Close enough to commute, complete enough to never leave
Situated halfway between Petaluma to the south and Santa Rosa to the north, modern Rohnert Park and its historic next door neighbor Cotati are comfortably located right in the heart of activity in Sonoma County. The two are close enough to touch yet each retains its distinct personality.
Rohnert Park was developed in the 1950s on land that once was the largest seed farm in the west, becoming one of the first planned communities in the United States. The thoughtful consideration that went into the process is evident–each of its “sections” features homes on curving streets and cul-de-sacs centered around a park and school.
Each of the neighborhoods is connected by walking and biking paths to the lushly landscaped boulevards that provide thoroughfares throughout the city.
For those who could do without the yard work, condominiums offer affordable living with recreational amenities.
In the newer M Section, near one of the city’s two golf courses, buyers find larger homes with up to five bedrooms, upgraded kitchens and baths, and lots of extras.
As the planning suggests, recreation and family living was and continues to be a top priority in Rohnert Park. Rohnert Park is among a very few cities that offer a loan program for first-time home buyers, and it is further distinguished by its multitude of recreational facilities, with 16 public parks and five neighborhood pools.
Cotati also is distinguished by its planning–the hexagonal design of the city’s center was created in 1895 and is considered so unique it was granted State Historical Landmark status.
Cotati offers beautifully planned and landscaped condominium mini-communities and newer homes on quiet streets. But buyers also find unique properties perfect for those seeking a rural existence close enough to commute to San Francisco.
The downtown area includes an eclectic mix of restaurants and shops in historic buildings and popular La Plaza Park in the heart of the hexagon, which is the site of a host of civic events and music festivals throughout the year.
Sonoma State University, now rated fourth of top regional universities in the west, currently offers scores of art and theater presentations open to the public, but also soon will include the Green Music Center and Concert Hall. SSU also is home to a cutting-edge information center that serves as a hi-tech model library for others across the nation.
Cotati/Rohnert Park Vital Statistics
Year settled: Cotati – 6,800, Rohnert Park – 40,050
Year incorporated: Cotati – 1963, Rohnert Park – 1957
Area (square miles): Cotati – 1.8, Rohnert Park – 6.8
Population:: Cotati – 6,471, Rohnert Park – 42,236
Major Industries: Education, retail
? Santa Rosa Certified Farmers Market – 8:30 a.m. to noon Wednesdays and Saturdays, year-round, rain or shine, at Veterans Memorial Building east parking lot, 1351 Maple St. Food stamps accepted. 522-8629.
? Santa Rosa Downtown Market – 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, May 31 through Sept. 6, B Street in front of Santa Rosa Plaza, and Fourth Street between B and D streets. Information: 524-2123.
? Cotati Thursdays, July 11 – Oct. 24, 5 – 8:30 p.m.(except 7/4 & 8/22) Location: La Plaza Park
Cotati/Rohnert Park History
After World War II, Santa Rosa mushroomed, growing from less than 13,000 people in 1942, when Alfred Hitchcock filmed “Shadow of a Doubt” in the city, to a population of 127,000 today.
During the early boom years, a new city took shape to the south of Santa Rosa. The first homes went up in 1957 on Waldo Rohnert’s former seed farm, and in August 1963, Rohnert Park became the county’s seventh city with a population of less than 4,000 residents.
The town never sprouted a downtown but did go on to add a series of parks and swimming pools, a sports stadium, a university, a wine and visitors center, a community center, and more recently the acclaimed Dorothy Spreckels Performing Arts Center.
The rise of Rohnert Park caused the residents of nearby Cotati to seek incorporation, too, mostly to make sure they weren’t swallowed up by their northern neighbor. Cotati, with a population of 1,400, became the county’s eighth city in 1963.
The farming community, once home to the Coast Miwok Indians, has a hexagonal plaza, established by New England doctor Thomas Stokes Page. He named the six streets surrounding the plaza for his six sons.
A motorist traveling north sees near-continuous development from Cotati to the Burbank Center for the Arts in Larkfield, north of Santa Rosa.
The three communities (Rohnert Park, Cotati, and Santa Rosa) feature many offerings for county residents. They contain the region’s two major shopping centers, the bulk of the retail and office space, government offices and health care centers. There are two performing arts centers and two symphonies. The cities have the majority of churches and synagogues, restaurants and nightclubs, plus the county’s two public institutions of higher learning, Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.