Three Communities Designated as Prohousing by the Governor for Strides Made to Accelerate Housing Production

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Sacramento, CA – There are now 30 Prohousing communities, but what might be of interest to local readers is that two of three are host cities to state colleges—Rohnert Park (Sonoma State) along with Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz) along with the San Francisco suburb, South San Francisco, “have earned the state’s Prohousing Designation making them eligible for funding incentives and additional resources as a reward for their work to reduce barriers to building more housing.”

From the state’s perspective, “It is vital for local governments to cut red tape and implement policies that increase much-needed housing in California. ”

As such, they argue, “Accountability measures and incentives like the Prohousing Designation are critical to help meet the state’s goal of 2.5 million new homes over the next eight years, with at least one million serving the needs of lower-income Californians.”

“These cities are showing the local leadership California needs to tackle our state’s housing crisis,” Governor Newsom said on Friday.  “They stand in stark contrast to the handful of locals who are failing their constituents and refusing to help California families struggling with runaway housing costs.”

He added, “We will continue to celebrate cities like Rohnert Park, Santa Cruz and South San Francisco while holding bad actors accountable with executive action and in the courts when necessary.”

“We commend Rohnert Park, Santa Cruz and South San Francisco for their commitment to housing forward policies that will remove barriers to building and preserving affordable housing,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez. “We are proud to work with these cities to create housing near jobs, transit, and other amenities to build a strong housing market and provide homes to working Californians.”

“I’m thrilled that we now have 30 communities that have achieved the Prohousing Designation,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “The cities and counties are leading the way by reducing unnecessary barriers and red tape that discourage new housing production, instead they are signaling to developers that they are ready to support more housing production, faster.”

Prohousing Designations

City of Rohnert Park

The City of Rohnert Park’s Prohousing application shows a variety of initiatives to promote housing growth and reduce barriers to construction of new affordable units. All commercial zones allow for residential mixed-us—so long as commercial uses are included with a proposed residential project. Additionally, the city exempts affordable housing developments from paying the public facilities fee and has partnered with nonprofit Housing Land Trust of Sonoma County to implement its affordable ownership program.

City of Santa Cruz

The City of Santa Cruz’s Prohousing application highlights several innovative programs which will help lower barriers for new housing. The city has created a new unit type called Flexible Density Units (FDUs) that can be added to residential or mixed-use developments. Similarly, the My House My Home Program helps low-income older adults age in place by helping to develop an on-site rental Accessory Dwelling Units to supplement their fixed incomes.

City of South San Francisco

The City of South San Francisco’s Prohousing application demonstrates a commitment to expanding access and reducing costs of new housing units. The city routinely approves exemptions for residential development, ranging from single-family units to large multi-family developments. The city has adopted a new Accessory Dwelling Units ordinance and removed its previous mandatory parking replacement policies so homeowners can easily add to their property. The city also offers pre-approved designs for green and all-electric detached Accessory Dwelling Units developed by the Housing Endowment and Regional Trust of San Mateo County (HEART).

The Governor’s office noted, “California is the leader in the Prohousing space. Last week the Biden-Harris Administration announced its own Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing program designed to provide funding to local jurisdictions to assist them in removing barriers to housing production and preservation.”

Local governments can apply for competitive grants of between $1 million and $10 million to develop, evaluate and implement housing policy plans, improve housing strategies, and facilitate affordable housing production and preservation.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Ron Oertel

    I thought David was “done” talking about housing on here, but I should have known better.  🙂

    “have earned the state’s Prohousing Designation making them eligible for funding incentives and additional resources as a reward for their work to reduce barriers to building more housing.”

    This doesn’t sound like something to “strive for”.

    “Reduce barriers” to build more housing, and then receive government funds to facilitate even more housing.

    Assuming I’m understanding it correctly, this reminds me of how the Davis city council supported freeway expansion, and as a “reward” – will receive funds to help pay for infrastructure needed for private housing developments such as Nishi.

    Remind me again how that’s a “reward”.

  2. Ron Oertel

    City of Rohnert Park

    Additionally, the city exempts affordable housing developments from paying the public facilities fee 

    Don’t know what the “public facilities fee” pays for, but eliminating the fee sounds like a way to ensure “fiscal challenges”.  And by the way, would this also apply to developments which only contain some affordable units?

    And is the governor now proposing to “make up” for that loss?  (Homey don’t think so.)

    The city of Rohnert Park “won the award for sprawl” a long time ago.  There’s nothing “new” about them being highly-supportive of development.  They’re practically the poster child of sprawl, and their pattern of development in years past was a factor in the reaction against the very thing they pursued in that county.



      1. Ron Oertel

        I’m sorry – I didn’t realize it was “my job” to investigate every claim made in one of your articles (or in this case, a press release).

        I’m going to assume from the name (“public facilities fee”) that it’s a fee for public facilities (that developments are normally required to pay for).  And that such fees may be intended for a variety of “public facilities” (e.g., parks, fire stations, water/sewage facilities, roadway improvements, etc.).

        In other words, an impact fee.

        Does that sound like too much of a “leap of faith” for you?

  3. Don Shor

    Prohousing Designation Benefits

    Local governments with Prohousing Designation are eligible to apply for new Prohousing Incentive Program grant funding, a $26 million state investment from the Building Homes and Jobs Trust Fund:

    Prohousing designated local governments can also receive priority processing or funding points when applying for several funding programs including:

    Other programs may be added to the list after HCD engages with stakeholders and partner agencies on adding Prohousing points to other housing and non-housing programs.




      1. Ron Oertel

        The city report for the item states the funding would help expand service in city limits, provide funding support for the the Nishi Project, which would unite UC Davis research and development with high-density housing that would fill in a 46-acre strip of land southwest of Olive Drive — and for infrastructure improvements identified in the Downtown Davis Plan, a guide for the longterm development of downtown Davis

        It’s not clear from the article I referenced exactly what “infrastructure improvements” are being referred to, here.

        I assume that state payments for “infrastructure improvements”(to benefit these developments) is not referring to the freeway expansion itself.  In other words, the infrastructure improvements is the supposed “reward” for supporting the freeway expansion.

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