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Cotati roundabouts likely on fall ballot

The Cotati City Council indicated Wednesday it will place a voter-driven initiative that would prohibit roundabouts on the Nov. 6 ballot, after first being told its passage would disrupt key city policies and public works projects, as well as potentially reduce safety on its streets.

Such impacts were suggested in a report the council asked for last month and that effectively served as a pre-emptive election argument against an ordinance it clearly opposes.

"The initiative is inconsistent with everything we say in our general plan," Mayor Susan Harvey said.

The initiative, which the council will likely place on the ballot at its Aug. 8 meeting, would implement an ordinance that would ban roundabouts or similar "traffic features" from ever being built within the city's limits.

The council has the option of adopting it as an ordinance or putting it to voters. Harvey noted that the ability for citizens to force a vote on something is a welcome feature of democracy — then added that "next it could be no one is allowed in the parks."

Angry murmurs greeted that statement, issuing from a large crowd that had threaded the meeting with accusations that the council is in league with a United Nations-led effort to subvert the U.S. Constitution and, in particular, private property rights.

Those speakers included roundabout foes who said that opposition to the initiative on the part of three council members up for re-election this year, including Harvey, will play out against them at the polls.

"I think it's going to be very much a flashpoint for voters," Kathryn Wickstrom said.

Though she lives outside the city and cannot vote on city issues, Wickstrom has been a vocal opponent of the city's plan to install two roundabouts on Old Redwood Highway as part of a $3.5 million redesign of its downtown.

The initiative petition grew out of opposition to that plan, which the council approved in December after nearly a year of often-heated public discussion.


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