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The other monster project in south Napa, the 1250 unit housing project proposed above and around the cement works ruins in American Canyon seems to be coming alive agin after years in planning limbo. Its selling points this time around are the promise to fund a new elementary school and 20% of a new middle school and the addition of 100 more rooms to the previously proposed 100 room hotel (more TOT the city manager enthuses!)
As with Napa Pipe, the project is a complete disaster for the already gridlocked American Canyon - Napa Pipe strip. The entire massive project will dump out on S. Napa Junction Road or Rio Del Mar Rd waiting, no doubt, for the off ramps from the freeway berm that will ultimately bisect the town.
The project is just one further chunk of the Vallejo-Napa metropolitan area that will soon unite Napa with the rest of the Bay Area's suburban sprawl.
Sigh! From the EIR: "significant and unavoidable impacts with respect to: air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and transportation and traffic." There would seem to be no limits to the damage government officials will visit on their constituents in support of their patrons.
Residents and labor union members are backing a referendum to put the approval of Watson Ranch on the ballot. While Mayor García tries to portray supporters of the referendum as labor unions angling for a bigger piece of the project and as outside Green party radicals opposed to development, it doesn't take much to realize that there isn't anything in this project for the residents of American Canyon except more traffic, pollution, school crowding, job competition and increasing infrastructure and service taxes.
As noted in the EIR: "significant and unavoidable impacts with respect to: air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and transportation and traffic." This project doesn't need outside agitators to oppose it. It just needs informed residents. Hopefully the referendum will do that.
Unfortunately the referendum will not be countywide. The traffic increase in American Canyon will impact everyone traveling to and from the Napa Valley, and some of the infrastructure needs of the expanding American Canyon population will, no doubt, be borne by the rest of the county as well.
The hardest work developers do is probably not the building of projects, but the cajoling, coercing or bamboozling of taxpayers and governments into paying for the infrastructure necessary to make their projects, and profits, possible. It is no coincidence that our current developer-president is proposing a massive public expenditure in infrastructure in opposition to his own party's conservative orthodoxy. Developers everywhere are no doubt slavering at the thought.
The real question is who, beyond the developers and their campaign contribution recipients, benefit from the projects. The taxes and fees that developers and government officials claim will be generated by the projects will never offset that costs of the impacts that must be addressed at public expense. Taxpayers and residents will end up paying more to accommodate the increased costs for road, sanitation and water systems, for emergency services, and school expansions. In the process the environment becomes more dense, urbanized and congested, and the rural small-town character of the county, often extolled by officials in comparison to the suburban sprawl of the rest of the Bay Area, will continue to disappear.
There are places willing and committed to turn their open space into urban agglomerations, providing jobs and housing for an ever expanding population and they should be encouraged to do so. But Napa County has a viable agricultural resource and industry that requires a different vision of its future, and it should be acting, even in its municipalities, to protect that vision from the constant promotion of urbanization by developers.
A minimum of 3500 more cars/day moving north into an already packed corridor. Again the same argument that is made over and over. The road is already at LOS F. It will still be at LOS F even with our project, so it is a less-than-significant impact. Unbelievable
The project is currently proposed to have a 200 room hotel in addition to the 1250 housing units.The City Manager pointed out that without the hotel, the city would lose about $1.2 mil/yr providing infrastructure and services to the homes. With the hotel, if it attracts high end guests and is filled (big ifs), there will be a $1.2 mil/yr revenue surplus. Someone then asked, of course, "Why build the houses? Just build the hotel."
A city official (I neglected to get his name) looked a little struck by the question. And then he answered: "This is the vision of our general plan - to have a larger city." The general plan was, no doubt, written by developers.
The residents of American Canyon already have shortages of school space, parks and playgrounds. This project underserves its own residents and will not relieve the shortages in the rest of the town. One person said that it is already hard enough to find jobs in the town. Why import 4-5000 new residents that will only put a greater strain on overstrained budgets and facilities, not to mention traffic and water.
One questioner suggested that the city wait until 2022, when ABAG will ask for another batch of affordable housing, to build Watson Ranch. They may have found another water source by then. The traffic, unfortunately, from the vast amount tourism and industrial development happening throughout the county in the next decade will continue to come. It will not be handled by 2 extra lanes and timed signals, and a freeway, I'm afraid, bisecting the town is inevitable.
Seeing that there is only one access road connecting the project to Hwy 29, creating an enormous choke point, I thought that it was done to align with the one freeway offramp planned for that end of town. While this still may be true it also seems that the developer more likely doesn't want to pay to go under the railroad tracks more than once, just as they don't want to pay to extend Newell Drive north to relieve traffic on Hwy 29 through town. This is a huge project that needs to bring a lot more benefits to the town than it is being asked to do. Why build it otherwise?
The other monster project in south Napa, the 1250 unit housing project proposed to surround the cement works ruins in American Canyon seems to be coming alive agin after a year in planning and drought angst limbo. As with Napa Pipe the project is a complete disaster for the already gridlocked American Canyon strip for anyone wishing to commute to or visit the Napa Valley.
Noel Brinkerhoff of the American Canyon Eagle is beginning to actively cover development issues there. I have linked the topic of Watson Ranch to Napa Pipe as being parts of the same urbanization of south Napa that will eventually create a Napa-Vallejo metropolitan area. As more interest is developed in AmCan issues it will probably get its own page.