Affordable housing in Healdsburg?

  • Emma Burns, 13, and her father, Malcolm, of Aberdeen, Scotland raft along the Russian River with Russian River Adventures in Healdsburg, on Sunday, July 6, 2014. The Burns family is staying in a rented home on Eastside Rd. during their vacation.(BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

In the pricey real estate enclave of Healdsburg, residents are getting their chance to give city officials their ideas for creating more affordable housing.

Healdsburg's success as a Wine Country tourist destination is one factor driving up housing prices, and residents are calling for "workforce housing" for restaurant and hotel workers, as well as school teachers, public safety workers and others who provide vital services to the community of 11,500 people.

A recent public workshop on housing issues identified a shortage of rental units in Healdsburg, a lack off diverse housing types and the impact of second homes and vacation rentals.

Participants said that buyers of second homes are driving up prices and competing with permanent residents for a limited supply of homes.

Locals will get to sound off again Wednesday at a second workshop on the city's draft "housing element" of the general plan, which the state requires cities to revise on a regular basis.

The workshop, which will be held from 6 to 8 p.m at the Healdsburg Community Center, is intended to help formulate the city's housing goals and policies through 2023.

"I think we need more housing in Healdsburg," said City Councilman Shaun McCaffery, who added that the city is limited by a voter-approved growth-management ordinance that restricts the number of new homes to an average of 30 or less annually.

Even though construction of low- and very-low income homes are exempt from the growth ordinance, McCaffery said it makes it tough to build workforce housing.

"When you have a development of any size, you need to build lots of houses at the same time to get an economic benefit of scale," he said.

McCaffery is in favor of a November ballot measure that would loosen up the growth control restriction.

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