Adobe Stock/Greg Pickens

Sonoma County, Calif. supervisors signed off on a series of policy changes for secondary units and mixed-use developments on Tuesday designed to encourage new home construction in the wake of last year’s wildfires.

Nearly 5,300 residences in Sonoma County were lost last year, or the equivalent of seven years of new housing stock destroyed in the span of a day. Experts and local officials estimate the gap between the housing that exists in the county now and the housing that is needed to keep the economy growing could be as high as 30,000 new units.

The maximum size of newly-built “granny flats” in unincorporated areas has risen from 1,000 to 1,200 square feet. Properties must be at least two acres with well and septic connections to support a second unit, or 5,000 square feet with public sewer connections. Home owners who build smaller granny units may be eligible to pay less in fees. More than 1,000 unincorporated properties are now eligible for a second unit under these rules. The maximum residential space allowed in mixed-use developments has also been increased.

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