Tuesday night’s 3-hour plus long meeting consisted of the Cotati City Council covering a wide range of topics. The topics ranged from finances, industrial, enforcement of health orders and an update on the Farmster Program.
This meeting was probably the most well ranging in recent memory. Usually there’s a theme to the council meetings, whether it be safety, health, education, etc. Tuesday night was different; everything listed above was talked about. Because of how long and thorough the presentations were, there wasn’t much time for public comments, though COAR (Cotati Organize Against Racism) had some of their members speak.
The night started off with a proclamation in honor of Women’s Equality Day. This was a special announcement considering it was the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment. This was the amendment which gave women the right to vote. This announcement was followed by a short presentation detailing women’s contribution to society from voting, working, fighting for equality, etc.
Next was Angela Courter, with her monthly financial update. This time her update was for August. Some key takeaways from her speech included the overall sales tax and property taxes account for 78.7 percent of the general funds. Voter approved Measure G is 28.35 percent. Through May 2020, the city has received 106.9 percent of the total 2019/20 receipts that were projected in the revised final budget adopted June 23. Payment from June 2020 decreased about 13 percent from June 2019. The major reason for this is obviously the Covid-19 shutdowns affecting the business in Cotati. Courter said the two major industries continuing to grow are home improvement and food/drug. Finally, the city is missing $140,000 in the first quarter 2020 (approximately 50 percent less than anticipated.)
After this was the public comment where members of COAR Spoke. This was followed by Public Works Director and City Engineer Craig Scott’s first of two presentations of the night. The first was the introduction of an ordinance amending and restarting chapters through 13.38 of Title 13 of the Cotati Municipal Code to maintain compliance with federal pretreatment program. Martin J. St. George gave this presentation.
This ordinance was about the industrial flow which included cadmium, copper, nickel, silver and zinc. St. George compared the 2018 industrial flow with the 1990 numbers and explained why the 2018 numbers were lower.
The numbers are part of a greater projects in conjunction with the EPA. St. George listed three important factors of this project, which fell under code edits. The first is approved local limits study, second is EPA required changes from audits of the city’s pretreatment program and finally new regulations for dental dischargers.
St. George said all the natural resources numbers should be increased significantly. Cadmium should be raised from 0.04 to 0.2 mg/L, copper from 0.2 to 1 mg/L, nickel from 1.51 to 3.0 Mg/, silver to .5 from .17 and zinc from 1.63 to 2.0 mg/L.
The final part St. George described was local limits to remove. These included biochemical oxygen demand, antimony, beryllium and thallium, hexavalent cadmium, Selenium-not present in appreciable level and any toxic organic.
This was followed by City Manager Damien O’Bid putting forth an immediate ordinance required to enforce fines for Cotati residents not complying with the county guidelines. O’Bid explained how the county is still on the watch list and what the general goal is behind enforcement. O’Bid says that because Cotati isn’t a big city like Santa Rosa, it’s harder to enforce fines so the council needed to vote on the three ordinances. The ordinances were creating administrative enforcement of the public health order, urgency ordinance creating administrative enforcement of the public health order and administrative enforcement of the public health order resolution.
The resolution passed 5-0 and before the vote Vice Mayor John Moore said it’s a shame the city needs to pass these resolutions since people don’t listen and comply with the health orders.
After discussion from the council, the main event started with a presentation by Dustin DeMatteo, Co- Founder and Director of Farmster.
Farmster is a program at the Veronda-Falletti Ranch that was recently started by DeMatteo. This program has been a huge success in the community and DeMatteo gave a really nice rundown of how Farmster is growing.
DeMatteo reiterated what the goal of Farmster is, which is to grow food and farm skills, while sharing local resources. The goals of the program are to make Veronda-Falletti Ranch a local hotspot for the residents of Cotati.
Some early accomplishments of Farmster have been Open Farm Fridays, livestock demonstrations, private events (birthdays and tours), nonprofit leadership events, group visits (school). DeMatteo also talked about the huge focus Farmster has on education. He has educated over 300 attendees on food and farm skills, partnered with local preschools and Sonoma State University, and Jr. Farmster Summer Camp. Another key aspect of Farmster has been the relationship building with the City of Cotati staff, Chamber of Commerce, local restaurants and chefs, local educators and local livestock and farming experts.
The final presentation of the night was by Craig Scott talking about the construction happening in the city. An example is W. Sierra, La Plaza and Henry Public Parking lots will be repaved and restriped. Scott also said how these projects will lead to an 80 percent reduction in total cost, which pleased the council.
Community members who tuned in for the meeting were blessed with much crucial information which covered a wide range of topics. The next meeting is August 25 and the link will be the city council’s website for anyone who wants to virtually attend the meeting.