Bill Hocker | Nov 22, 2020Update 11/22/20
NVR 11/22/20: Napa County pushes back on possible, big housing mandate
Just below the above article in the Register is a video
of the construction ongoing at the Stanly Ranch Resort
. The resort will eventually employ 500 people, most needing affordable housing. This is just the population growth that ABAG is trying to house with their mandates. The committment by the cities and the county to continue to approve resorts, hotels, winery entertainment venues, industrial warehouses are all creating the conditions needing more housing. ABAG should
be apportioning housing mandates based on the number of jobs communities are creating. And the amount of job-creating development ongoing, much but not all shown here
, is quite astounding.
At the end of last year the County finally recognized the link between job creation and urban development in refusing to ramp up industrial development
in the south county. But much like climate change, the projects already in the pipeline make make modest efforts at mitigation futile. And nothing in the approvals made in the last year, slowed somewhat perhaps by the pandemic, makes one think that a radical rethinking of the problem is in the offing.
The cities and county are trying to hide behind some high minded dedication to agriculture and open space to shirk their duty to provide for the housing need they are creating in their approvals. If they truly were committed to agriculture and open space they would stop, immediately, promoting a tourism/industrial economic base for the county and concentrate on how to make their unique, low urbanizing, agricultural product more viable in a global marketplace. Napa has spent millions promoting Visit Napa Valley
and nothing promoting the sale of Napa wines outside the county. Selling wine as a tourist good is more profitable for more people than growing and processing crops for export, but the urbanization needed to achieve that additional profitability will eventually undermine the agriculture and open space that governments hypocritically claim to treasure.
The Board of Supervisors and City of Napa have drafted a response
to the ABAG proposed RHNA allocation for 2023-31. It will be presented and discussed at the BOS meeting on 11/10/20 (item 10E here
). The county's agenda letter
more clearly spells out the thinking than the letter to ABAG (the ABAG unincorporated allocation seems ot have risen to 880 units!). While the letter gets into the weeds of ABAG's "methodology", they are essentially pleading that the unique circumstances of a county devoted to preserving an agricultural economy needs a more flexible approach to affordable home building goals than the rest of the constantly urbanizing Bay Area. Of course the county's promotion of tourism and industrial development in the unincorporated area over the last 20 years are making that argument more difficult with every new (mostly low-paying) job created.
Every 8 years the Association of Bay Area Governments
(ABAG) sets an affordable houisng requirement, called Regional Housing Needs Allocations
(RHNA), for counties and municipalities with in its jurisdication, for the 8 year period ahead. It is the government's job to make sure those allocations are realized.
On Nov 4, 2020, the County Planning Commissio
n will get an update from the Planning Department
on the current 2023-2031 proposed allocation. It is not good news.
In 2012, for the period of 2015-2023
ABAG required Napa County to supply 180 affordable housing units. The result of that allocation was a difficult effort to find sites in the unincorporated county on which to build the units (documented in the Genreal Plan 2014 Housing Element
), resulting ultimately in a complex deal with the City of Napa to build them as part of the Napa Pipe Project
, the only site beyond one in Angwin, strongly opposed by Angwin Residents, that was remotely suitable. The desire to fulfill the RHNA allotment was a principal reason the Napa Pipe Project was approved. Of course along with the 180 units came an additional massive urban development project. Unfortunately the method of supplying affordable housing in a capitalist society is to fund it with fees and taxes from vast amounts of other, more profitable consturction.
This time around, ABAG is alloting 792 affordable units to be built in the unincorporated county between the years 2023 and 2031, not quite four and a half times the number of units alloted, but still not built, from the 2015 to 2023 requirment. And Napa Pipe is no longer an eligable site. How much additional urban development of Napa's open space, the legacy of a committment to agriculture by a previous generation of citizens and politians, will be necessary to accomodate the next RHNA allotment? Something four and half times the size of Napa Pipe, perhaps.