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Healdsburg by the Healdsburg Coalition

Join the Healdsburg Coalition

Nov 22, 2017

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Beginning this month the Healdsburg Coalition takes a turn writing the monthly community column. Thanks to those who came before us for representing Healdsburg well and to Vesta for this opportunity to highlight monthly issues especially pertinent to our local community.

The Healdsburg Coalition is an alliance of local organizations and individuals. Together we work to build an equitable and resilient community; as well as a socially and economically vibrant one.We welcome all groups and individuals who share an interest in enriching and strengthening the weave of Healdsburg’s social fabric, so to speak. We support civil dialogue so an informed and engaged citizenry can influence public policy that benefits the entire community. Our aspirations include a collaborative decision-making process between community and local government. 

Two issues Stand Out this Month:An Urgency Ordinance Responding to a Critical Need for Housing; and the Community SDAT Application

The Urgency Ordinance relaxes code restrictions to provide additional housing in the City. This two-year-long amendment to our Land Use Code, encourages local support in meeting the housing crisis compounded by countywide loss of housing to recent wild fires. Both housing options relating to habitable vehicles and Accessory Dwelling Units have been amended.

Wheeled vehicles: Temporary use of camper trailers, motorhomes, tiny homes on wheels... may be occupied on residential driveways and industrial/commercial/institutional parking lots. Criteria in the ordinance must be met.

ADUs Size Limits Expanded and ‘Garage Conversions’ Allowed

• ADUs size limits are increased to 850 square foot for residential lots 6,000 square feet or larger.

• Converting an existing garage to an ADU without providing additional covered parking is now allowed. Building Code related requirements must be met. This will be allowed beyond the 2-year ordinance duration.

To Learn More about the Urgency Ordinance: Search Healdsburg Ordinance No. 1169 or contact the Healdsburg Planning Department (707)431-3348

From R/UDAT to SDAT: A Sustainable Community Vision 

Then: In 1982, seeking direction for Healdsburg’s economic future the community applied for R/UDAT’s assistance and was accepted. The “R/UDAT,” Rural Urban Design Assistance Team, was sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) who put together expert teams of volunteers—including planners, economists, urban designers, landscape and building architects—specific to each unique community project.

The team came, listened and worked with local citizens, community stakeholders and decision-makers in an intense 3-day, whole community, planning process resulting in the highly successful “blueprint” that lead to developing our world class wine tourism destination. 

The summary report is a fascinating 32-page document. Search online for “Healdsburg R/UDAT.” The cautions are also instructive.

Now: Today, 35 years post R/UDAT, citizens and council members ask, “Is it time to update our vision? What’s our next step in honoring our success while ensuring a resilient, sustainable and affordable town in the future?” 

Last May, 120 citizens including local government representatives attended the Sustainable Tourism Forum hosted by the Healdsburg Coalition to discuss those challenges in an open process. This was an example of the community mobilizing itself toward making collaborative decisions. Participants who were familiar with the 1982 AIA report asked, “could we ask the R/UDAT to return with their impartial team of experts and no skin in the game, to help us tackle today’s complex economic and environmental challenges?”

It turns out that R/UDAT has morphed into SDAT (Sustainable Design Assessment Team), offering a crucial sustainability component. From the AIA website,“The SDAT program helps communities develop a vision for a sustainable future and a realistic, attainable roadmap to get there.” 

If you search for “AIA SDAT” you’ll find descriptions and samples of many community projects, including those in Sebastopol, Windsor and Santa Rosa

Key to SDAT success: “All strategies are developed in collaboration with your community. Our teams listen to diverse voices and respond to your specific strengths and challenges.”  If the AIA selects Healdsburg in 2018, who knows but Healdsburg may become a “demonstration” town for Sonoma County on how to grow forward in a regenerative, and therefore, sustainable manner.

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