October 19, 2021
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Ad-hoc will make recommendations

By: Brittney Scardina
June 25, 2021

Cotati Council voted center around an equitable, compassionate and healthy community.

With municipalities around Sonoma County continuing to engage with the public around topics such as inclusivity and equity, largely inspired by the public response to George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing police crackdowns of protests in the area, the City of Cotati will follow suit.

During their meeting June 22, Cotati City Council unanimously voted to implement a two-person ad-hoc committee of the city council, supported by city staff and centered around an equitable, compassionate, and healthy community.  

The ad-hoc members, Council members Susan Harvey and Laura Sparks, will provide the council with regular reports on progress over the twelve-month span of the ad-hoc, at the conclusion of which they will make their recommendations to council.

The ad-hoc will be framed around the council's strategic objective for the year, which includes investigating how the City of Cotati can promote an equitable, compassionate, and healthy community that honors diversity as a source of strength. These duties will include both city practices and city services. 

As the process was inspired in response to great public interest, city officials emphasized a need to engage with the public in the process. 

“An ad-hoc could and should have in-depth discussions with members of the public, people who are interested,” Vice Mayor Mark Landman said. 

In the staff report, City Manager Damien O’Bid included for reference the actions other governments in Sonoma County are approaching the topic.

Rohnert Park and Petaluma are two of the five cities mentioned in the report. Rohnert Park has conducted facilitated sessions, and a “Chat with the Chief” with the Public Safety Chief virtually about every two weeks. Petaluma has already formed their Ad-Hoc Community Advisory Committee led by a facilitator and consist of community members. The committee will be a continuation of what officials determined a successful response by the city since the violent events of this past summer. 

Following the George Floyd incident in 2020, the City of Cotati has taken measures to improve inclusivity in the city. These measures include; town hall meetings, Racial identity Profiling Act (RIPA) data collection, annual reports, citizen complaint forms, a community survey on racism and a CAHOOTS program and other forms of reviews being taken into consideration. 

Founded in Eugene, Oregon, CAHOOTS, or Crisis Assistance Helping Out on The Streets, is a program of first response to homelessness and mental health crisis that doesn’t involve police. Programs like CAHOOTS have been growing in popularity around the country in recent years. 

Police stations in Sonoma County will start RIPA data collection July 1 on stops to inform decision making. The City of Cotati currently has all police staff, including dispatchers taking an eight-hour course at Sonoma State University on police approaching, implicit bias and de-escalation training.

During the public comments section of this agenda item, four community members spoke up about how proud they were for what the Cotati has done addressing racial issues and inclusion and how they would also like to see more community involvement.

“I do believe the ad-hoc committee would provide more space for brainstorming and discussion on how we could make Cotati a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming place for people of different backgrounds,” Daniela Delario during public comments said. 

Council member Harvey mentions how she wants to see things continue to improve and is interested in the possibilities for our community to be inclusive. Mayor John C. Moore also noted how he would support the ad-hoc on community engagement and teaching anti-racism to educate the community.

The City of Cotati wants to continue to take steps to address the community's needs and create a safe place for all to feel welcomed and appreciated. For those interested in attending future meetings, the times and agenda are posted on the City of Cotati website, under the Cotati City Council section.