SEBASTOPOL, Calif., Oct. 3, 2018 -- The Raise the Roof! West County Housing Fair & Expo, sponsored by the City of Sebastopol and County of Sonoma, takes place on Sunday, November 4, 2018, at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center from 1:30 pm to 5 pm. The event is free of charge and open to all residents of the greater Sebastopol area. Raise the Roof! spreads the word about existing and new housing policies that help facilitate the creation of small dwelling units and home-sharing, and provides a venue for housing-related entities, such as Sonoma County Community Development Commission, to interact with the public about affordable housing resources and the wraparound services they offer. Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with planners and public and private service providers. Free childcare and light refreshments will be provided.
Even before the housing shortage was worsened by the loss of more than 5,000 homes county-wide in last year's firestorms, the City of Sebastopol's Housing Subcommittee was taking a hard look at how to create more housing opportunities in the Sebastopol area. The subcommittee held a series of six well-attended public workshops and round-table discussions on housing challenges in the spring of 2017. Out of these discussions emerged a plan to capture the "low-hanging fruit" -- Accessory Dwelling ("Granny") Units (ADUs), Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs), and home-sharing.
"The need for additional housing regionally may be the single most important issue facing us today," says Sebastopol Mayor and Housing Subcommittee Co-chair Patrick Slayter. "Those of us in Sebastopol and western Sonoma County can take many actions to create additional dwelling units for middle-income working families and elders, and this event is planned to provide guidance and information for both current property owners looking to add housing and individuals who are currently in need of housing."
Both as a result of the loss of homes in the fires and an existing shortage, changes have been made at the county level to expedite reviews to rebuild homes and approve new projects. Changes are also underway in Sebastopol as the city moves to bring its zoning ordinances into alignment with the recently approved General Plan, which favors the creation of accessory dwelling units.
At the November 4 event, Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, Mayor Patrick Slayter, and Councilmember Una Glass will moderate panel discussions at 2:00pm and 3:30pm with housing creation and permitting experts. Discussion topics will include: overall planning and permitting processes for both city and county, what to expect when adding an ADU or JADU, return on investment and options for obtaining financing for homeowners, and aging in place for older residents through the SHARE Sebastopol home-sharing program.
The Sebastopol Planning Department estimates that there are over 1,000 properties in and around Sebastopol that are eligible for ADUs or JADUs. SHARE Sebastopol, a home-sharing project geared towards older residents, estimates that there are thousands of bedrooms in homes across the county that are not being used.
Says Sebastopol Councilmember and Housing Subcommittee Co-chair Una Glass, "If only a small fraction of these opportunities were taken advantage of, it would help make a dent in the housing shortage. At the same time, creating additional housing can be a financial boon for homeowners."
Says District 5 Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, "Now, more than ever, we need to leverage and maximize our existing housing resources while working to streamline and promote new housing opportunities. This time is now if we want to keep our families, our teachers, our firefighters, and every single person in this county who calls Sonoma County home, and give them the opportunity to grow, live, and thrive."
Event planners hope that Raise the Roof! will serve as a model that can be repeated throughout the county. Learn more about the event at http://bit.ly/sebhousing.