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Identifying Additional Sites for Housing

Permit Sonoma staff seeks public input on the third phase of our housing initiatives—identifying sites appropriate for higher density, affordable, or workforce housing.

See below to read the criteria for rezoning and to submit a site for consideration!

Housing Sites News

Community Rises to Housing Challenge

Published on January 4, 2019

We hear you! Thanks to everyone that responded to the County’s request for help in identifying potential sites in unincorporated areas to rezone for housing. As of January 4, 2019, we received submissions for 42 parcels to evaluate for rezoning. Of those parcels in the unincorporated area, there is a total of about 100 acres with a potential for approximately 2,000 new housing units.

Help Us Find Housing Sites

Published on December 31, 2018

As the County continues our initiative to produce more housing, we need your help in finding sites. If sites meet our criteria, we will work with the owner and community to rezone them for more density with design review to ensure quality and community compatibility.
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Over the past year, Permit Sonoma staff introduced a series of housing initiatives to reduce constraints and expand opportunities for housing development within the unincorporated County’s urban areas. 

Phase 1 changed the zoning code to reduce constraints to housing development. These changes facilitate and encourage the development of accessory dwelling units, residential units in mixed-use projects, and single-room occupancy projects. Phase 2, a further set of code changes, was approved by the Board of Supervisors October 23, 2018, and included changes to the multi-family development standards including new ways of calculating density, a new Workforce Housing Combining Zone, provisions for cottage housing developments, and protections for rental housing. 

Phase 3 will identify urban sites near jobs, services, and transit with adequate infrastructure for affordable housing, workforce housing, or higher-density housing. This effort will implement policies and programs in the 2014 Housing Element, and promote the city-centered growth policies of the General Plan. Permit Sonoma will conduct CEQA analysis for rezoning sites, and will complete the General Plan amendment and rezoning process for those sites for which it is feasible.

Zoning Designations and Criteria

High-Density Residential

This project will identify sites appropriate for re-zoning to the High Density Residential (R3) Zoning District. Criteria for re-zoning include location near goods, services, and transit, and within an Urban Services Area with adequate utilities.

Affordable Housing (AH) Combining Zone

The Sonoma County Zoning Code includes an Affordable Housing (AH) Combining Zone—a combining zone is a zoning designation that can be applied in addition to a parcel’s underlying (base) zoning. The AH combining zone designation allows 100% affordable housing projects in addition to the uses allowed by the parcel’s base zoning. The Housing Element of the Sonoma County General Plan sets forth criteria for application of the AH designation: 

  • Parcel must be located in an Urban Service Area with adequate sewer and water service.
  • Parcel must be located near transit, neighborhood-serving commercial uses, and an elementary or secondary school.
  • Parcel must be located a safe distance from major roadways as determined by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
  • Parcel must have light industrial or commercial General Plan Land Use designation.

Workforce Housing (WH) Combining Zone

The Board of Supervisors approved a new Workforce Housing (WH) Combining Zone in October (effective November 22, 2018) that allows workforce housing in addition to commercial or industrial uses allowed by a parcel’s base zoning. This will allow housing to be sited near jobs and transit, providing a variety of housing for the County’s diverse workforce, and reducing commute times and traffic. The criteria for application of the WH Combining Zone is:

  • Parcel must be located in an Urban Service Area with adequate sewer and water service.
  • Parcel has base zoning of LC, C2, MP, M3, M1, or PF.
  • Parcel would accommodate housing for on-site commercial or industrial use, or the parcel is located near a rail or transit station or an employment node (defined as three acres of commercial-zoned land and/or 10 acres of industrial-zoned land).
  • Rezoning is consistent with applicable area or specific plans.
  • Parcel is located a safe distance from incompatible land uses (i.e., industrial facilities that will contain or produce pollution hazardous to health and safety).

Submit a Site for Consideration!

Staff will be conducting an analysis of appropriate sites, but we want your input as well! If you know of a site that is in the unincorporated area, that may meet the criteria outlined above, please fill out our survey and tell us about it.

Survey (English)

Encuesta (español)

Contact Information

Permit Sonoma
2550 Ventura Avenue
Hearing Room
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.465074, -122.723705

Housing for All Strategy

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multi-unit housing

The County's strategic priority to ensure housing for all income levels.

Sonoma County Community Development Commission

The Community Development Commission (CDC) is dedicated to promoting decent and affordable housing, revitalizing communities, and supporting public services.

Community Development Commission

CDC Affordable Housing Information

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