Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Santa Rosa’s effort to entice more developers into downtown projects appears to be paying off, but plans for a new apartment building north of Old Courthouse Square may soon test whether new incentives can turn pretty pictures into needed housing.
Zach Berkowitz, the owner of a commercial building at 404 Mendocino Ave., is proposing to build a six-story, 135-unit apartment complex in two buildings on his and neighboring properties.
If approved by the city, the project could be ready for occupancy in 2020, and would provide the kind of affordable, infill housing the city and downtown business community desperately needs, Berkowitz said.
“We were talking about it before the fires, but when the fires happened it was just one more reason to generate housing downtown,” he said.
The October fires destroyed more than 3,000 homes in Santa Rosa. The city has since tried to streamline the rebuilding process and encourage developers to construct apartments downtown and near transportation hubs such as the SMART stations.
Berkowitz’s project would be the first to benefit from the faster permit process the city instituted after the fires, including limits on the role of the Design Review Board. The proposal gets its first public hearing before that board Thursday.
For the project to become a reality, however, the city is going to need to do more to incentivize downtown housing, a conversation that Berkowitz said is encouraging but far from complete.
Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8482715-181/with-new-downtown-project-santa
Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Santa Rosa City Council Tuesday narrowed the scope of its latest effort to streamline its permitting process in areas where it has prioritized housing.
The move was a reversal of a council vote earlier this month to cut the red tape for housing projects throughout the city, and was cast as a sign of the city’s renewed commitment to downtown development.
The council faced pressure to limit the streamlining effort to only those areas of the city known as “priority development areas,” which include Roseland and areas near transit, including downtown.
Groups such as the Greenbelt Alliance had argued that the city should do everything it can to incentivize housing closer to the infrastructure best able to handle it, such as Highway 101 and the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit line.
Mayor Chris Coursey, who voted for the more expansive version earlier this month, praised narrowing it Tuesday.
He said the change would help preserve a rare alliance between environmental and business concerns who agree on the importance of focusing development near downtown.
Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8349877-181/santa-rosa-narrows-permit-streamlining
Amy Appleton and Steve Birdlebough, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
High quality factory-built housing has been popular in Japan since the 1960s and has been widely used to expedite housing construction in Europe for over a decade. Unfortunately, too many of us here think of a run-down trailer park when someone mentions modular housing.
In the light of our ongoing housing shortage, worsened by the wildfires, new approaches such as assembly line construction are needed to speed the delivery of enough places for people to live here.
Factories can complete four to eight living units per day, whereas the on-site construction of a home takes close to a year.
Many fire victims now in hotels or Federam Emergency Management Agency trailers must find affordable housing elsewhere by April of 2019 — likely an impossible task for most. Factory-built living units may be the key to make timely housing available for these people.
Many fire victims have been taken in by family or friends. But life in a crowded home can be wearing. An extra factory-built room or granny unit to accommodate them could save relationships.
Also, we need to bring back the important members of our workforce who are now commuting from distant places. And how will we accommodate the construction workers needed to rebuild? More housing and shared housing are what thousands of people need.
Santa Rosa’s commendable goal is to enable speedy replacement of the 3,000 homes in the city that burned,and construction of more dwellings to restore the housing market. But with fewer than 100 building permits issued since the fires, little rebuilding is likely to finish by April 2019. Many more housing options are needed right away.
Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/opinion/8171380-181/close-to-home-what-santa
Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Finley Community Center Auditorium, 2060 W. College Ave, Santa Rosa
How much additional housing can — or should — your Santa Rosa neighborhood be asked to absorb?
The city is seeking feedback from the public Monday on its plan to dramatically increase housing densities throughout the city, especially downtown and near its two train stations.
The plan calls for increasing incentives known as density bonuses for developers that could allow up to 100 percent more housing units on a particular property than regular zoning would allow.
“This is an important tool in our tool chest to address the housing crisis,” said David Guhin, director of planning and economic development. “It’s not going to solve all of the issues, but it’s an important one.”
Currently, developers who build affordable units in their projects can be granted the right to build up to 35 percent more units than normal.
Read more at: Santa Rosa may boost housing densities in exchange for affordable units | The Press Democrat –
J.D. Morris, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A long-planned Roseland housing community designed with affordable prices in mind is moving forward in a big way, with construction poised to ramp up over the next month or so and the first crop of residents possibly moving in early next year.
At the Paseo Vista subdivision on Dutton Avenue in southwest Santa Rosa, houses in the first phase will start at $390,000 — a far cry below Sonoma County’s latest median home price of $644,000. The project keeps prices low through dense development and by having key sections of the homes built at a factory in Riverside before being shipped north for assembly in place by construction crews.
The 12.2-acre site has for about two years hosted three model homes advertising the property’s future potential. As final subdivision maps are recorded next week — they were previously approved by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in August — the developers expect houses to arrive in mid-October, putting the community on track to welcome its first residents sometime after the first of the year.
The project is planned to include 122 single-family townhouses for sale and 15 triplexes, each of which will include a studio, a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom apartment for rent, the developers said. Among the 45 rental apartments, 32 units will be reserved for low income and very low income households, according to county officials.
Read more at: Santa Rosa developers moving forward on Roseland subdivision where homes start at $390,000 | The Press Democrat –
Angela Hart, SACRAMENTO BEE
Developers, housing advocates and some state lawmakers say it makes sense to build higher-density housing in cities, to accommodate more people, restrict suburban sprawl and preserve sensitive environmental areas. But community opposition often kills large-scale projects and leads to less dense housing.
California’s high housing costs are driving poor and middle income people out of their housing like never before. While some are fleeing coastal areas for cheaper living inland, others are leaving the state altogether.
Homelessness is on the rise. California is home to 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 22 percent of its homeless people. Cities that have seen dramatic rent increases, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, attribute their spikes in homelessness directly to a state housing shortage that has led to an unprecedented affordability crisis.
Read more at: California housing crisis has roots in slow pace of building | The Sacramento Bee
Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The developer of a large apartment complex in downtown Santa Rosa is hoping for permission to pack even more apartments into the project.
Rick Derringer won approval in May to build 185 apartments on a large industrial property along the railroad tracks in the city’s West End neighborhood.
His four-story DeTurk Winery Village project was already one of the largest apartment projects planned for the downtown area. Now he’s hoping to add more units into the project, boosting the number of proposed apartments by 30 percent to 240.
Derringer is holding a neighborhood meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the DeTurk Round Barn to discuss his proposed changes.
“The city wants density and affordability, and this project provides more density and affordability,” Derringer said.
The project has undergone several iterations in the more than a decade since Derringer acquired the property. The effort has been complicated — and controversial — in part because it involves reuse of a historic building.
Read more at: Developer seeks to add units to downtown Santa Rosa apartment project | The Press Democrat
Richard Scheinin, BAY AREA NEWS GROUP
Brian Hanlon used to work for environmental agencies and regards himself as a political progressive. Then several years ago, he began to feel the crunch of the Bay Area housing crisis. Why was everything so insanely expensive? And what was with all these zoning laws that were preventing new houses from being built?
Hanlon switched careers and became a full-time housing advocate, one who says, “Yes In My Backyard,” to affordable housing as well as to luxury housing, condos and mixed-use projects near transit hubs. That motto is now the rallying cry for the region’s growing YIMBY movement, of which he is a leader. YIMBYs say the region must get its head out of the sand and expand its meager housing supply. How else will it ever reduce the competition for homes that keeps driving prices up – and pricing so many people out of their own communities?
“I’m someone who supports whichever housing policies are going to benefit people who need housing the most,” says Hanlon, who concedes that being a YIMBY can make for unpredictable bedfellows – for instance supporting developers while opposing aging and otherwise left-leaning NIMBY homeowners who block any new housing in their neighborhoods.He is policy director of the San Francisco YIMBY Party and co-executive director of the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA), which has targeted local governments that block residential development. And, oh, yes – he and his girlfriend pay $2,000 a month for a “tiny” one-bedroom apartment in an old building in downtown Oakland.
This interview (keep reading) was edited for clarity and length.
Read more at: Bay Area housing crisis won’t end without a big buildout