Bill Hocker | Jan 15, 2015Update
NYTimes 2/1/17: A Waking Giant or a Monster? Developers Eye Once-Sleepy Napa
This site is about the future of the unincorporated areas of Napa County. But now that I have to peruse the Register every day to find out what new threat is being posed to our rural way of life, I can't help stumbling across municipal issues. The two are related, of course. The Napa County General Plan relegates to the municipalities the responsibility to house, and until recently to feed, the millions of tourists it is trying to attract to its wineries. With an ever increasing number of tourist event centers now being planned to occupy the vineyards, the need to accommodate tourists is the number one priority in the municipalities.
Two subjects of interest recently:
Napa plans study session to expand vacation rentals
Napa hosts debate on allowing more vacation rentals
Clarifying remarks on Napa vacation rentals
Has anyone considered the possibility that the entire housing stock of Napa, worth more to the city and to owners as short term rentals, might become just a collection of condos managed by a few large corporations? It gives a new meaning to bedroom community.
The Future of Napa Center
was just linked on the NVR. It is a very pleasant ride through the center of town, but while the video is great, the vision for the center of Napa is lousy. There is in fact no center to the town of Napa. The shopping center built in the 80's disastrously broke up the comprehensible grid of streets and the town has struggled to find itself ever since. Where is the grand rectangle of public space, like that in Sonoma or Healdsburg or San Francisco, that tells the weary traveller that they have arrived at the real center of the city?
The height and bulk of the new hotel makes us think that the the center is near. But we arrive to find only what, the maze of a shopping mall. The tallest building in a town generally tell us where the animating spirit of the population is. Tradtionally churches in most places, grain silos in farm country, skyscrapers in the profiteering capitals. In Napa it is obviously to be hotels. (Lets just hope the 10 million people don't arrive on the same day.)
The design of the new Archer Hotel also does little to connote civic grander appropriate for a town center. Think of the St. Francis on Union Square or the Biltmore on Pershing square. This hotel and the new store next to it are styled in the tacky retro 50's pastiche that is now in fashion but will just as quickly become dated nonsense. It is a style that has nothing to do with the turn-of-the-20th century spirit of the town. Although it kills me to say it, the Disneyland Riverfront project does a better job of integration. Can Napa's future not be better than this?
City of Napa Logo
A while ago I remember reading in the Register that Napa was looking for a new logo. I don't know if they found one, but if not I would like to make a proposal: