Before/After: Mill Street and Santa Rosa Avenue looking south. Slide the bar above to the left to see what change could look like under this alternative.

Alternative 3: Transit Forward



This alternative would focus new, higher-density development along high frequency transit corridors in the planning area in order to build connections between downtown and other parts of the city, increase vibrancy, and promote walking, biking and transit use over single-occupant vehicles. Key corridors for densification are Mendocino Avenue between College and Courthouse Square; Santa Rosa Avenue between Maple and Courthouse Square; West Third Street from Davis to Dutton; and Sebastopol Road between Olive and Dutton. Each of these roadways would be reconfigured as multi-modal streets with priority for transit and an activated public realm featuring bicycle lanes, wide sidewalks, plazas, parklets, and roof-top green spaces.

Under this scenario, the existing transit mall would be expanded to the south and the block would be redeveloped with a mix of residential, office, retail, and entertainment options in addition to transit and parking facilities in buildings 6 to 8 stories tall. The Sears site would see residential mixed use redevelopment, as would properties along the creek and greenway between Santa Rosa Avenue and Morgan, where site design standards would be put in place to require that new development be oriented both First Street and the Greenway. The SMART site would see new mixed use development oriented toward West Third Street with buildings 6 to 8 stories tall on the eastern portion of the site closest to the railway tracks and stepping down to meet existing development to the west. There would also be redevelopment and adaptive reuse of the former industrial buildings between Wilson and Donahue with transit-oriented mixed use development in buildings 4 to 6 stories tall. Over the longer term, Maxwell Court would transition to a residential character with medium-high density housing in buildings up to 4 stories tall.

To promote connectivity downtown, the following improvements are envisioned in addition to the corridor improvement outlined above:

  • A new multi-modal roadway connection through the SMART site joining Sixth Street and West Third.

  • Reconnection of Fourth Street between Railroad Square and Courthouse Square with a new paseo that runs through Santa Rosa Plaza, providing direct access for pedestrians .

  • Creating a “fare-free” downtown transit zone with frequent (under 10 minutes) shuttle service between Railroad Square and Courthouse Square.

  • Providing public art and lighting in the underpasses at Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Ninth would build visual connections, heighten sense of place, and improve perceptions of safety.


This alternative is projected to result in approximately 7,000 new housing units and 2,965 new jobs in the planning area by 2040.

This alternative is projected to result in approximately 7,000 new housing units and 2,965 new jobs in the planning area by 2040.

Concentration of New Housing Units


Land Use and Circulation Diagram