Free Compliments of our Advertisers
Sonoma County Gazette
Community Members
Community members give their input on the 2007 Downtown Station Area Specific Plan. Source: Municipal Transportation Commission

Santa Rosa City Council to Consider Downtown Height Incentive Plan

Sep 10, 2018
by Will Carruthers


This weekend, Santa Rosa celebrated its 150th birthday. But, despite its age, Sonoma County’s largest city has never really grown up.

At a September 10 meeting of the City Council’s Economic Development Subcommittee, city staff presented the conclusions of a forthcoming report on why the city lacks tall residential buildings downtown and unveiled a plan to encourage developers to build them.

The report, based on suggestions from the Council of Infill Developers, will suggest legislative tactics to encourage developers to build market rate and affordable housing projects on vacant and underutilized land within the city, a process known as infill development.

According to the report, the reasons for developers’ reluctance include:

  • Market demand for tall buildings with less parking remains “unproven,” making developers wary of investing in Santa Rosa.
  • A perception from developers that the city's staff and politicians lack enthusiasm for taller buildings.
  • Prohibitively high permitting fees discourage developers from building higher.

Proposed solutions include:

  • Streamlining state environmental protections and lowering the cost of permits on taller residential buildings.
  • Completing a public-private project as a proof of concept.

Staff also unveiled the Downtown High-Density Residential Incentive Program, a proposed system of incentives intended to encourage taller housing developments in the city center.

Under the plan, developers would pay less on building permits per unit for each additional floor of the building. Additional incentives would be offered for affordable housing units.

Downtown Station Area Map

Coming Together

Walter Kieser, a consultant who worked on the rollout of the city’s Housing Action Plan, said he was encouraged by the staff’s report that the city is finally taking the challenge seriously.

A few years ago, Kieser sensed an “unwillingness to take action” to incentivize taller buildings.

This time around, there seems to be more widespread political support for building taller residential buildings downtown.

“We’re encouraging density, height, mix of affordability, in-sites, close to transit, the kind of development, for the most part, our community supports. We’ve had support on this, not just from the business and development communities, but from some of the environmental community, from the labor folks. Many of the factions agree we need more residential development downtown,” Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey told the North Bay Business Journal in May.

Santa Rosa staff will present the permit incentive plan at the City Council’s September 25 meeting.

The report is the latest effort this year to study and promote more density downtown.

In May, Santa Rosa received an $800,000 grant from the Municipal Transportation Commission to update the 2007 Downtown Station Area Specific Plan.

On August 30, Assemblymember Jim Wood dropped legislation to speed development by relaxing environmental rules for downtown developments after the State Senate Appropriations Committee suggested major changes.




Login to Make a Comment

Please support our sponsors:

City Ventures New Homes in Santa Rosa

CLICK on this ad to LEARN about NEW HOMES in TWO Communities in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County

Fine Tree Care - Sonoma County Tree Services

Visit Fine Tree Care WEBSITE for a List of our SERVICES - Testimonials and to request a FREE Estimate

LOCAL GUIDE to Cannabis Dispensaries and Delivery Services, Sonoma County & Beyond.

LOCAL GUIDE to Cannabis Dispensaries and Delivery Services, Sonoma County & Beyond.All dispensaries have verified their information.

Flip the pages of the 2019 Sonoma County gardeners Resource GUide - LIVE Links to local businessses

Your GUIDE to support locally-owned garden businesses and natural landscaping practices.

2019 Small Shops of Sonoma County

Your GUIDE to Locally-owned businesses to support Sonoma County's economy this Holiday Season

Sonoma County Bicycle Shops and Groups

Sonoma County Bike Shops and Groups. Find LOCALLY-OWNED Bicycle Shops for NEW, Used and Rental Bicycles as well as REPAIR. Look for a bike-riding group that suits your needs and style.

Locally-Owned Jewelry Businesses in Sonoma County

Find Goldsmiths and Jewelers who create custom designs, offer jewelry repair, estate appraisals, and gems.

Bookstores of Sonoma County - LOCAL GUIDE

Find a LOCALLY-OWNED Bookstore near you - CLICK HERE

Flower Shops and Florists of Sonoma County

Please support locally-owned businesses and tell them the Gazette sent you - THANK YOU!