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Amanda Bornstein

A SMART neighborhood in Santa Rosa

What will the neighborhood around Coddingtown Mall look like in 20 years?

That’s the question that Santa Rosa planners and residents are wrestling with right now. Will the coming Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit station bring with it acres of parking lots? Or will bike lanes connect from the train station to the mall to Santa Rosa Junior College across the freeway?

NSRSAP excerpt
Click the image to see the map of the draft plan.

These questions will largely be answered in the North Santa Rosa Station Area Plan — the plan for the neighborhood around the mall and the station — at which we got a first glimpse at a community workshop in November. We’re pretty keen on most of what we heard from the Santa Rosa Planning Department and Pacific Municipal Consultants, but there’s always a little room for improvement. Here’s our take:

The draft plan

For starters, Greenbelt Alliance is pleased that many of policies from our policy platform, SMART Santa Rosa (PDF), are included in this preferred draft alternative plan. Kudos to Santa Rosa’s receptive planning staff.

In addition to introducing new zoning options, parking policies, and increased numbers of homes and jobs, the City also shared public feedback from previous meetings.  Based on comments, there is support for complete streets (meaning streets designed for bikes, pedestrians and cars), mixed-use development near the station, and plenty of homes within walking distance from the station.

By the numbers

The following chart summarizes how the draft plan compares to the previous drafts Alternative A and Alternative B for homes and jobs.

Alternative A Alternative B Draft Preferred Alternative Plan
Jobs 2,871 4,606 5,923
Homes (# of units) 1,869 2,802 2,941

The draft plan reduces parking requirements for all types of uses in the neighborhood. For example, the parking requirement for detached residential in the City of Santa Rosa is currently 4 spaces per home whereas it is 2 spaces per home in the draft plan.  Attached residential uses, including apartment buildings, require 1.5 spaces per home. Non-residential uses, including restaurants, shops, and office spaces currently require 4 to 13 spaces per 1,000 square feet in the City. In comparison, the draft plan requires 2.5 spaces per 1,000 square feet, which means there will be a lot more space for shops and offices in the SMART neighborhood, and a lot less space for parked cars.

The draft plan calls for mixed-use residential zoning close to the station, and near to the Coddingtown Mall. As a result, services will be within walking distance of the homes near the station, and commuters will be able to pick up coffee, a newspaper, or other items on their way to and from the train.

With the introduction of new complete streets, roundabouts, and off-street bicycle and pedestrian pathways in the draft plan, the neighborhood will become more of  pedestrian- and bike-friendly. In particular, one of the most important features is the proposed 101 Connector Bridge that will allow a safe way for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the freeway from the station to the Santa Rosa Junior College.

Overall, Greenbelt Alliance and our coalition partners are thrilled to see Santa Rosa taking our platform suggestions seriously. We think that once the SMART trains start rolling, residents will be clamoring to relocate to this great new walkable neighborhood.

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