Following Monday’s hearing on the Napa Pipe project, elected officials in Napa County and the city of Napa awoke Tuesday to a ticking clock.
The Board of Supervisors, with consent from Napa Mayor Jill Techel, voted Monday to put a 120-day window on brokering an agreement over the project site, and Napa Pipe’s fate could hang in the balance.
That gives officials until May 14 to reach a deal. While four months may seem like a long time to Napa County residents, Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht said Tuesday that, “We’re going to go light-speed for government in trying to put this together.”
The board voted on Tuesday to appoint Supervisors Bill Dodd and Keith Caldwell to a “two-by-two” committee, which will be joined by two elected officials from city government to come up with a deal.
Dodd suggested at Monday’s hearing that Techel would also likely be involved in this process from the city’s side. It was not clear Tuesday if the city has appointed its two representatives.
This document would spell out if the city of Napa would provide water to a residential development at Napa Pipe, how the jurisdictions would divide tax revenue from the project, project-specific entitlements, if the city would provide services such as police and fire, mitigating traffic, credit for housing allocations, and eventually a potential path to annexing the site within city limits.
Extending city services to the Napa Pipe site would take a four-fifths vote of approval from the Napa City Council, while annexation would require voter approval. Providing services means extending the city’s sphere of influence, which would also need approval from the Napa County Local Agency Formation Commission.
Larry Florin, the county’s director of Housing and Intergovernmental Affairs, told the board Tuesday that county staff believed that this two-by-two format could bear fruit in the negotiations.
“It’s fair to say there’s a desire to re-engage,” Florin said of the results of Monday’s hearing. “We thought this would be a good forum.”
Napa County Executive Officer Nancy Watt said that a professional mediator is also option that may be worth exploring. Wagenknecht said he favored that idea.
“Whatever we could get to make this function would be a benefit,” Wagenknecht said.
He also said that officials from both jurisdictions have been pointing fingers on who’s to blame for the talks’ prior failure, but he hopes each side can get past that.
“There’s been a lot of talk about where this broke down in the past,” Wagenknecht said. “There are two sides to every story. There could be some hard feelings from the process that’s gone on.”
He said he felt the team of Caldwell and Dodd offered the best means of getting an agreement accomplished.
“I feel very comfortable that their goals will be to get us to a positive conclusion in 120 days,” Wagenknecht said.
Supervisor Mark Luce said it’s a chance to rehabilitate relationships between the city and the county, which have been strained over the Napa Pipe project.
“We need to rebuild some bridges over this process,” Luce said.