Policy Update, August 2023

What’s Happening in Sonoma County?

Roll Up Your Sleeves: Your Couch has Zoned You for Community Planning!

Hear ye, hear ye! You’re invited to join the planning fiesta and help Santa Rosa build a better tomorrow.

The draft Santa Rosa General Plan 2050 is ready for your input! The city has been furiously conducting workshops all over Santa Rosa this past month. A general plan is a city’s road map for the future. It describes a community’s aspirations and identifies strategies for managing preservation while simultaneously spurring a transformation to help meet our community needs.

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is for you to engage in this process! The City of Santa Rosa has made providing your input incredibly accessible and easy. They even produced Executive Summaries so you don’t have to read hundreds of pages!

If reading isn’t your thing, you still have two more opportunities to participate in this process directly with city staff managing this project:

Don’t forget to take the Community Survey by clicking here!


Housing Elements: What You Need To Know This Month

Generation Housing applauds the Town of Windsor and County of Sonoma for approving both of their Housing Elements, a critical step closer towards a more equitable Sonoma County.

While we didn’t secure everything we wanted in these important planning documents, we did notch several victories over the course of this process. Examples of these victories include moving the Board of Supervisors to collectively agree that investigating a potential vacant home tax is necessary for unlocking as much as 11,000 units of potential housing. We were also successful in getting three sites identified for rezoning to a higher density (20 units per acre) added back in after the Planning Commission recommended removing them from consideration. All three sites had verbal commitments by the owners of their intention to develop these parcels during this 8-year planning period. We’re grateful to the Board of Supervisors for recognizing these opportunities and supporting their staff’s recommendation to upzone these sites.

On the Town of Windsor front – we were successful securing more explicit language in their Housing Element that will take aim at driving more diverse housing typologies in predominantly single family zoned neighborhoods. Transit-oriented development is paramount to our future success as a region, but increasing housing opportunities in higher resource neighborhoods is equally important when it comes to Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing and providing opportunities for upward mobility. Thanks to the Town of Windsor for responding to our concerns and amending their Housing Element to reflect stronger commitments towards this community need.

By sending these plans to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (“HCD”) for final certification, they are both taking a stand and committing themselves to a future where everyone has a place to call home. We celebrate this milestone and remain committed to our collaborative efforts.


Legislative Download: Your Monthly Digest on State Housing Policy

Next week is a watershed moment for California state bills, thanks to the recurring event known as the “suspense file.” This is the stage where legislators discreetly dismiss a variety of fiscal bills that would require at least $50,000 to administer. Although created to streamline legislative procedures, this often-muted process tends to irk bill sponsors and advocacy groups who’ve passionately backed the legislation. Among those awaiting judgment are bills SB 4 and SB 423, endorsed by Generation Housing. We expect to receive news about their fate on or after the first of September 2023.

The fate of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 (ACA 1) is soon to be decided by the State Assembly. This particular amendment is critical for facilitating future housing bonds; it aims to reduce the voting requirement for public endorsement to a 55% majority. Even if it successfully navigates the Legislature and gains the Governor’s approval, it still faces the final hurdle of a public vote.

The formal cut-off for voting on all bills is set for September 14, 2023. Following this, the Governor has a window until October 14, 2023, to either approve or reject the passed legislation.

Our advocacy work for endorsed legislation is ongoing. If you’d like more information on our supported bills or any state legislative issues, feel free to contact Calum Weeks, our Policy Director, at calum@generationhousing.org.