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PD Editorial: No on U: A costly stop sign for Cotati

Here's one for the needless waste file: Cotati is shelling out some $20,000 for an election to defend a plan that will save the city $1.2 million.

But this isn't a tale of bureaucratic bungling.

It's about sore losers turning to the ballot box to try to get their way. Cotati voters shouldn't indulge them.

Here's some background: In December, after conducting studies and hosting public meetings, the Cotati City Council unanimously settled on a revitalization plan for Old Redwood Highway.

The goal is to make the Hub City's northern gateway as inviting as its downtown, where people stroll among shops and cafes. To extend that ambience to the other side of La Plaza Park, Old Red would be narrowed from four lanes to two between Gravenstein Highway and the park, with two traffic circles instead of stop signs.

There's ample evidence that roundabouts are cleaner, safer — for drivers and pedestrians — and control traffic more effectively than stop lights.

In this case, they're more frugal. too. At $3.5 million, Cotati's Village Main Street model is 25 percent less expensive than a four-lane alternative that relies on traffic signals. Moreover, there's no reduction in capacity for Old Redwood Highway.

But none of that satisfied a small group of critics including perennial council candidate George Barich. They dislike roundabouts, they objected to the council's choice, and they started a petition drive.

Measure U, however, isn't a simple referendum. It doesn't simply overturn the Old Redwood Highway plan, it bars Cotati from installing roundabouts “and other similar traffic features.” Anywhere. Ever.

If it passes, Cotati stands to lose a $1.1 million federal grant for the project. Worse, the city will be ineligible for similar funding for three years.

That's just for starters. A permanent ban is like a traffic light that never turns green. Residents and future councils would be denied a tool that's proven useful in many other communities.

The Press Democrat recommends a no vote on Measure U.

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