SodaCanyonRoad | Cappel Valley School Rezoning

Cappel Valley School Rezoning
Bill Hocker | May 12, 2024 on: Tourism Issues

Update 5/15/24
The PC recommended rezoning approval to the BOS [4-0, Mazzotti absent] with little discussion and much praise of the General Plan working as it was intended.
Video of the meeting

Whoa! Another piece of ag-zoned land being converted into a hotel. What's going on here?

The Planning Commission hearing to discuss the required zoning change is on Wed. May 15, 2024. (agenda and documents here)

From the Staff Agenda Letter

    "While the site has limited potential as a viable agricultural site, the proposed lodging facility is an opportunity to support tourism in Napa, much of which relates to wineries, which are considered agriculture."

Sounds a lot like an attempt to lump in lodging as an agricultural use, something predicted as the county transitions from a wine economy to a tourism economy. Every piece of property in the county that can now claim to be somehow exempt from the requirements of the AWOS or AP zoning requirements seems to be proposed as a hotel. The Wine Train/Krug Hotel, the Oak Knoll Hotel, the Hall Winery Hotel, The Inn at the Abby, and the Farmstead Hotel are all on properties nominally subject to ag zoning but because of prior use are being utilized as hotels. The are gobbling up a fair amount of land that chould be used for agriculture.

This project makes me a bit sad. Selling a school to become a hotel highlights the loss of an authentic community to the very inauthentic world of a tourism destination. Some may consider tourism just as authentic an income source as, say, farming, ranching or even wine making. But to me, as the community's worth becomes measured in TOT dollars, and everyone's job is to make visitors believe they're seeing a vision of a real place, like employees at Disneyland, the reality of the place disappears.

From the General Plan Consistancy Analysis

    "The project site is located within a former "rural residential bubble" from the 1983-2007 General Plan. In December 2008, the general plan designation of the subject property and surrounding area were changed from RR to AWOS as part of the Proposed Land Use Map Amendment (PLUMA) (Resolution No. 08-178). The prior RR designation would have been compatible with CN zoning, potentially allowing additional commercial uses in the area.

My reading would be that the rezoning in 2008 was done specifically to prevent such sites from becoming commercially zoned. While the bubble containing this site was specifically exempted in 2008 from the Measure J requirement for voter approved rezoning, it does not exempt the County from considering the reason the zoning was changed in 2008 in reviewing this project. Apparently staff wishes to treat those bubbles as if their pre-measureJ zoning designations still apply. Yet the obvious intent of the 2008 General Plan was to specifcally move this from Rural Residential to AWOS zoning. The question whether a CN (or RR) is appropriate or even legal needs to be more thoroughly discussed. Is it the intention of the County to find any possible ambiguity to convert ag land to commercial use going forward?