Low-cost non-standard housing alternatives such as travel trailers, car camping, even yurts and tipis would be looked at in a newly recommended study of affordable housing options for the lower Russian River area in Northern California.
According to a report in the Sonoma West Times and News, the proposed study needs a planning consultant “who’s willing to think outside the box” in assessing what kinds of low-cost housing could be developed in the area, said Brent Smith, manager of the Russian River Redevelopment Project that will pay for the study.
The housing alternatives study, expected to get Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approval next month, would also look for alternative funding sources to develop “non-standard” housing such as pre-fab units, converted or rehabilitated mobile homes, motorhomes and travel trailers, yurts, tipis, even “floating foundation units” for flood plain houses, says the study’s scope of work.
“I know some eyebrows were raised by using words like yurts and tipis,” said Smith. “I don’t anticipate yurts and tipis will be developed for low-income housing, but it will get the consultant’s attention that we want some outside-of-the-box thinking.”
The study would identify potential low-income housing properties inside and within three miles of the River Redevelopment Project area.
Any sites that are “potentially suitable” for development or redevelopment of affordable housing, including all campgrounds, recreational vehicle parks and lodges “suitable for conversion” to low-cost housing will be identified, says the study’s work statement.
“We need an inventory,” said Smith. “It’s clear that we need some professional help” to move forward with finding affordable housing solutions, whether conventional or unconventional.
“This is an information gathering effort that goes well beyond what staff can do in terms of time or expertise,” said Smith.
“What we’re looking for are other sites, that by altering our thinking, might be suitable for our purposes. For example an inn that no longer serves the tourist trade the way it used to.”
Russian River Redevelopment Oversight Committee (RRROC) members last month recommended funding the study that will cost an estimated $15,000 to $30,000.