Planning officials to vet Broadway project, new apartments on Sonoma Highway

A music school, a garage setback waiver, a development code amendment to allow accessory units and a bedroom addition exception, all come before the city's Planning Commission Thursday. But those will probably take second billing to two housing developments set to come under commission scrutiny – one a long-discussed affordable-housing project at the city's southern gateway, the other a new apartment complex being planned at a major city intersection.

Satellite Affordable Housing Associates' 49-unit project at 20269 Broadway – named by SAHA as the Altamira (sic) Family Apartments – is likely to generate the most attention. The SAHA venture has provoked neighborhood concern since 2012, when the 1.98-acre property was transferred to the Sonoma County Community Development Commission as part of the termination of the state's redevelopment agencies.

The development plan calls for 49 apartment units grouped within eight two-story building clusters, along with a single-story community room. There would be 22 one-bedroom, 14 two-bedroom and 13 three-bedroom units, and 16 of the units would be affordable to extremely-low income individuals and households.

The entrance to the housing complex was originally designed to be off Clay Street, but neighborhood objection and other factors moved the proposed access to Broadway. While this and other areas of concern include traffic and neighborhood compatibility, the Planning Commission's report states, 'Generally speaking, however, it is staff's view that the proposed development is consistent with and would work to fulfill a number of General Plan policies, especially as related to housing diversity and affordability.'

Planning Director David Goodison clarified that the Commission is not being asked to make a final decision with respect to environmental review, but to provide direction for further study.

That hearing will be followed by a study session on a proposal to develop a mixed-use project at 19410 Sonoma Highway, to include two, two-story apartments and a commercial retail building. The .68-acre property is at the curved intersection of Sonoma Highway and West Spain Street, between the El Pueblo Inn and the Rodolph Furnishing Fabric Outlet.

The proposal is for 12 apartment units, 20 percent (two or three) of which must be affordable to households in the low- and moderate-income categories, according to City code, although that requirement could possibly be waived according to the item's report. A total of 31 parking spaces are proposed, along with a 1,930-square-foot commercial retail building.

Several structures including an existing home, garage and circular driveway, will be removed in the construction. Ken Taub is the architect of record, and Steven G. Cavalli of Santa Rosa is the property's owner.

Study sessions provide the commission and community with a preliminary review of a proposed development, Goodison said, with the opportunity for public comment.

The meeting's first two agenda items include a new single-story bedroom addition at 859 Fourth St. E., and a new attached garage at 340 First St. W. – a property behind the Swiss Hotel and formerly owned by Salvador Vallejo and Martha Carrillo. Each of these require 'exceptions' to setback requirements, and it is expected they will be approved with conditions to be discussed at the meeting.

They are followed by consideration of a use permit for Mikey Cannon to open his Cannon School of Music at 254 First St. E., across from Hughes Field. It will be relocated from his previous home-based business location at 17109 Sonoma Highway, at Marin Ave. It would be a temporary location for Cannon, if the First Street East project currently in development is approved.

The final item on the agenda – which may be continued until the next commission meeting if the earlier topics run long – is to review a draft ordinance easing regulation on accessory dwelling units, so-called 'second units' or 'granny units,' rules for which have already changed at both the state and county level.

The Planning Commission will meet on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 6:30 in the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. W. Information on this meeting's agenda can be found on the City of Sonoma website, under Government/Planning Commission.

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