Jun 27, 2019
by Will Carruthers
As Santa Rosa continues renewed efforts to develop more housing downtown, several proposed developments near the city center are moving through the city’s approval process.
City officials hope to attract denser housing developments downtown, an area roughly within a half-mile radius of public transit options including the SMART station and bus lines.
In June, two proposals for low-income developments located near downtown continued to move through the city’s approval process and a local company announced intentions to replace its asphalt plant with housing.
If completed, the developments could increase the amount of low-income housing units in the city considerably. Between 2015 and 2017, Santa Rosa issued permits for only 24 low-income housing units, about 4 percent of the number recommended by the Association of Bay Area Governments, an organization that tracks housing and other issues in the nine-county Bay Area.
Petaluma-based Phoenix Development Company has proposed a five-story, L-shaped development on a vacant lot west of downtown. The land, located at 206-214 3rd Street next to Highway 12, has recently been used as a Christmas tree lot one month per year.
On June 20, the developer’s plan was approved by the city Zoning Administrator, moving the project one step closer to final approval.
The development would include 40 units designated for low-income families making between 30 and 60 percent of the AMI and one unit for an on-site property manager.
In 2017, the median household income was $80,400. The proposed housing unit would serve households with an income between $24,120 and $48,240.
At the June 20 meeting, some neighbors voiced concerns that the development was too large for the location and would worsen traffic and parking conditions nearby.
In its proposal, the development team made use of the state and city density bonus rules, which allow developers to build higher and reduce the number of parking spaces required in certain areas without seeking additional approvals. By offering these incentives for developments downtown, the city hopes to increase the number of pedestrian, bicycle and public transportation trips residents make.
A traffic study for the proposal predicts that residents would make 223 car trips per day, with a peak of 18 trips during the heaviest afternoon commute hour. If the project caused an additional 50 trips during peak hours the city would have required additional study.
The traffic study also stated that there are 68 public parking spaces within a quarter mile of the project, although some neighbors at the meeting stated that the majority of the spaces are already usually filled.
‘Housing First’ College Avenue
Danco Communities, a housing development and management company based in Arcata, has proposed a three-story, 54-unit development for low-income and formerly homeless residents.
The development would be located at 80 College Ave, a vacant one-acre lot west of Highway 101, the former location of the popular China Light Restaurant.
The proposed project would include a community center along with 12 parking spaces for staff and visitors. The expected residents do not generally own cars, according to a planning document submitted by Danco Communities.
“The College Avenue neighborhood has public transportation, bike paths and dense urban opportunities that are essential for a Housing First project,” the developer’s document states.
On June 17, the Press Democrat reported that the BoDean Company has plans to move its gravel plant in Santa Rosa’s West End neighborhood to Windsor.
The company hopes to build a large housing development on the Santa Rosa site, 1060 Maxwell Drive, in a deal reportedly brokered by City Councilmember Chris Rogers.
Warren Hedgpeth, a local architect involved in discussions about the housing proposal, told the Press Democrat that the land could potentially house 400 people.
The property, located on Maxwell Drive, is within the city’s Downtown Station Area, a designated area where the city is trying to attract additional housing, and would benefit from the added density bonuses under city zoning codes.
Neighbors have been fighting this asphalt plant ever since the area transitioned from industrial use to residential neighborhoods. This should come as good news for this West End community and solve the conflict for Bodean as well. The asphalt plant was established decades ago and the city has grown up around it. Housing would resolve the issue for both sides.
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