Frequently Asked Questions
+ WHAT IS THE DOWNTOWN STATION AREA SPECIFIC PLAN?
The Santa Rosa Downtown Station Area Specific Plan (DSASP) is the blueprint for development and preservation in a 650-acre area at the center of the city. It helps shape what the area looks like and how it functions. Originally adopted in 2007, a key purpose of the current Plan is to increase the number of residents and employees within walking distance of the SMART station through the intensification of land uses in the Plan Area. The Plan seeks to guide new development with a view to creating a vibrant urban center with a distinct identity and character, a diverse mix of uses, transit-oriented development, and pedestrian-friendly connections. To do so, the Plan includes policies related to land use, mobility, design, infrastructure and the environment. It contains text, diagrams, and photographs that communicate the vision of the Plan and how it will be implemented.
+ WHAT AREA DOES THE PLAN COVER?
The Plan covers an area of approximately 650 acres surrounding the Downtown SMART station in the heart of Santa Rosa. The Plan Area extends approximately one-half mile in all directions from the Downtown Station site and is bounded by College Avenue to the north, E Street to the east, Sebastopol Road and Highway 12 to the south, and Dutton Avenue and Imwalle Gardens to the west. The updated plan will include a one-half mile radius of the Downtown Transit Mall in addition to the Downtown SMART station and will extend the Plan Area east to Brookwood Avenue. The Plan Area encompasses several established areas, including Historic Railroad Square, Courthouse Square, government and conference centers and several residential neighborhoods.
To view the Plan Area map, click here.
+ WHY IS THE PLAN BEING UPDATED?
The 2007 Specific Plan envisioned that 3,409 new residential units and 493,000 square feet of new office, retail and institutional uses would be constructed by 2027. However, halfway through the planning period, only 100 housing units and 194,000 square feet of office retail and institutional uses have been developed, with an additional 275 housing units and 107,000 square feet of office, retail and institutional uses in the pipeline. As an area capable of accommodating density and providing new housing options, successful downtown development is an essential part of addressing the urgent housing need created by the housing crisis and devastating loss of homes to the 2017 wildfires.
The City of Santa Rosa in undertaking an update to the DSASP in order to explore options for addressing the community’s unmet housing needs as well as land use, transportation, economic development, and historic preservation issues associated with the intensification of housing development downtown. Additionally, the Plan Area boundary will be expanded eastward to Brookwood Avenue for consistency with the Santa Rosa General Plan’s definition of the downtown core.
+ WHAT IS A SPECIFIC PLAN AND WHY DO WE NEED ONE?
A specific plan is a document designed to implement the goals and policies of the general plan. Specific plans contain detailed development standards, land use regulations, infrastructure requirements, financing strategies, and implementation measures for the development of a specific geographic area. As a planning tool, specific plans guide future developments and they can be an effective way to build “sense of place.” While a specific plan can’t guarantee investment or address external factors such as construction costs or market demand, it can create a favorable environment for development and reduce uncertainty by clearly articulating a community supported vision, the elements needed to achieve it, and the roadmap for realizing it.
+ DOWNTOWN HAS BEEN THE FOCUS OF A LOT OF PLANNING OVER THE YEARS. WHAT’S DIFFERENT THIS TIME AROUND?
In updating the Downtown Station Area Specific Plan, we will not be starting again from scratch. Downtown Santa Rosa has been the focus of several planning efforts over the years and this means that many of the issues in play are known. The intention with the DSASP Update is to start from this base of knowledge and drill down to develop a deeper understanding of the factors limiting progress toward achieving downtown development goals and to craft solutions that get at the root causes. The City has engaged a consultant team with a strong track record of implementation-focused planning to assist with this process. The approach for updating the DSASP includes:
- Preparing a detailed market study to examine real estate market conditions and trends as a basis for projecting the realistic demand for residential and commercial development in the downtown area;
- Interviewing key stakeholders, including property owners, business owners, real estate developers, major employers, and public agencies and institutions, to hear first-hand about the factors limiting development and investment downtown as well as the opportunities they see for the area;
- Testing the financial feasibility of different development types and creating development standards and guidelines for the Plan that are in tune with market realities and can be feasibly constructed in Downtown Santa Rosa in the coming years;
- Vetting concepts and strategies with a broad cross-section of the community to ensure the Plan represents the values and priorities of Santa Rosa and that there is community buy-in for implementation.
+ WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN THE PROCESS?
The Downtown Station Area Specific Plan Update consists of four main phases and is anticipated to be adopted in Fall 2019. Click here to see the project timeline.
- Phase I.Deep dive into issues and opportunities (Winter 2018 - Spring 2019): an intensive "deep-dive" early in the process to identify and understand stakeholder priorities and concerns, and to establish a coordinated and realistic direction for the future of the planning founded on community vision.
- Phase 2. Alternatives Exploration (Spring - Summer 2019): Based on community vision and input, this phase will result in development of distinct land use alternatives, each of which highlight opportunities and tradeoffs.
- Phase 3. Draft Plan Preparation (Summer 2019): A draft plan will be prepared based on the preferred alternative that emerges from Phase 2.
- Phase 4. Plan Finalization (Fall 2019): The final plan will be presented for adoption to the Planning Commission and City Council.
+ HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED, AND HOW WILL MY INPUT BE USED?
At each phase of the process, we’re planning a range of public events to engage the community in a conversation about the future of Downtown Santa Rosa. Events will include online activities and in-person workshops as well as numerous “pop-up" events around the community that meet people where they are in their daily lives and give them the chance to share their ideas without a major commitment of time.
- Phase I - we’ll be asking community members and future users of downtown to share their thoughts on the issues and opportunities to consider in updating the Plan. The ideas we hear will shape several “alternatives,” which represent different scenarios for land use mix, connectivity, and character/design downtown.
- Phase II - people will be asked to help evaluate the pros and cons of the alternative scenarios developed on the basis of Phase I input and to recommend key components and strategies to include in a preferred plan concept
- Phase III - Based on the preferred plan concept that results from Phase II, staff and the consultants will update the DSASP and release the revised plan for public review and comment. People will have the opportunity to see the whole plan at this point and comment on the content, including narratives, maps, graphics, policies and standards. During this phase, people will also have the opportunity to comment on the potential environmental impacts of the plan and measures that could reduce or avoid those impacts.
- Phase IV - During this phase the proposed DSASP Update will go before City decision-makers. Public comment on the draft plan and its impacts will be presented to the Planning and Design Commission and the City Council. Community members can share their thoughts directly with decision-makers at this stage, by attending a hearing to ask a question or share a comment orally.
If you would like City staff to meet you and your neighbors, attend your community meeting, visit your business, or speak with your employees at any point in the process, please contact:
Patrick Streeter, Senior Planner
Jessica Jones, Supervising Planner
If you have any other questions or would like us to meet you and your neighbors, attend your community meeting, visit your business, or speak with your employees, please contact Patrick Streeter, Senior Planner with the City of Santa Rosa, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to find out more about upcoming events.
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