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Santa Rosa balks at Codding arch
City fears Montgomery Village's proposed tribute to late developer would be too distracting for drivers

  • David Codding at the Montgomery Village crosswalk on Sonoma Avenue in Santa Rosa on Monday, May 7, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

David Codding has grand plans for the biggest little mall in Santa Rosa.

The owner of Montgomery Village Shopping Center is proposing to build a 27-foot-high, Reno-style archway over Sonoma Avenue as a memorial to his father, the late developer Hugh Codding.

"Everyone I have shown this to just loves it," Codding said of the design.

But city officials are less enamored. They don't want drivers gawking up at a sign when they're supposed to be looking out for pedestrians in the crosswalk below.

"My main concern is that we're not competing for drivers' attention while someone is crossing," said city Traffic Engineer Rob Sprinkle.

Codding presented the "Hugh B. Codding Memorial Crossing" to city staff members in January. The $200,000 structure would span 87-feet across Sonoma Avenue. The arch would be covered by a lighted trellis and would rest on two large stonework posts.

Drivers approaching from either side would see a sign reading "Welcome to Montgomery Village" in 2-foot yellow letters with "Established 1950 Hugh B. Codding" in smaller letters below. Pedestrian flashers would hang underneath.

"I believe this project is something Santa Rosa would be proud of and a testament to one of its founders," Codding wrote in his application to the city. "Being his son, I believe Dad deserves a memorial."

The arch would feature plaques at the bases of the piers honoring Codding, a larger-than-life figure in the economy and politics of Sonoma County who died in 2010 at 92.

Codding built more than 2,500 homes, the Coddingtown and Montgomery Village malls and served on the City Council for eight years, including a stint as mayor. He was brash, headstrong and a revered figure in the city's postwar boom.

But the arch wouldn't serve solely as an advertisement for the mall or an homage to its founder. Codding says it would improve pedestrian safety by alerting motorists to people using the crosswalk.

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