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City Manager's Blog

Feb 03

Proposed City Hall Remodel

Posted on February 3, 2016 at 2:25 PM by Kim Murray

One of the outcomes from City Council’s adopted goals for 2015 - 2016 was to complete a conceptual plan, cost estimates, and identify funding sources for a City owned Community Development Center (CDC). In order to better understand why it became a goal, it’s important to have a little background. In February 1997, when the new City Hall building was completed, staff from the old City Hall moved into the new building. At the same time, engineering, electric staff, planning and building staff located at the Corporation Yard moved into approximately 5,000 sq. ft. of industrial leased space on Allan Court (behind the new City Hall) currently referred to as the CDC. This relocation was intended to be temporary until a plan was created to expand facilities on the City Hall lot, to include the CDC.

 

In 2005, as the need for more space became apparent, City Council approved funding to lease an additional 2,500 sq. ft. of space. At the same time, the Council directed staff to look into constructing a city hall building annex within the three-year lease period for the CDC space. On March 3, 2008, staff presented a report prepared by ArchiLOGIX including a Preliminary Design Study. The project was tabled until a funding source was developed.

 

The current CDC building itself is a warehouse, which holds 22 to 25 employees. The City spends approximately $85,000 annually in rent and utilities. The interior requires significant upgrades in order to properly house City employees. Based on the cost of rent, utilities, and capital improvements the City set off to explore what it would cost to build a building on the adjacent City owned property next to City Hall.

 

In August 2015, the City Council City approved an agreement with Gelfand Partners Architects to create a conceptual design for a City owned CDC. Approximately 7,000 sq. ft. of space would be required to replace the current CDC. However, it was determined that if the City were to reconfigure the interior of City Hall approximately 3,500 sq. ft. of new space would be required to accommodate the CDC operation. Upon review of the existing City Hall space and square footage required to replace the current CDC, Gelfand Partners Architects found a reconfiguration of the existing City Hall to be the most efficient path.  

 

The goal of a relocation of the CDC and incorporation into a reconfigured City Hall is to eliminate an ongoing rental expense, create a more resourceful and improved experience for our residents when working with the City, significantly improve overall energy efficiency, reduce our carbon footprint, decrease the City’s utility expense, and provide a better work environment for staff.

 

The City of Healdsburg will be hosting a public meeting providing information about the proposed City Hall remodel and improvements where City staff and representatives from Gelfand Partners Architects will review the process and recommendations for the remodel. The meeting will be held Thursday, February 11 at 5 PM in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 401 Grove Street.

 

For additional information, please visit www.cityofhealdsburg.org or call 707.431.1137.

 

David Mickaelian
City Manager

(posted on behalf of David Mickaelian - KM)

Sep 11

Housing in Healdsburg

Posted on September 11, 2015 at 10:16 AM by David Mickaelian

The City of Healdsburg, like many communities throughout our State, is facing a number of housing related challenges.  These challenges have been exacerbated in Healdsburg due to the recent recession, elimination of Redevelopment Funds by the State, and many have argued the limitations of the Growth Management Ordinance, which inadvertently has curtailed construction of new market rate, multi-family units for sale or rental units.  This has all become much more personal and painful for our community over the past two months with the news of families being evicted from their apartments as well as reported rent increases.

While it seems like a perfect storm of housing issues, the City has been working for some time to address these issues with short, mid, and long-term approaches in mind.

Short Term: City staff met with a number of property owners and property management firms (controlling over 650 rental units in Healdsburg) to discuss appropriate methods and approaches to rental management.  All were asked to support a Rental Advisory that your City Council approved on July 17th.  The “Advisory” provides that:

  • Property owners have an obligation to provide a measure of reliability to tenants regarding rent increases both in terms of rate of increase and frequency. Rent increases for current tenants should be reasonable and fair. A guideline for a reasonable and fair increase amount should not exceed 10% annually.
  • When significant work on a rental unit is needed that requires the tenant to be removed, the tenant is to be given the first right of return to his or her unit once repairs are completed.
  • Owners / property managers imposing reasonable rent increases should be willing to listen openly to tenants’ concerns and consider special arrangements for hardship cases when appropriate.

Safe and healthy living conditions are a shared responsibility. Property owners are expected to respect the rights of their tenants and provide a timely response to maintenance/repair requests and in accordance with applicable law.

The full text of the Rental Advisory is listed at www.ci.healdsburg.ca.ua.  We were pleased that for those in attendance, most of these requests were consistent with their current practices. In addition, Council directed City staff to work with North Sonoma Community Services, along with their partners Committee on the Shelterless (COTS), and Catholic Charities, to help those tenants who have been or are currently being displaced.  To support this effort, the City has committed funding for aid services and support staff to assist families.

Mid-Term: Eighteen months ago, the City began working on a strategy and long-term approach to resolving Healdsburg’s housing challenges.  As part of this effort, the City hosted a number of public workshops and created enhanced outreach efforts (including this website www.ci.healdsburg.ca.us/360/Housing), to better inform our residents and gain feedback on emerging policies and actions that the City can take.  One of the key themes, which emerged from the series, was an overwhelming desire from the community to increase the diversity of housing, as well as its affordability.

Like all complex issues, affordable and diverse housing in Healdsburg will not be solved easily.  The City has embarked on a process that will require modifications to the Growth Management Ordinance, new tools for creating affordable housing, removing barriers to cost effective construction and creating new paths to encourage construction of different housing types that meet the needs of changing life stages and lifestyles.  All of these issues will be addressed in a forthcoming Housing Action Plan that is a top priority for Council.  To assist with some aspects of this effort the City Council established a nine member Community Housing Committee, and asked that their first task be to draw up language for updating the GMO, in order to make it current with today’s market realities, and remove what has been identified as a considerable barrier to more workforce housing.  This language will go to the voters to in an upcoming 2016 election.  

Long-Term: Additional housing will need to be built to support our community’s workforce.  We have an obligation to support those who work in our community, provide cost effective opportunities to live in our community, and are exploring tools and techniques that have worked in other communities like ours.  To create a foundation for these actions the City has adopted a number of plans that provide our leaders guidance as we go down this path.  These documents include the City’s General Plan, the Housing Element, the City Council’s 5 year Strategic Plan, and Council’s annual goals.  The forthcoming Housing Action Plan will be a keystone in this effort as well.  These plans will help shape what housing looks like in the future, and clarify what we can be doing.

We encourage you to go to http://www.ci.healdsburg.ca.us/610/Committee-Resource to review these documents and learn more about the process, meetings and outcomes of these efforts.

David Mickaelian
City Manager