
March 2, 2018

Interview and reporting By Irene Hilsendager

Mayor Landman asks, “where were we five years ago?” Cotati was deep in a recession, with economic development at a standstill. The loss of redevelopment effectively put the final nail in the coffin of a large planned project in Cotati’s Northern Gateway. The key portion of our downtown seemed doomed to remain a weed-covered lot.

The loss of the redevelopment also left the city with an ongoing loss of over half million dollars that previously helped us pay for things like police, street repairs, recreation and park maintenance.

While we were working to bring hoteliers, developers and retailers to fill-in our empty spots, the economy was working in opposition to us, causing many businesses to vanish.

As a community we were investing in perhaps the most featured SMART depot in the county, SMART wasn’t running and many questioned its ultimate success as well as the viability of the depot.

Our city was stripped down below the essentials; Our road conditions numbers, or Pavement Condition Index, had dropped to the “at risk” category, our Police Dept. and public works were at their lowest numbers in decades and finally we lost much of the senior political leadership in the council, in a very short period of time, due to a variety of factors.

And Mayor Landman gave details to where we are now.

We have a vibrant, resurgent community that is running well. The town is being taken care of as it should be, as all of you wanted it to be. Cotati is now kept and maintained by our own local Police Department and expanded them further. The department was also one of only three police agencies in Sonoma County to receive the Public Safety Hero Award given annually by US Congressman Mike Thompson, for their assistance evacuating people and assisting with the dispatch during the October fires. Additionally, Sonoma State University requested that Cotati will provide police dispatch services to them, which is currently underway. Finally, Cotati PD has begun a new focus on regular neighborhood patrols with an aim towards speeding reduction, one of the most requested services you’ve all asked for.

Community Restoration and Improvements.

Public Works is stronger than ever and working every day for you and they’ve had a lot to do the last year with all of the community restoration and improvements we’ve done.

In the Northern Gateway- completion has been done to the entryway, lighting, sidewalk and bike and pedestrian improvements along Old Redwood Highway, from 116 to La Plaza Park, as well as paving and crosswalk improvements on Old Redwood Highway from La Plaza Park to Page Street.

The Train Depot Building has been complete for a few years and it’s been universally credited as being one of the best in the county. SMART is doing so well they’re adding more cars and have signed a long- term contract to lease space at our Depot as their main, “in-the-field” customer service location.

There are new sidewalks along La Plaza and West Cotati Avenue, which were constructed in our downtown. Other new projects are pathways and picnic area at Veronda-Falletti Ranch and new sidewalk in front of Cator Field, which will provide a continuous pathway from West Sierra to the School Street tunnel, as well as connecting existing sidewalk on El Rancho. This is just beginning for Veronda-Falletti and will be a working farm with public classes and interaction in the next few years.

The basketball courts have been newly restored at Cator Field. The tennis courts at Sunflower Park were also restored. The landscaping along Myrtle Drive and the entry way to downtown has also been beautified.

Routine paving in the city increased dramatically; including $600k budgeted this year, with a goal to increase this next year. The city’s PCI (Pavement Condition Index) was back up to 53 as of a few years ago, and better than that now. Street safety improvements, including radar feedback signs at key locations and crosswalk striping have also been finished.

Downtown Lighting is on the agenda and have opened bids on a project which will bring more lighting into La Plaza Park to bridge the two sides of our downtown at night, as well as allow for events at the park at night. Lighting to improve safety will also include the pathways at McGinnis and Marsh by the Laguna De Santa Rosa, as well as the tunnel at East School Street.


This is to assist residents and visitors in navigating our trails, finding landmarks, important facilities and other points of interest in Cotati and which will allow us to transition into complementary business signage designs starting in March.

Now on to housing.

Santero Way breaks ground this year. 74 units will be placed near the SMART line to help deal with the shortage of housing in Sonoma County. Roughly another 175-ish units in pipeline potentially, all infill, no “sprawl”.

Economic Development. 

You can see this all around you, business sites are in demand, when a retailer unfortunately fails, there’s another waiting in the wings to take that spot. Example of increased interest in Cotati and investment in improvements to old Exchange Bank building for the Re/Max Marketplace.

Now on to Cannabis. 

This February, the city approved the final commercial cannabis ordinance. This will allow up to two storefront retailers in the zone along Highway 116 on the west side of US 101 and will allow other non-retail businesses in the industrial zones north of Helman Lane (Lowes). This will be an important part of Cotati’s economy, as well as this state’s, in the future. We believe this will fit well with SoCo’s high quality food, wine and craft brewing identity

The Budget. 

A balanced budget for the 9th consecutive year- 2017-18 General Fund budget includes a total reserve of 73 percent of the annual operating budget, which is far above the required reserve of 25 percent. The budget also includes $1.5 million in street paving, park improvements and city building improvements, and $3.2 million in water and sewer infrastructure improvements.

And finally, a hotel. 

At the city council meeting on November 28, 2017, the city council approved a property sale agreement with a long-time Sonoma County family to build and operate a modern boutique hotel in Cotati. This boutique hotel will compliment Cotati’s musical heritage, feature an environmentally friendly design, with planned fruit trees and grapevines throughout the parking areas, in addition to an outdoor event area and an emphasis on local Sonoma County food, wine, drink and entertainment.

How did we make all this progress?

That secret weapon was all of you, our community. You all came together as a community and supported Measure G, you all made the decision you wanted this city to stay safe, whole, prosperous and independent.

Measure G has-

- preserved local police department, AND

- restored a previously lost traffic officer assignment, 

- added an additional new patrol officer position

- added a new public works maintenance worker

- added the recreation department back, including one full time and one-part time employee

- added building official position for code enforcement and building safety inspections

and in turn, Measure G, by preserving our police department, allowed us to offer to dispatch SSU officers.  And the revenue received from that resulted in:

- new part time dispatcher 

-and another new full- time patrol officer position

Beyond all this, Measure G also was a major part of all the Community Restoration and Improvements listed earlier. Measure G has worked, we can see that as we look around every single day in Cotati. None of these good outcomes would’ve happened without Cotati’s support of Measure G.