We know that housing is on many people’s minds, and it will be a major issue for 2022.
To start off with a piece of good news, our office is thrilled that the College Creek Apartments groundbreaking took place March 17. This project in the 5th District is located in Santa Rosa, at a great, walkable location. It is 100% affordable and will have 164 units at a broad range of sizes and affordability levels. Thanks to the Community Development Commission and the contractor, USA Properties, for getting this long awaited project to this point in time. For more information on the project, look here: https://srcity.org/3457/College-Creek-Apartments.
The challenge of finding housing also came up during the recent Planning Commission hearing on vacation rentals, and Belén Lopez-Grady, our D5 representative, listened to community members who called in and stood up for requiring that Permit Sonoma do additional outreach to tenants who may be directly or indirectly impacted by the policies proposed. This means that the item will come back to the Planning Commission before the land use issues are advanced to the Board of Supervisors for consideration.
Materials related to that hearing on March 17, 2022 can be found here:
Permit Sonoma should be posting the recording in the near future on its main calendar page:
Future items in front of the Board of Supervisors include a planned workshop item at the April 5 board meeting on 2022 California Model Building Code which will include potential local amendments addressing alternative tiny homes. This is an issue that community members in the 5th district have taken a lead in raising. There must be a middle ground where we recognize that having people in safe but noncompliant housing is better than putting them at risk of homelessness. Our office has requested that Permit Sonoma offer viable solutions for the Board to consider.
On April 19, the board meeting will include an item kicking off the 2030 General Plan update process, which will focus on scoping. The Housing Element is a required component of the General Plan that will help guide housing production into the future.
We are also impressed with the amount of research out there on housing and equity. There are some impressive reports out there.
Generation Housing (with financial support from the 5th District’s Community Investment Fund) produced an outstanding report on the State of Housing in Sonoma County this January. https://generationhousing.org/state-of-housing-2022/
The County updated its Portrait of Sonoma County which delved deeply into inequality concerns in the county. A striking statistic is that 52% of Sonoma County renters spend 30% or more of income on rent, and that number is 59% for Latino renters and 68% for Black renters. This report has incredible detail and shows the work we need to keep doing in Sonoma County.
This information has had the silver lining of continuing to push the conversation forward. The Sonoma County NAACP recently hosted a discussion on the state of Black housing, and our office and County staff have had conversations with the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative about the need for local investment to close the housing gap.
ARPA money for your organization?
For those organizations out there who are ready to try to help tackle the County’s equity challenges, allow us to remind you that American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money that the BOS allocated for “Community Investments in Negative Economic Impacts on Individuals and Households and Disparities in Public Health Outcomes” is currently out for bid in Sonoma County. The Notice of Funding Availability runs through April 7.
Furthermore, an additional $5 million in ARPA funding has been made available for Emergency Financial Assistance.
For details on ARPA, please look here: