Planning for Infill Growth Doesn't Guarantee Development: a Case Study

The city of Santa Rosa has made a concerted effort to plan for new development, but projects have yet to materialize.

1 minute read

December 11, 2019, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Highway 101 California

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"In a region where housing advocates proclaim the virtues of adding apartments and condominiums to the cores of established cities, Santa Rosa shows how difficult such a transformation can be," reports John King.

According to King, the city, located deep in the North Bay, in wine country, has been aggressive in cutting developer fees and expediting project review. The city also recently gave initial approval to a plan that will allow as many as 7,000 new units in the city's downtown, according to King.

The rub: "Despite all this, the only housing under construction near historic Courthouse Square is a modest building with 17 apartments," writes King. "Developers are intrigued but wary. Blueprints for approved projects are gathering dust."

According to King, the problem stems from the limits of planning policy compared to basic economics.

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