Santa Rosa council sidetracks transit-oriented plan for Coddingtown area

A plan to encourage development of a transit-oriented community around a future train station got sidetracked Tuesday by Santa Rosa City Council members concerned that the 300-page plan was overreaching and lacking the support of Coddingtown mall.

The council spent four hours picking apart the long-range plan before directing staff to strip out several proposals that Coddingtown officials said would hinder the very economic development the plan sought to foster.

Kirstie Moore, development manager of mall co-owner Codding Enterprises, said plans for streets and bicycle paths across its properties would create "excessive undue economic hardship" for the mall.

The goal of the plan is to encourage more people to live around the train station just west of the mall to support ridership for the $360 million Sonoma Marin Area Transit train. It calls for tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements aimed at making it easier for people to get to the station by bicycle, foot and car.

Moore said the mall agrees with the idea of increasing housing densities in the area and encouraging economic development, but the plan as drafted would require the taking of private property and harm mall operations.

She said the mall opposes plans for the extension of Coffey Lane, the construction of three roundabouts on Range Avenue and two bicycle paths running across mall parking lots.

Councilman Scott Bartley said the city needs to take the mall's concerns to heart because the owners will be a big part of whether the plan is successful.

"A major property owner is a citizen, too," Bartley said. "I think we need to respect their concerns."

He said it is more important than ever to work with property owners to achieve the city's goals because otherwise nothing will get built.

"If we're going to spend $500,000 on something, I'd like to be able to point to a success," Bartley said.

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