Bold idea to stimulate North Bay housing

- What if you could turn a huge hunk of land into the cash needed to get more modern facilities and help solve your community's housing crisis? In Santa Rosa, property values have shot up so much, one huge government parcel of land could be a big part of the housing crisis. 

The Sonoma County Administration Center in Santa Rosa is a 26-acre complex that is almost six decades old. It has all the problems older low rise structures have, everything from prehistoric plumbing to iffy earthquake resistance. There's more than a quarter billion dollars of deferred maintenance here.

The county Board of Supervisors has decided to ask private developers if they are interested in erecting a modern, eco-friendly, half million square foot multi-story high rise. The vast administrative area would be leveled and likely sold off to make way for the construction of 1400 to 4000 badly needed affordable and middle-class living spaces. 

"By all accounts, we're at least 25 to 30 thousand units short of dealing with our affordability issue," said Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Gore.

Four sites are under consideration including a small part of the sprawling existing site, a site downtown, the business park near Sonoma County Airport or some other developer chosen site. 

"There's no reason to incur debt or government investment or even cash out of our general fund just to make us a new temple to local government. We gotta do something big," said Supervisor Gore.

This project and the rebuilding of Coffey Park would get the county about a third of the way to its goal. But one county resident worries that this might cut into funds needed for firestorm recovery. 

"But I think as a forward plan, it’s not a bad plan to think about 'what are we gonna do when something is gonna cost so much to fix up and is this the best time to maybe move it?’ Yeah, maybe that does make sense," said Robin Marcucci.

Back in the 1950's and 60's, this really was the cutting edge of rural government architecture, but that was a long time ago. 
"We're spending probably two to three times more to keep it running than it's actually worth," said Supervisor Gore. If Supervisor Gore has his way, the Board will put out a fast track request for contractor bids.
 

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