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One Year After Fires, Sonoma County Drives to Meet Housing Goals (CA)

Monday, September 24, 2018

One Year After Fires, Sonoma County Drives to Meet Housing Goals

"The need to build more housing in Sonoma County didn’t start last year. The beautiful area north of San Francisco has been a magnet for businesses and individuals to relocate for many years. The economy there is doing well.

But the housing issue became worse when the horrible fires in the fall of 2017 devastated the county—5,300 housing units were destroyed—people died. Families were displaced.

The response of the county’s political, business and philanthropic leaders over the last year has been to find ways to truly work together to clean up after the massive fire---and begin to address ways to rebuild the area faster than they would normally.

Last week, a group of leaders met for a day to look for answers to a very specific question:

How can the public and private sector take specific steps together to implement Sonoma County’s housing goals?

And the goals are ambitious—to build 30,000 new homes by 2025.

As Margaret Van Vliet of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission pointed out that is quite a change from recent years when less than one thousand new units were permitted each year.

“We have been conflicted about whether want to grow,” she told the group.

For Oscar Chavez with the Sonoma County Department of Human Services the idea of a creating policies in a local region that continues to provide job opportunities and housing was even more personal.

“I’m the father of four and I want to make sure my children can live and thrive here when they are adults,” he said.

Peter Rumble, executive director of the Santa Rose Metro Chamber which hosted the day’s discussion, termed the day-long session not a “rebuild meeting” but rather one that can energize the community’s major employers and builders into a commitment to action..."

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