SodaCanyonRoad | What do you want Napa to look like in 2050?
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What do you want Napa to look like in 2050?


Bill Hocker | Feb 2, 2015 on: The WDO

I was reading the JLDAgFund interview of John Teuter beginning page 244 here, the current county assessor and county supervisor from 1972 to 1980, and on page 262 this just jumped out:
    JT: So Ginny and I got on the board, and we took office in January [1973], and in February we took the first step towards real management of growth in Napa County, which was increasing the minimum parcel size from one acre.... Probably 65% of the county went from one acre to forty acres in February by an emergency ordinance, because we saw what was about to happen. It was a unanimous vote, including the three other members of the board who didn't come from our background.

    RZ: Did you have to have public hearings for this?

    JT: Not many, because it was an emergency ordinance. We then had to have public hearings afterwards. But the other thing we needed to do was we needed to update the general plan of the county, so that was the first step. The second step was we did a mail‐out survey to every resident of the unincorporated area of the county, and we did that probably in late 73 or early 74, and we asked them what they wanted the county to be in 2000.

    They had three choices. The City of Napa did its own mail‐out about the same time as Santa Rosa did, and they asked what the population should be in 2000, and the choices were 75,000, 150,000 or 250,000. They got an overwhelming response of 75,000, which is about what the City of Napa population is today in
    2009.
An emergency zoning ordinance to control growth? That is what we need now - how do we get that done?

But it was the last part of the quote that intrigued me.

At a recent PC meeting Commissioner Pope asked the question to be taken up this year by the County Government: "What will the the county look like in 30 to 50 years?" Often, in interviews with our new supervisor, Alfredo Pedroza, he says he will, in the words of the NVR reporter, " approach such issues as development of wineries, hillside vineyards, traffic and tourism in agricultural areas with the thought of what Napa County will be like in 30 years. He intends to raise a family here, and is thinking about what the county will be like for future generations." He hasn't said yet what he thinks it will look like. I would encourage him to tell us what he wants it to look like.

In fact, one way to approach the process that begins on Mar 20th is to ask everyone involved, community groups, supervisors, commissioners, planning department, stakeholder groups, and perhaps every resident of Napa County what they WANT Napa County to look like in 2050. Perhaps a one sentence statement from each. Or perhaps a multiple choice questionnaire: more, less, enough. People, jobs, homes, vineyards, wineries, traffic, woodlands, factories, schools, roads, restaurants, hotels, tourists, shopping centers, stop lights, parking places. More, less or enough. I have been thinking about such a statement of commitment since first reading Mr. Pedroza's interviews, but I though that proposing such a thing would be ridiculed. And yet it was, in fact, already done 40 years ago just for the same purpose it should be done now - to get everyone thinking beyond just the next project on the agenda. We all need to think about what the county should be like for future generations and now is the time to do it.

What do I want? The same amount of woodlands, more vineyards on brownfield sites and less of everything else (our house would have to stay, of course.) Well, perhaps just enough housing and employment development to accommodate the difference between births and deaths each year in the county (400 people in 2010) with an effort to reduce that number through family planning.