housing stock

Constructing an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) at your own home is a practical and “green” way for homeowners to meet Healdsburg’s affordable housing goals. It enables residents to simultaneously build personal living options and realize financial benefits. The city’s streamlined permitting process and lowered fees have made the ADU process easier than ever to get started.

Our residents have a “high awareness and passion to preserve and create affordable housing in their community.” This assessment of Healdsburg by the American Institute of Architects, who in 2018 published the insightful SDAT report, also mentioned: “The community has a sophisticated level of understanding of key components that comprise a thoughtful approach to housing diversity, including residents’ understanding of terms such as accessory dwelling units. This level of positive civic engagement in Healdsburg for this issue is a rare triumph that should be celebrated”.

Organizations Healdsburg 2040 and the Napa Sonoma ADU Center are further supporting ADU education by co-hosting a webinar Thursday, March 18, at 6 p.m. where attendees will learn from local professionals and homeowners about successful ADU projects in Healdsburg. You can register here: napasonomaadu.org/events2/part-ii-how-to-build-an-adu-in-healdsburg-with-local-housing-professionals-and-homeowners

Last week a preliminary webinar covered Healdsburg ADU rules in partnership with the city. A recording of the first webinar is available here: napasonomaadu.org/blog?category=Webinar

After a landmark decision by the state of California in 2017 to improve ADU approval processes, the city of Healdsburg went a step farther. It facilitated the planning and construction of ADUs by significantly lowering development fees and offering a unique advisory effort. The Healdsburg Community Development Center created a unique One-Stop Assistance Center for homeowners considering developing an ADU. They can receive personalized guidance for free, which helps to avoid costly mistakes. This effort is paying off as the number of ADUs show an upward trend in the last five years: In 2016 only four ADU Building Permits were issued by the City, followed by 13 (2017), 11 (2018), 18 (2019) and 20 permits last year.

The demand for multi-generational living has increased as adult children move home to live with elderly parents, or in-laws move in with children and grandchildren. Homeowners with ADUs find they are perfect for family members during a time when many families are kept apart due to COVID restrictions. ADUs are also great for homeowners to maximize their investment in their property and gain potential rental income to help cover their mortgage and other expenses, while creating a home for someone working in the community.

Healdsburg 2040 believes making the ADU process easier, transparent and more affordable will help alleviate our affordable housing challenge.  The SDAT Report reaffirmed the Healdsburg Housing Committee recommendation that 125 ADUs be constructed by 2022 — an affordable housing option on existing home properties. Making the ADU process easier helps residents craft solutions while participating in solving Healdsburg’s affordable housing challenge.

Renée Schomp, Director of the Napa Sonoma ADU Center is convinced that Healdsburg is in a good position to create more ADUs. “We are in need of more affordable housing options. As infill development, ADUs make efficient and ‘green’ use of existing infrastructure and help increase housing density. They provide flexible benefits to homeowners who can rent them to a local teacher for passive income or house a family member when needed.”

Healdsburg 2040 is a group of interested citizens advising the city on the implementation of the SDAT report. The group is made up of four individual work groups, addressing arts and culture, housing, the General Plan and parks and connectivity. For a list of the members of Healdsburg 2040, visit healdsburg2040.org. The group can be reached at Healdsburg2040@sonic.net.

Napa Sonoma ADU Center is a project devoted to helping homeowners build accessory dwelling units. Information about Napa Sonoma ADU can be found at napasonomaadu.org.

(1) comment


Our residents have a “high awareness and passion to preserve and create affordable housing in their community.”

Really? Not what I have observed in my 5+ years living here. As I look around where I live in town, there are 2 empty houses across the street (the same owner owns both), Airbnb next door, Airbnb around the corner and at least 3 or 4 houses under full construction after being purchased last year. There are more empty houses and Airbnbs in this town than I have ever seen anywhere. If the owners are so "aware" and "passionate" about affordable housing, why are they not renting it to the families that need housing for an affordable price? If the rich owners of all these empty houses do not want to rent them when they are not living there, they should have to pay double the tax so that the money can be used to build affordable housing. That will never happen, the city leaders would not force the issue as long as the haves are a certain race and the have nots are working class people of color.

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