The future of housing in Santa Rosa

UPDATE 3/20/14: The draft Housing Element is now available on the city’s website.

The City of Santa Rosa is one of many communities currently in the process of updating their Housing Element—an important part of the city’s General Plan that directs how housing will be developed over the next eight years. Greenbelt Alliance is focused on ensuring the Housing Element accommodates a variety of housing types and household income levels. We support policies that promote the development of housing and services near transit that help to create thriving neighborhoods.

Over the years, Santa Rosa has taken several positive steps toward this vision. In 2010, voters extended the city’s urban growth boundary through 2035, protecting open space for years to come and directing growth within existing cities and towns. In 2012, the city’s General Plan was amended to include a mix of housing and commercial uses around the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) Station.

For its Housing Element update, the City just held its third community workshop on January 29. Attendees learned about the status of housing in Santa Rosa in relation to the current population and the city’s existing housing policies. This was followed by a lively discussion about who needs housing, what policies are and aren’t working, and the future of housing in Santa Rosa.

At the workshop, I spoke with Chaney Delaire, Project Manager at Burbank Housing. She talked about the difficulty of building affordable homes due to lending challenges, decreased financial assistance, and development requirements. On top of that, it’s difficult to connect low-income homebuyers to available units.

We want to make it easier for developers like Chaney to build needed housing in Santa Rosa. Our recent report, Fixing the Foundation: Local Solutions for Infill Housing identifies the top 10 barriers to infill housing development across 12 key cities in the Bay Area, including Santa Rosa, and provides local solutions for overcoming these barriers. Read the report here.

Santa Rosa’s draft Housing Element will be available for public comment in March, so stay tuned. If you’d like to get involved, contact me at lrussellhurd@greenbelt.org.

Lana Russell-Hurd
Regional Representative

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