Like other west coast communities, Sonoma County is facing a worsening housing crisis that is impacting not just those with modest means, but businesses, the health care sector, educational institutions, the criminal justice system, environmental interests, and the overall quality of life within the County. The Board of Supervisors has recognized this growing problem, and in just the last five years the County has increased its investment of local dollars which helped fund some 600 new affordable housing units, issued building permits for 900 housing units, and lowered the barriers and costs of the building of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs or “Granny Units”) and Junior Units.
Notwithstanding these important wins, the severe shortage of affordable homes persists, as does the prevalence of homelessness. The time is now for the County to further sharpen its focus, to bring new players into the development and funding conversations, and to set a bold policy agenda. And while the County will never have enough money to solve the problem on its own, it does play a critical role in articulating the needs, marshalling resources, and driving the agenda.
To address this priority, the County will work to increase the pace of housing development at all income levels. Working in collaboration with cities, Sonoma County will use all available tools – regulations, fee structures, flexible capital funding, strategic needs assessments and the general plan update – to drive production of more housing units serving a continuum of needs, from very low income units for homeless and at-risk populations, to workforce.
The effort will also leverage key County assets, including owned property and flexible local funding to drive this agenda. New development will be focused in urban centers.
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