Will Schmitt, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
New data shows Santa Rosa received more applications to build “granny units” last year than it had in the entire preceding decade, evidence that the city’s efforts to spur housing just about any way it can is starting to yield results.
Property owners last year applied for permits to add 118 secondary homes, small living spaces adjacent to traditional single-family residences, according to new city data. The number of applications was well above the previous record of 33 in 2017 and exceeds the 85 applications for secondary homes from 2008 to 2017.
Vice Mayor Chris Rogers recently touted the record application figure on Twitter and emphasized the “symbiotic relationship” between a homeowner with a secondary unit and the renter living on their property.
“It creates, hopefully, an affordable housing unit while also helping somebody who may be struggling to live here as well,” Rogers said in an interview.
Thirty nine applications for secondary homes in 2018 were submitted in areas leveled by the October 2017 fires, which destroyed about 5 percent of Santa Rosa’s housing stock. Rogers noted that efforts to make it easier and less expensive to build secondary homes were not the sole change Santa Rosa made to address its housing shortage but was part of “a whole array of housing reforms we needed to make to give people places to live.”
The number of units jumped after the City Council, acting in the wake of the 2017 fires, approved a set of changes to make it easier for homeowners to build additional small housing units on their property in conjunction with state deregulation efforts.