September 19, 2021
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Cotati cottage housing

By: Brandon McCapes
May 7, 2021

An ordinance to the Cotati Municipal Code regarding cottage housing projects is moving through the Cotati City Council. Cottage housing projects are defined by single-family homes, which may be clustered around a common area, and allow for increased density in residential areas.

The origins of the project date back to September 2019, when the City of Cotati was awarded $160,000 in state funding through the SB2 Planning Grant to increase housing availability within the city, according to a staff report from the April 27 Cotati City Council meeting.

The report reads, “The proposed cottage housing ordinance is intended to encourage development of a different form of housing that would allow for individual ownership as well as increase the range of housing options available in Cotati, while also pursuing Cotati’s goal to preserve its small-town atmosphere as it grows.”

The ordinance would respond to increased demand placed on localities by the state to respond to the housing crisis by increasing local housing stock, as defined by the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) metrics put forth by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). In order for cities like Cotati to be eligible for key state funding dollars, they must meet their RHNA requirements, which include housing specific numbers of units under designations such as very-low income up to market price.

Cottage housing developments, which the ordinance would facilitate, will help the City of Cotati meet its RHNA goals for middle-income housing. Projects such as these appeal to residents whose income precludes them from state-subsidized housing, but who are also unable to afford typical market-price single family homes.

According to the staff report, “By remaining smaller than a typical single-family home, cottage housing units tend to be more affordable to people whose incomes are too high for deed-restricted affordable housing units, but who are still priced out of the current housing market.”

By amending the municipal code, the City of Cotati would allow for higher-density cottage housing units clustered around multifamily common areas. Unit size typically ranges from 1,000-1,500 sq. ft., with units that may be either attached or detached, with their own yards. Facilities such as courtyards and parking lots are shared in the provision of this reasonably-priced housing option.