Assemblymember Jim Wood Authors Legislation to Streamline Environmental Review Process to Rebuild Sonoma County
Local environmental groups express support
SACRAMENTO–On Wednesday in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) will present AB 2267, a bill that temporarily streamlines environmental regulations for the City of Santa Rosa to amend its specific plan, allowing the city to pursue higher density downtown housing in the aftermath of the North Bay fires in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.
“Protecting the environment has always been a top priority of mine, and people know that I would only look for a temporary change to CEQA under the most rare of circumstances,” said Wood. CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, is a statute that requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible.
“The devastating North Bay fires destroyed more than 8,000 people’s homes including more than 3,000 in Santa Rosa alone. These losses, combined with an already existing countywide shortage of affordable and available housing, have pushed Santa Rosa and Sonoma County into an extraordinary housing crisis that threatens the health of the regional economy and the future of its residents.”
AB 2267 creates a streamlined CEQA process for projects that meet specified density, affordable housing, environmental and labor requirements. It gives the City of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County a critical tool to incentivize development that will quickly and responsibly renew the area with a carefully planned, climate-smart infill development rather than increasing the suburban sprawl into valued wildland environment.
A February 2018 report by Beacon Economics on the housing and fiscal impact of the fires concluded that in total, after accounting for fire losses, employment growth, and overcrowded housing, Sonoma County needs an additional 26,000 housing units by 2020 to avoid negatively impacting economic growth and permanently losing residents who were displaced by the fires.
To address this extraordinary housing crisis, the City of Santa Rosa and County of Sonoma have joined together to propose a resilient, climate-friendly plan to rejuvenate their communities with responsible, increased density development in specific transportation corridors.
“We have support from local environmental groups and I have worked hard to narrowly focus this review process to assure that environmental protections are met while allowing the city and county to address the extraordinary housing crisis and the need to expedite rebuilding of a community devastated by last year’s wildfires,” said Wood.
Assemblymember Jim Wood (D- Santa Rosa) represents the 2nd Assembly District, which includes all of Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, plus northern and coastal Sonoma County, including the northern half of Santa Rosa.