January 24, 2007


Minutes of the Regular City Council Meeting/Joint Meeting of the City Council

And Cotati Redevelopment Agency Board of Directors

201 W. Sierra Avenue, Cotati, CA  94931-4217


Mayor Fox called the meeting to order at
6:31 p.m.



Councilmembers present: Fox, Gilardi, Guardino, Minnis, Orchard

Staff present: Stubbings, Bell, Thompson, Walter





(Subdivision (e) of Section 54957) Title: City Manager



Mayor Fox reconvened the meeting at 7:05 p.m.


Councilmembers present: Fox, Gilardi, Guardino, Minnis, Orchard

Staff present: Stubbings, Bell, Thompson, Walter, Hayes, Berolero, Woltering





The Mayor stated there was nothing to report.



1. Regular rescheduled meeting of January 9, 2007

-- Notice of waiving the reading of all ordinances introduced and/or adopted under this agenda


It was moved by Gilardi, seconded by Minnis, to approve the minutes of the regular rescheduled meeting of January 9, 2007.


Yes:   5            No:  0



Eric Kirchmann, Cotati, congratulated Mayor Fox on his appointment as Mayor, and then thanked Councilmember Gilardi for her volunteer work with the Accordion Festival, which raised over $17,000 dollars for local non-profits. Mr. Kirchmann thanked city staff, City Council members, sponsors and donors for their work with the Accordion Festival. Mr. Kirchmann asked Councilmember Gilardi to step down from the dais to help distribute the money to local non-profits. Those non-profits included the Cotati-Rohnert Park Education Foundation, the Cotati-Rohnert Park Co-op Nursery, Thomas Page PTA, the Boy Scouts, the Mountain Shadows Middle School Sports Boosters, and the 4-H Club.


Amy Catelli, Veranda Ave., said on January 8th she read about a medical marijuana dispensary being considered in Cotati and that she did not approve because of possible crime and because of the proposed location. Ms. Catelli said she read information online about marijuana dispensaries and added she believed these same problems would ultimately occur in Cotati. Ms. Catelli stated she read parts of the draft ordinance and voiced concerns she had about the ordinance, and then requested Council to consider placing the dispensary near a medical facility.


Tom Dunkly, Cotati, said he was a 25-year Cotati resident, an employee of San Quentin, and had done drug and alcohol counseling. Mr. Dunkly said his adopted children came from families who abused marijuana; he asked Council who he would pursue for litigation purposes if something bad happened because of the dispensary, and then suggested putting a dispensary in the police station. Mr. Dunkly said he had his own social perspective on the dispensary and added his vote for Council would be tied to how the Council voted on this issue.


Matt Stapleton, Cotati, said medicinal marijuana was something he had background with and urged Council to look carefully at this matter because he believed it could be a potential problem that would be good for the City. Mr. Stapleton gave background on himself to lend credence to his opposition to a medical marijuana dispensary in Cotati. Mr. Stapleton said he was looking at the greater good and gave examples to illustrate his stance. Mr. Stapleton addressed his concerns over the proposed location of a medical marijuana dispensary and the safety of the community.


Louise Peterson, Cotati business owner, said she supported what previous speakers had said and added she felt this issue was very important and it was essential to have several perspectives, including business owners, and gave examples to support her statement.


Lisa Gygax, attorney, said she got calls from Cotati residents who were supportive of medical marijuana dispensaries. Ms. Gygax discussed reasons why medicinal marijuana dispensaries were getting such a bad rap, in particular reports of crime around a dispensary being lumped in with general crimes, and said there were many regulations to keep dispensaries safe for and responsible to the community. Ms. Gygax said the real issue should be providing sick people with a means to alleviate their pain and California voters have said overwhelming they want compassionate use of medical marijuana. Ms. Gygax gave her office phone number – 575-7735 – to anyone who has questions or concerns about marijuana dispensaries, then provided statistics on teenagers abusing mainly prescription drugs, not marijuana. Ms. Gygax urged Council not to attack legitimate medical marijuana users and suggested a town forum meeting might be appropriate to discuss the issue.


Wanda Robbins, Cotati, stated she supported a medical marijuana dispensary.


Robert Coleman-Senghor, Amber Lane, a Cotati resident since moving from Berkeley in 1972, remembered many of his students became alcoholics and said city bars were more of a concern to him than medical marijuana. Mr. Coleman stated a town meeting would be appropriate in order to get correct information on the issue. Mr. Coleman said he supported medical marijuana for citizens who were ill because Cotati needs to take care of it citizens.


Dona Frank, North Bay Wellness operator, stated as fact that in the two years she operated her medical marijuana dispensary, there have been no police calls. Ms. Frank discussed the needs of the people her business serves, and added she could bring to Cotati a safe and sane business and provide a safe, clean product. Ms. Frank said she supported a public forum because it would provide facts about dispensaries.


George Barich, Cotati, said as a video security company owner he had a special insight into the issue. Mr. Barich said bar owners and convenience stores were constantly calling him about alcohol issues but he never received calls from medical marijuana dispensaries. Mr. Barich addressed public noticing issues and talked about the e-mail list the city had


Tim Ridder, Cotati, said he supported a medical marijuana dispensary in the City.


Royleen Miller, Cotati business owner, said she was against a medical marijuana dispensary in Cotati.


Linda Ridder, Cotati, stated people were forgetting about revenue generated from a dispensary.


Theresa Eaton, Cotati, reported on Wednesday, January 31st between 11-2 there would be a homeless count at the Southwest Fire Station in Rohnert Park, and said she wished there was more support from the community on this issue.


Mayor Fox closed Citizen Business.



Mayor Fox requested a medical marijuana dispensary forum to be scheduled before the draft ordinance came back before Council. Mayor Fox stated all agendas, past and present, were on the City website 24/7, along with a wealth of other good information.




-- There will be a Cotati Creek Critters workday Sunday, January 28th, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Ladybug Lot, Lakewood Avenue. For more information, contact


-- In an ongoing effort to equip small businesses with opportunities to grow and prosper, the City of Cotati and the Cotati Chamber of Commerce and have partnered with the Redwood Empire Small Business Development Center (SBDC), to provide free business counseling services to Cotati businesses. For more information, call Suzanne Whipple at the Cotati Chamber of Commerce @ 707.795.5508.


Mayor Fox called attention to these announcements.


2. Sonoma State University Representative Whitney Diver was unable to attend the evening’s meeting due to a scheduling conflict.


3. Gabe Dell’Osso, Rancho Cotate High School, was named Honorary Mayor for the month of January. Mr. Dell’Osso reported on current events at Rancho Cotate High School including an upcoming crab feed, spring sports baseball, track and field, swimming and softball. The Honorary Mayor discussed a new football field being built but no home games while the field was being built. The Honorary Mayor said the SATs were coming up in a couple of months and that students could take a class through the Recreation Department to help study for the test. Honorary Mayor Dell’Osso said he wanted to see the city parks kept clean, and that his mom was thankful the Bookmobile was back. Vice Mayor Gilardi asked about finals week, to which Mr. Dell’Osso said there was lots of studying. Mayor Fox then read and presented a proclamation to the Honorary Mayor.


4. Mayor Fox read the proclamation honoring Linda Christopher, who was unable to attend the evening’s meeting due to a scheduling conflict.


5. Appointments to the Design Review Committee

Planning Director Woltering provided the staff report to Council, recommending Neil Hancock, Joe Kagan and Bruce Hammond be appointed to the Design Review Committee.


Mr. Kagan, Mr. Hammond and Mr. Hancock each told Council why they asked to be reappointed. Mayor Fox said he appreciated their work.


Mayor Fox opened public comment.


Theresa Eaton, Cotati, said she had no complaints about the committee members but wanted to remind them about rules in the MLR, and also the duplex at Sierra Mobilhome Park was against the law and she wanted them to know.


Robert Coleman-Senghor, Amber Lane, said he supported the three appointees to the DRC, and said they were a good group of people and gave reasons to that effect.


Mayor Fox closed public comment.


It was moved by Orchard, seconded Gilardi to ratify the Mayor’s reappointment of Joe Kagan.


Yes:  5             No:  0


Joe Kagan was reappointed to the Design Review Committee.


It was moved by Orchard, seconded Gilardi to ratify the Mayor’s reappointment of Bruce Hammond.


Yes:  5             No:  0


Bruce Hammond was reappointed to the Design Review Committee.


It was moved by Orchard, seconded Gilardi to ratify the Mayor’s reappointment of Neil Hancock.


Yes:  5             No:  0


Neil Hancock was reappointed to the Design Review Committee.


6. Appointment to the Community and Environment Commission

Assistant City Manager Thompson gave the staff report to Council, recommending Lillian Payne-Vaughn be appointed to the Community and Environment Commission.


Ms. Payne-Vaughn asked to be appointed to the CEC and discussed some of the ideas she had for the CEC and said she was very excited to be appointed.


Mayor Fox opened and closed public comment.


It was moved by Gilardi, seconded by Minnis to ratify the Mayor’s appointment of Lillian Payne-Vaughn.


Yes:  5             No:  0


Lillian Payne-Vaughn was appointed to the Community and Environment Commission.



City Manager Stubbings reported on a meeting with CalTrans regarding proposed sound walls in Cotati for the Highway 101 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes Widening Project from Petaluma to Rohnert Park. (The meeting was held on Thursday, February 8, 2007, 6:30-8:30 p.m.) City Manager Stubbings reported on the executive staff retreat on January 19th, with the next meeting on strategic planning. The City Manager attended a conference for new councilmembers with Councilmember Guardino in January. City Manager Stubbings also referenced the upcoming 15th annual pasta and bingo fundraiser, and the public study session on the Downtown Specific Plan. In conclusion, City Manager Stubbings pointed out the updated Councilmember appointment and assignments list. Mayor Fox reminded everyone about the Mayor’s Blood Drive and mentioned Cotati was in 6th place at that point in time.



7. Accept Redwood/Helman /On-site Public Improvements for Lowe’s Project (PA 21/03)


8. Receive and File Budget Report from the Sonoma County Water Agency for FY 2007/08


9. Consideration of Resolution No. 07-02, Approving the City of Cotati’s Application for Program Year 2007-2008 Community Development Block Grant Funds


It was moved by Gilardi, seconded by Minnis, to approve the Consent Calendar.


Yes:  5             No:  0



10. Adoption of Resolution No. 07-01, Approving a Mitigated negative Declaration and Mitigation Monitoring Program, A Tentative Subdivision Map creating 7 Single-family Lots, and Preliminary Design Review for Lots 1 and 2, and Preliminary Design Review for a Design Criteria and Colors and elevations manual for the Property Located at 8830 Old Redwood Highway (AP# 046-231-008)

Planning Director provided the staff report for the Council. Councilmembers asked about recommended changes to Resolution 07-01. Councilmember Minnis was told this project had the same developer as Altman Acres but City Attorney Walter said you could not reach back to the Altman Acres project to garner additional improvements because that project was completed. Councilmember Guardino asked how much sound could be mitigated from the proposed wall. Planning Director Woltering replied the wall would wrap around the subdivision as well as running parallel to Old Redwood Highway and the wall would achieve the noise standard of 60 db (decibels), with the developer also meeting the interior noise standard of 45 db.


Mayor Fox opened the Public Hearing.


Greg LeDoux, project architect, said it wasn’t a traditional subdivision because potential buyers had input with regard to the lots. Mr. LeDoux said they read through the conditions of approval and agreed to the conditions. Mr. LeDoux stated there had been an open house for people to come and discuss the project but the turnout was light. Mr. LeDoux commented on the sound wall and concluded by stating he would be happy to answer any questions from Council.


Kevin Smart, John Roberts Drive, asked about the stop signs on John Roberts, and if the three way stop would cause noise. Mr. Smart asked for a more detailed explanation for the location of the sound wall and added he had concerns about the subdivision at Myrtle and Valparaiso.


Robert Coleman-Senghor, Amber Lane, told Council a citizen asked him about the sound wall. Mr. Coleman said the City made a mistake with the wall at Altman Acres with two edges of noise, one from the north and one from the south part of the sound wall. Mr. Coleman said noise and visual continuity were his two concerns as a Planning Commissioner, and concluded the City needed to take care of the noise problem and see if they could extend the wall at Altman, or a continuation of trees or high shrubs to help ease the noise.


Mayor Fox closed the Public Hearing.


Planning Director Woltering responded to the three way stop on John Roberts and provided the rationale for that stop sign, adding there would be no additional noise. Planning Director Woltering stated Altman Acres was completed in 2003 and Councilmembers did not know about the noise issue at that time. Mayor Fox said he would like to have a meeting with the subcommittee to address concerns brought to the attention of Council. Councilmember Minnis said if Council could not go back to the project because it was already completed, could they could approach it as a continuity issue for Old Redwood Highway. Planning Director Woltering said that would be putting the obligation on the owner regarding something over which they had no control. City Attorney Walter said the continuity issue could be used for running a fence if applied, but there was no legal nexus from this project to the former project. Mayor Fox stated the time frame necessitated meeting quickly with subcommittee to provide consistency between the two projects. Planning Director Woltering discussed the return issue, with a return coming east from Old Redwood Highway from the southerly portion of Lot 2 to a point opposite the rear building lot which would be a condition. Councilmember Gilardi acknowledged when the original subdivision was built Council did not anticipate the noise issues. Mayor Fox said the type of concrete used on Old Redwood Highway was louder and added to the issue. Councilmember Guardino said an additional item to look at was the vibration issues. Councilmember Gilardi asked for clarification on the Council action at that point. Planning Director Woltering said staff direction to Council was to approve the project based on Resolution 07-01, deleting the map with two findings in condition 80.


Councilmember Minnis said the vibration has not been addressed properly and she was not comfortable putting up expensive homes with the same noise and vibration problems. Mayor Fox asked if she had a recommendation, to which Councilmember Minnis replied hold off on Resolution 07-01 and address previous problems before moving on to the new project. Councilmember Orchard said it was a good point but the highway needed to be rebuilt and they weren’t rebuilding the highway so she was not sure what the answer would be. Planning Director Woltering said the acoustical study took those noises into consideration and it satisfied the noise standards of the community. Mayor Fox said Council could not use Altman as a test case because the conditions of approval were completely different from this proposed project. A Council discussion ensued on the noise and vibration issues with regard to the proposed project, including the construction of the housing to mitigate noise. Councilmember Orchard said she thought it was a good project. Councilmember Guardino shared his concerns about the suitability of the housing next to a busy road, but added it was a good project. Mayor Fox said with the adopted urban growth boundary, there were issues like this that would come up. Councilmember Minnis said it was not Old Redwood Highway but the type of land on which the project would be built and maybe the soil was not dense enough to be suitable for building. Councilmember Orchard said the owner had a right to develop the property. City Attorney Walter said it would be hard to surmise on the type of soil for building and the project was consistent with the General Plan and Land Use Code. Planning Director Woltering said the soil analysis was in accordance with the General Plan and Land Use Code but more to the point were the seams on Old Redwood Highway, because the heavy trucks hit the road seams and bounced which caused noise and vibration problems. Councilmember Guardino said noise could be mitigated and asked if the vibration was an issue, potential buyers should be informed. Planning Director Woltering said there would be follow up to these concerns starting at the subcommittee level, to which Mayor Fox concurred.


It was moved by Gilardi, seconded by Orchard, to adopt Resolution 07-01 approving a mitigated declaration and the Rosen Ranch Project subject to the following modifications:


1.         The following two findings are to be added to the resolution

Ø     WHEREAS, on the basis of the whole record (including the initial study and any comments received), there is no substantial evidence that the project will have a significant effect on the environment and the mitigated negative declaration reflects the City Councils independent judgment and analysis; and


Ø     WHEREAS, The City of Cotati Planning Department is the location and custodian of the documents which constitute the record of proceeding upon which the Councils decision herein is based. 


2.         Condition #80 modified to strike the verbiage tentative map


A roll call vote was requested:

Guardino    Yes

Minnis        No

Orchard      Yes

Gilardi       Yes

Fox             Yes


Motion carried 4-1.



11. Consider Rescheduling Regular Meeting of February 14, 2007 to February 13, 2007

City Manager Stubbings gave the staff report.


Mayor Fox opened and closed public comment.


It was moved by Orchard, seconded by Gilardi, to approve Item # 11.


Yes:  5             No:  0



Call to Order

Mayor/Agency Chair Fox called the meeting to order at 9:25 p.m.


Roll Call

Council/Agency Members present: Fox, Gilardi, Guardino, Minnis, Guardino

Staff present: Stubbings, Bell, Walter, Thompson, Hayes


Consent Calendar

12. Approval of Warrants and Audited Claims for January 4th, 2006January 18th, 2007


It was moved by Gilardi, seconded by Minnis, to approve the Joint Session Consent Calendar.


Yes:  5             No:  0


Adjournment of joint meeting; reconvened to regular City Council meeting at 9:25 p.m.



Councilmembers reported briefly on meetings they have attended recently, including reports from meetings attended at City expense, and commented on other topics of interest.


The open meeting adjourned to closed session at 9:31 p.m.


The closed session meeting was adjourned at 11:23 p.m. to a regular City Council meeting on January 31, 2007.


Respectfully submitted,


/s/  Paulette Bell

Deputy City Clerk