In May 2017, the Santa Rosa City Council passed City Ordinance ORD-2018-012 in an effort to meet the growing needs for housing. Identifying downtown housing as a Tier 1 priority, the city council sought to incentivize building in priority development areas (including the downtown core), authorize the negotiation of development agreements and offer city-owned properties to help support that development. Currently, the downtown core of Santa Rosa offers little residential housing in an area that sees some of the highest public transportation traffic in the entirety of Sonoma County.
The goal for the city is to offer a mix of lowered fees, reduced permitting processing times and tax reductions, coupled with local, state and federal incentives to spur development. The hope is to bring a mix of affordable- to market-level housing to satisfy the needs of many city residents.
Affordable housing is of particular interest to the City of Santa Rosa. The City is backing initiatives to spur growth in affordable housing through a mix of supporting a federal opportunity zone and the renewal enterprise district and offering tax incremental financing and through a housing bond, which will be voted on in November.
In addition to housing, the city is looking to meet the needs of green and sustainable living. It has identified the need to make these changes to increase walkability, reduce greenhouse gases, create a better quality of life and increase foot traffic to local businesses. The plan may also be a boon to a more city-oriented growth, such as boosting transit-oriented development that will provide an increase in sales taxes and property taxes as well as reduce infrastructure costs and provide a positive economic impact.
The city also plans to utilize its own property (parking lots and old buildings) in depositions, developer agreements and public-private partnerships to help provide for housing and development. Public-private partnerships may include building a new city hall and offices site for the city staff and possibly include the county as well.
The City will offer only a short window of opportunity for these developments, as construction must begin break ground by August 2023 for any benefit to a developer to be seen.