Bill Hocker | Jun 10, 2022 Update 6/29/22
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Planning Commission Meeting to review the Draft Housing element on 7/6/22
: Agenda and documents
The county has presented a preview of the Draft Housing Element EIR
The Notice of Availability
contains information on the comment process. Comments are to be submitted by July 11, 2022. A public County Planning Commission hearing on the DEIR will be held on July 6, 2022.
Final ABAG RHNA 2023-2030 housing allocation for the unincorporated county: 106 units, way down from the 180 units the county struggled with in the 2015-2022 cycle (finally resulting in the approval of the massive Napa Pipe urbanization project).
6 sites have been proposed in the current DEIR with a total capacity of 483 housing units. 4 of the sites can accommodate 100 units each so in theory the county would have to choose no more than two sites, or even 1 if they cram a little. Of course each site is adjacent to existing residential neighborhoods so there will be push-back. There are already constituencies that will oppose the Foster Road
and Imola Ave
sites. Two sites are adjacent to the very upscale Silverado Resort neighborhood (pushback here
). Which leaves Spanish Flat and Big Ranch Rd.
Notice of Preparation for the Housing Element DEIR
Napa County 2022 Housing Element page
Video of the 11/15/21 HEAC meeting
It is still unclear in my mind how many RHNA units the county is required to find sites for. The gross number from ABAG is 1014. In a previous NVR article it seemed assumed that transfer agreements with the cities might reduce that number to 200 or so. In this meeting there was no discussion of numbers smaller than the full 1014 number, other than to say that the cities may not be interested in honoring their agreements given the large number the have been assigned.
Supervisors will be discussing the Housing Element on 12/7/21, the next step in what would seem to be a long process.
It is a bit depressing that the county is rearresting all of the usual suspects in its efforts to deal with RHNA mandates: Spanish Flat, Moskowite Corners, Angwin (page H12 here
). No Napa Pipe
to Bail them out this time.
NVR 11/28/21: Napa County works on housing puzzle
NVR 11/10/21: Napa County's sale of Old Sonoma Road land for housing becomes official
These two stories, somehow disconnected from one another in the county's mental map, seem like they would have been a natural fit. Now a private developer will build 128 market rate houses plus 22 affordable houses that don't count toward the county's RHNA allotment. Had they given the land to a non-profit to develop 100% affordable housing, their RHNA allotment for 2023-2031 would be greatly reduced. An opportunity missed.
The county doesn't know what it's going to do with the $7.5 million. Placed into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund it could be used to build 15 affordable housing units (at this 2018 rate
). Placed into the general fund it will probably be frittered away on the hundreds of financial pot holes in the county - holes that were supposed to be filled by all the fees and taxes from the new development the county keeps approving. Of course the more "growth" that occurs, i.e. the more of the county that is paved over for new development, the more pot holes there are to fill.
NVR 2/10/21: ABAG's mandate for new Napa County housing grows
The unincorporated county's share of the RHNA mandate for 2023-2031 will be around 200 additional units, 10% above the 180 units in the last allocation. Let's hope a way is found to build those 200 units that doesn't require the building of another Napa Pipe-sized city on county land to finance them.
NVR 2/24/21: Napa County again tries to sell Old Sonoma Road site for housing
In the meantime the county is putting their Old Sonoma Road property
up for sale again after the previous deal fell through because the site isn't yet zoned residential, a complication for a buyer. The City of Napa is about to update their general plan with residential zoning for the site included. Regardless, the County is trying to sell the site at a cut rate because of the current zoning. If they waited they could get more money. If they waited they could use the site for some of the housing they are required to provide under 2023-2031 RHNA. If they were smart they would give the land to a developer willing to do 100% affordable housing on the site.
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 commitment 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 housing requirement, called Regional Housing Needs Allocations
(RHNA), for counties and municipalities with in its jurisdiction, 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 Commission
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 General 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 construction.
This time around, ABAG is allotting 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 allotted, but still not built, from the 2015 to 2023 requirement. And Napa Pipe is no longer an eligible site. How much additional urban development of Napa's open space, the legacy of a commitment to agriculture by a previous generation of citizens and politicians, will be necessary to accommodate the next RHNA allotment? Something four and half times the size of Napa Pipe, perhaps.