The Davis Townhome project, a proposal to develop eighteen 1,180-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-story townhomes, will be reviewed by city council on Tuesday, May 7, at 6 p.m. The development would be located south of Sebastopol Avenue and Highway 12 on a vacant lot at the end of Morris Street.
The planning commission reviewed the project three different times and voted unanimously to recommend approval to city council, Sebastopol City Planning Director Kari Svanstrom said. It will also require approval by the Design Review Board.
The Davis Townhomes Project is the brainchild of developer Dan Davis and project architect Kathy Austin.
Davis, who owns the property, has been working on the project since November 2017 after the October wildfires.
“I had a lot of family members lose homes,” Davis said, “and I thought, well shoot, what a great way to do some small, somewhat affordable houses.”
Svanstrom said if the council approves the development, Davis and Austin will have a couple of years to get their building permit and develop the project.
Davis said he would like to start construction this summer, if possible, on the grading, the underground work and pads.
“I doubt there’s going to be enough time left in summer to get them completely built,” Davis said. “It would be projected to be a build out in 2020 to finish it up.”
Svanstrom said the project is subject to the city of Sebastopol’s inclusionary housing requirements. This means a certain percentage of units must be reserved for affordable housing: 15% if at moderate income (120% of area median income (AMI)), 10% if at low income (80% AMI) or 5% at very low income (50% AMI).
Davis and Austin are looking to have two of the 18 units at the low-income level but would like to keep all units at an attainable cost.
“The cheaper I can build them, the cheaper I can rent or sell them,” Davis said.
Svanstrom said council recognizes the need for additional housing in Sebastopol — in particular, close to downtown and transit. The site is right off Joe Rodota Trail and would have a pedestrian/bicycle connection to both Santa Rosa to the east and Graton and Forestville to the north.
Both Davis and Svanstrom said no one has expressed any objections to the project so far.
“The main concern has been to maintain a buffer to the Laguna de Santa Rosa habitat at the south side of the site,” Svanstrom said, “and the floodplain.”
The city requires the project to maintain a 50-foot buffer between the development and the laguna. The buffer must be maintained in its natural state and includes the removal of invasive species and the planting of native tree and plant species.
The development is also located in the 100-year floodplain. The area of the townhomes is almost at the 100-year flood level of 78 feet above sea level. The homes will have to be elevated two feet above this level to the finished first floor, according to Svanstrom.
“We tried to address all those issues to make it Sebastopol friendly,” Davis said.
Davis said he has received 12 phone calls from people who are interested in the homes already. This includes a policeman, teacher, librarian and other local people who just want to be close to the bike trail and walk to town.
“Because they are smaller,” Davis said, “rent would be reduced per square foot.”
Davis is a Sebastopol local, born and raised, and said he doesn’t have any other property that would be appropriate for new housing there.
The townhomes are situated in a “horseshoe,” where everyone would have a common lawn area.
“We could’ve went to four story,” Davis said, “we didn’t want them obtrusive.”
Davis and Austin chose natural colors for the development so it would blend in with the forests and neighboring homes.
“We’re putting in so much landscaping; that’ll make it nice,” he said.
The Davis Townhomes project public hearing will be at the Sebastopol Youth Annex, 425 Morris St., Sebastopol, on May 7, at 6 p.m. during the Sebastopol City Council meeting. The application is available for public review at the Sebastopol Planning Department. The planning commission staff report will be posted on cityofsebastopol.org on May 2, and a copy will be at the Library Reference Desk on Friday, May 3.