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Healdsburg growth-cap author left off review committee

Jim Winston, the author of Healdsburg's growth control ordinance, will not be a member of the city committee that will study whether to loosen the growth cap.

After being spurned Monday by the City Council in his request to serve on the group, he asserted that it is pro-growth and likely to recommend a doubling or tripling of the number of new homes that can be built annually in Healdsburg.

By bypassing him, Winston said, "It demonstrates in my opinion that they want to make sure they get the answer they want" — a new ordinance allowing 60 to 90 dwelling units a year, instead of the current restriction of 30.

City Council members say it's not so simple.

"To say there's one point of view driving this group is very misleading," said Councilman Tom Chambers. "It represents a lot of diverse points of view."

"It's just unfortunate Mr. Winston feels that way," said Councilwoman Susan Jones. "The committee hasn't met yet. We have no idea what the committee will come up with."

Winston lives outside the Healdsburg city limits.

The city's voters voters in 2000 approved the measure he crafted that restricts the number of new market-rate homes to no more than 30 per year, or 90 in a three-year period.

But city planners say higher density housing envisioned for the central downtown would be difficult to develop without allowing more units, since only a limited number of building permits could be allocated in one time period.

"We're not looking at any rampant growth, but diversification," Chambers said of the mixed uses that are deemed desirable in the central Healdsburg beyond hotels and tourist-oriented businesses.

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