The future of Napa County still stands in the balance as the city of Napa considers where its limited resources might best be spent: Enabling a grand development scheme that will continue to suck city revenues to provide the water, utility, road and school infrastructure needed - at the same time increasing the urbanization that will eventually kill the wine industry. Or pulling back on its rate of development so that the city and county can work together on a long term commitment to a sustainable, agricultural small town environment that benefits residents and the wine industry alike.
The supervisors have been working for years on this plan as a solution to the ABAG mandated housing that the county must supply between 2014 and 2022 and beyond. It is a serious problem for a county short on land for urban development. Developer Keith Rogel came in with an offer they couldn't refuse. The problem has always been convincing the city to take on the burden of annexing the project once built. The city will lose money servicing just the housing, and the key was the significant sales tax revenue promised by a Costco. Without those revenues the city isn't interested. As of this date the city has been unwilling to agree to supply water unless the developer guarantees that those revenues will be paid to the city even if the Costco, for some reason, doesn't get built. Costco is unwilling to commit until it knows about the water. It is an impasse that had the Supervisors, who have a state mandated June 30th deadline to get the water supply issue resolved in their housing proposal, visibly furious at their June 9th meeting.
As with the tourism industry, Napa Pipe is a devil's bargain. It gets the state off the county's back in the short run. In the long run there is no upside for the city, the county, the wine industry or the county's residents. The city will eat up the Costco revenues on services, infrastructure and schools for the project. The 190 units of affordable housing will not even cover the number of low wage jobs the project will create and the ABAG mandate will be even larger next time. Workers will still have to drive to their jobs in town. The 20 minutes residents might save not having to go to the Vallejo Costco will be eaten up in the traffic jam at the Soscol/29 junction. The traffic impacts will be a nightmare for residents, workers and tourists alike. And those that feel increased urbanization at the edge of the ag preserve will relieve development pressure on the vineyards are in denial.
This massive project, with its far-flung impacts and eternal commitment of dwindling resources, should not be built.
Napa Pipe would, however, provide an excellent place for Bottlerock and other Napa Expo events that cause major but infrequent traffic issues. The existing expo site could then more purposefully be used to provide the affordable housing near to town that is needed for its low wage tourism workers.