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Lemon Blueberry Scones are one of the pastries served at the Acacia House afternoon tea. 

Napa County creates Veterans' Commission to weigh in on issues

Napa County’s 11,000 veterans will soon have a bigger megaphone to voice their concerns and needs.

The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to create the nine-person Veterans’ Commission. This group will make recommendation to supervisors on veterans matters.

“By voting on this commission, you’re saying, ‘We’re listening and we care about your issues,’” local veterans advocate Frank Lucier told supervisors last week.

Almon Bundy, a Vietnam War veteran who served in the U.S. Army, struck a similar note.

“We can’t do it ourselves,” Bundy said. “We need your help.”

Local attorney Naomi Dreskin-Anderson has clients who are veterans. She said she initially had no idea what a challenge it would be to work with the bureaucracy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Anything that this county can do to enhance the well-being of our veterans, we need to make that happen,” she told supervisors.

The county already has the Veterans Advocacy Coalition. But Coalition member Lucier in September told supervisors that veterans face issues that cannot be dealt with by that group.

For example, he said his father-in law who served in the Korean War must take five buses to reach the federal veterans clinic in Martinez. Napa County has no clinic.

County Veterans Service Officer Patrick Jolly said only residents at the Veterans Home of California at Yountville can receive health care from that state facility.

Assessor John Tuteur said disabled veterans can receive a major exemption for their principal residence. Over the years, on four occasions he found unmarried spouses who were eligible for benefits because their late spouses had been classified as 100 percent disabled — and didn’t know it.

Following up on that thought, Board of Supervisors Chair Brad Wagenknecht said there are a number of benefits veterans don’t think they qualify for or don’t understand.

“That’s another issue,” Wagenknecht said.

The Veterans’ Commission is to raise awareness on issues ranging from benefits to physical and mental health to transportation. The commission is charged with:

- Studying, investigating and researching veterans matters in the county so that veterans services can be coordinated and maximized.

- Reviewing annually the status of veterans benefits and services.

- Making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on programs, plans, goals, policies and procedures dealing with veterans services.

- Submitting an annual strategic plan.

- Assisting in all veterans observance days.

The Board of Supervisors will appoint commission members to four-year terms. The group is to meet at 1:30 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month in the county Comprehensive Services for Older Adults office, 650 Imperial Way in the city of Napa.

People can apply for any committee and commission online. Go to the Board of Supervisors website at, go the “About the Board” heading and click on “committees and commissions.”

The Veterans’ Commission won’t appear under the “current openings” section until week’s end, when the county will also announce the application deadline. Still, people can download the application form for all committees and submit it to be considered for a Veterans’ Commission seat.

People can also obtain an application at the county Administration Building at 1195 Third St. in Napa. Call 253-4421 for more information.

A sign of the times in Napa: A brand new 410-square-foot rental house
J.L. Sousa, Register 

Realtor Bob Frappia, pictured, and his business partner Steve Waterworth have recently completed the building of an accessory dwelling unit, or tiny house, on a lot they own along Silverado Trail near downtown Napa. The roughly 400-square-foot, one-bedroom home is expected to rent for about $1,800.

Realtor Bob Frappia and developer Steve Waterworth are making a dent in Napa’s tight rental market, one tiny house at a time.

In 2016, the city passed an ordinance that loosened many of the rules to build Accessory Dwelling Units. An ADU is also known as an in-law, granny unit or a “tiny” house.

The new ADU ordinance also made it more affordable to build such homes by reducing or eliminating some fees.

Today, on a large lot on Silverado Trail, Frappia and Waterworth have built one of the first ground-up units allowed under the new ordinance.

The tiny house — just 410 square feet — was built behind, but not connected to, an existing single-family home at 1571 Silverado Trail, south of Lincoln Avenue.

The duo bought the third-of-an-acre property in late 2015 for $415,000, said Frappia. It contained one small home, but was zoned for as many as seven units, he noted. Their goal is to eventually include a total of six units on the parcel. Some may be built as ADUs but others may not be.

J.L. Sousa, Register 

The kitchen area of an accessory dwelling unit that Realtor Bob Frappia, right, and his business partner Steve Waterworth have recently completed on a lot they own along Silverado Trail near downtown Napa.

Frappia said he and Waterworth figured they would “help the community by giving another opportunity for housing,” while at the same time receiving some rental income and increasing the value of the property.

Others have already built such units, sometimes referred to as junior ADUs. Those units are typically attached to existing single-family homes. Frappia, who is affliated with ReMax Gold, said his is the first detached units to be built under the new ordinance.

According to Michael Allen, associate planner with the city of Napa, 34 ADU applications have been approved by the city.

He wasn’t sure how many have been finished and what number are detached versus attached.

While there has been interest in the new housing option, some would-be builders are under the impression that fees to build such units have been eliminated, said Allen. That’s not the case. The fees are reduced, but not removed, said the planner.

J.L. Sousa, Register 

The bathroom of the accessory dwelling unit, or tiny house, that was recently built on a lot on Silverado Trail near downtown Napa.

At just 410 square feet, Frappia and Waterworth’s one-bedroom, one-bath home packs a lot into a small space. It includes a high-efficiency cooling and heating system, LED lighting, a tankless water heater and energy-efficient washer and dryer.

Their budget was $76,000, but they ended up spending $90,000, said Frappia.

“We had some additional fees we didn’t expect, we added a laundry room and outdoor patio and some materials cost a little more than we thought,” he said. Construction took about seven months.

The unit was listed to rent for $1,820 a month.

Over the weekend, Frappia identified a tenant. A veteran in his 40s hopes to rent the unit with the help of a program called the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH).

J.L. Sousa, Register 

Realtor Bob Frappia, seen in the bedroom of an accessory dwelling unit that he and his business partner Steve Waterworth have recently completed. The tiny house is a one-bedroom unit of roughly 400 square feet. It is expected to rent for about $1,800 a month.

The program combines Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The program will subsidize up to 70 percent of the rent, leaving the tenant responsible for 30 percent. This particular veteran is employed and living with another veteran in Santa Rosa, Frappia said.

Frappia said he has used the program before to rent another unit and it was a success.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to help a veteran,” said Frappia.

According to Zillow real estate service, the average cost of a Napa rental home is $2,690 per month.

With reduced fees from the city and other cost reductions, “we probably saved $30,000” total during the building process, said Frappia. “For a project of this size,” that’s a lot of money.

The new ADU ordinance made it possible, he said. For example, the normal setback for the location of a new house is 10 to 20 feet from the property line. Under this ordinance, it’s five feet. Fire sprinklers are not required an ADU of this size, saving them at least another $3,000.

Because the house is less than 500 square feet, sewer hook-up fees were all but eliminated. Normally, such a fee runs $8,900.

His property also had the required parking, which saved the two another $10,000.

In addition, Frappia and Waterworth, owner of Axis Building of Napa, saved on construction costs. The unit was designed to take advantage of certain pre-cut lumber sizes, he said. The roof is flat.

By building a structure less than 500 square feet, they estimated that they saved another $2,100 in other permit fees.

The two men said they are already thinking of building their second new home on the property. Frappia said it could be a prefab unit. It’s much faster to install and can be bought for about $90,000, including the foundation, he said.

“It’s just a matter of convincing my partner,” he said.

Frappia said that living in a tiny home does require a new mindset about how much space a tenant really needs.

“If they can get over that, it’s really a nice place.”

Regardless of who ends up moving in, “It’s very rewarding and fulfilling to know we are helping the housing situation” in Napa, said Frappia.

Napa County finds resort development interest for Lake Berryessa

Napa County has found nine potential bidders interested in transforming and running Lake Berryessa resorts that could have such features as camp sites, hotels, restaurants, glamping sites and marinas.

The county is keeping their identities secret for now. Deputy County Executive Officer Molly Rattigan said proposals came from local businesses and from operators with national experience.

“They are promising proposals,” she said on Friday.

Napa County is weighing whether to spearhead the Lake Berryessa resort redevelopment effort. Over the past decade, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has failed to redevelop five of the seven resorts on federal land and wants the county’s help.

As an initial step, the county circulated a brochure among the resort development community to see if anyone is interested in Lake Berryessa. Proposals were due last Wednesday. Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza said he likes the response.

“It’s another benchmark we’ve met with exciting news,” Pedroza said on Friday. “We have work ahead of us.”

The next step is for the county and Bureau of Reclamation to reach an agreement that would cement their redevelopment partnership. Rattigan said a proposed agreement could come before the county Board of Supervisors this spring.

If all goes as planned, the county would then ask the nine potential bidders to submit official bids. The Board of Supervisors could choose resort operators by year’s end.

The five resorts are Putah Canyon, Monticello Shores, Berryessa Point, Spanish Flat and Steele Canyon. A question mark has been whether all will be redeveloped. Parties responding to the county’s search for potential bidders could choose any number of the five.

“All five of the undeveloped resorts are still in play,” Rattigan said. “We have not ruled out any resort. However, I think it would be fair to say the resort areas at Spanish Flat, Monticello Shores and Steele Canyon have the most interest.”

Lake Berryessa reservoir was created in the late 1950s in eastern Napa County when the Bureau of Reclamation built Monticello Dam. The seven resorts were developed over the next few years by private concessionaires with contracts to use the federal land.

When concessionaire contracts began expiring around 2008, the Bureau of Reclamation pursued a different look at the resorts. It removed hundreds of mobile homes and stripped five of the resorts of such features as marinas so redevelopment could begin virtually from scratch.

But the redevelopment effort stalled at the five resorts. Three are now run in stripped-down fashion on an interim basis offering such things as camp sites and boat ramps. Two are closed.

County officials have said the county is bound by fewer regulations than the Bureau of Reclamation and can be more aggressive in seeking potential resort operators.

In 2016, the county began looking at whether it wants to partner with the Bureau of Reclamation on the redevelopment effort. In the next few months, the Board of Supervisors could deliver its answer.

American Canyon hoping to lower energy costs

AMERICAN CANYON — The city of American Canyon has hired a consultant to find ways to reduce energy consumption and expenses at city facilities, possibly by expanding the use of solar power.

The Department of Public Works got the go-ahead from the City Council on Jan, 16 to hire OpTerra Energy Services for $26,000 to perform an “Integrated Energy Assessment” that will analyze the city’s current energy and electrical usage and provide recommendations for improving things through solar equipment and other energy-saving options.

The city currently spends an average of more than $500,000 annually on electricity and natural gas, according to interim Public Works Director Steve Hartwig.

Hartwig told the council that his department does not have a savings goal in mind yet from having the energy assessment performed. He said they will have a better idea of potential savings once they get the report from OpTerra.

The assessment will review energy use and equipment at six locations: City Hall, Water Treatment Plant, Water Reclamation Facility, Public Safety Building, Senior Multiuse Center, and Fire Protection District building.

Some possible changes at these facilities could include retrofitting indoor and outdoor lighting and adding solar arrays, according to a staff report.

The only city property currently with solar panels is the Public Safety Building on Donaldson Way, which was built a decade ago.

Hartwig said that building, which the police and fire departments share, “already has some solar on it,” but has had “some issues.”

“The converters have a tendency to function erratically and are not very efficient anymore,” Hartwig told the American Canyon Eagle. “In addition, there are some non-functional panels on the roof, but those will be evaluated/investigated as a part of the OpTerra project.”

OpTerra will look at the solar panels and determine if adding more of them would be appropriate, he said.

Councilmember Mark Joseph said he loves “the idea of exploring this. I’ve been envious of the school district because they have solar panels all over the place, and we have almost none.”

“I think the city needs to consider environmental sustainability as one of their goals or themes,” Joseph said.

The Napa Valley Unified School District installed a solar power system consisting of 4,000 panels at American Canyon High School in 2011, and has enjoyed a substantial savings since then.

The system has produced so much electricity that ACHS usually pays about $100 a year on its energy bill.

The success at ACHS prompted the district to add solar arrays at all four of its middle schools during the summer of 2016.