Environmental reviews and zoning regulations are so often the sworn enemies of housing development. “Workforce housing” - is new the term used by local governments and advocates looking to fill a housing gap for the many struggling to find affordable accommodations close to their jobs.
Despite the normal hurdles, one new housing project has gotten the go ahead from the Sebastopol city council though, and while small, it may offer an example for more infill housing in the future.
City officials agreed to allow a zoning exception for four new townhouses along Main Street. It's in an area normally reserved for commercial use - and in what can be a rare feat with housing projects, the move was met with approval from neighbors, who spoke at this week's council meeting.
"So it's gonna be good to have more housing, even though we're gonna be impacted." One neighbor said.
"I live right behind here." Said another. "Thank you for keeping me in mind with everything that you guys are doing. It's been totally professional."
One commenter did express concern over increased water use because of new units, but council members were unanimously in favor of the new development, with one even commenting on design elements. Council member Una Glass:
"If I can get on my soapbox here, I think front porches ought to be for people to sit in where they can actually be interacting with their community and neighbors, rather than it being like a little narrow thing that you're gonna fall off of." Glass said.
Glass otherwise commended the project, which includes a rooftop community garden, for helping to fill a desperate housing gap.
"This is that missing middle, moderate, not super low income housing that this provides that we really, really need." Glass said.
The project now moves to final design approval before Habitat for Humanity and the future occupants can break ground on the vacant site.