The City's redevelopment agency purchased the site at 20269 Broadway in 2007 with the intent of developing it with low-income housing. When the State Legislature dissolved the Redevelopment Agency in 2012, Sonoma's City Council voted to transfer the property to the Sonoma County Housing Authority. It must be used for low-income housing.
This property lies within the "Broadway Corridor" planning area and is designated Mixed-Use. Currently, the proposed housing development is planned as 100% rental housing with no commercial entity expected or desired by the County although commercial space might help subsidize the project in the future, when or if the housing project loses its funding all together or its funding sources are diminished.
The Request for Proposal (RFP) states "the proposed development must be consistent with the applicable policies in the City of Sonoma’s General Plan and the design guidelines set forth in the Development Code. Exceptions to quantified development standards may be considered through the review process." However, the Bonus Density Law empowers the developer to override Sonoma's Development Code and any meaningful objections by Planning Committee members or members of the City Council.
"Of greatest concern to local planners are the requirements in the statute that give applicants/developers the right to modifications in local development standards: Zoning, subdivision controls, and design review requirements. The planners' parade of horribles includes poorly designed multifamily housing with inadequate parking forced upon counties and cities by developers who take full advantage of the statute, defeating years of effort by housing advocates and local governments to overcome opposition to multifamily and affordable housing by ensuring that it is well designed. Unfortunately, if faced with a poorly designed project proposed under density bonus law, agencies are forced to take various procedural maneuvers to ensure that projects are of high quality."
(Barbara E. Kautz, Goldfarb & Lipman LLP)
Sonoma's Development Standards for the Broadway Corridor state new developments should conform to existing land uses for "small, multi-family development." But the developer's proposed plan shows forty-nine units, which is not small. There is a discrepancy in the parcel size, but the RFP directs the developer to plan for 1.97 acres, not 1.53 acres, which is what the County Assessor's Records show. Even at 1.97 acres, the propossed density is an exception to Sonoma's development standards.
1. Mixed Use Zoning allows up to 20 units per acre. The proposed development has 24.5 units per acre, which is an exception.
2. The second exception is reducing required setbacks on the West property line.
3. The third exception to development standards is the ratio of parking spaces to number of units. Sixty-five proposed parking spaces would support 30 units and no more. This project proposes 49 units.
4. The proposed development does not have the required open space
The California Density Bonus Law is, at its heart,
It assumes every parcel in the state can accommodate a density 35 percent higher than its existing zoning--no matter how high the permitted density or the capacity of the local infrastructure. By allowing unlimited waivers to accommodate density bonuses, the law assumes that achieving maximum density is more important than any other local planning requirement.
Public Agency Guide to California Density Bonus Law, Barbara E. Kautz
Exceptions to standards
Please note the number of potential units
City of Sonoma
2015-2023 Housing Element Update
City Council and Planning Commission Joint
Study Session, September 3, 2014
Compare density of 20269 Broadway plan to Valley Oaks Development
Satellite Affordable Housing was the developer of the Valley Oaks Project on Lyon Street, here in Sonoma. Valley Oaks has fewer housing units on a bigger piece of property than what the developer is proposing on less than two acres at 20269 Broadway.
Several members of our neighborhood group walked through the Valley Oaks Project and thought there were a lot of units jammed onto that site. It is difficult to imagine a higher number of units wedged into the smaller property on Broadway.
An aerial view of Valley Oaks reveals the surrounding neighborhoods are dense with buildings. In contrast, the South Broadway area of Sonoma is only moderately dense with single-family homes on the East and West sides of Broadway. The proposed 20269 Broadway development does not, in any way, reflect the look and feel of the neighborhoods that surround that property.
The entrance and parking lots to Valley Oaks are situated away from neighboring houses, and most of those houses appear to have larger backyards than those near the Broadway site. In contrast, the current site plan shows parking right up against the backyards of people living on the West property line. The parking should be placed on the North property line, close to Broadway, where there is a commercial office building.
The 20269 Broadway development needs to be significantly smaller if it wishes to reflect the neighborhoods surrounding it.