In May 2017 and May 2018, the Santa Rosa City Council dedicated resources and dow. Opens a New Window. passed a host of ordinances and policies, and directed staff, in an effort to meet the growing needs for housing (see: housing initiatives). In addition, the City Council also identified its five Tier 1 Top Priorities, which are:
- Comprehensive housing strategy
- Open Government Task Force recommendations
- Downtown housing
Four of the five priorities are related to spurring housing development in the City. Identifying downtown housing as a Tier 1 priority, the city council sought to incentivize building in priority development areas (including the downtown core), authorize the negotiation of development agreements and offer city-owned properties to help support that development. Currently, the downtown core of Santa Rosa offers little residential housing in an area that sees some of the highest employment base in the entirety of Sonoma County.
Tier 1 City Council Goal
The goal for the city is to bring a mix of affordable- to market-level transit-oriented housing to support the needs of many city residents by offering a creative and aggressive mix of lowered fees, reduced permitting processing times , coupled with local, state and federal incentives to spur development.
Affordable housing is of particular interest to the City of Santa Rosa. The City is backing initiatives to spur growth in affordable housing through a mix of supporting a federal opportunity zone and a proposed renewal enterprise district, exploring a tax increment financing district and a proposed a housing bond, which will be voted on November 6.
In addition to housing, the city is looking to meet the needs of green and sustainable living. It has identified the need to make these changes to increase walkability, reduce greenhouse gases, create a better quality of life and increase foot traffic to local businesses. The plan may also be a boon to a more city-oriented growth, such as boosting transit-oriented development that will provide an increase in sales taxes and property taxes as well as reduce infrastructure costs and provide a positive economic impact.
The city also plans to utilize its own property (parking lots and old buildings) in disposition agreements, developer agreements and public-private partnerships to help provide for housing and development. Public-private partnerships may include freeing up City property for housing while relocating city hall to reduce the increasing deferred costs of the existing site.