WatchSonoma Watch

Compromise reached on Coddingtown zoning plan


A last-minute compromise between Coddingtown mall officials and the Santa Rosa City Council helped smooth the approval of plans to guide development of a transit-oriented community around the future Guerneville Road train station.

The mall had objected to some of its properties along Edwards Avenue on the southern border of the mall being rezoned to encourage a mix of housing and commercial uses near the station.

Coddingtown in Santa Rosa, Jan. 12, 2012. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

So last month, a split council agreed to remove the “transit village mixed-use” designation in that area and also north of the mall along Cleveland Avenue.

A staff report on the impact of these and other changes, however, estimated that eliminating those classifications would reduce by 483 the number of new housing units the plan would provide and drastically cut the number of jobs it would create.

So Councilman Scott Bartley spoke with Kirstie Moore, development manager of mall co-owner Codding Enterprises on Monday evening and convinced her to accept the zoning on its properties with the exception of the site of the former Los Robles Lodge.

Codding Enterprises is planning a 50,000-square-foot retail store at that location and isn’t interested in building a residential project at that site.

Moore, who acknowledged the zoning change will have little impact on the company’s plans for the area, said they agreed to the change because “it was important to the community.”

Bartley said he appreciated that Codding Enterprises was “willing to stick their neck out and try” the new zoning designation. He said the compromise demonstrated the importance of finding ways to work collaboratively with businesses that are going to be impacted by such sweeping land use-plans.

“It’s easy to create a plan, but if we don’t have buy-in from the people that actually have the resources and the will to do it, it just becomes another volume sitting on a shelf,” Bartley said.

Not everyone was thrilled by the compromise or the numerous other changes made at the behest of the shopping center.

Ben Boyce, a coordinator at the Accountable Development Coalition and strong proponent of transit-oriented development, said the issue had become for him a “civics lesson in the balance of power” in American politics.

He said community groups spent untold hours crafting the plan, then after Coddingtown officials came forward with a “last-minute blindside,” all of the “business-friendly council members snapped to attention” to amend the plan.

Former Santa Rosa Planning Commissioner Rick Theis castigated the council majority for changes he said were “extreme and disappointing” and reflect their “abhorrence for citizen participation.”

“It’s time to look forward, not backward,” he said.

But Vice Mayor John Sawyer pointed out it might be smarter to rezone more properties around the station to higher zoning densities after the train is up and running and “all of the people that we hope are clamoring to live next to the rail come and demand that there be more housing next to the station.”

Future councils might be better suited to make such decisions than doing so now based on “conjecture” about demand for such development.

Bartley, an architect and former planning commissioner, said he felt “we get a little carried away” with the idea of mixed-use developments near transit.

While it seems “sexy” to some planners and architects, Bartley said the city has a “incredible track record of not being able to implement it here.”

Councilman Gary Wysocky pushed for Edwards Avenue to get a special designation that ensured it would have wide sidewalks, bike lanes and traffic calming measures, but Regalia cautioned against getting too specific in the plan.

The council agreed on less specific language ensuring measures would be taken to facilitate passage of pedestrians and bicyclists between the station and any future Highway 101 overpass, whatever its precise location.

Many of the changes seemed to deeply disappoint Councilwoman Susan Gorin. The elimination of an extension of Briggs Avenue, which was envisioned to improve traffic flow around the area, and the loss of bike paths across the mall property convinced her the amended plan didn’t do as good a job ensuring people will be able to get to and from the future station.

“I think we are just missing the whole context here, which is really disappointing,” she said.

The series of measures implementing the plan passed 6-1, with Marsha Vas Dupre saying too many important elements had been stripped from the original plan.

You can reach Staff WriterKevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com.

11 Responses to “Compromise reached on Coddingtown zoning plan”

  1. Steveguy says:

    So, a ” backroom deal ” between Bartley and Coddingtown ? Oh my.

  2. Phaedra Glidden says:

    This is THE question of our lifetime…will we be preserving the American way of life for future generations, a life of freedom and liberty (which includes Private Property Rights), or will we travel down the path of communitarianism and totalitarianism?

    I, for one, am fighting for a future that guarantees freedom and liberty. I am fighting for our Constitution, as it is obviously under attack. Please, remind yourself of the important lessons that our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution have to teach us.

    Then, come join me in the fight to protect our right, OUR CHILDREN’S RIGHT, to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. THIS IS THE AMERICAN DREAM AND WE DO NOT NEED TO SACRIFICE IT ON THE GREEN ALTER OF SUSTAINABILITY/UNITED NATIONS AGENDA 21!

  3. James Bennett says:

    Employing extortion to leverage Coddingtown to build Smart Growth against their will. Forcing Smart Growth on the citizens against their will. Making us subsidize it against our will.

    The reason it seems awkward, not organic to the free market traditional dynamic is because it’s not.

    It’s globalist U.N. directed oppressive hardscape implemented by our sellouts at City Hall. Going along to get along.

    Eric’s post is interesting; “social contract”? Sounds like social-ISM to me.
    Eric sounds like he’d make a perfect progressive propaganda puppet for our City Council.

    Adhering to their oath is their contract.

    The Golden Rule should be our contract.

    They are doing us in a manner I could never do to them, they don’t print enough fiat currency.

    Hope they have seperate gulags.

  4. RICHARD says:

    What happened to CityBus easement at Coddingtown ?

    ” Alice Miller, redevelopment specialist for the city, explained that in exchange for the 12-year, 3 percent loan, the city would get an easement allowing it to expand a bus stop on Range Avenue, eliminating a dangerous arrangement that requires buses to turn around in a parking lot.”

    And “The loan’s repayment is structured to allow some of the principal and interest to be repaid through an anticipated increase in property tax.”

    However we have not seen any expansion of the bus stop at Coddingtown.

    The city council has not kept it word, it has abandoned low income bus riders while enriching a rich corporation. BAD CITY

  5. Kirstin says:

    Frankly, Mr. Bartley’s intervention to get Coddingtown Enterprises to agree to the zoning may do more harm than good. This plan (even with its revisions) is an example of city planning overreach. The plan doesn’t want to allow the neighborhoods within a half a mile of the planned SMART station to develop naturally. No, this plan is a blueprint for forced transformation into a much more densely populated place. It intends to enforce all kinds of design codes on anyone who would dare to buy property within its new zones. However, the plan only deals with its “vision” for how the area should look, while being silent on how it should be financed and by whom. In its zeal to create this “utopia,” it fails to properly take into account other issues, such as how to handle the increased traffic that increased population and increased commerce would bring. And it fails to consider that none of us has any idea what kind of reception the planned SMART station will get from potential users.
    Let’s not forget that there has been a wide disparity in projections of potential ridership of the SMART train. And, perhaps more importantly, even if the SMART train manages to fill up every one of its cars every single day, the actual ridership will only amount to a tiny fraction of the number of people who use our roads each day. So, it seems premature to make grandiose plans when the station hasn’t even been built yet. Thanks for Mr. Sawyer for his comment pointing out a similar thought.
    Every neighborhood in every town and city of our country deserves the right to evolve in a reasonably organic fashion. This plan purports to look ahead to 2035 and see the future in a certain way, but why? Do these planners think they have all the answers and that future folks will be brainless and unable to come up with their own ideas and innovations? Why not zone generally and prudently to allow for a maximum of flexibility for change through voluntary population increases and decreases and through private enterprises’ choice to set up business? No. Our city’s planners and our city council are not content to permit the market and human beings to decide the destiny of this neighborhood. They think they know how and where people should live and work.
    If our city’s planners, other management, and council are so eager to put up high-density housing and mixed-use development, then I suggest they walk their talk and LIVE in those cramped apartments and minutely planned developments themselves BEEORE they try to mandate such living conditions for their fellow residents. Think that will happen? Well, then I’ve got this bridge to sell you….

  6. Kay Tokerud says:

    “Arrogant ownership class”? Wow, Eric, your class warfare attitude is showing. According to you, people shouldn’t be allowed to own property at all but rather the government should feed, clothe, and house everyone. I think that has been tried before and it didn’t work out too well.

    They re-zoned 1,390 properties that are all non-conforming now. I wonder how many property owners really understand what has happened to them. As bad as the plan is, it would have been a lot worse had the progressives been in the majority on the City Council. The progressives don’t care one wit about the property rights of the people although property owners pay the majority of taxes which go to support all the public welfare programs. Without private property ownership there would be little money for schools,infrastructure, etc.

    The re-zonings have crippled development rights for the current property owners but once these properties are sold to big developers they will make out because there will be huge subsidies for smart growth style development coming from federal transportation funds, via One Bay Area. Other subsidies include low income housing tax credits, HUD grants, infrastructure financing district subsidies, and New Development subsides through the IRS.

    I hope the current property owners hold out for a big price for their land because the new zoning allows for a large number of housing units to be built. The unsavvy owners may sell for bargain basement prices because they don’t know about their new zoning. The upzoning has actually increased property values. However, the current use of the properties may be disallowed resulting in losses for current owners and businesses.

    The big problem is that we are in a major recession that could become far worse soon. We certainly don’t need more housing to exacerbate the oversupply we have now. All of the Specific Plans being developed will have the effect of crowding out any free market development which could have occurred and instead we will only have subsidized government controlled development. This plan paves the way for One Bay Area which seeks to cram all new housing development into these small transit villages for years to come.

    The private property rights of Americans are being systematically eliminated through these Specific area plans which of course is by design. I’m afraid some of our elected officials don’t even know exactly what they are doing but rather are being pressured by Planning Departments that tell them that they must make these plans. Where are these plans really coming from? From the highest levels of the Federal Government and from International policies from the United Nations, World Bank and the IMF among others.

    The Deciders, the Controllers, whatever you want to call them have decided that Americans have too much space, use up too many resources, have too much money, etc. and it’s time to shrink us down to a level more consistent with the rest of the world. Sounds good to them, how about you?

  7. hansutro says:

    Eric Newman, interesting observation, but it would appear that Susan Gorin along with Gary Wysocky voted FOR it. Looks like there is a disconnect between Ms. Gorin’s rhetoric and her vote. She hated it but voted FOR it. Wow, what a politician! What’s the point of having two sides to your mouth, if you can’t speak out of both of them! Nothing like trying to claim both sides of the issue and possession of neither! Do we really need HER as Supervisor?

  8. Steveguy says:

    Ahhh the ‘vision’… Happy stack and pack apartments over Yoga studios, coffee shops frozen yogurt shops, and trendy trinket stores with happy families with strollers and bicycles happily going about life in a Utopian dream. Awwww, how quaint.

    Reality– Future tattoo and massage parlors, drug deals on the corners, Section 8 rundown unkempt buildings with crime rampant and Coddingtown being only able to lease to dollar stores, fast food, head shops and pawn shops. Maybe a future casino in place of JC Penney ?

    And why FORCE Coddingtown to build residential ? Plus I noticed that the un-needed bicycle bridge over 101 is still thought of as a viable plan.

    The whole thing stinks, starting with the train. I can agree with Sawyer to wait until the train opens, though my view of the outcome is FAR different than his. Mine is wait and see that no one will ride the silly train to nowhere before thinking that they will flock to live near Coddingtown in a high rise apartment.

    Sure, build more apartments there, but that ” mixed use” with shops downstairs is an awful idea. I do know a bit about the area having lived and worked extensively to the north for years, and my ex-wife was a store manager at Coddingtown. I think that mixing use is very risky, as commercial property and residential properties are two different things.

    I KNOW the area, and anyone that wants to can live very near Coddingtown. There are THOUSANDS of apartments just north on McBride, Range, and other close-in apartments. Even some condo-purchase complexes. I had a single family home and leased a commercial building in the area for years.

    As far as bicycles go– I have ridden a bike there for decades, since 1982 anyway, and my kids rode bikes back in their youth, over to the College area by themselves ! My biggest complaint is that going eastbound under the freeway @ Guerneville Road/Steele Lane it has always been easier to take the sidewalk going the WRONG direction on the north side. That sidewalk in front of Denny’s has been bad since 1982. Redo that sidewalk, and the bicyclists would use that side. Really, look at it sometime, that intersection has been re-worked many times, yet that busted up narrow sidewalk must be some ‘Historical Sidewalk’ or something. I will look next time I drive by, as I don’t ride it 4 times a week like I did a few years back. ( I should have taken time-lapse pics of the new overpass construction, it was fascinating to see the whole thing from start to finish. )

    Enough said ? Nahhhh

  9. Over easy says:

    Err that would be “Look” not took. Damn fat thumbs.

  10. Eric Newman says:

    The vote on the North Santa Rosa plan by the city council is good evidence of why we need a progressive majority on the council. The Chamber pawns on the council voted to throw the public good under the bus by catering to the demands of one large commercial property owner. The public be damned if even one demand be made on the sacred personhood of a national corporate operator.

    This the root dysfunction in modern America: government does not operate in the interests of the entire community, but on behalf of an arrogant ownership class who think that they above the law and the social contract.

    Through the sycophantic service of their political enablers, their word is the law!

    We can turn back this tide of the corporate overlords, starting right here with our city council. Vote for Julie Combs, Caroline Banuelos, and Erin Carlstrom if you want a city government that is responsive to real people, not the bogus and inflated corporate “persons” who have bent us to their will.

  11. Over easy says:

    Took to downtown Windsor for a forecast of how this will pan out. It only cost the developer, bankers, and taxpayers everything.