PD Editorial: An opportunity for California to attract investors

Downtown Santa Rosa has been designated an "opportunity zone" under the 2017 federal tax law. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / The Press Democrat)

Downtown Santa Rosa has been designated an "opportunity zone" under the 2017 federal tax law. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / The Press Democrat)

The Trump administration hasn’t done many favors for California.

But Santa Rosa officials are counting on a capital gains break in the 2017 tax law to boost one of their top priorities: reshaping downtown into a vibrant, urban residential hub, with mid-rise apartment buildings where young professionals and empty-nesters can live near rail and bus lines and restaurants, theaters and shops.

A matching state tax break would make investments in Santa Rosa and other California communities even more attractive.

Santa Rosa’s vision — which has the ancillary benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions — isn’t new, and it isn’t out of line for a city of 180,000 people. Moreover, the timing is good, with Bay Area residents and companies on the lookout for nearby alternatives to the punishing cost of living in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

Yet the goal has proven elusive.

To bury a reputation as a tough place for builders to do business, Santa Rosa is offering a menu of incentives, including density bonuses, reduced fees and an express lane for applications from interested builders.

There is interest: A group of about 40 Bay Area developers recently toured downtown to look at possible building sites.

So far, however, no one has applied.

“At the end of the day,” Assistant City Manager David Guhin told the Editorial Board, “it takes private investment.”

That’s where the federal tax law comes in.

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