Fast Track for Affordable Housing

multiplex image for all trussIn the May revision to the 2016-17 state budget, Gov. Jerry Brown addressed California’s severe housing shortage by suggesting legislation to expedite the permitting process for developers who include affordable homes in their projects. The report also said, however, that requiring developers to set aside 20 percent of housing for low-income households may prevent some developers from taking advantage of the proposed streamlined approval.

The California Association of Realtors applauded the voluntary permitting process. “With a historically low homeownership rate of 54 percent and record high rents, the dream of owning a home in California has become increasingly more difficult to attain,” said C.A.R. President Pat Zicarelli. “C.A.R. recognizes the urgency of California’s housing crisis and fully supports Gov. Brown’s efforts to reduce development costs and improve the pace of housing production.

All Aboard! SMART train to drive population increase and building in the North Bay

Smarttrain image for all trussSmart Train is almost here with a launch date slated for the 4th Quarter 2016. This is predicted to provide another housing ramp up in the North Bay!

With the recent announcement of the fare structure for the SMART train, businesses, schools and government agencies in Marin and Sonoma Counties are gearing up to provide shuttle service to and from the train for their employees, including discounts.

About 30 train trips will be daily, mostly geared toward commuter hours. SMART has been working with other operators, like CityBus in Santa Rosa, Petaluma Transit, Marin Transit, and others to coordinate service.

A special pass purchased through an employer, school, social services agency or other institution will provide rider with a discount. The year-long SMART EcoPass discount will range from 23 percent for less than 50 passes purchased, to 44% for 500-plus passes. There will also be a 50 percent discount for seniors, college students and veterans.

“More than 70 percent of respondents to a recent survey at Santa Rosa Junior College (Santa Rosa and Petaluma campuses only) showed students and employees willing to consider taking the SMART train- So that’s a great start. And we greatly appreciate the proposed discount for students and employees.” said Dr. Frank Chong, president of the college, which has approximately 3,000 employees and 28,000 students. “SRJC is dedicated to sustainability and encouraging greater use of public transportation, as well as bicycles. We’re going to continue working with SMART officials to incentivize greater usage of SMART trains. ”

SMART is working directly with various companies to help coordinate shuttle service for their employees, and the chambers of commerce in Santa Rosa and Novato are working with local employers acting as a bridge between businesses and shuttle services.

Those businesses in Marin include Buck Institute for Research on Aging, BioMarin, Sutter Health, Birkenstock, TravelSmith and Novato Unified School District. In July, the Novato chamber will be coming out with a document listing a menu of options for creating a shuttle service program that outlines tax benefits, provides a list of shuttle companies and cost quotes.

The initial 43-mile train route runs from the transit station in downtown San Rafael to the industrial parks near Charles M. Schulz—Sonoma County Airport.

Article excerpted from the North Bay Business Journal
Authored by Cynthia Sweeny

County home prices on rise ^^^!

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Who wouldn’t want to live here?

For the past 48 months, Sonoma County’s home prices have consistently remained higher from a year earlier. That trend held in May when the median single-family home price rose to $580,500, according to The Press Democrat’s monthly housing report, compiled by Pacific Union International senior vice president Rick Laws. The price increased 6.5 percent from a year earlier. The last time home prices were higher 12 months earlier was in May 2012. Four years ago the median price was $329,500, and the housing market was just starting a rebound that continues to this day.

“We have been consistently recovering,” Laws said Monday. “And we are in recovery.” Buyers last month purchased 428 single-family homes in the county. The total was 5.9 lower than a year earlier. But to-date sales for 2016 are nearly identical to the same period for the past two years.

The housing market remains a place where large numbers of county residents can’t afford a home and many potential buyers face obstacles when seeking property, agents and brokers say. Such buyers include those looking for condominiums and smaller homes and those who need to sell a property in order to buy another one.

If you’re a buyer competing for houses priced under $500,000, “you are struggling,” said Vicki Roberts, an agent with Bertolone Realty in Santa Rosa. This week Roberts offered a home in Rohnert Park for $479,000 and quickly received five offers and plenty of inquiries. “I’ve been swamped with calls,” she said. The county’s median price now stands just 7 percent below the record high of $619,000 set in August 2015. That peak came in the midst of a national housing bubble made possible by risky residential lending.

By Robert Digitale
The Press Democrat

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