Decisions to raise water rates, restrict growing or delivering marijuana, and other important issues, plus City Council elections will arise in American Canyon during the coming months of 2018.
One of the thornier matters confronting city leaders will involve the cost of charging residents and business owners more for drinking water, a matter that has lingered since before the drought ended.
The city’s water fund has experienced multiple years of deficits stemming from an imbalance between what people pay for their water and what it costs the city to deliver it.
The fund’s red ink grew during the drought when residents heeded the call to conserve water, which resulted in people using less water, but the city taking in less revenue as a result.
The City Council formed a citizens’ advisory body in 2017 to study the issue of water rates and offer feedback on proposals to adjust local water bills. The Water Rate Advisory Committee is expected to make recommendations to the council sometime in 2018.
Council members will also consider an ordinance addressing marijuana cultivation and distribution.
Following the passage of Prop. 64 in November 2016 that legalized recreational marijuana use in California, American Canyon imposed a temporary moratorium to give city planners time to talk to other leaders in Napa County about issues associated with growing marijuana plants and delivering cannabis products to customers.
The temporary moratorium expires in April, giving council members until then to decide what kind, if any, cannabis regulations they want for American Canyon.
Possible restrictions could include limits on growing marijuana in homes, as well as businesses selling or delivering cannabis products to residents.
Later in the year the council will start working on an update to the city’s General Plan, a document that lays out the city’s long-term vision for development.
The Parks and Recreation Department will likewise start updating the city’s Parks and Community Services Master Plan, first created in 2012. Officials also intend to review fees charged for parks services and program, according to Parks and Recreation Director Creighton Wright.
Wright said American Canyon’s parks fees are “low” compared to other communities, but added that it will be up to the City Council to decide whether to increase them.
The city’s Planning Commission will review a permit request in January from Orchard Partners for the second building of Napa Logistics Park. The sprawling industrial park has one building completed, and is being outfitted for a tenant, IKEA, to set up a distribution center. The project envisions constructing four more buildings over time.
City planners hope to see more progress on Watson Ranch in 2018 than took place in 2017.
The project’s draft Environmental Impact Report was published in July 2016, and produced a significant number of comments from individuals and organizations.
Responding to those comments required more time than officials expected, and eventually the process slowed to a halt in 2016 as the city and the developer stalemated over other issues related to the ambitious residential and commercial project.
The two sides hired a mediator in the summer 2017 to help broker an agreement, but that effort was still ongoing as of the end of the year.
“Discussions between the city and the developer continue to be positive and productive,” interim City Manager Jason Holley told the Eagle in December.
Holley added that staff “anticipates taking steps — in collaboration with the developer’s representatives — to address the public comments received on the draft EIR,” though they “don’t yet have a specific timetable for next steps.”
In November, two-fifths of the City Council will be up for reelection. Councilmember Mark Joseph, who has served on the council since 2010, is expected to seek a third term in office.
David Oro, who was appointed in February 2017 to fill out the term of Belia Ramos, is eligible to run and intends to seek his own four-year term.