Zones offer development potential


Will there be a rush of new development in the Valley’s Springs neighborhood stemming from Highway 12’s inclusion on a new list of state-designated “opportunity zones”?

That will depend on whether developers are lured to Sonoma by the Trump administration’s tax-friendly program.

The concept of opportunity zones was part of the Trump administration’s tax overhaul – more formally known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. It offers tax breaks to investors who fund new developments in designated low-income neighborhoods. Last Wednesday, President Trump held a press conference about the program and its ability to revitalize “distressed areas.”

“Our tax cuts have kicked off a race to invest in opportunity zones beyond anything that anybody in this room even thought,” said Trump at the press conference.

The opportunity zone criteria required a neighborhood to have at least 20 percent of its residents living at or below the poverty level, or median family income below 80 percent of the regional median income.

Based on that criteria, California officials selected nearly 900 census tracts for the new program, including three in Sonoma County.

Sonoma County’s three zones are downtown Santa Rosa, Roseland and the Highway 12 corridor in the Springs. The Springs zone runs for three miles along the west side of Highway 12 from north of Donald Street to Madrone Avenue.