Of the seven ballot measures in Napa and Sonoma counties employing novel methods for raising millions of dollars annually to build affordable dwellings, Santa Rosa's proposed housing bond seemed to fall short in preliminary results, and two of Napa Valley's bids to raise lodging taxes were just below the two-thirds threshold in the first tally.
Santa Rosa's Measure N, a proposed $124 million bond, garnered nearly 59 percent of the vote, with all precincts reporting, but it appears to have failed to get the required two-thirds majority.
"We missed an opportunity to pay attention to the issue of housing last night, and I don't expect anything will come around soon to replace it," Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey told an audience of about 300 people attending North Bay Business Journal's Impact Sonoma: State of Wildfire Recovery conference in the city Wednesday morning.
The mayor said efforts to address replacement of the approximately 3,000 homes lost in the October 2017 wildfires inside city limits continues. Over 5,000 homes were destroyed in Sonoma County all together, and more than 1,000 others burned up in Napa, Mendocino, Lake and Solano counties.
Also progressing is the effort to build thousands of homes needed to address escalating prices and declining construction of affordable housing which existed before the fires, Coursey said.
"Passage of Measure N would have provided a step toward that process," he said.
The city has plans to cut red tape and encourage home construction, especially higher-rise multifamily housing housing in its downtown.
"It would be housing which is close to transit, close to services and we have community consensus," Coursey said. "(W)e need to build 5,000 homes by 2022, we don't want in ’22 to look back and see we are still at 2017 levels."
Santa Rosa-based nonprofit developer Burbank Housing Development's CEO noted the vote tally so far for Measure N shows considerable support for public finance of affordable housing.
"We expect it will more likely be in the mid-60s by the time the results are tabulated," Larry Florin said. "Obviously, it’s disappointing that we didn’t get the two-thirds vote, but we appreciate that over 60 percent voiced their support for affordable housing, and we’ll continue to move forward.”
Housing bonds are a"tried-and-true way to produce housing," according to Cynthia Parker, president and CEO of nonprofit developer Bridge Housing.
"The need in Santa Rosa is so dire, and the longer it takes to rebuild, the harder it will be for people to return to the community," Parker said.
In Napa County, voters appear to have green-lighted measures D, E, F and S in Calistoga, St. Helena, Napa and Yountville, respectively, according to the first unofficial tally of votes received by Tuesday. Napa County is part of a pilot for all-mailed-in voting. The next tally is set for Friday, and the vote is due to be certified by the end of this month.
Those are among six measures on the county's ballot that proposed increases to transient-occupancy taxes (TOTs), which are charged to visitors along with lodging, by 1 percentage point, to 13 percent, starting next year. The money, estimated to be $4.78 million annually from all six areas, would fund workforce- and affordable-housing projects, programs and services.
American Canyon's Measure H had nearly 63 percent approval, 3 percentage points shy of the two-thirds needed. Unincorporated Napa County's Measure I was right at the threshold, with 66.6 percent in favor.