My Priorities for Cotati

Building community

I have heard many residents say, “I only know a few people on my street, but nobody else in Cotati.”

With a population of 7000, we are a small city, but we include a variety of neighborhoods. I advocate programs to support residents coming together in neighborhoods, even as Covid-19 precautions keep us physically apart. We can find ways to enjoy each other and our town without risking illness.

  • neighborhood walking or biking challenges
  • distanced fitness classes in parks
  • safe, small outdoor musical performances

What ideas do you have for you and your neighbors? When we can safely do so again, I’ll support

  • block parties
  • picnics
  • cycling classes
  • neighborhood get-togethers

Knowing our neighbors helps everyone enjoy living here.

Working with my Cotati neighbors to build a playground for the kids

Sustainability and climate change

Like the rest of California—and the planet—Cotati is experiencing extreme weather, manifesting this fall as dangerous fires and smoke. The implications are clear. Local government has the duty to restore and protect our natural spaces, while ensuring access for residents. Environmental degradation hurts all, but not equally. We need to preserve and protect our land, air, and water. I believe that the experience of nature and wilderness is a birthright and a benefit for all people.

In my eight years on Cotati’s Planning Commission, I’ve promoted smart growth and better bike/pedestrian infrastructure. I've been involved in projects such as

  • closing gaps in bike and sidewalk networks
  • the new wayfinding (signage) program

I’m a long-time volunteer with organizations such as Daily Acts, Cotati Creek Critters, and Transition Cotati.

An enthusiastic bicyclist, I’ve ridden many miles around Sonoma County. I have served as Cotati’s representative to the Sonoma County Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee. I organized Cotati’s Bike-to-Work Day station for several years.

Cotati has made progress in protecting and restoring our natural resources such as the Laguna de Santa Rosa. They're valuable amenities for Cotatians to easily connect with nature. I will work to make Cotati more attractive for walking and biking, to connect neighborhoods to each other and to local businesses.

I worked with others to get large solar arrays installed in 2018. We installed enough to offset all electricity usage in our 30 homes

Racial justice

Cotati is flexible and strong enough to acknowledge and respond to the difficulties that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color face in this country and city. When residents are in crisis or in conflict, how should public services respond? What city policies and programs will ensure that all people feel heard and welcomed in Cotati? I am committed to anti-racist work.

Answering these will certainly require that the Council continue to work with our police department, which has already taken some necessary steps. But overcoming racial inequity will require much more. Our approach to recovery must be arrived at through a broad coalition that includes all our institutions: schools, business, churches, community groups—and, most importantly, communities of color representing Cotati residents and workers.

Cotati residents rally for Black Lives Matter, June 2020

Affordable housing and homelessness

I believe that people who work in Cotati should be able to live in Cotati. To make that feasible, we must increase the amount of housing that is affordable to the full range of workers (for example, plumbers and electricians, teachers and librarians, and service workers). Our obligation extends across the whole spectrum of residents: Cotati should have appropriate options for the disabled and seniors, for instance.

Currently, Cotati’s big-picture strategies for creating affordable housing are:

  • requiring that new private housing developments include a certain percentage reserved and affordable for these workers
  • building partnerships with nonprofit housing developers whose mission is creating affordable housing

On a smaller scale, we must continue to make progress on:

  • streamlining approvals of accessory dwelling units (second units)
  • scaling fixed costs like permits and utility hookups to unit size
  • making small-lot development easier

Using these methods—and others we’ve yet to dream up—we can meet our housing goals and maintain a diverse, thriving city.

As a small city, Cotati can play a role in responding to the homelessness crisis by partnering with other cities and the county, advocating for and implementing humane, long-term solutions. I support a “housing-first” approach to addressing homelessness, in which people experiencing long-term or repeated homelessness are provided modest permanent housing, with ready access to support services. Such an approach has been shown to significantly reduce long-term homelessness, at lower long-term cost.

Touring our under-construction townhouses in downtown Cotati

Local businesses and workers

The pandemic and resulting economic slowdown have hurt Cotati’s business community, especially our small businesses. Restaurants and bars, service businesses like spas and salons, and walk-in retail shops have been devastated. These small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and local government must support their resurgence. It’s unsafe for restaurants to have indoor seating? Make more outdoor space available! Need to post signs about changing business conditions? Relax sign restrictions! We need to restore jobs and encourage growth, safely and sanely.

Meanwhile, workers who have lost their economic footing because of Covid need support from the city. Our local government and employers should find ways for all workers to have:

  • emergency Covid-related leave
  • paid sick time and maternity leave and schedule flexibility
  • safe workplaces
  • services for furloughed or laid-off workers
Judith and I stop in for ice cream at El Paso Bakery in downtown Cotati
I always enjoy talking with the vendors at our weekly farmers market about what's in season

Experience + Creativity = Sustainable Progress