Santa Rosa, CA – July 26, 2021 – The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is scheduled to vote on where to locate the new County Government Center. The Board will be choosing between staying on the existing county campus or moving downtown.
The County is considering relocating because the current sprawling complex, which was built in the 1950s, no longer serves the interests and needs of the community and no longer represents the highest and best use of the site itself. The lack of expansion options within existing buildings at the current site has forced the County to lease commercial office space at a cost of about $10 million a year, adding a significant burden to County operations while reducing the efficiency of serving County residents. The new government center will consolidate approximately 2,400 county employees in one location. The current County Government Center site also has a deferred maintenance backlog of $266 million, a cost that increases each year.
The Board directed staff in January to work with the City of Santa Rosa and community partners to evaluate possible site options in downtown Santa Rosa. The Board also designated an Ad Hoc committee composed of Supervisors Chris Coursey and David Rabbitt to work with city officials.
In addition to staying and rebuilding at its current location, the County has considered two possible sites in the downtown area for relocation. One involves a combined site including the Central Library downtown and a 1.3-acre parking lot that the City of Santa Rosa owns across the street on the corner of E Street and Third Street, site of the former White House Department Store.
More recently, the County also has explored the potential of acquiring the vacant Sears and Auto Center property located at the Santa Rosa Mall downtown. The Sears site is 7.4 acres with a total of 779 parking spaces available on-site. There are also up to 550 restricted use parking spaces potentially available for lease in the shared Santa Rosa Mall parking lot.
Staff have explored preliminary terms of a potential purchase agreement with the owners of the Sears buildings, which include a purchase price of $20,750,000. Any purchase is subject to Board approval and completion of an environmental review. If the Board were to select the Sears site, the seller would agree to demolish the existing buildings.
Based upon the direction of the Ad Hoc Committee, the County is considering an alternative model for parking, one that aligns with the City of Santa Rosa’s proposed model of providing 68 percent of employees with parking spaces. The working models for the new site also assumes that 30 percent of the new County Center employees will work remotely although these employees will still be provided small work spaces for occasional in-office work. These assumptions reduce the County’s overall building square footage and total parking need. Space needs would be reduced by 15 percent. Parking needs would be reduced from 3,140 parking stalls to 2,324.
To view the full report and analysis that the Board of Supervisors will be reviewing on Tuesday, please visit:https://sonoma-county.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=5036364&GUID=11C46654-6031-4EC2-AC8F-E47F95FF24AE