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Office of Recovery and Resiliency

Housing and Economy

More than 5,000 housing units were lost to the wildfires, compounding the housing crisis that existed before the fires in October 2017. To achieve a vision of a housing market that is in balance, climate smart, and affordable, and equitable and that encourages diversity, the County is embracing a new regional approach to produce 30,000 new housing units by 2023.
Steps taken include:

  • Renewal Enterprise District (RED)
    • RED is a partnership between the County and City of Santa Rosa to provide financing and regulatory certainty for housing projects and supportive infrastructure within targeted development areas of Sonoma County. Both the Board of Supervisors and the City Council authorized moving forward with development of a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to establish the RED.
    • RED seeks to regionalize housing production, pool and leverage financing and funding, share risks and benefits of development in new ways, streamline environmental review while providing confidence in good projects, and put equity, affordability and climate solutions in the center of our local economic strategies. RED will build on existing regional planning efforts, and focus its regulatory and financial incentives on developments within locally designated employment investment and priority development areas.
  • Rebuilding permits
    • County has issued 653 building permits for homes as of November 5; 229 permits are in process; 19 homes have been finished. For latest numbers, go to
    • City of Santa Rosa has issued 1,046 building permits for homes as of November 5; 258 permits are in process; 43 homes have been finished. For latest numbers, go to
    • The County opened a Resiliency Permit Center next to Permit Sonoma that is devoted to helping those who are rebuilding from the fires get building permits as quickly as possible. The center handled 6,000-plus calls and had 6,000-plus visitors in the first three quarters of 2018.
  • Action by Supervisors
    On May 7, 2018, the Board of Supervisors approved the following Phase I zoning code changes intended to reduce constraints to developing housing:
    • Increased the maximum size of accessory dwelling units (second units) to 1,200 square feet.
    • Increased the allowable residential floor area in mixed-use projects from 50 percent to 80 percent.
    • Delayed collection of fees until near occupancy.
    • Allowed small single room occupancy (SRO) projects as a permitted use and removed the existing 30-room limit for larger SRO projects.
    • Allowed transitional and supportive housing in all zoning districts that allow single-family dwellings.

    On October 23, 2018, the Board of Supervisors approved the following Phase II zoning code changes intended to reduce constraints to developing housing:

    • Established a new housing type, Cottage Housing Developments, in urban service areas zoned for low- and medium-density residential uses (R1 and R2).
    • Simplify development standards for multi-family housing projects, including allowing the use of a new density unit equivalent standard to encourage development of smaller units.
    • Established a new Workforce Housing Combining District to allow higher density housing near jobs and transit.
    • Codified the existing policy regarding conversion of existing apartments to condominiums.
    • Provided better protections for mobile home owners and renters within mobile home parks. The amendments specify that the ordinance applies when a park owner converts the park from a rental park to an ownership park.

Other steps

  • Mapped 4,952 fire damaged properties, validated parcel data to expedite the Right of Entry process for debris removal, and collected field data to track progress of clearing.
  • Free energy rebuilding consultations are offered by the County’s Energy and Sustainability Division of General Services.
  • Energy and Sustainability is facilitating climate positive construction techniques for rebuilding homes through consultation and project planning assistance.
  • $17,500 in rebuilding incentives offered through Sonoma Clean Power.
  • Property Assessed Clean Energy financing now available for fire recovery housing.
  • The Bay Area Council (BAC) is a business-sponsored, public policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. BAC is working with the County to develop regional policy recommendations, data, and key indicators to assist with the rebuilding efforts.
  • CASA (MTC/ABAG) is the Committee to House the Bay Area, a diverse, multi-sector set of partners in the Bay Area who are developing a report to identify and act upon regional solutions to the Bay Area’s chronic housing affordability challenges. The County is working with CASA to collaborate around the three primary concerns of CASA: how to increase the production of housing, particularly affordable housing; how to ensure the preservation of the existing affordable housing stock; and how to ensure the protection of current residents against displacement pressures that arise from new construction.
  • Exploring housing opportunities on County-owned properties.


  • Received $3.2 million in Emergency Additional Assistance grant funding from the California Employment Development Department to assist Dislocated Workers affected by the October wildfires. Grant funding will serve approximately 700 individuals with individualized career services and an additional 200 dislocated workers with reemployment assistance.
  • Outreached to encourage employers to apply for SBA loans to recoup physical and economic damage.
  • Continue to monitor additional resources that come available during recovery, such as the California IBank Disaster/Loan Guaranty Programs, EDA Revolving Loan Funds, and HUD funding and encourage employers to apply.
  • Applied for Economic Development Administration grant to complete the design/ engineering for broadband in specific unserved rural areas of the County. This project was developed with the Office of Recovery and Resiliency, Department of Transportation and Public Works, and Information Systems Department. The submitted application is for $605,500 to complete the design, engineering, and feasibility analysis of broadband in select locations.