It took three organizations the better part of two years, but the Cotati City Council approved the Wayfinding Master Plan Tues., Jan. 22.
The Wayfinding Master Plan is Cotati’s effort to better the signage at the various bicycle paths, trails and other high traffic neighborhoods across the area. The goal is to beautify the city and improve economic prosperity and to do this the Wayfinding plan creates a system—really a unifying aesthetic of sorts—that will reduce the signage clutter and settle on a stable template of colors.
A theme is not something Cotati has had before. It has a reputation, and it has its own unique feel, but before the Wayfinding Master Plan the city was really more of a mish-mash of different neighborhoods without a unifying look. The Cotati City Council hopes that through the new plan the city will find its image.
“We didn’t have a comprehensive plan up until now,” Mayor John Dell’Osso said. “It’s important certainly from a visual standpoint. You see a lot of older signs in other cities where they update only some of the signage but not all of it. I personally feel that keeping things uniform makes it look a little bit more together.”
The plan’s focus will be on the downtown area and the city’s trails.
It follows a natural theme with a red, blue and green pastel palette. The sign posts are planned to be made of wood—African Mahogany, a particularly dense species that’s known for its durability. Kiosks with maps, city lore and directions to local business are slated for the downtown area—again, all in the city’s color theme. And for the trails are little posts that denote direction and length.
A plan of this magnitude doesn’t come cheap. Luckily for Cotati, the city landed a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in 2017 when this whole process started. The MTC allotted the city $90,000 to improve its signage and Cotati added to that seed money an additional $50,000 from its 2018-2019 budget.
That was more than enough money to put together the Wayfinding Steering Committee—a hodgepodge of bodies taken from the Cotati City Council, the Cotati Planning Commission and the Design Review Committee. They hired MERJE, a Pennsylvania based graphic design company.
This isn’t MERJE’s first project. In the past they handled jobs in cities such as Dallas, Little Rock and Phoenix. As MERJE Principal and representative to Cotati, John Bosio, put it, signage is vital for the character of any town.
“What you’re really trying to do is promote the assets of the community,” Bosio said. “When you go out there now you could drive by any number of the trail heads and you wouldn’t know there was access.”
If all goes according to schedule, Cotati will roll out the Wayfinding Master Plan in the summer. A few of its designs still await final approval, though. If any local resident would like to share their opinion or if they’d just like to see the proposed new signs in person they should contact city hall.