You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
Election 2018
Measure C opponents agree to ballot argument changes

Measure C supporters who objected to proposed voter guide arguments against their watershed and oak woodland protection initiative reached a legal settlement with opponents over revisions.

Supporter and local resident Yeoryios Apallas last week filed a lawsuit in Napa County Superior Court calling parts of the original opposition arguments “false and/or misleading.” The voter guide will be mailed by the county to voters for the June 5 election.

Under the settlement, several statements in argument and rebuttal submitted for the voter guide by opponents will be revised.

“I believe justice has been served and that the voters will see the shenanigans that have been going on behind the scenes,” Measure C co-author Mike Hackett said Friday. “Now they’re going to get a fair representation that’s been mandated by the court.”

Ryan Klobas of the Napa County Farm Bureau on behalf of Measure C opponents said the settlement is not an admission of making false and misleading statements.

“I think it’s important to realize that all of the arguments we intended to keep, we have kept,” he said.

Measure C would limit the cutting of oak woodlands to make room for new vineyards in the agricultural watershed zoning district that includes local hills. It would strengthen setbacks for streams.

The original opposition argument asked voters to “join Napa County Farm Bureau, Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Valley Grapegrowers and Winegrowers of Napa County, along with Coalition Napa Valley, Sustainable Napa County, Senator Bill Dodd, Napa County Supervisors and Mayors in Napa County, who all oppose Measure C.”

Measure C supporters said the line implied that every mayor and supervisor opposes the initiative. In fact, St. Helena Mayor Alan Galbraith supports it and Supervisors Diane Dillon and Brad Wagenknecht are neutral.

The new version lists the opposition as including Supervisors Ryan Gregory, Alfredo Pedroza and Belia Ramos and Napa Mayor Jill Techel, Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning, Yountville Mayor John Dunbar and American Canyon Mayor Leon Garcia.

“Our intention was never to say ‘every supervisor and every mayor,’ but they interpreted it that way,” Klobas said.

The original opposition argument said that “Measure C will outlaw future farming in the Ag Watershed and encourage other types of development, while still allowing 795 acres of oak woodlands to be removed – opening the door for event centers and more luxury homes to be developed across our agricultural watershed, destroying our viewsheds and hillsides; and increasing traffic on our already congested rural roads and Highway 29.”

The new version replaces “outlaw future farming ” with “restrict future farming.”

However, not every change sought by supporters has been made. The lawsuit by Apallas said Measure C will not “open the door to event centers” or “increase traffic.”

“To the contrary, Measure C will not authorize any additional event centers; such centers will continue to require discretionary approvals from the county in the same way both before and after Measure C,” the lawsuit said.

However, that language about event centers and traffic remains in the revised version of the Measure C opposition argument.

The original statement said that “Measure C will prevent homeowners from making even the smallest changes to their land.” The Apallas lawsuit contested this claim.

The revised statement instead says that “when the Oak Tree Removal Limit is reached, Measure C will prevent homeowners in the Ag Watershed from removing oak trees without a permit.”

No on Measure C will pay $54,000 to cover the attorney fees for Measure C supporters in the case. Klobas said fighting out the matter in court would have cost more.

“We were willing to settle this to move forward with the (opposition) campaign,” he said.

The lawsuit over the voter guide statements had to reach a conclusion in time for the county to print and mail out the guides when ballots come out. Registrar of Voters John Tuteur said this has happened.

Voters should receive both the ballot and the voter guide in the mail from May 7 to May 14, Tuteur said. The ballot and guide will be in separate mailings because of the thickness of the voter guide.

Napa County Historical Society moves back into its historic home
J.L. Sousa, Register 

With a bust of Sir Walter Scott looking on, Napa County Historical Society executive director Nancy Levenberg leads a tour of the Goodman Library building as the organization moves back into the building following repairs to damage since the August 2014 earthquake.

From the looks of the Goodman Library building today, a first-time visitor would never know the dire condition the historic First Street building was in after the 2014 earthquake.

On Aug. 24, 2014, after the shaking stopped, stones from the exterior walls had shifted or fallen, an entry tower had partially collapsed, plaster interior walls were cracked, metal tin ceiling tiles were damaged, furniture was trampled and books and historic materials were in a shambles on the floor.

J.L. Sousa, Register  

The 2014 earthquake caused stones to fall and walls to crack.

“It was serious,” said Nancy Levenberg, executive director of the Napa County Historical Society.

Either the Goodman got fixed, or the city would lose its historical library.

J.L. Sousa, Register file photo  

The Goodman Library was under scaffolding for several years while the city of Napa worked on a repair plan.

The city and county took the challenge seriously.

More than three years after the quake, the entire Goodman Library building — home to the Napa County Historical Society and its historical collection — has been completely remodeled and renovated. Walls and ceilings are secured and repaired. There’s not a crack to be found.

Starting this past Wednesday, the small staff and volunteers began moving back into the building located at 1219 First St.

J.L. Sousa, Register 

Napa County Historical Society volunteers Virginia Means, left, and Bea Purdy sort through books in the research library as they restock the shelves in the Goodman Library building.

Moving back in is “wonderful and thrilling,” Levenberg said.

“I’m so excited to open it again and have people coming in again,” said research librarian Presley Hubschmitt. “This building deserves to be seen again and have the opportunity to shine.”

From the comments she hears around town, “Everyone is anxious to come in and see the Goodman” now that the renovations are done, said Levenberg.

Napan Bea Purdy was one of a group of volunteers who were unpacking and re-shelving books on the second floor of the Goodman on Wednesday morning.

There are so many interesting books to look at, she said. “Everything has a story,” said Purdy.

J.L. Sousa, Register 

The Napa County Historical Society is moving back into the Goodman Library on First Street in downtown Napa.

She pointed to a book about barbed wire patents. Who knew such a thing even existed? “Isn’t that fascinating?”

“I wish I had time to read everything” in the collection, she said. “Every time you look you see something different.”

The unpacking process will take several more weeks, said Levenberg. There are more than 10,000 photographs, 500-plus books, hundreds of maps and blueprints, and ephemera, including clothing, to be unpacked and reorganized.

The rain in March delayed some of the moving, she noted. “You can’t move a library in the rain,” she said.

Levenberg hopes to reopen to the public in June. A series of special events and open houses are planned and will be announced.

“I’m dying to open tomorrow,” she said. But, “We need to put the library back on the shelves.”

J.L. Sousa, Register 

Napa County Historical Society research librarian Presley Hubschmitt, left, opens a storage box containing World War II uniforms as volunteer Lauren Chevlen sorts through boxes. The NCHS is returning to the Goodman Library building after repairs were completed to the building, following damage sustained in the August 2014 earthquake.

To securely accommodate the collection, new bookshelves and display cases have been acquired. A kitchen area next to the “tea room” has been renovated. Even a bathroom is getting a new sink and toilet.

One longtime Goodman Library “resident” has already returned. A life-sized bust of Sir Walter Scott has been re-installed near a north wall on the second floor. Levenberg suspects that during the earthquake, the marble statue fell and Sir Walter’s nose caused a dent in the floor that remains today.

Scott doesn’t have a Napa connection, explained Levenberg. But he was donated by someone from Napa, so there he remains.

The Goodman Library renovation, which started in 2016, cost $1.75 million.

Under federal and state guidelines for disaster relief, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is slated to reimburse Napa for 75 percent of the cost, with the state Office of Emergency Services covering another 18.75 percent and the city the rest. The Gasser Foundation provided additional funds.

While the Goodman Library underwent repairs, the Napa County Historical Society operated out of the old office building at Tulocay Cemetery.

That satellite office proved to be popular with visitors and it will remain open with its own schedule, said Levenberg.

Completed in 1901, the Goodman Library – named for the local banker George Goodman, who donated land and funds for the building – served as the main Napa County Library reading room for over six decades.

The federal government added the building to its National Register of Historic Places in 1974, and the Historical Society moved its research library and offices to the building two years later.

The building was retrofitted in 2004 and 2005, which prevented even worse damage during the 2014 quake, said Levenberg.

J.L. Sousa, Register 

The lobby of the Goodman Library building where the Napa County Historical Society is housed. Repairs to the building from the August 2014 earthquake are complete. The NCHS is in the process of moving back into the downtown site.

Levenberg said that when she first walked back into the Goodman after the renovations were finished, she teared up.

“I get chills when I walk in,” she said. “It’s very emotional.”

More rooms to be added to Napa funeral home turned bed-and-breakfast

A downtown Napa building where generations of bereaved met to remember their dead is being overhauled to provide rest to the living – and the longtime funeral home has been cleared to host more of them.

The bed-and-breakfast inn taking shape within the former home of Treadway & Wigger Funeral Chapel on Coombs Street will be allowed 15 guest rooms, up from the 10 rooms in the city permit its owners received two years ago. Napa’s Planning Commission granted the increase Thursday to Maurissa Heffran of Burlingame, whose family acquired the century-old landmark after the mortuary was sold and moved to south Napa three years ago.

The additional rooms will occupy what once was Treadway & Wigger’s chapel in the 600 block of Coombs, where an interior design studio opened in June 2016 but closed last year. The Heffran family’s original plan for a B&B placed 10 rooms elsewhere in the old mortuary, along with a two-bedroom house nearby at 1224 Fifth St. that is to house the inn’s manager. No expansion of the exterior is included in the plan.

Members of Napa’s land-use authority agreed that innkeeping would stand a much better chance of keeping the building prosperous and busy, and thus preserving a property that dates to 1916.

“Retail was tried there, but it’s a tough location,” said Commissioner Beth Painter before supporting the change with three other members. “I don’t have a concern with 15 rooms in this location, especially since the exterior is not changing.”

“Historic properties sometimes require adaptive reuse in order to survive,” said Paul Kelley of the former mortuary, which is on the city’s registry of historic resources. “If we can’t find new uses, they may fall by the wayside.”

Six of the 20 licensed B&Bs within city limits have 11 or more guest rooms, and the largest contains 25, according to senior planner Kevin Eberle.

The bed-and-breakfast may accept its first vacationers as soon as July at the 10 rooms Napa originally allowed, but the opening date for the remaining five rooms is not yet known, Heffran said afterward.

“It’s almost like building inside a doughnut; it’s a challenge, but when you see it come to fruition it’s really worth it,” she said, describing the B&B as being modeled on European inns designed around courtyards.

Heffran’s business will be the latest occupant of a landmark created by D.C. Treadway, a Wisconsin native who opened a Napa undertaking parlor in 1902 before moving it to Coombs Street. The mortuary’s other namesake, Henry Wigger, joined in 1927 and oversaw an expansion of the building in 1951.

Wigger’s descendant Ted Wigger and his co-owners sold the business in 2015 to Buck Kamphausen, a Vallejo funeral home businessman who shifted operations down Highway 221 to Napa Valley Memorial Park.

Commissioner Huether abstained from voting because he has a commission to create a piece of art for the B&B.