FPA President Lucy Hardcastle’s note, May 2023:
Follow Up on April 2023 Town Hall
This past April’s Town Hall had a great deal of discussion on what is known as the “Housing Element” as California counties struggle to meet the state’s mandate to include more housing regular folks can actually afford. For our next Town Hall we hope to include speakers from Generation H and Burbank Housing to hear how they have built workforce housing throughout the County and how it gets done. It’s time for us to discuss what we do want for our little community and find ways to make that happen.
Brief Wrap Up
Forestville Town Hall on April 20, 2023
by Vesta Copestakes
Public Infrastructure presented drawings of the downtown sidewalk and crosswalk development but those plans still have to go back to CalTrans for another review before anything happens. Working with the State is slow but this is Hwy 116, so a State Highway – we can’t just do what we want Public Infrastructure (PI) did say that Mirabel Road is getting repaved this summer. Mostly people asked questions and made comments that were not related to the presentation. See the downtown sidewalk/crosswalk draft plans HERE or click on the clip of the drawing. (Shows 3 pages of detailed drawings).
Housing Element – pretty clear that the properties in Guisti and off Van Keppel of OFF the list of potential sites for workforce housing. The property owners have changed their minds. They are not good sites anyway because of lack of pubic access and infrastructure. That leaves the downtown lots – by Rotten Robbie, Electro Vector plant between Carr’s and School, and the 3 lots at Packinghouse Rd X 116. The draft EIR, with public comments, has to go back for State review – then back to Sonoma County for more public review, then back to the State for more review before anything can happen. It’s a long process and certainly not imminent.
Lynda Hopkins is making it clear that she is NOT happy that Forestville and Guerneville locations were listed in spite of the fact that they do not fit into the 9 Bay Area County plans (Plan Bay Area) for how the future should be planned to focus on transportation corridors and leave rural locations alone. Because Hwy 116 runs through both towns, and both towns have water and sewage facilities, they were considered to have urban services by the state without consideration that these towns are anything but urban. Again, nothing is imminent.
Vikki Miller wrote an excellent summary on NextDoor as well – coming from someone who has not been immersed in Forestville for decades. Here are her comments and those that followed. One of the more rational discussions:
Vikki Miller on NextDoor comment:
Forestville Town Hall- Housing Element and moving forward:
Well attended and a lot of very strong feelings about the many uncertainties and also, misconceptions regarding the Housing Element remain. Sonoma County, like many other counties around the state, is now out of compliance which potentially impacts funding for Sonoma County. In response to the question of why so many units were disproportionately proposed for Forestville, Eric Gage and Matt Markey of Permit Sonoma said Forestville has been deemed a “high-asset area” but did not explain how they came to that conclusion (or if they did I missed it). Lynda did her best as did Eric and Ross from Permit Sonoma to field questions, but many remain.
Concerns about the rezoning had people asking questions about their property values diminishing and challenging the rezoning proposals and trying to understand the implications such a move would have on their property and the charm and character of our small town. Ross said any correspondence would be taken into consideration. One person at the meeting said the whole endeavor is illusionary, that comment received a round of applause but the fact remains the housing has to be built somewhere and other creative solutions are still being looked at. Many of us submitted comments regarding the proposed sites to Eric Gage and we were told at the meeting there would be responses coming, hopefully sometime next month.
Builder’s Remedy (Government Code section 65589.5(d)(5), known as the “Builder’s Remedy,” is a provision of California’s Housing Accountability Act that prevents jurisdictions without a substantially compliant housing element from denying certain housing projects, even if such projects do not comply with the jurisdiction’s zoning) was another topic that came up… I believe there have been 4 applicants in Sonoma County but none reportedly here in Forestville.
Another topic voiced was the lack of communication afforded the residents including the homeowners in and around the proposed sites. While some localities were represented in the Housing Element process with Permit Sonoma, it appears Forestville did not have representation despite at least one person in attendance requesting to fill that role. If you want to be that person moving forward, please contact Bradley Dunn at Permit Sonoma. His number is 707-565-6196. He will be out of town for several days.
One issue I was relieved to hear was the proposed lighting for Forestville will be facing downward which, will lessen the impact on those of us who enjoy the night sky.
There was a good back and forth that Vikki started on NextDoor. If you are on NextDoor, you can see the discussion here:
If you aren’t a member of NextDoor, it is free to join. NextDoor.com
Original list of the seven locations in Forestville for the 635+ new dwelling units proposed for Forestville:
- 6555 Covey Road
- 6898 Nolan Road
- 6220 Highway 116 N
- 6090 Van Keppel Road
- 6475 Packing House Road
- 6250 Forestville Street
- Mirabel Road and Highway 116
If you missed knowing about these plans and public meetings then you might consider signing up for notices. Being informed is pro-active.