Santa Rosa’s Downtown Station Area Plan

February 25th, 2010  |  Commercial Property Transportation

How will the Santa Rosa City Council juggle the vision of the Downtown Station Area Specific Plan with the reality of the struggling economy? The Downtown Station Area Specific Plan was funded by the City of Santa Rosa and the Metropolitan Transit Committee. Santa Rosa’s Downtown Station Area Plan focuses on the Railroad Square station area and looks to increase ridership for the Sonoma Area Rail Transit commuter train. The plan also looks to decrease the green house gases by making improvements to pedestrian and bike infrastructure.

A major conflict may arises between some current uses and new planned future uses. The best example of this potential conflict lies in the Maxwell Court and Roberts Ave. areas. Both of these areas serve the City of Santa Rosa as light industrial uses such as warehouses and repair shops. With the General Plan 2035, the City has changed these land use designations to housing designations to fulfill the goals of the DSASP. To the great concern of the property and business owners of these areas, the DSASP makes expanding or keeping light industrial uses more difficult. The current uses are not compatible with the planning department’s vision of high density housing located close to mass transit and downtown retail.

With today’s economy, loss of jobs and sales tax, the City of Santa Rosa like other cities are looking to stabilize their budget. The perception of being anti-business could hurt the timeline of their recovery. The debate has intensified as to how to properly follow the Downtown Station Area Specific Plan. If the City pushes too hard for these land use changes without the cooperation of the property owners, the vision of the DSASP may never be realized.

The Santa Rosa Advance Planning department and Community Development are focusing on the owners of these properties while trying to explain the complexities of land use policies to the City Council. Tough decisions face the City Council, as their choices will impact the development or lack of development of Santa Rosa’s downtown.

The City Council has asked for more information regarding the loss of both of these light industrial areas to the overall health of the City’s economic vitality. Staff will come back with this information and the City Council will once again be in the political batter’s box and will have to make a tough land use policy choice.

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