Even Cotati changes. Once upon a time, it was a farming village with its own weekly newspaper (The Cotatian), a handful of shops and stores, and a bar or two. The local branch of the county library was located in a private home.

Cotati has more people now, more traffic, more stoplights, more stores and a few stores that wouldn't be described as small.

Still, as Staff Writer Paul Payne reported on Friday, the town is in no hurry to give up its funky vibe - a homey blend of country and counter-culture.

So it is that the signposts of modernity - big-box stores, coffee chains, fast-food franchises - stir political passions among Cotatians.

Over time, this may be a losing battle. Cotati has changed dramatically in the past 50 years, and there is no reason to believe it won't continue to change. Some folks appreciate the benefits that come with more generic commercial development.

And it's an old story in Sonoma County: People move here for the small-town feeling and wonder why the place is growing.

Still, people in every town understand the pride that motivates the people of Cotati.

Whether it's the plaza in Healdsburg or the new downtown in Windsor or a theater district in Petaluma, each city in its own way wants to maintain its sense of place.