Calistoga


Feb 6, 2015

Calistoga, at the northernmost reach of the Napa Valley, was described in mock self deprecation by an activist resident as the "retarded" end of the valley. As the most remote part of the valley floor it has today perhaps fewer tourism impacts than other areas of the valley. The sense of being a place remote from the other goings-on to the south is a part of its charm, and that character of small-townness, once enjoyed by St. Helena and artificially induced in Yountville, remains authentic here.

Calistoga has been a tourist destination since the 1800's with the hot springs the major draw long before the era of wine-fetish tourism. The Indian Springs spa is the descendant of original spa built in the 1860's, and numerous motel like spas built in the 1950's and 60's survive. But the charm of spa tourism has faded in the 21st century and getting wine tourists past all the down valley venues has always been difficult. The upscale Solage Calistoga Resort built in 2007 to tap into a new generation seeking the good life has struggled to survive and was recently sold by its original developer. That developer has just bought another resort in a remote spot further down the valley, indicating that the resort market in the Napa Valley probably has to offer a bit of the wild, perhaps harkening to Silverado Squatters, to be viable.

A second contentious high-end resort, the Silver Rose, to be built on the site of the existing Silver Rose Inn and Spa just across the trail from Solange was approved in 2012 but, as of 2015, demolition and construction have still not begun.

Calistoga Hills



Efforts are always underway by civic boosters to bring in more tourist dollars. One grinding its way through the development process is the Calistoga Hills Resort, destined to consume a wooded hillside just east of the town. It is the focus of those people who see the dangers of further tourist development on the character of their small town. Besides community opposition, the project has always had financing problems, and the project has run into environmental issues with the California Department of Forestry in its desire to cut down a forest to make way for its buildings and parking lots. The property was sold last year by the original developer( with a flashy sales pitch), to a Hong Kong developer. The same developer has also bought (or is in the process of buying) the adjacent Reverie Winery which is just as contentious in its own right (see below). Spearheading the community opposition is Citizens for Green Community led by Charlotte Williams. I will continue to track the ongoing issues of this project and other City of Calistoga development issues here.

Articles:
NVR 3/11/17: Devlopers of Silver Rose/Four Seasons in Calistoga secure construction financing
Calistogan 7/28/16: Owners of Calistoga Hills purchase 2 adjoining vineyards
Calistogan 9/28/15: Calistoga city manager looks back on 6 tumultuous years
Calistogan 6/9/15: Calistoga's Silver Rose project looks at 2017 opening
SR Press Democrat: Investors spending millions to develop Calistoga resorts
New owners of Calistoga Hills introduced
Rules relaxed for granny units
Napa property on market for $100 million
Sustainability versus Napa Valley tourism
State Forestry and the public trust
Locals invited to question impact of Calistoga Hills
Luxury resort still seeking tree removal approval
Concerned about logging at the new resort? Write a letter

Girard Winery



Just east of the city limits is Duanweal Lane, site of an early big-name-architect tourist attraction, the Clos Pegase winery. Now proposed across the street, by the new owner of Clos Pegase, is the Girard Winery, a large production facility with ever more tourist ambitions. I will continue to follow that project on the Girard Page.

Reverie Winery Modification



Just adjacent to the Calistoga Hills Resort on Diamond Mountain Road is the Reverie Winery, now at the epicenter of the "enforcement" debate in the valley by asking the county to "recognize and allow" its unpermitted construction and visitation. Reverie now has its own page here.

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17 comments



Promote community not tourism


Donald Williams - May 27, 2017 8:56AM  Share #1508

For a variety of reasons the city of Calistoga’s recent budgets are not bleak. Therein lies opportunity if we are bold enough to seize it.

The city’s budget anticipates revenues of over $10 million this year. More than half of that revenue is paid by visitors to local lodging, the so-called TOT tax. The budget’s expenditures, meanwhile, include provision for police, fire, public works, pensions, debt service, etc. The complete budget is available online or at city hall.

With the improving national economy, our city revenues have increased each of the last five years. The Budget Summary cautions however that “it is important to remember that the City’s budgets will, once again, be very tight.”

But there’s a bright side. The need for a tight budget in an expanding economy presents the opportunity for both spending more and spending less.

Spending more is easy. Indeed, our next budget proposes increased spending in most departments, including fire, recreation, and planning.

Spending less, however, as most of us know from personal experience, is harder.

The city's budget reports our payments to the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Bureau, for promotion and marketing. Since 2011 we’ve spent $300,000 or more per year (over $330,000 this year) to promote our city this way. The rationale is that the money spent is more than paid back by resultant TOT revenue.

For most of our expenditures we know what we get for our money: a newly-paved street, another officer on the beat. Not so with money spent to entice visitors. We may think and hope marketing matters, but we don’t know. There are assertions by large professional tourist organizations of remarkable (e.g. 15:1) returns on promotional efforts, but there’s no empirical evidence directly linking Calistoga’s promotional efforts with its TOT revenue. We guess the return justifies the expense. But we’re not sure.

Usually we in business are pragmatic; but spending money on marketing is instead an act of hope.

It’s not clear that any marketing is even necessary. It’s possible we’d collect the same TOT whether we advertised or not. In the last decade Calistoga’s TOT revenue has basically tracked the broader economy, increasing every year except for the 2009-10 recession.

This is the perfect time to save money on marketing. Today’s economy is still growing. People feel they have money to spend, and famous Calistoga is definitely on their radar. Our local budget is expanding so that a diminution of visitors, should that occur, could be absorbed. Meanwhile we’d have over $300,000 for more important expenditures. There’s no point in spending money to lure people who are going to visit us anyway.

There’s nothing sacred about the $300,000+ budget number traditionally spent on marketing. It’s just a habit -- and a good time to kick it. Besides, if promotional efforts were so certainly remunerative, why not spend even more on marketing? In that case it would be irresponsible not to.

Alternatively -- if we spend less, will TOT revenue decrease?

Unlikely, because even without any additional advertising, local tourism has momentum. It comes from Calistoga’s location in the Napa Valley, as well as from a strong national and regional economy. The city might fear that without marketing, tourists and their money will disappear: surely other north bay towns will continue to advertise?

So what! Are we not confident Calistoga is special? Let’s seize this opportunity to save. Our reputation is established: we are hospitable. If we advertise less, people are not going to suddenly forget we exist. They aren’t going to forget what we offer here. Besides, we’re not in a rooms race with other towns. Tourists will continue to come, and the TOT revenue too.

Responsibly ceasing self-promotion might seem radical. But recall the official admonition to keep a tight budget. Think of what we could get with $340,000 of public funds: longer pool hours, or lower water bills, or an improved shuttle system, or decreased debt, or whatever else we need. If after kicking our advertising habit the TOT revenue remains stable, we’re $340,000 ahead. If by chance TOT decreases, in this strong economy Calistoga is well positioned to manage that, and resume promotional efforts another year.

People of means know that accumulating wealth sometimes means taking risks. In the world of city governments, where little things are big things, less self-promotion may seem daring, but it’s really a sensible step to take when it (1) isn’t necessary to attract visitors in a strong economy, (2) saves $340,000, (3) won’t hurt the city hugely if TOT falls shorter than expected, and (4) can be reinstated easily next year anyway.

So let’s try it. Let’s take a leap. Let’s stop marketing Calistoga for a year and save some public money.

NVR LTE version 5/27/17: Maybe it's time to cut the marketing purse strings


Bill Hocker - May 29, 2017 9:32PM

Chamber of Commerce response 5/29/17: Discontinuing destination marketing would be irresponsible

Civilized discussion seems alive and well in Calistoga. Unmentioned was the fact that traffic impacts of thousands of visitors and hundreds of employees caused by Calistoga development approvals impact all who use the county's roads further down valley. What responsibility does Calistoga have in mitigating those impacts and costs?

Civil rights and water rights


Christina Aranguren - Mar 28, 2016 10:06PM  Share #1213

Judging from recent newspaper accounts, there's a bit of confusion in city government up valley.

Despite what was expressed at a February 16th city council meeting in Calistoga, as US citizens, we enjoy a representative democracy and maintain a constitutional right to freedom of speech. As California residents, this includes the right (and some would argue, a responsibility) to comment upon decisions affecting state resources to the appropriate agencies - even while residing elsewhere in the state. The fact that the mayor of Calistoga, in his dual role as executive director of its Chamber of Commerce, suggests otherwise is simply outrageous. It is a misguided attempt to discourage public participation, forthright and honest debate, and the influence of any interests which he feels may be in competition with his own. The law is quite clear; Calistoga does not get to determine a Californian's civil rights.

Even if they “aren't taxpayers or rate payers” of the City of Calistoga's municipal water system, the truth is that when individuals or organizations become concerned enough about practices they discover are damaging California's water resources, they have the right to file a complaint with the courts or request investigation and a public hearing with the State Water Resources Control Board. When industry groups such as the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa County Farm Bureau, or other downstream water users commented upon the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board's plans to issue Cease and Desist Orders to the City of Calistoga, it was also within their rights, as it was years ago when Baykeeper chose to comment on the city's problematic sewer plant. When groups such as Latinos Unidos, Friends of the Napa River, or Forests Unlimited elect to submit comment to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection about concerns they have for a timber harvest plan filed in Calistoga - or anywhere in the state for that matter - they've the right to do so as well. Likewise, when California Fisheries & Water Unlimited or ICARE added their comments to the mountain already submitted to US NOAA Fisheries on a recovery plan for the Napa River population of federally-protected steelhead, it was within their rights. And when private citizens residing anywhere in the state, are forced to resort to legal remedy in order to insure compliance with state law which mandates for the release of reservoir water to keep fish in good condition below dams, including those which are private, public, or municipal, and located far from their primary residence, it is well within their rights as well - despite anything city governments would like us to believe. All these efforts are, of course, costly and time-consuming. Compliance with state and federal law remains the preferred and prudent choice.

The concept of the public trust doctrine is something advocates like myself hold dear. Ask most people who owns California's water and you'll be often met with a stare or uncertain reply that it belongs to private property owners. The fact is that California's water is held in trust for all current and future Californians. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the utilization of water is subject to public uses including navigation, recreation, fishing, and ecological purposes. A water right is simply legal permission to use a reasonable amount of water for beneficial purposes; it does not grant ownership, nor can our water be wasted, polluted, abused, or stolen. If considered the People's water, a common good on long-term loan, the responsibility to safeguard our public trust resources for future generations of Californians is a truly compelling one.

With even what many consider the 'crusty old Catholic church' weighing in on social, political, and environmental issues, as Pope Francis has recently done in his courageous encyclical “Laudato Si”, the challenge becomes one of challenging those politics too often concerned with immediate results and supported by consumerist sectors of the population which are focused on short-term growth and not the long-term sustainability of the environment. In the absence of pressure from the public and civic organizations or the force of law, political interests are usually as reluctant to change their practices as agencies are to intervene and law becomes something seen as an arbitrary imposition and an obstacle to be avoided. In Francis's words, “We cannot fail to praise the commitment of international agencies and civil society organizations which draw public attention to these issues and offer critical cooperation, employing legitimate means of pressure, to ensure that each government carries out its proper and inalienable responsibility to its country's environment and natural resources without capitulating to spurious local or international interests... Unless citizens control political power - national, regional, and municipal - it will not be possible to control damage to the environment.

Caring for ecosystems demands far-sightedness, since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation. But the cost of the damage caused by such selfish lack of concern is much greater than the economic benefits to be obtained. Where certain species are destroyed or seriously harmed, the values involved are incalcuable. We can be silent to terrible injustices if we think that we can obtain significant benefits by making the rest of humanity, present and future, pay the extremely high costs of environmental degradation”.

This Easter holiday, I'm grateful to those individuals, projects, and organizations throughout beautiful California that continue to act as prudent trustees for critical public trust resources which might otherwise be inappropriately given over to private interests: our streams, rivers, wetlands, coasts, beaches, and great bay, the native fish, wildlife, and aquatic ecosystems, and I invite others to add their voice to the growing chorus. It is your right.

NVR version 3/28/16: It's within their rights

Calistoga HIlls THP update


Christina Aranguren - Aug 16, 2015 10:44PM  Share #949

Timber Harvest Plan for controversial Calistoga Hills resort recommended for approval

A timber harvest plan required for the logging and construction of Calistoga Hills Resort (formerly Enchanted Resorts development and Diamond Hills Estates subdivision) was recommended for approval Thursday, April 23, 2015 by the multi-agency review team charged to evaluate the plan. As lead agency, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has received over 100 public comment submissions from residents and organizations throughout California which question or challenge the controversial plan, including the Calistoga Tree Coalition, Forests Unlimited, Friends of the Napa River, Latinos Unidos, and Vision 2050 affiliates Napa Group, Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club, Calistoga Citizens for Green Community, Living Rivers Council, California Fisheries & Water Unlimited, Defenders of the East Napa Watersheds, Dry Creek Road Alliance, Get a Grip on Growth, Mt. Veeder Stewardship Council, Protect Rural Napa, Save Rural Angwin, Soda Canyon/Loma Vista Foundation, Stop Syan Expansion, St. Helena Citizens, Save Yountville Hill, and Watersheds Alliance of Atlas Peak. Three attorneys have also commented.

Prior to the recommendation, the timber harvest plan was returned twice to the developer's forestry consultant in December, 2013 and May, 2014 because of non-compliance with State Board of Forestry regulations and was unaccepted for filing. Due to challenge from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board in September, 2014, a second Pre-Harvest Inspection of the property was held on February 23, 2015. It was not open to the public.

CDF Team Chairman Anthony Lukacic reported at the April 23 review that because of new information, the plan would require re-circulation and the public comment period remain open to all California residents citing serious environmental concerns and/or relevant new information. The public comment period closed June 29, 2015.

Normally, CDF has fifteeen working days following close of comment to issue a final determination and reply to the comment submitted. Due to the volume of comment submitted, the determination date has been extended to August 31, 2015; an additional extension can be issued if needed. Following approval, the plan can be legally challenged within 30 days of the determination.

To view the complete file on this project go to: this ftp folder (you may have to register as guest)

Financial contributions to oppose the plan can be made on the Forest Unlimited website or mailed to (with an email memo to Charlotte Williams at Citizens for Green Community):

Forest Unlimited
P.O. Box 506
Forestville, CA 95436

The Silver Rose


Bill Hocker - Jun 9, 2015 10:25PM  Share #853

Weekly Calistogan: Calistoga's Silver Rose project looks at 2017 opening

The 2 spas under development in Calistoga, the Silver Rose and Calistoga Hills, will add about 190 hotel rooms and 50 houses to the town. Well over 100 more cars moving up and down the valley each day, most adding to the traffic jams in St. Helena and the lineups at Jameson and American Canyons. Were those traffic impacts a part of the EIR's for the projects?

Calistoga Hills Timber Harvest Plan 2nd Review


Charlotte Williams - Apr 18, 2015 12:11PM  Share #762

Scheduled for 10 AM, April 23rd. Thursday next week.

Call 707-576-2959 to alert them that you'd like to attend. I'll send out more info after I've spoken to them. Also, conference call possible: 1-888-363-4749 PARTICIPANT CODE: 3146408

Review Schedule here


Letter to California State Water Resources Board


Chris Malan - Apr 6, 2015 10:48AM  Share #737

John Madison
California State Water Resources Board
Re: Cease and Desist Order, CDO, for unlawful discharge of pollutants to the Napa River

Hello John,

I am contacting you because Living Rivers Council, LRC, and the Institute for Conservation Advocacy Research and Education, ICARE, are active stakeholders in the health of the Napa River. Our members fish, swim and recreate in the Napa River and we hold sacred our public trust rights for the commons despite long portages and stagnant pools throughout the Napa River.

We have become increasingly alarmed regarding the wastewater discharges by the City of Calistoga's Wastewater Treatment Plant on Dunaweal Ln. despite many years of recommended upgrades and mitigations by the citizens of Calistoga and the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board, SFRWQCB.

The Napa River does not have adequate flows even in normal precipitation years let alone drought conditions due to:
excessive and over allocated water diversions
illegal water diversions
groundwater extraction
violations of Fish and Wildlife Codes 5937 to leave the fish in good condition by providing by-pass flows

Warm temperatures and low flow conditions are stressing the survival of the few Chinook and steelhead that manage to survive the harsh degraded aquatic habitat conditions of the Napa River.

On November 12, 2014, the SFRWQCB, issued a CDO R2-2014-0043, to the City of Calistoga for unlawfully discharging wastewater to the Napa River which is an impaired water body under the Clean Water Act for sediment, nutrients and pathogens.

We would like a copy of the ‘Report on Actions to Comply with Prohibitions’ due on March 31, 2015, which will include sampling and analysis for boron, arsenic, copper, lead, thallium and zinc as part of the antimony source identification and task required by Table 2 of the Order.

Please advise.

Still time to comment on Calistoga Hills THP


Charlotte Williams - Mar 26, 2015 8:36AM  Share #727

Dear California Citizens,

Thank you so much for your many comments to CDF/CalFire regarding the Timber Harvest Plan for Calistoga Hills Resort. I am impressed and surprised at your response. There have been about 85 public comments submitted.

Although the close of comments date is posted as March 25, 2015 on the Cal Fire site, the actual close of comment cannot occur until 10 days following the Second Review for the THP -- which has not occurred as of 3/25/15. CGC will announce this date as soon as it is posted and hopes that you will join us for this critical meeting.

For those of you who would still like to comment, I had a request for bullet points. They are listed below.

Email comments to: santarosapubliccomment@fire.ca.gov

Or mail/deliver hardcopy comments to:
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
135 Ridgeway Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95436

Timber Harvest Plan identification: THP 1-13-126 NAP
Project: Calistoga Hills Resort, Calistoga, CA
Address to: Cal Fire and/or Participating Agencies

- Cite your opposition to THP 1-13-126 NAP for the Calistoga Hills Resort project in Calistoga, California, due to serious environmental concerns you have for the timber harvest and resort/housing project as planned.

- Request that your public comments be placed into the administrative record for the THP.

- Cite your specific findings or concerns; e.g., any serious environmental fault you have with the timber harvest plan as submitted.

These can include: (select and elaborate using your [organization's] expertise.)

- The conversion of woodland habitat to resort facilities and residential housing and the unmitigated land use impacts associated with a harvest and development of this size within city limits;

- The removal of over 8,000 native trees and the adverse effects of deforestation on forest carbon sequestration;

- The removal of over 8,000 native trees and the habitat they provide to native species of Napa County, protected or otherwise;

- The logging of over 8,000 native trees and the adverse effects of erosion on steep valley hillsides;

- Further degradation of the 303(d)-listed, impaired Napa River, with particular regard to sediment;

- The adverse impacts of stormwater run-off and the pollutants associated with it;

- The depletion of valley groundwater reserves and the potential for adverse effects to wells at the site (they are currently non-functioning) and adjacent properties;

- Continuing water supply problems in a county experiencing prolonged drought conditions and municipality experiencing a Stage 2 Water Emergency for a second consecutive year;

- The lack of county scrutiny and the cumulative impacts that the timber harvest and completed development will have on the greater Napa County, e.g., traffic failure; air quality, carbon off-sets, water quality, watershed, groundwater, fire, flooding, landslide, etc.

- The potential for conflagration in an area experiencing prolonged and extreme drought conditions;

- A lack of specific detailed evacuation route plans in the event of conflagration and a comprehensive plan to insure the safe evacuation of city residents, county residents, the local workforce, commuters, tourists, etc.

- Unresolved sewer system problems in a municipality under Cease and Desist Orders issued by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board last November, 2014;

- A lack of Spanish translation provided in any documents to date related to the harvest or project (this is best submitted by member(s) of the Latino community);

- SGMA (Sustainable Groundwater Management Act) not addressed;

- Brand new water-conservation policy(s) instituted by the state of California not addressed;

- Etc. ~ Ask questions, request data, which will require a detailed agency response

- Because of this and additional concerns you have for this environmentally sensitive location, (name of organization or submitter), I urge that you deny THP 1-13-126 NAP.

Watershed groups are especially encouraged to comment and to identify themselves as such, since the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board has water quality concerns with the harvest.

To date, the following groups have commented, including:

Citizens for Green Community
Forests Unlimited
California Fisheries & Water Unlimited
Living Rivers Council
Napa Chapter, Sierra Club
Friends of the Napa River
Calistoga Tree Coalition
Napa Voice
Law Offices of Thomas N. Lippe APC

Mar 25th 2015 deadline for comments on Calistoga Hills


Charlotte Williams - Mar 13, 2015 9:13AM  Share #695

On behalf of Citizens for Green Community in Calistoga I'm asking you to forward to your contacts this message:

Any resident of California can comment on THP 1 - 13 - 126 NAP.

Please email CalFire (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) at
SantaRosaPublicComment@fire.ca.gov
reference THP 1 - 13- 126 NAP
Calistoga Hills Resort (map)

To view the complete file on this project go to: this ftp file (you may have to register as guest)
Open the "Public Comment" folder to view the comments of concerned citizens.
(A sample comment letter is here)

The most pressing issues are water, wastewater pollution of the Napa River, cutting of 8000 trees, air quality/carbon sequestration, traffic impacting the whole Napa Valley via Hwys 29 and 128 as well as Petrified Forest Rd to Sonoma County, destruction of wildlife habit and corridors, loss of viewshed.

This Timber Harvest Plan will allow developers (most recently a Chinese corporation) to build a 110+ room resort with ballroom, two restaurants, 35 - 7000sqft homes, shops, a spa, pools, etc. on approximately 20 acres of land at the top of a ridge within the city limits of Calistoga.
8000 trees are scheduled for cutting.
The total property is 88 acres, approximately 66 of those acres are greater than 35% slope.
The base of the slope is at Highway 29, about 200 yds from the Napa River.
The immediate watersheds are Diamond Creek and Kortum Canyon.
The water source is the City of Calistoga which buys most of its water from the City of Napa via the North Bay Aqueduct -- a pipe that runs up the Napa Valley from the Sacramento River Delta.
The city's wastewater treatment plan is overburdened and inadequate, currently leaching into the Napa River through its unlined holding ponds.
The spas already in Calistoga are under court order - now 12 years old - to meter their effluent. They have never installed these meters and the city has never enforced the court order.

The spas use city water as well as geothermal from wells. This water contains high levels of boron (making it unusable for grape agriculture), arsenic, mercury, antimony, copper.

Contact Charlotte Williams if you need further information at cdevorak@sonic.net

In the photo below the highest ridge is Diamond Mtn. The closer ridge is the Calistoga Hills Resort property. More Info is here



-------------------------

Christina Aranguren of California FIsheries and Water Unlimited adds:

Your assistance is greatly needed. To date, there have been nearly 70 public comment submissions questioning and/or opposing Timber Harvest Plan 1-13-126 NAP for Calistoga Hills Resort, but more are always welcome which address serious environmental concerns.

The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, which is one of several agencies involved the multi-agency review team headed up by Cal Fire to approve this misguided project, has come out in opposition of the THP as planned because of adverse impacts to the Napa River watershed. A last report is due in from them at any time; with hope they will stay tough and remain squarely in defense of the watershed. There have been the only agency to do so.

For more history on the project, suggest consulting the CF&WU's comments of June 23, 2014; although they're no longer completely up-to-date, they were composed purposely in a narrative form so that folks connect the dots.

Calistoga Hills CDF meeting soon


Charlotte Williams - Feb 27, 2015 4:56PM  Share #654

Dear Citizens for Green Community,

This past Monday the 23rd another Pre-Harvest Inspection (PHI) of the Calistoga Hills property was conducted by CalFire, the Water Quality Control Board, and probably other regulatory agencies, as well as representatives of the new owners of the property. This indicates that a continuance of the 2nd Review meeting will occur soon. It will be especially important that we have a strong presence at that meeting. We most likely won't be given an opportunity to speak but a good turnout from us will keep the agencies on their toes.

I'll send out an email when I have the date, time, and location of the meeting. I'll also note a place and time for carpools to meet.

In the meantime, the public comment period is still open and whether you are a professional or not, if there is any issue with this project that you question or have concerns about that has not been addressed, please take the time to write to CDF -- SantaRosaPublicComment@fire.ca.gov --. The public comment period will probably close within days after the 2nd Review meeting.

more info is here

Thanks for your attention and participation.

Taxpayers foot the bill for Calistoga Hills


Bill Hocker - Feb 20, 2015 9:16AM  Share #631

Calistogan: City may purchase vacant lot on Washington

I can't imagine a clearer example of Volker Eisele's dictum that "Development doesn't pay for itself. It doesn't." The mayor just assumes that the tax payers of the city and the state must now subsidize the developer by providing housing for the underpaid workers at the resorts. And schools and water and sewers and emergency services. Governments are always seeking more development to generate revenues to pay for the last developments they approved. And more taxes.

Why doesn't it occur to anyone that the resorts, who are in the housing business after all, should provide all of the housing needed for their workforce, in an effort to relieve, though not completely eliminate, the burden that they place on taxpayers to deal with the impacts they create.

Does anyone think that by turning Calistoga into Napa or San Francisco that revenue problems will be solved? The only people that don't lose money through development are the developers.

Update on Calistoga Hills


Charlotte Williams - Feb 6, 2015 1:31PM  Share #606

As you may have read in the local papers the Calistoga Hills property and adjacent Reverie Vineyard and Winery have been purchased by CTF Development International of Hong Kong.

A few days ago, a Response to Second Review Recommendations and a geologic report was posted on the CDF website as filed by the Registered Professional Forester who works for Calistoga Hills. Following that, the current CDF employee in charge of this Timber Harvest Plan is agreeing to schedule another Pre-Harvest Inspection, most likely due to pressure from the Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board. It would have been more telling to have an inspection during or soon after the unusual rains in December as the stability of those slopes is still in question, though the water courses may still be evident.

It is useful to encourage CDF and the BARWQCB to continue their diligent attention to this project. They can be contacted at:

SantaRosaPublicComment@fire.ca.gov
Attn: Mr. Anthony Lukacic

and

Mr. Bruce Wolfe
Executive Officer
San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board
1515 Clay Street, Suite 1400
Oakland, CA 94612
Bruce.Wolfe@waterboards.ca.gov

Ref: THP 1 - 13 -126 NAP

All of the documents related to this project are in CDF files here (you may have to log in as a "guest"). Note that this is a very large body of random documents - I would suggest sorting them by date descending:
The complete folder of Enchanted/Calistoga Hills documents + public comment folder


In other news, many neighborhood groups are beginning to join together to encourage our county Planning Department, Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to better control development in the county. CGC is far from alone in its efforts.


Calistoga News


Bill Hocker - Jan 8, 2015 5:55PM  Share #535

Calistoga decides to double its population:

Rules relaxed for granny units
Dannyboy's comment to the article is right on target. The developers pocket their profits and the community picks up the burden of providing employee housing.

Calistoga Hills Resort:

An LTE from Bill Dyer: State Forestry and the public trust

And this: New owners of Calistoga Hills introduced

In the comments, a real estate broker asks why an investor would buy a property that has run into approval problems. The answer: the combination of excess wealth and brand-name, high-life lust among Chinese plutocrats makes Napa a prime target for otherwise dubious investments. Read more here - particularly the last paragraph. Mountain Peak Vineyards proposed next to us on Soda Canyon Road is a similar situation. There are numerous other examples in the county. And many more examples here.

Calistoga tries to double population


Bill Hocker - Dec 3, 2014 4:32PM  Share #489


Developments in Calistoga


Charlotte Williams - Nov 18, 2014 8:44AM  Share #459

[received from Forests Unlimited]

Dear Citizens for Green Community,

Below is an update on recent developments and successes in the struggle against irresponsible growth in Calistoga.

First: Calistoga Wastewater Treatment and Storage Operation. The Regional Water Quality Control Board has adopted a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) against the City of Calistoga and its wastewater treatment and storage operation. The CDO was revised with additional conditions and adopted because the of the amount and quality of public comment from you and other citizens and organizations.
    • the City of Calistoga will no longer be allowed to discharge treated wastewater to the Napa River at low flow periods.
    • the City of Calistoga will be required to construct additional storage ponds,
    • the City of Calistoga will be required to correct violations of antimony in wastewater,
    • the City of Calistoga will be required to add BORON to the list of chemicals monitored in wastewater,
    • the City of Calistoga will be required to reduce inflows of geothermal water,
    • the City of Calistoga will be required to increase recycling of wastewater at its treatment plant.

There is still more to do around this and ongoing monitoring by watchdog groups will be important, but this is a clear victory.

Second: Calistoga Hills Resort continues to have problems getting approval of their Timber Harvest Plan (THP) and cannot proceed with the project until they do. After nearly a year, California Department of Forestry (CDF) has only recently accepted the plan and begun its “second review”. This review was continued to a later date when the Regional Water Quality Control Board raised concerns over the risk of erosion on steep slopes. At its request the developer has now been asked for more robust geologic and soil studies. Again, the volume and quality of public and expert comments received has been well coordinated and critical to bringing several serious inadequacies of the plan to light.

Our advisors at Forest Unlimited tell us that as soon as the developer has completed the required geologic survey, CDF will likely move forward fairly rapidly. The developer has had legal counsel present at all meetings and we expect that they will put pressure on CDF. In the next round of public comment, we are anticipating taking on some additional expenses for experts and an environmental attorney to give equal weight to public comment opposing the Timber Harvest Plan. If the Regional Water Quality Control Board feels the plan would jeopardize water quality in the Napa River, it has the authority to block the project or at least reduce the area that can be clear cut. We want to give them as much ammunition and support as possible.

While many of you have given generously in the past, we are looking for additional funds to cover these costs. If you can make a donation at this time it would be appreciated. Checks can be sent to:

Forest Unlimited 
P.O. Box 506 
Forestville, CA 95436
 (memo'd Citizens for Green Community)

As always, thank you for your participation.

Tourism drains the county's water


Bill Hocker - Aug 26, 2014 10:48AM  Share #332

Christina Aranguren from Calistoga has another letter to the editor regarding the impacts of tourism and water in the county. It is here: Sustainability versus Napa Valley tourism

More of Christina's letters are here.

Also a reminder: Sept 2nd is the last day to file a letter with the State opposing the logging of the Calistoga Hills Project Site. The contact information including an email address for submitting your letter is here.

Question the impact of Calistoga Hills before Sept 2nd


Charlotte Williams - Aug 12, 2014 10:09PM  Share #312

The third resort project recently approved in Calistoga must still get a logging permit from the State before development can begin. The parcel is here. Any resident of the state of California can submit a letter before Sept. 2nd questioning how the logging and development of Calistoga Hills (Enchanted Resorts) would affect the local and greater environment, our resources and infrastructure. Californians can also ask how any problems that occur because of development will be corrected. More information is here:

Concerned about logging at the new resort? Write a letter
or
Locals invited to question impact of Calistoga Hills




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