Housing crisis

No room at the hostel? The housing crisis

Affordable housing advocate Fred Allebach posted his views on the Sonoma Journal’s Facebook page, based on a recent study, that Sonoma Developmental Center was the perfect place for the affordable housing we desperately need. . He recommended that the specific plan for 1,000 dwellings be approved as soon as possible.

IT then took the unusual step of printing these comments in the letters to the editor section of the paper on October 5.

“Actually, it’s not [the best place]. You will need to destroy most wildlife.

Another: Do these bean counters speak with psychologists? People need space.

Another: “…Stop paving our paradise, please.”

And “Leave it alone. We’re full.

There was only one favorable comment. Presumably the authors were all from Glen Ellen.

The City of Sonoma is currently completing its housing component. The state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) calls for 311 new homes. The city consultant, De Nova Planning, has identified 579 suitable locations for new housing.

Larry, who has held various leadership positions in Sonoma for 30 years, considers himself a realist. “I can’t change capitalism or the dynamics of profit even if I want to. I was a Bernie Sanders fan! But we have to find ways to work with what we have, while trying to change it. He sees three ways to increase the supply of affordable housing in the city. One is for the government to build it. But where is the money? He cited public housing projects built years ago in New York and said public housing has often become slums.

Another way is to subsidize it “by partnering with nonprofit developers on price-controlled, depreciation-controlled, rent-controlled housing that’s affordable by design.”

Finally, there is the current approach: city-required “inclusive housing, where 25% of a subdivision must be affordable and the same size as market-priced housing.

But developers don’t want to manage affordable housing costs. “To solicit affordable housing, the city must pay to play, entering into agreements with developers, such as offering to provide the land or other means of supporting developers’ profits.”

After the state’s redevelopment program ended in 2012, Larry began lobbying for an affordable housing trust fund funded by the hotel revenue tourism tax, the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). . The Trust was finally created two or three years ago and now has about a million dollars.

It’s not enough. Larry wants hotels to contribute more. But the city’s big hotels — like Marriott, America’s wealthiest hotel company — don’t want to pay more.

The power of government is limited. “The government cannot force people to do things. But this may change zoning regulations. You can’t take people’s property or tell how they should use it, except by zoning.

“The exciting part of being in government is that you can make the rules,” he said happily, seemingly fearless by the challenges; he does not give up.

“Sonoma is a great place to live, and developers know they can get the best price for properties. I have to obey the law. But the city can negotiate harder. The housing element talks about all the options to create more housing, but it can’t be conclusive because everything has to be negotiated. “Underlying all of this is money. If you don’t have money, you can’t play .

But people need homes. Some say it should be a right; accommodation must be provided. This is not the case now; we still have homeless people in our wealthy town. House and rental prices are excruciatingly high. As in so many aspects of our lives today, something has to give. What would it be?

Stephanie Hiller has lived in Sonoma County for 20 years. She is a journalist and editor, and teaches writing and storytelling in the older adult program at Santa Rosa Junior College. Email to Stephanie athiller.stephanie@gmail.com