Healdsburg drops growth ballot measure

  • Healdsburg mayor, Jim Wood

Healdsburg voters won’t be asked to loosen the city’s growth cap in November.

In an unexpected move, the City Council this week decided to jettison a proposed ballot measure to amend the growth management ordinance, which would have allowed more homes to be built over the next 15 years.

“Quite frankly, I just didn’t think the amendment does what the community really needs,” Mayor Jim Wood said Wednesday.

In effect, a majority of the council agreed it didn’t go far enough to help provide more housing in Healdsburg, which has some of the highest home prices in the county, second only to Sebastopol.

“We need the flexibility and ability to build more units — multifamily, rental units — in town and figure out a way to create more moderate-income, workforce housing for nurses, teachers, even doctors,” Wood said in an interview, adding that new companies coming to Healdsburg are finding it tough to house their employees.

“The rental market in our town is extremely tight and very expensive,” he said.

The proposed change to the growth management ordinance “doesn’t really get us to where we need to be,” agreed Councilman Gary Plass.

The amendment — if approved by voters — would have allowed developers to build up to 510 new dwelling units over 15 years. That compares to 450 allowed in the same period under the current voter-approved ordinance.

Councilman Tom Chambers was the only one against dropping it from the November ballot, saying it was a compromise that “seemed like something we could all live with.”

“I thought it was a reasonable plan. I thought people could understand what it was, and if it was put to a vote, it would pass,” he said Thursday.

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