Master Plan for the Reunified Courthouse Square

The Master Plan is based on basic design guidelines provided by the Council, feedback from a highly engaged community survey, input from two well attended community meetings, and other comments provided to the City. 
The Reunified Courthouse Square will feature:

• a well-lit space
• sustainable landscaping 
• an open and flexible design
• bicycle parking 
• public WiFi 
• ability to close off side streets for events 
• public art 
• a family-friendly environment
• accessible parking
• preservation of historical elements
Master Plan Diagram button

An Outdoor Living Space in the Heart of Santa Rosa

Construction of the Reunification of Courthouse Square commenced on Monday, May 23, 2016. This important community project will create a central gathering place where residents and visitors can enjoy a wide variety of community events such as farmers' markets, concerts and outdoor art exhibits. The original side streets will be reinstalled featuring wide sidewalks suitable for outdoor dining.

A well designed Square will encourage Santa Rosans to dine and recreate locally, rather than drive to neighboring cities such as Healdsburg, Sonoma or Windsor to enjoy a plaza type setting. By eliminating the section of Mendocino Avenue that currently bisects the Square, the project will also discourage people from driving through Downtown and create a space that people can easily access via walking, biking, transit or car. Additionally, the Reunified Square will be the back yard, front yard, and outdoor patio for families who choose to live Downtown near transit facilities and will allow everyone who comes Downtown to enjoy nature in an urban environment, instead of the busy street that greets them now.

Economic Benefits

By investing in our Downtown, we hope to encourage residents and visitors to shop, dine, and recreate locally. Increased patronage to the Downtown area will help grow our local economy and provide much needed sales tax revenue for community programs throughout Santa Rosa. The entire community will benefit from this healthy boost to the local economy.

Trees in Courthouse Square

All of the trees in Courthouse Square, including those that were recently removed, were planted in the late 60s and 70s. They are not old-growth trees. In fact, the coastal redwood trees in the Square are not native to the Santa Rosa Plain, and are not an ideal tree for an urban park environment. The redwood trees in the Square are skirted by concrete planters that prevented them from extending their roots and truly thriving. Additionally, redwood trees require a great deal of water, as they are best suited to an environment closer to the coast and near a river or creek. The new Square will be replanted with approximately 100 new shade and flowering trees that will provide shade in the summer and dappled sunshine in the winter. An environmental impact report completed in advance of this project contains more information about the redwood trees in the Square.

Parking in the New Square

Reunifying Courthouse Square is about building an urban park and a gathering space in the heart of Santa Rosa. We are not building a parking lot. The project calls for 23 parking spaces, including one accessible space on the West side street, and 22 parking spaces, including one accessible space on the East side street. This small number of parking spaces is intended to provide accessible parking to facilitate access to the Square and the surrounding businesses and restaurants on these streets.

East & West Side Streets

The side streets that are being built as part of the Reunification of the Square are not new streets. In fact, they were streets that surrounded the original Courthouse Square. In the late 60s, when the Square was divided into two sections by Mendocino Avenue, these two side streets were sealed off and removed.

Project Budget & Funding Sources

A Financing Plan will be presented for City Council approval.

Estimated Complete Project Costs

Aspect of Project
Advanced Tree Work
Construction Contingency (10%)
Construction Management and Inspection (10%)
Public Art (future)
Total Cost

Project Funding

Funding Source
Gas Tax Fund $800,000
General Fund
Parking District Fund
Wastewater Fund
Water Fund