October 20, 2021
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Cottage housing supports current housing demand

By: Brittney Scardina
July 2, 2021

Housing and development have been important topics in our community due to the changing times in Sonoma County and California. In response to these changes, an ordinance to allow for residential cottage housing projects was a prime topic at Cotati’s last city council meeting.

The Cotati City Council voted to introduce and conduct a first reading of an ordinance that would allow for cottage housing within the city. Characteristics of cottage housing includes compact dwelling units with common open space that promote a strong sense of community. The ordinance is intended to support the increased demand to provide housing in Cotati.

The ordinance is supported by an SB2 Planning grant, as part of the state’s response to the housing shortage and high housing costs. Cotati was awarded the $160,000 SB2 Planning grant to implement programs to increase housing availability in 2019. An extended timeline follows this ordinance with development, public workshops, planning commission hearings and city council hearings.

The council had many discussions centering around the cottage housing that involved parking, minimum size, private areas, common space, building separation, and other items from the staff report that lead to amendments to be made in the ordinance. 

Cottage housing differs from lower density residential housing in that homes are smaller, closer together and clustered in groups of 12 to 18. The minimum 500-square-foot units will include private outdoor space, and parking spaces. 

The council was eager to make sure the ordinance included private space and area because almost every neighborhood in Cotati has had some type of small covered porch to allow for a sense of community.

Jesus Guzman with Generation Housing, a nonprofit housing advocacy organization, submitted a letter of support for the cottage housing ordinance and spoke up during public comments. “We are in strong support of tonight’s Cottage Housing ordinance. As the staff presentation notes, this ordinance will go a long way towards offering smaller, more efficient, and more affordable-by-design homes in Cotati that will contribute meaningfully to diversifying the city’s housing stock and help better match residents’ needs,” said Guzman during public comments.

Cottage housing represents how smaller homes can be affordable by design and promote sustainable development. They can diversify the city’s housing stock, and each provides a centrally located common open space that promotes a sense of community and openness within cottage development.

Cottage housing would also allow for density increase and design flexibility with many architectural styles. Still, the city council wants to make sure it would maintain the character of existing residential areas and represent Cotati’s historical developments.

“I am very supportive of this ordinance. I think that this is going to encourage a lot of new developments that create a real sense of community with the shared open space,” said Councilmember Laura Sparks. 

The next reading and expected adoption of cottage housing will be discussed at the next council meeting on July 27. For more information on the cottage housing ordinance and the upcoming meeting, refer to the City of Cotati website.