Sonoma County Planners Out to Lunch...
They apparently didn't get the memo from Fortune that the party is over...
(Press Democrat) "A wave of housing developments featuring more homes on less land will increasingly shape where Sonoma County residents live, builders said Thursday during a construction industry conference."
"Projects range from a 26-unit, five-story building going up in downtown Santa Rosa to a 440-home development proposed for downtown Petaluma mixing houses with town homes over retail space. Other projects include houses built side by side, or attached in other configurations, as well as more traditional subdivisions with smaller homes."
"Planning policies encourage new construction at the edge of downtowns and in urban pockets, as many Sonoma County cities push policies in response to decade-old urban growth boundaries adopted to limit sprawl."
'"These projects achieve the densities that the cities want to see. It gets people closer to parks and shopping, and achieves that affordability," said Rich Waller, a development director with Shook & Waller Construction, a Santa Rosa builder with several higher-density developments in the works. Nearly a dozen projects were described by builders Thursday at a Santa Rosa conference presented by the North Bay Business Journal."
"Today, builders said there are greater opportunities for this type of housing - and even mid- and high-rise buildings as a more moderately priced alternative in a county where the median price for a house has soared in recent years to nearly $600,000."
"While high housing costs long have been a concern in Sonoma County and across the Bay Area, the problem has worsened as prices set records the past three years. Business and civic leaders have warned residents might leave the region in search of less expensive housing and employers will find it more difficult to attract workers."
"Some cautioned there is a risk they might not find enough buyers if too much of this housing is built. They contend the subdivision home remains more popular."
'"I'm not quite sure the market is in sync with the planners at this point," said Rick Rosenbaum, vice president of sales for Delco Builders of Pleasant Hill."
"Delco nevertheless recently completed a town home project in Petaluma and is working with the city's planners on the 440-home downtown mixed-use project. Like many other builders, Delco recognizes it must break out of the subdivision model when necessary, Rosenbaum said."
"The 26-unit, five-story building Futrell is creating in downtown Santa Rosa should help indicate if buyers want to live in buildings that rise up rather than spread out. He said he also is gauging whether living downtown is a strong enough draw."
'"They will (sell). The question is how quickly. That will be an important tip-off," Futrell said."
"Sales were slower than hoped in the town home project Delco completed this year in northeast Petaluma, Rosenbaum said."
"The 46 units sold out in a year, but Delco's goal was six to nine months, he said."