South Napa County


Oct 31, 2014

Where your Napa Valley experience begins

Several development issues are ongoing south of the City of Napa, Napa Pipe chief among them, and I will continue to follow them here. Napa Pipe will be a major piece of the development, along with the Watson Ranch/Town Center Project [zoning map] and the Gasser North and Century Center projects on Imola, occurring between American Canyon and Napa that is now on the verge of uniting the two and creating a Napa-Vallejo metropolitan area. Napa Pipe, Watson Ranch and Gasser North will add perhaps another 4000 voters to the county rolls, most, probably, with a greater interest in shopping centers than in vineyards. The industrial-commercial development in Napa Pipe, and the large area of American Canyon targeted for light industrial will create the need for even more housing and more urban voters. Urban development is a ponzi scheme in which governments must always approve more projects to generate ever more revenues to support the infrastructure and service costs of previous developments - and so on. The pressure to vote to change the agricultural zoning in the county will be relentless, increasing with each new development. The demographic changes in the county's voters has been clearly laid out by the NVR editor, Sean Scully, in a couple of articles here and here.

The end of agriculture in Napa began as soon as tourism was seen as a way to boost agricultural profits. The development required for tourism has begun an ever widening cascade of development projects that will not end. The Napa commercial wine industry will survive using imported grapes in the industrial facilities developed around the airport cashing in on the Napa name. (The Farm Bureau lays out the production shift to imported grapes since 1991 here. Currently 1/3 of all wine made in Napa county is made in one building next to the airport). But the development of Napa Pipe and other major urbanizing projects are a potent indication that the vineyards of the ag preserve may eventually be pruned to a garnish around tourist attractions set within a Walnut Creek landscape. Are we willing to make the ruthless political decisions necessary to not just slow but reverse that process?

Napa Pipe


Development doesn't pay for itself. It doesn't. [If] you are looking at Napa Pipe now in south Napa, where a developer again is circulating memos showing how much profit it would generate, the profit might be actually true but it isn't really profit, because the cost items are all left out, whether it's traffic, clean air, noise, health, education and other items [concerning] social welfare.
- Volker Eisele, 2009

My first exposure to Napa Pipe, by accident, was at the Oct 29th, 2014 County Planning Commisson meeting. It was the day they turned over the project, after years of hearings, to the Board of Supervisors for approval, then on to the planning staffs of the county and city of Napa to iron out the quite substantial nitty gritty. They were done with their task, visibly relieved. Chair Fiddaman conjured an image of Pontius Pilate washing his hands.

For 8 years now the county has been promoting the development of a brownfield site within the county on the Napa River just above the Southern Crossing. It is the site of the former Kaiser Steel plant and was bought by a corporation led by developer Keith Rogal in 2005. Mr. Rogal's previous development is the Carneros Inn housing tract and resort carved out of the agricultural open space in Carneros in 2005. His new development is known as the Napa Pipe Project, and it will include a Costco, 165,000 sf of industrial/office space, 40,000 sf of retail space, a hotel, senior center, and an ever diminishing number of housing units, currently at 945 which include 190 units of affordable housing. It is probably the largest single development in the county's history.

From the beginning the project presented problems for every other public body in the county. The cities of Napa, Yountville and American Canyon, the Napa Valley Unified School District, the Napa County Farm Bureau expressed serious concerns. (There were probably more but I gave up trying to go through all the opposition correspondence this project has generated!) The tenaciousness of the county Board of Supervisors, led by Bill Dodd, is the only reason that it has withstood the resistance, particularly from Napa City. Only recently has there been a shotgun wedding, or rather engagement at this point, arranged between the county and the City of Napa to push it forward. The city has tentatively agreed to expand into the site to provide necessary services as the housing units and commercial developments are completed.

The county's ostensible interest has been to provide the housing that the county must supply to fulfill the ABAG mandated allotment of 180 units, including 113 very low to moderate income units, in the 7 year period from 2014 to 2022. (At one point the City of Napa offered to fulfill 80% of that allotment within the current city limits if the county would back off the project. To no avail. ) But why is Napa Pipe necessary to satisfy ABAG requirements?. In the County General Plan 2014 Housing Elementment, 230 unit locations have been identified in the county (table H-F), without adding the 945 units of Napa Pipe or the very contentious 191 units proposed for Angwin. The county can fulfill its requirement through 2022 without Napa Pipe. The irony is that The 190 units of affordable housing in the project will not even accommodate the minimum wage workforce of the hotel, retail and nursing home facilities within the development, let alone the 113 units destined for current moderate to low income people. The need for affordable housing will be made even more dire by building the project.

The city, no doubt, has an interest in the prospect of a high revenue generating Costco (and hotel) to relieve the infrastructure and service costs they have taken on from previous development projects. And the citizens of Napa voted to annex the property largely so that they can have a Costco to call their own. Costco so far has been mum on their intentions probably still considering how much they can milk in concessions to come in.

In 2008 Measure N was placed on the county ballot to stop Napa Pipe. With its strong growth contols, Measure N may prove to have been the last best chance Napa County had to maintain its agricultural character. Keith Rogal spent $1.4 million in opposition and the measure was defeated by 600 votes, probably a half of the number of voters that will occupy Napa Pipe upon completion. In homage to Orwell he called the opposition campaign "Keep Napa Napa".

Documents
Napa Pipe Design Guidelines (big file!)
County Napa Pipe Project page
County staff summary of project and developer, county, city agreements 11/25/14
The Fordor analysis summary of unfunded development costs is here.
Fordor: Myth of Smart Growth

Articles
NVR 7/9/17: Hello IKEA. So long, vineyards?
NVR 6/1/17: Napa planners to get first a look at a Marriott hotel, winery
Larry Florin CA Economic Summit 5/11/17: Napa Pipe on the fast track
NVR 3/28/17: American Canyon Planning Commission approves luxury townhouse project
NVR 3/18/17: Highway development could boost American Canyon population
NVR 1/16/17: Napa's Costco coming, but date uncertain
NVR 12/22/15: American Canyon approves new industrial development
NVR 11/02/15: Developer to help fund new American Canyon schools
NVR 10/14/15: Construction begins at new Commerce Center in south Napa
NVR 10/1/15: American Canyon planners praise mega business park
NVR 9/24/15: Costco construction to start in 2017
NVR: Meritage resort plans major expansion
NVR LTE: A way forward on Napa Pipe 7/30/15
NVR: City approves water service deal for Napa Pipe 7/22/15pm
NVR: Costco, Napa Pipe waiting on city decision 7/22/15am
NVR: City to weigh Costco, water proposals for Napa Pipe site 7/20/15
NVR LTE: New approach for Napa Pipe? 6/26/15
NVR: County will look at alternative water options for Napa Pipe, Costco 6/23/15
NVR: Costco construction hung up on water/housing issues
NVR: Supervisors urge resolution of Napa Pipe water issue
NVR: Council to respond to county’s Napa Pipe water warning 6/14/15
Costco submits plans to the county
Developer Rogal sees 'New Urbanism' at Napa Pipe
City planners smile on Napa Pipe project
County delays Napa Pipe city agreements again
Measure A not in Napa's best interests
Supervisors moving Napa Pipe forward
Napa Pipe project workers deserve Napa living wages
Who's behind Keep Napa Napa?

Watson Ranch


The other mega project in South Napa, the 1200 unit housing project proposed above and around the cement works ruins in American Canyon seems to be coming alive agin after a year in limbo. We will continue to follow it on a new Watson Ranch Page.

Stanley Ranch


Update 5/7/17: Only recently, after stumbling upon these documents, have I become attuned to the third mega-project that will be urbanizing the agricultural entry to the county just south of the Hwy 29 and 121 junction in Carneros. It is a housing project and resort known as Stanley Ranch. The project was approved by the City of Napa in 2010. Sometimes, until you see a site plan, the numbers representing the project in a table don't have an impact. A big chunk of vineyards at the approach to the Valley is to become suburbanized and another bit of Napa's forlorn effort to maintain a greenbelt separating the city from the sprawl moving up from American Canyon will disappear.

How the parcel became a part of the city needs a bit of research. As a far-removed extension of the urban-rural limit line, it seems to violate every concept of maintaining the separation between existing urban and rural uses that the county and cities have been committed to since the ag preserve and Measure J were enacted.

Articles
NVR 12/20/15: City gives thumbs-up for luxury hotel at Stanly Ranch
NVR 5/9/15: Stanly Ranch resort developer promises 'authenticity'
NVR 11/19/13: Pipeline project to bring water to Carneros area
NVR 1/23/10: Critics blast St. Regis project, but city touts revenues; more hearings ahead
NVR 4/17/05: Merryvale set to begin Stanly Ranch renovation this summer

Documents
2009 Stanley Ranch documents

Posts


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7 comments



So long, vineyards


Bill Hocker - Jul 10, 2017 12:15PM  Share #1538

NVR 7/9/17: Hello IKEA. So long, vineyards?
NVR 6/23/17: Developers lament short supply of industrial land in Napa County

As was the intention, no doubt, the title of Noel Brinkerhoff's article, less the question mark, could be the epitath on the Ag Preserve's tombstone.

The scale of the Napa Logistics Park development is more visible when you realize that IKEA's northern California distribution center would fit iinto just one of its four buildings. Napa Logistics Park is only a part of the unbuilt industrial development in the AmCan Industrial area and the Napa Airport industrial area just to the north. Who would have thought that Napa would eventually be known more as a light industrial center, a blue-collar Silicone Valley, rather than a bucholic agricultural Eden. Yet that will be the overwhelming reality of the "Napa Experience" as visitors are stuck in the traffic jam at Bottleneck Junction with an alley of tiltup warehouses as their only view of Wine Country. And no 600 foot setbacks here.

The fact that real estate interests are bemoaning the scarcity of industrial property and that the county is suggesting that vineyard land with less expensive grapes might fill the bill shows where things are headed. All that is needed now is a definition for "less expensive" to be codified in the next update of the general plan. Under $10,000/ton, perhaps?

Meritage - under the radar (updated)


Bill Hocker - Dec 5, 2015 9:02AM  Share #1004

NVR 12/5/15: Planners OK major expansion of Meritage Resort
NVR 9/20/15: Airport commission clears proposed Meritage expansion

Just as the ink dries on the Napa Pipe project, which, in the traffic it will generate and the voters it will house, will change everyone's lives in the Napa Valley, here comes the mega-expansion of the Meritage resort next door. This approval by the airport commission (the county planning commission+2) is an initial clearance so the the real planning review by the Napa City planning commission can get under way. The county jail just up the road is also moving toward approval. Industrial projects continue to be built just south of the Soscol/29 junction. All will add who knows how much traffic to the already overcrowded entry to the valley. My screed on the traffic issues of Napa County is here.

When is the planning commission going to look at the cumulative impacts of all these projects. I'm sure over the last 20 years there have always been elaborate traffic studies for each project that conclude another left turn lane or signal will mitigate the impacts. But the traffic is approaching gridlock anyway. The mitigations, even if they work, of course just push the increased traffic down the road, beyond the purvue of the traffic report.

When is the planning commission going to demand that the planning department come up with an analysis of the traffic problem that accounts for the cumulative effect of all of the projects approved or in process in the county before one more project like the Meritage expansion is approved. A development moritoium is essential if solutions are to be found to the current and near future traffic problems. I suspect that there is no solution short of freeways filling the valley which will themselves bring more development.

As I sit stalled through two signals at the Jameson Canyon/29 interchange, I think that the development in the valley has already exceeded the carrying capacity of the roads that access it. What justification can there be to consider more development projects when it is quite possible that it will be impossible to reach them. In 1990 the county concluded that they were not going to be able to mitigate the traffic impacts that might be caused by the approval of the WDO. Despite that conclusion,I don't think that they came close to envisioning the level of development that has occurred in its wake. The county needs to stop, not just to review where they are going with all this, because it is already obvious where we are going, but to develop the policies necessary stop this direction entirely. Now.

Napa Pipe's not over til it's over (updated)


Bill Hocker - Aug 17, 2015 1:48PM  Share #848

NVR: Can Napa meet Napa Pipe's water needs? 7/15/15
NVR: City approves water service deal for Napa Pipe 7/22/15pm
NVR: Costco, Napa Pipe waiting on city decision 7/22/15am
NVR: City to weigh Costco, water proposals for Napa Pipe site 7/20/15
NVR LTE: New approach for Napa Pipe? 6/26/15
NVR: County will look at alternative water options for Napa Pipe, Costco 6/23/15
NVR: Costco construction hung up on water/housing issues
NVR: Supervisors urge resolution of Napa Pipe water issue
NVR: Council to respond to county’s Napa Pipe water warning 6/14/15

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.

Napa Pipe: the beginning of the end


Bill Hocker - Jul 23, 2015 1:12PM  Share #913

NVR: City approves water service deal for Napa Pipe 7/22/15pm
NVR: Costco, Napa Pipe waiting on city decision 7/22/15am

At the Napa City Council meeting on July 21st, 2015 Ray Tooker, the city's Community Development Director, presented the final, final, final negotiation between the City, the County and the Developer on the Napa Pipe Project. The city council signed off on the agreements necessary to allow the project to proceed including the final issue of promising to provide city water for the project. It is of course the harbinger of death for the tattered agricultural ambitions of the Napa County General Plan. My rant on Napa Pipe is here.

But it was this slide from Mr. Tooker's presentation, as he put forward the steps that the city council must now take, that truly summed up the future of Napa County.



The idea of a greenbelt around Napa to prevent it from becoming just another indistinguishable part of the Vallejo-Napa metropolitan area faded some time ago. The areas south of the Soscol/29 junction have long been slated for industrial development and the parcels are currently being filled willy nilly, pushing against both sides of Hwy 29. (no 600' setback here.) The 1988 development of the Napa Valley Corporate Park, now Napa Valley Commons, between Napa Pipe and Soscol, killed off one of the better opportunities to maintain a buffer between Napa and American Canyon.

The grape-crusher monument built as part of the corporate park has always seemed an apt metaphor for squeezing ever more profits out of Napa land through building projects. Monuments and plaques may eventually be all that is left of Napa's agricultural history. (The scenic overlook at the monument is also a bad omen: the view presented up the Napa Valley is of the potemkin vineyard of the Meritage Resort in the foreground and the roofs and mechanical equipment of the corporate park blocking the view of the valley.)

But the powerpoint slide above was even more poignant in that it truly represents the last vestige of a once laudable idea to try to control urban growth. It highlights in the clearest way possible the failure of the city and the county in the face of development pressure to be able to follow through on their goals. Sad.

There is still an elaborate annexation scheme, needed to incrementally transfer property from the county to the city as the project is built, that must be approved by the state-supervised LAFCO agency that regulates urban development. That will involve another round of public hearings. It's never quite over.

Napa Pipe dream not yet a nightmare


Bill Hocker - Mar 7, 2015 11:39AM  Share #679

NVR: Napa Pipe delays frustrate county officials

Napa Pipe is not yet a done deal - there is still hope for the future of the county.
The county needs 180 of RHNA housing through 2022. Instead they are building 945 units of housing, 200,000 sf of retail-commercial-industrial space, a hotel, a nursing home plus a Costco, all in a development frenzy that will leave the city and county facing unfunded infrastructure and service costs, the residents and visitors facing vast increases in traffic in the south Napa bottlenecks, and growers and vintners facing ever more urban voters more interested in shopping centers than vineyards and wineries. Be sure to read the comments to the article.

My Napa Pipe screed is here

Winery Waste Public Forum: Jan 27, 1015


Bill Hocker - Jan 26, 2015 8:50AM  Share #572

[My own little screed on the winery waste issue is here]

From:
Jeff Tucker, Director of Administrative Services/Chief Financial Officer Napa Sanitation District
1515 Soscol Ferry Road, Napa, CA 94558
Office: 707-258-6000
Direct: 707-258-6012
Cell: 707-312-1591
Fax: 707-258-6048
jtucker@NapaSan.com
www.NapaSan.com

Reminder – Please RSVP if you will be attending this community discussion. We would like to see you there and hear your input!

Winery Waste Public Forum January 27, 2015

The Napa Sanitation District is hosting a community discussion on winery waste. The existing solutions, either trucking millions of gallons of winery waste annually from Napa County down to the East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EMBUD), or constructing and operating pretreatment systems, can be costly and time consuming to manage. Trucking has the additional problem of leaving a significant carbon footprint. The purpose of the public forum is to explore various options available to the community for a less expensive alternative to managing this waste and reduce the carbon impact of trucking waste.

You are Invited to Attend

The District is inviting those in the community who have an interest is discussing a solution to this problem to attend the Public Forum. This includes wineries that are currently trucking waste, those who currently pretreat and/or discharge to Napa Sanitation, those looking to locate winery facilities in the area, and those who have an interest in helping wineries with new locations or with designing systems for managing this waste.

Please RSVP and attend this important discussion.



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