This Craftsman can become a residence again. The old kitchen and bathroom plumbing connections are still visible in the basement, so this remodel might very well be less-expensive then tearing out an existing kitchen and bathroom. My understanding is that the City won’t require additional development in the back yard, but that switching the building from its current “commercial” designation to a residential designation changes what can be built in the back. For example, I was told that if the front is residential, the back can’t have an ADU, or even a duplex, but can have a triplex!
The Craftsman can remain commercial, and the back can have a mixed-use structure. To the right is a drawing that was submitted to the City a few decades ago, a two-story building with commercial on the first floor, and a few units on the second floor; my understanding is that this was approved in the 90s. I spoke with City of Sonoma Building Department a few years ago, and learned that such mixed use gets a boost from Planning, since in some cases the parking spaces can be treated as dual–purpose, counting toward the commercial requirements during the day while counting toward the residential requirements in the evening. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice, mu purpose is to share what I've heard.
The City wishes that the driveway were wider, since a 2-way entrance needs to be a certain width, and this driveway isn’t quite that wide. The City also doesn’t want the building torn town. Now that very idea may seem insane to normal people, but successful developers aren't emotional; they know that the easiest lot to work with is a vacant lot.
In a conversation with the Building Department a few years ago, the current owner was advised that widening the front driveway so that there was a spot for a entering car to back into was one way to solve the driveway challenge. Looking directly across the street, at the old Girl & the Fig office, you can see an example of this solution. Bottom line: no car entering the driveway can be expected to have to back-out on to West Napa Street, if a car trying to leave the property refuses to give ground.
What this means to me is that dense residential might be the best use of the back yard. Fact is, neighbors will be nice to each other, and not face-off on a narrow driveway.
The City of Sonoma and the County of Sonoma both claim to want more housing. That may be the easiest “develop the back yard” proposal to get approved.
Property has a 3-inch water connection!
in 2016, when West Napa Street was torn-up for water main replacement, the current owner seized the moment and paid for a 3-inch connection to his meter. Last year, he continued the 3-inch on his side of the meter, under the sidewalk, and onto his yard. Meter remains a 5/8s, so no extra monthly fees, but if and when there’s additional development, the water’s already set-up!
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