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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, March 14, 2011, 4:51 am

Sonoma County Economic Development board releases data for nine cities

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    SONOMA COUNTY — The Sonoma County Economic Development Board, in partnership with city councils and chambers of commerce, has released a new series of City Economic Reports for each of the nine incorporated areas in Sonoma County.

    Areas covered by the reports include employment, demographics, residential and commercial real estate, consumer spending, and education.

    This series of reports is a pilot project, and the board is expecting to produce them annually.

    Highlights for each city:

    Cloverdale saw residential housing vacancy rates increase from 4.7 percent in 2000 to 7.7 percent in 2009. The five-year projection expects a decrease to 6.6 percent. Office and industrial vacancy rates are lowest in the county, but retail vacancy is the highest, at 14 percent as of last year.

    Cotati saw the median household income increase 23.1 percent, and over the next five years it is projected to increase an additional 8.1 percent to just over $66,000.

    Healdsburg median household income increased 33 percent from 2000 to 2009. The percentage of households making over $100,000 increased 12 percentage points.

    Residential housing vacancy has increased from 4.1 percent to 8.6 percent in the same period. The Healdsburg economy is expected to track Sonoma County’s performance.

    Petaluma has among the highest office and industrial vacancy rates in Sonoma County. Currently, over 39 percent of viable office space and 18 percent of viable industrial space in Petaluma is vacant.

    Residential housing vacancy rates have more than doubled in Petaluma. Up from 1.8 percent in 2000, 4.1 percent of housing was vacant in 2009. Five-year projections expect the vacancy rate to remain near 4 percent.

    Rohnert Park has seen an increase in residential vacancies of 2.6 percent since 2000 to 4.6 percent in 2009. Five-year projections expect the vacancy rate to remain near 5 percent.

    Office and retail vacancy rates in Rohnert Park are also projected to remain high. As of last year, more than 43 percent of office space and 10 percent of retail space in Rohnert Park was vacant.

    Santa Rosa: After three years of decline, the number of homes sold in Santa Rosa has rebounded 79 percent since 2007.

    Although wage growth has slowed, decreasing home prices have increased affordability for potential home buyers.

    The Santa Rosa economy is expected to drive Sonoma County’s recovery. Improvements in the labor market will lag those in its core industries. Current forecasts suggest the unemployment rate will start to see improvement during the latter half of 2011.

    Sebastopol is seeing the number of home sales increase 26 percent year over year between 2008 and 2009 after four years of decline.

    Sonoma has seen the median home price decrease 42 percent since a strong growth period ended in 2007. The housing affordability index for Sonoma is near its highest level in over two decades. Home sales in Sonoma have rebounded 14 percent since the decade low in 2007.

    Windsor: After four years of decline, home sales in Windsor have rebounded 60.5 percent since 2007. Although wage growth has slowed, subdued home prices have increased affordability for potential buyers. The residential vacancy rate of Windsor of 4.5 percent continued to fare better than the county average.

    To view the forecasts, visit www.sonoma-county.org/edb/city_reports.htm.

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