Healdsburg City Hall

Healdsburg is seeking to broaden some of the language in its Growth Management Ordinance (GMO) on the March 3 ballot. Measure H asks residents to amend the GMO to allow for the previously-approved average of 50 rental units per year of multi-family, income-restricted rental housing permits to be offered for sale in addition offering them as rentals.

“The overall goal is to create an environment where we could perhaps get some more moderately priced low-income housing,” said Mayor Leah Gold, who’s listed as the top supporter of the measure in the voting pamphlet. 

In 2018, voters passed Measure P, which amended the GMO and authorized the city to issue an average of 50 building permits per year (not to exceed 150 in three years) for multi-family rentals units that are deed-restricted to tenants that meet a specific income level. Measure P passed with 54.9% of the vote.

If approved, Measure H won’t change the amount of unit permits available for multi-family, income-restricted housing or the threshold for which families could qualify for the units.

The text of the measure emphasized the city’s desire to address Healdsburg’s “missing middle” households.

According to the argument in favor of the measure, “The units must be offered at a price affordable for people who earn up to 160% of Sonoma County’s average median income per year. Currently, a family of four earning between $111,950 and $149,280 annually would qualify.”

The argument adds that the units are funded by developers, and require no taxpayer funding or funds designated to affordable housing.

When asked if she feels that Healdsburg’s housing market has space for, and if people have interest in, buying property as well as renting it, Gold said that the goal is to remove as many housing obstacles as possible.

“If we get the units, if they’re affordable of someone with that income level, it doesn't matter if they're for rent or for sale,” she said. “I feel that there’s a market for both. People need housing and Healdsburg housing has gotten higher and higher. Anything that a moderate-income person could live in would be an asset.”

She added that, from a developer’s point of view, it may make the development of units more attractive, since “they would much rather sell a unit than be in the rental business.”

Since the units are restricted as being for multi-family rental housing or, if approved, for sale as owner-occupied housing units, Gold said that they won’t run the risk of being used as secondary properties for folks looking to have a second home in wine country.

“It’s not just going to be another empty apartment for someone to visit,” she said.

While there have been some interested developers, the city has yet to see any permits for the units made available through the passage of Measure P in 2018.

Measure H has no listed opposition in the March 3 election.

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