|Oct 31, 2014|
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?
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".
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
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?
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.
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.
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
2009 Stanley Ranch documents
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