News
September 27, 2020
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Biking, driving & construction

By: Paul Matli
September 11, 2020

After a mini break, the Cotati City Council was back on Zoom and other online platforms for their annual meeting. Mayor Wendy Skillman and her peers covered topics ranging from biking to construction projects. Mixed in, of course, was the public comment where COAR (Cotati Organizes Against Racism) took center stage.

Tuesday night’s meeting chose a very interesting topic to start off the discussion. It was the topic of bikes. The first of two presentations were centered around the council adopting a resolution awarding Downtown Crosswalk Safety Enhancement Contract to DC Electric Group, Inc. and authorizing the City Manager Damien O’Bid to execute the construction contract and any needed change orders to that contract up to the approved project budget.

Civil Engineer, John Caldwell, brought this resolution to the council because of the increased use of bicycles during the last few months. The stay-at-home orders have led to a significant increase in bike sales, as Cotati residents are choosing bicycles as their means of transportation. The presentation brought up how local bike shops are low on bicycles because of how much demand there is for them. 

Since residents are biking more, specific parts of the city should be more conducive to bikers. The resolution proposed the installation of reflective yellow tape on the city’s traffic signal heads throughout town, audible crosswalk signals at the intersection of Old Redwood Highway and Valparaiso/Myrtle, relocation of flashing crosswalk pushbuttons for improved safety at the E. Cotati Avenue creek path crossing and installation of an all-way stop sign at the intersection of W. Sierra Avenue and W. School Street.

The Council agreed that safety is a top priority and a common theme of the meetings this year revolving around making W. Sierra and Old Redwood Highway safer, so this project goes with the council’s ideas perfectly.

Biking has always been a great alternative to driving, especially in a small town like Cotati. Residents will save money on gas and not pollute the air as much, so it’s nice to see an organization to work towards improving the general safety of the city. For those who want to learn more, they can visit bikesonoma.org.

The second bike presentation of the night was focused on National Pollution Prevention Week and Creek Week. In this presentation the non-profit of bikesonoma.org asked the council of the City of Cotati to proclaim the week of September 21 through the 27th as “National Pollution Prevention Week” and “Creek Week.”    

After this was over, members of COAR again spoke up. The members started off by praising City Manager Damien O’Bid for being so attentive and forthcoming in the recent meeting they had with him. That was followed up with COAR proposing that the council start a discussion panel on the various issues. Councilmember Susan Harvey seemed interested in the idea and said it’s something that might potentially be discussed in the next meeting.

 Next was the financial report by Angela Courtier. She explained how the City of Cotati is still doing better than expected considering everything that’s happened this year. Her report made the council very happy.

Some key findings from her presentation included Overall Sales Tax and Property Tax accounting for 78.7 percent of all General Fund Source Revenues. Voter approved Measure G is 28.35 percent of General Fund Source Revenue. The city is a combined $914,835 above budget. Meanwhile, the largest point of sale activity is from local merchants. Cotati’s major industries that are still growing during SIP are home improvement and food and drug. Whereas there was a decline in building/construction, but it’s still improving from where it was initially, fuel and general consumer goods continue to go downhill as well as restaurants.

The final part of the night was City Manager O’Bid talking about the 2020 Annual League of California Cities virtual business meeting. This presentation was met by skepticism from the council. Since it had to do with social media, the council thought it was a slippery slope.

Vice Mayor John Moore said it would be difficult to determine some things like hate speech while Councilmember Harvey brought up the topic of protests/looting. Her example was if someone was encouraging looting online during or after a peaceful protest it would be difficult to distinguish between the two.  Councilmember Dell’Osso talked about how social media can be a blessing and curse. It just seemed like the council wasn’t sure if it was safe to support the agenda item, because of the slippery slope.

City Manager O’Bid wrapped up the meeting by giving his report. The report tied the meeting back together by him bringing up the paving projects going on, which includes Valparaiso Ave. and others. Paving the roads will be easier for the bikers, so again, the meeting comes full circle. Other important nuggets are that public works secured a lease for a long-term generator in case of power outages or an emergency. It seems likely with the heat wave and fires, Cotati will lose power at some point, so having a generator is good news. Finally, O’Bid wanted to let community members know the Farmers Market is still continuing on Wed. at 4:30 p.m.

For community members who want to join in electronically or have something they would like to share, the next meeting is Sept. 22, at 7 p.m.