Plans for a contentious supportive housing facility for veterans in southwest Santa Rosa are moving forward. The Santa Rosa City Council rejected an appeal to halt the project. The project, which aims to subdivide and redevelop a roughly two acre plot off Hearn Avenue in southwest Santa Rosa, was advanced by a 5-2 vote.
The two dissenting votes were cast by the council members whose districts represent the Roseland area. Council member Natalie Rodgers, who is married to a veteran, affirmed her desire to see support for homeless vets within the city, but she said she fears opposition from residents will sour the project’s goals.
"I would not want to put a veteran in a community or a residence where there is already not good vibes." Rodgers said. "I want to put them in a beautiful community, in a beautiful new neighborhood where they are welcomed."
Another reason for the appeal against the project concerns changes to the area’s rural character. Vice Mayor Eddie Alvarez, who grew up in the area, expressed concern the construction of four new six bedroom houses and four new two bedroom accessory dwelling units would represent a betrayal of the city’s pledge to preserve the area’s rural character as part of its 2017 annexation into the city limits. He said he hopes to see future generations have access to the undeveloped wildland.
"As a child who grew up in that same field, you would hope that the children of the future also have an opportunity to experience what it is, chasing those lizards and, and watching those hawks." Alvarez told the council.
Despite the city council’s vote to move the project forward, Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Rodgers said it seems likely that a court decision will ultimately decide the project’s fate.
"I think that my job as the mayor and as a council member is when something meets the zoning, when something meets the spirit of what we're trying to accomplish throughout Santa Rosa, our job is to approve of it." Rodgers said. "And if there's a dispute, it's the court's job to then step in and fight that."