At their meeting on Monday, April 1, 2019, the Sonoma City Council reviewed and unanimously approved the City of Sonoma Housing Element 2018 Annual Progress Report. California’s Housing Element law requires that each city and county develop local housing programs to meet their “fair share” of existing and future housing needs for all income groups. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) is responsible for developing and assigning these “Regional Housing Need Allocations,” or “RHNA”, to Bay Area jurisdictions.
Pursuant to the RHNA planning period, the Sonoma housing element is an eight-year plan extending from 2015-2023 which was adopted on March 16, 2015. The City is required to prepare an annual progress report (APR) on the status of the Housing Element of its General Plan. The 2018 Annual Progress Report found that during 2018, the City of Sonoma made considerable progress towards implementing its Housing Element. Notably, 24 units of new affordable housing units were approved that count towards the City’s RHNA obligations. In addition, the City made progress towards specific Housing Element programs. Specific milestones include:
- Approving entitlements for 48 units of housing, including 47 units of affordable housing at 20269 Broadway (Altamira Family Apartments), including a density bonus on January 29, 2018;
- Adoption of the City of Sonoma Final Water Master Plan Update by City Council at their meeting on January 29, 2018, which provides the City with a roadmap for the management of its potable water system;
- Continued funding and support to the local non-profit Sonoma Overnight Support to operate The Haven, a 10-bed overnight shelter located in a City-owned building at 151 1st St. West. The City supports the shelter by paying for utilities and maintenance of the City-owned facility using the General Fund in the amount of $30,000 a year through 2030 to operate an emergency shelter for the homeless. In fiscal year 2018/2019, the City provided an additional $20,000 to augment a loss of county funding;
- Two key housing initiatives, including the development of community workshops, focused on housing and the creation of a housing trust fund and the appointment of Vice Mayor Harvey and Council Member Hundley to the Council Ad-Hoc Housing Sub-Committee; and
- Extending the Accessory Dwelling Unit Fee Waiver Program to encourage the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (Ordinance 80-2018 adopted on December 3, 2018). Fee waivers are limited to one per residence and capped at $5,000, with $30,000 available for this program as one-time funding.
Current and upcoming efforts for 2019 include:
- Approval of $25,000 from General Fund Reserves for a “Housing Our Community” Town Hall Series through a contract with UrbanGreen, Inc which includes three public workshops on April 25, 2019, May 16th, 2019 and June 20th, 2019, and the compilation of a final report to the City Council to determine next steps;
- Continuation of the ADU fee waiver program; one reimbursement has already been issued calendar year 2019.
- Completion of the City’s housing nexus study, new housing impact fees and modifications to the City’s housing inclusionary ordinance.