The price of housing is one of the most challenging issues facing our region today and all of California. The problem is largely due to a substantial increase in demand with a strong economy and new jobs. In contrast, the supply of housing has not kept up. When demand increases more than supply prices go up . . . and up and up.
Rohnert Park has historically done more than most cities to ensure that housing is affordable. We have a larger than normal share of apartments and condominiums, which are less expensive than single family homes. Seven percent of our homes and apartments are restricted to moderate and low income residents, more than other local cities.
Additionally, in Rohnert Park we’ve been increasing the supply of housing at a rapid rate in recent months and years, with construction in our new K and W sections continuing and hundreds of apartments on the west side of the city completed or underway. More is planned in those areas, as well as our new downtown and the property adjacent to city hall.
Still, housing prices are a challenge for many. In addition to supporting an increase in the overall supply of housing, in Rohnert Park we’re taking additional steps aimed at building or retaining housing that is more affordable to working and low income residents.
New affordable complex in the K Section: We have been working with the developer of the K Section to prepare for the construction of one of the largest affordable housing projects in the history of Sonoma County. This will be an apartment complex of 218 units off a new and improved Keiser Road. All of the units will be restricted to individuals and families who cannot afford local rents. The roads and other infrastructure for this project are in place; construction will occur as weather permits.
New affordable units in W Section: The city is requiring 72 affordable housing units in the W section. This includes a 36-unit apartment complex, 28 duet units and eight townhomes. These units will retain their affordability requirements permanently.
Oak View Affordability Extensions: The Oak View apartment complex off Snyder Lane was constructed 20 years ago. The city required that 20 percent of the 207 units, or 41 of them, be restricted for those needing lower rents. Those restrictions expire this year, meaning that the rents could be raised substantially. In collaboration with the Sonoma County Housing Authority and the property owner, we have arranged a program so that the residents benefiting from the lower rents will receive assistance to ensure that they are not displaced because of the expiring restrictions.
Downtown and the West Side: Fifteen of the new apartment units in downtown Rohnert Park will be restricted to renters with moderate incomes. On the west side, behind the Press Democrat building, up to sixteen units or 10 percent of the total units will be restricted to renters with moderate incomes. The area near downtown in particular already has 308 affordable units.
Next to city hall: While construction will likely not occur until next year, we expect a 92-unit apartment complex to arise from the properties along Avram Avenue adjacent to city hall. Seven of these units will be available only to very low income families.
We know housing prices are challenging and we’re doing our part to address that. We also know that new housing means more people, cars and traffic – we’re working on that too, with wider roads, traffic lights with better timing and other improvements. Together, we are building a better community.