City of Petaluma says it has reached 20% of 8-year housing needs in the 1st year

The city’s housing need allocation through 2031 is 1,910 housing units, according to a staff report.|

The city of Petaluma has achieved over 20% of its housing allocation requirements in year one of an eight-year housing cycle, city staff said at a recent City Council meeting.

The city has already permitted 395 units since June 30, 2022, the start of the Sixth Regional Housing Needs Allocation cycle, said Sarah Wolf, housing specialist for the city of Petaluma during the March 11 meeting.

The city’s housing need allocation through 2031 is 1,910 housing units, according to a staff report.

“That will be spread over the four different income categories of very low, low, moderate and above moderate income,” said Karen Shimizu, assistant director of community development. Broken down by income level, the city has already permitted 16.8% of very low-income housing, 12.2% of low, 8% of moderate and 40% in the above moderate category.

This information comes from a state-mandated annual progress report on the city’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation as part of the city’s Housing Element, which addresses the city’s housing needs for an eight-year period through 2031. The Housing Element is a requirement under the city’s General Plan and facilitates production of housing for different income levels, households, and family types to promote fair housing, according to the staff report.

City Council unanimously approved the report 7-0. It will be sent to the California Department of Housing and Community Development and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

Supportive housing

Shimizu also highlighted progress toward increased “permanent supportive housing” as part of the city’s homeless strategic plan.

“A key element in the plan is ensuring there are affordable housing units in the pipeline to serve our community members, essentially ensuring them a pathway from shelter to longer term housing solutions,” Shimizu said.

Of 389 affordable housing units that are “in the pipeline,” 119 units of permanent supportive units – about 30% – will be part of those developments, she said.

Most if not all of those permanent supportive housing units come with housing vouchers from the county, and residents pay 30% of their adjusted gross income toward the rent, she said.

After council member Janice Cader Thompson asked whether Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, would qualify for housing vouchers, Shimizu said they would and that it just needs to be a living unit with a bathroom and closet within a certain square footage.

’Key strategy’

ADUs have been identified at both the state and local levels as “a key strategy” to provide affordable housing, according to the staff report.

In the fifth RHNA cycle they only qualified under the moderate-income levels, but in the current cycle they can be counted across all levels and will count toward lower-income unit goals, Shimizu said.

The topic of housing for the “missing middle,” or housing for those in the 81% to 100% area median income range, came up a few times. Shimizu said that staff will need to be focused on that area of housing and “be creative” when thinking about where funding will be available for this subset.

The report comes in the wake of the city updating local legislation and receiving recognition related to housing production. In late January, the state’s Department of Housing recognized the city with an esteemed prohousing designation for encouraging housing development. The designation also came with funding incentives to encourage more housing production.

In early February, the council approved new housing design standards – like tree coverage minimums, no vinyl exteriors and 150 foot maximum building facades – for qualifying residential projects to streamline production as part of its state-mandated development requirements.

A number of projects are not included in the report because they have yet to receive their building permits and will be part of future cycles. That includes the 143-unit Oyster Cove project on East D Street and the 136-unit Spirit Living project at Hopper Street.

In total, 251 units are expected to be ready for move-in later this year, including 134 units at Deer Creek on N. McDowell Boulevard.

“We’re off to a good start towards meeting the RHNA allocation,” Shimizu said.

You can reach Staff Writer Jennifer Sawhney at 707-521-5346 or On X (Twitter) @sawhney_media.

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