HEALDSBURG (KPIX) – The question in wine country these days is hotel rooms is too many. The town of Healdsburg has come up with a unique development plan that could rake in $2.5 million in tax revenue.
The city’s hotel industry is in for some big changes. Healdsburg plans to strictly limit the construction of new hotels in its city center and tie the creation of affordable housing to those that do get built.
“Well I think what were worried about here is the quality of life,” says City Manager David Mickaelian. “We’re trying to find that balance between tourism and livability and we think this is another step to accomplish that.”
At the start of the yearn Healdsburg had 387 hotel rooms. By December there were 548. That is a 42 percent increase in just one year.
That’s just the start. Other projects in the works could create another 178 rooms in the coming years — a 121 percent increase.
It’s a lot, Duchamps Hotel owner Mark Luzaich recognizes, but not a good reason for such sweeping changes, he says.
“All the bed and breakfasts — the small boutique hotels like we are — there are a few of us at that size that had plans to expand and under this, we can’t,” he said.
There will be a moratorium on new hotel development along with new restriction in certain areas.
Hotels there will be limited to five rooms, and for every five rooms built anywhere inside city limits, hoteliers have to build one affordable housing unit. City Manager Mickaelian says it’s a way to raise the bar or entry for new business that also raises the quality of life. But some worry that may mean swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction
Brian Sommer is chairman of the Healdsburg Tourism Improvement District.
“We would like something more moderate until we can get a general plan in place – something flexible rather than saying no more here- only five here,” says Sommer. “We want to make sure we are capturing the impacts those hotels bring… that the people who work there have housing while still maintaining the liveability in Healdsburg.”
The plan still needs approval from city leaders, but City Manager Mickaelian is optimistic the plan will pass without too many changes to the existing framework.