Yes on W to support city-centered growth

Posted on October 22, 2020 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Generation Housing is pleased to endorse Yes on Measure W to renew the existing Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). Generation Housing is a housing advocacy organization committed to increasing the supply, diversity, and affordability of housing in Sonoma County. 

Sustainability is a guiding principle for our organization, and UGBs offer a way to protect the environment by encouraging that housing be centralized in town and away from the wildland/urban interface (WUI) where wildfires are a greater risk. For 22 years, UGBs have enjoyed popular support from each city in Sonoma County in part because residents value the local natural resources and amenities that make Sonoma County a beautiful place to live.

By and large, we’ve achieved that goal and we have a chance to renew that commitment to preserving our open spaces. Generation Housing is supportive of city-centered growth that allows for more density in our existing neighborhoods as we plan for a future in which climate change compels us to design our cities and towns more sustainably. 

In the upcoming years, Sonoma County is projected to see a 108 percent increase in the amount of housing required by the state, and the City of Sonoma may expect to see a tripling of homes to permit from 137 to 338 by 2031. We must do our part to build housing to help make Sonoma a more affordable place for families to stay and raise their kids.

Land-use policies like zoning will determine whether we build towards an inclusive and equitable future or continue exclusionary housing policies. To be clear, there is no empirical evidence that urban growth boundaries hurt affordable housing. Rather, allowing areas within the City to be property zoned to allow for multifamily housing types will be important to supporting affordable housing production. Moreover, zoning “missing middle” housing types like triplexes and the like in traditionally single-family neighborhoods creates a diversity of housing without dramatically changing neighborhood scale. The upcoming General Plan update for the City of Sonoma, and particularly its Housing Element update, is an opportunity for these principles to be applied.

Lastly, the pandemic has accelerated a shift toward remote work and online shopping, which has redefined the long-term viability of many retail businesses and commercial properties. These trends will persist as the pandemic wanes, yet rethinking our commercial sites to be more mixed-use can further expand housing opportunities and expand customer bases near local businesses.      

It’s important to remember that what brought and allowed each of us to move to Sonoma and Sonoma County was the availability of a home. What drew us here should be preserved and extended to others, much like our natural landscapes that we ought to preserve, and that may mean making accommodations in our neighborhoods to allow space for our neighbors. As part of our effort to locate housing in more sustainable locations in which we can walk and bike more, and drive less, we support Measure W because it will help preserve our green amenities as we move forward to promoting city-centered growth to curb climate emissions with more inclusive and walkable communities. 

— Jesús Guzmán, Generation Housing


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