St Helena continues to convert vineyards to housing
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Bill Hocker | Apr 24, 2024

Update 4/24/24
NVR 4/24/24: St. Helena goes ahead with vineyard rezoning

SH Star 4/3/24: Neighbors object to rezoning of St. Helena vineyard

The Spring St vineyard follows on the designations of the Hunter Subdivision and the Adams Street vineyard as suitable properties to convert to urban use in the city of St. Helena. These housing developments are a subset of the loss of vineyards all over the county to winery event centers up valley and industrial warehouses in the south, all of which will eventually threaten the viability of an agriculture-based economy.

The need for new housing development in St Helena (or indeed Napa County) is somewhat ironic: the city lost 800 residents between 2010 and 2024. (Napa county has lost 3200 residents in that time.) The ABAG mandates that led to this rezoning are part of the State's (and perhaps the building industry's) efforts to induce home construction in the hope that more homes mean lower prices. There is, of course, a need for more affordable housing in the state, but as many analysts agree, lowering the price of housing is a much more difficult equation and unlikely to lower home prices any time soon. Affordable housing currently costs some $800,000/unit to build (see here). That same amount, given to a family as a $1000/month supplement for an existing market-rate rental, would last 66 years (not counting interest).

Unfortunately, in a grossly disproportionate attempt to lower housing costs for a handful of lucky tenants, the county is continuing to sacrifice the agricultural heritage prized by most everyone who lives here.

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