The Napa City Council and members of the public got their first glance Tuesday night of the magnitude of the BottleRock music festival and how it will impact the city.

Organizers said their plans to manage the estimated 35,000 to 40,000 people expected to hit downtown in May would require street closures, buses galore, traffic signal overrides, the creation of numerous parking lots in and outside the valley and portable toilets along city streets.

Though the event, which runs May 8 through 12, is being held at Napa Valley Expo — state-owned property outside the city’s jurisdiction — BottleRock organizers recently requested closures of city streets, triggering a special event application through city channels.

At Tuesday’s presentation, Mayor Jill Techel had some words for Expo CEO Joe Anderson about the Expo board approving an $80,000 contract for the event in December without first consulting the city.

“My request to you is before you book another event like this, would you let us know ahead of time?” Techel said.

Anderson said the city learned of the event as soon as it was confirmed.

Looking at the big picture, Techel and the rest of the council said they’re excited to have the chance to showcase Napa and host an event that should be an economic boost to the city.

“I’ve got half the city staff here trying to figure out the logistics of dealing with an event this size,” Techel continued. “There are probably times of the year when the valley just couldn’t handle this kind of event, especially during harvest.”

Over the past five weeks, city staff and event organizers have met weekly, said Community Outreach Coordinator Barry Martin. Those meetings have focused on ways to meet transportation, parking, public safety, waste diversion and other needs associated with what is said to be the largest event ever held in Napa.


BottleRockers, as attendees are being called, will enter the Expo through the Third Street entrance, said Site Manager Kohn Dwight. Because of the high pedestrian traffic, organizers are requesting Third Street outside the Expo be closed to all traffic for the duration of the festival.

Emergency vehicles and residents who live in the area would still have access. Festival Director Chung Kuo said the Napa Fire Department will station units on the Silverado Trail side of the Expo to respond to non-BottleRock emergencies on the east side of town.

Closer to Soscol Avenue, Third could be closed to through traffic but buses could be allowed to pass through.

Burnell Street and the former JV Wine and Spirits site at First Street and Silverado Trail could also be closed for bus drop-off locations.

“When you provide bus transit, the bottleneck becomes getting people in and out of the buses and getting the buses dispatched on the road systems back to wherever they parked,” said Hugh Linn, principal at the Napa engineering firm Riechers Spence & Associates, which is working with BottleRock Napa Valley to create a transportation plan.

Linn said there will be 25 buses loading and unloading festivalgoers at any given time during peak hours, requiring substantial loading areas. Additional loading areas will be required for buses when the event shuts down at 10 p.m., so BottleRock is working with CalTrans and the California Highway Patrol to close Silverado Trail outside the Expo to allow for additional bus staging each evening.

“With such events, people arrive over longer period of time but everyone wants to leave simultaneously,” Linn said. “Our capacity has to be greater on the leave than it is on the arrival.”

None of the closures have been finalized and plans are subject to change, Linn said. He called the plan a “draft.”


Organizers are still working to negotiate agreements with public and private partners to lease areas to park an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 vehicles, Linn said. Attendees are encouraged to carpool — and will be given steep parking discounts if they do so — and chartered buses from Bay Area and Sacramento-area cities are being organized.

Smaller lots closer to the Expo are planned to house VIP guests, while larger locations, including Napa Pipe, the Sonoma Raceway and the Solano County Fairgrounds will be used to house the vehicles of the masses.

Organizers requested the city turn over 500 downtown parking spaces to be used during the event, but the council seemed to sour on the idea when it learned those spaces would be used for BottleRock staff parking, not high-rolling VIP attendees who would spend money at adjacent businesses. The council said the city may give some spaces over for the event, but is not inclined to hand them over for two and a half weeks, as BottleRock requested. Councilman Scott Sedgley suggested BottleRock bus its employees into Napa.

Martin said it’s important to have some parking downtown for use by those not attending the festival.

“There will be locals or visitors who are coming to Napa that weekend, it is Mother’s Day weekend as well,” Martin said. “They have a right to have a shot at a parking space downtown as well. Without some kind of proactive approach, all of the downtown property would get consumed by festival goers.”

Though attendees will be instructed not to park in downtown Napa, Martin said businesses located within two miles of the area may want to find a way to secure their parking lots if they want to keep BottleRockers out.

BottleRock has hired a community outreach team to communicate with affected neighbors and businesses, Dwight said. A town hall meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 3, but Dwight did not provide details.

Dwight said communication is key in keeping festival-goers from parking in neighborhoods surrounding the Expo.

“It’s pre-addressing the crowd and it’s addressing them before they even decide how they’re going to get here,” he said.


Attendees will be brought to the event by bus and portable toilets will be placed along walking routes, including Juarez Street, to accommodate pedestrians.

Dwight said traffic signals could be manually overridden to allow for a train of 20 buses or so to travel Soscol or Silverado Trail and maximize efficiency. Linn estimated it could take around 2.5 hours to get everyone out of the Expo at night if organizers get the closures they seek. From about 9 to midnight, all area roads could be filled with buses.

Councilman Peter Mott said the volume may sound overwhelming, but if done right, could work.

“To give people a point of reference, lots of people have been to a baseball game and I think about when I leave a Giants game, there’s 40,000 people leaving a Giants game all at the same time,” Mott said. “With multiple CHP and city cops and public transit and a lot of cars mixed in, they all get out in a reasonably controlled manner. ... Although incredibly busy by Napa standards, I think it’s very doable if it’s managed well.”

Buses will run until 2 a.m. to transport those who go to downtown restaurants and bars. A private transport company will be on call for those who stay out later.

Council reaction

Councilman Alfredo Pedroza praised organizers for their work.

“We haven’t done something like this in Napa so the fact that you’re doing everything to make sure you’re dotting your i’s, crossing your t’s I think is going to be helpful,” he said. “Thank you for making sure you’re doing everything and hiring local people.”

Catherine Heywood, director of operations at Visit Napa Valley, estimated the event will bring the city of Napa an additional $350,000 in visitor bed taxes alone.

While the council praised the event for what it will bring to the city, it was not receptive to the idea of including three smaller fundraising events that same weekend.

In addition to the music festival, BottleRock organizers want to hold a cycling, running and paddle board event to raise money for local nonprofits, said David Templeton, director of Human Powered Events.

Templeton said participants are being asked to raise at least $1,000 for charity. In exchange, they will receive a ticket to BottleRock. Each event would have about 500 participants.

Martin said while the events are small compared to BottleRock, the city cannot handle any more special events that weekend.

“After a short period of consideration, the special event team has come to the conclusion that it’s really not practical for us to even consider any additional special events than what we’re already try to deal with,” he said.

The smaller events were proposed after the city staff was already overwhelmed, Martin said. “To create more parking need, more law enforcement need, more traffic control need is really not feasible,” he said.

Templeton said BottleRock still plans to hold the events and will try to move them outside the city limits into county land.

The council said it wants to get through the first year before expanding what is already the largest event in its history.

“I heard about this project very initially a year ago and it was going to be the possibility of a two-day event that we were going to ease into and learn and move forward,” Mott said. “It’s a five-day event now.”

Mott, who said he’s attending BottleRock, said he’s “cautiously ecstatic.”

“I think it’s important that the main project goes very well,” he said. “I think it’s important for the city, I think it’s important for the promoters of the festival and I feel pretty strongly that trying to do too much in the inaugural year is a mistake. I think we’ve got a full plate this year.”

(42) comments


Also, everyone who lives off of Silverado (which might be closed at night) and other closed roads should be sent a pass to access their homes. They might be annoyed by having to show a pass but it sure beats having to prove, with an ID that you live in the area.

I would not encourage people to walk down Silverado because it lacks a sidewalks and lighting. I'm sure this has already been thought out. Keep Pedestrian traffic flowing down Burnell. Is there a traffic light at 8th and Burnell? If so, pedestrians can cross there and access that river trail (is there an actual trail there?) Problem is that it's not lit at night. But if it could be lit, people could access the back parking lot of the college. That walk is only a little over a mile. Continue down San Francisco Trail to access Napa Pipe parking. This should keep pedestrian traffic off of the main roads in Napa.


I am totally stoked about this event. I will be attending it. Yes we can all get through this and make it such a positive experience that BottleRock will return anually.The smoother this event goes, the more likely that Napa will become more than just a wine destination but a music destination too. Let's make this happen! Let's brighten Napa with music!

And to the City, maybe you should turn a blind eye to homeowners renting their rooms out for this event? Local hotel rooms will reach a 'no vacany' level, for sure. Let the people profit from it, just on a shorterm basis?


Darkstar, where you see negative and Napathy I see citizens expressing concerns about something that is about to happen in our city over which we have no control. I take it that your okay with whatever happens in our city without asking any questions? Maybe a civics class would help?


Vocal, they're exploring Napa Pipe and Napa Valley College as places to park, as well as other schools in the area.

Headliners are the peak of each day, i highly doubt they would move to earlier. That's not typically how a festival works.


I hear ya odiedog. Just saying that it would be helpful to keep headliners playing before it gets too dark because people will be walking back to the parking lot at Napa Pipe. Mid May sunset is around 8:10. If the last headliner ends at 7:30, at least people will be walking back when it's still somewhat light out.


Such negativity and Napathy. Bottle Rock is going to be an awesome event. People are coming from all over the world and it will be a huge economic boost to the entire Valley for years to come. If you get confused just listen to the music play.


Here are a few thoughts. Is Napa Valley College closed on either Saturday or Sunday? If so, this could be a parking option since those days might be the most crowded. What's the parking capacity of Napa Pipe? I'm guessing that most of the parking will be there. People are going to walk to their vehicles no matter what. There should be a sign at Napa Pipe that states that the walking distance is three miles. Let people decide if that's what they want to do but give them a distance notice. Next. put arrows on the sidewalks for walkers to follow so that they aren't crossing streets all over the place. It's important to keep the flow of walkers orderly so as not to disrupt traffic. Maybe some cones along the sidewalk to define the area?

The most popular bands should play earlier in the day. Even adults who have paid up to $600 might have a bit too much to drink. There should be helpers along the walking route at the endof the evening to help people out.


Since Selim_sivad thinks this is such a minor "Inconvenience", maybe she/he would like to come over to my house each mornings after (assuming she can get thru the traffic and find a place to park.) and help me pick up the "trash" left in my yard. Or she can stand in the parking spot in front of my house while I'm at work so I have a place when I get home. Or if I even want to go to the grocery after work.
I like the fair and put up with the throw up, used diapers, cans and bottles every year, I'm used to it, but that is 30000 people spread over 5 days, and the field on silverado takes a lot of pressure off the parking problem. There will be no parking there for this and many more people.
So what do you say Selim? Can I get a broom and a plastic bag ready for you? Bring your own reflective vest for your parking shift.


Great reply!


Thank you Mr. Martin for clearing up some concerns. Maybe in the future this kind of information included in the orginal story will help people to better understand what's going on. I agree with JN, I think the city will more than have it's hands full, especially after finding out about it at the last minute. I don't feel as if the Expo has been a good neighbor and the city should be upset about this Albatross that has just been hung around our necks. As far as negative comments as someone mentioned above, I feel that that any citizens concern about what is happening in our city is valid. For those who live near the Expo the event organizers should install temporary chain link fencing for those who want it, I know I would. Having said this, I hope it's a great success,everybody has a great time and it has a minimal negative impact on our city.


At least the transit center has reopened its pubic restrooms. I wonder how they'll fare?


Bottlerock will no doubt leave behind a mess, but it won't be the end of the world. We'll all likely survive and live to see another festival in the City of Napa sometime in the near future. What's the value in complaining about it now? It is going to happen, and there is nothing you can do to stop it, so just brace for impact if you aren't optimistic that the City can pull it off (we have a phenomenal Police Department, and they will rise to the occasion). I would be quite upset if I lived anywhere within a one mile radius of the Expo, though...


As a 20 year Napa resident who manages Special Events for a City of SF agency, I'm not optimistic about the City of Napa's ability to manage this event. The fact that they learned of the event after the Expo approved it is unacceptable. With the event now only about 6 weeks away, it'll be interesting to see how the Transportation, Parking, Emergency Management, Waste and Recycling, plans, among others, come together. Who pays for additional law enforcement. fire protection during event?Curious about amplified sound/outreach to Expo neighbors, etc. These processes typically take several month, not weeks to plan and coordinate. Could be interesting, to say the least.


That actually gives me hope...the city management is worse than it's ever been and I've been here all but the first 20 months here on earth.

That is not to say all agencies...but the ones businesses have to deal with are just flat incompetent...the county isn't that far behind.


Wineandfood, I don't believe for a second the city can't do anything about this. Most venues need to have the fire dept. sign off on the event. Quite simply, don't issue the permit until the promoters agree to pay for services. Yeah, it's going to bring big bucks to businesses but at what cost to the taxpayers and not just in money.

Barry Martin
Barry Martin

@napa333 - Since the event is at the Expo, which is not under the City's jurisdiction, the State Fire Marshall signs off on permitting that would usually be done by the City. That said, the City Fire Dept is working closely with the State Fire Marshall, and the event organizers are experienced at complying with these kinds of regulations.

As for recouping costs, yes, the Special Event policy allows the City to require the payment of up to 75% of expected costs as a deposit prior to the event. The remainder of costs, if any, are paid by the event organizers afterwards. The policy is the same for large and small Special Events in the City.

City staff will continue to work with all involved parties to help minimize unwanted impacts of the event.

Barry Martin, Community Outreach Coordinator, City of Napa 707-258-7843


Boy, there sure are a bunch of negative folks here.

Will there be a lot of people at BottleRock? Yes.

Will there be 40,000 every day? No. It's not going to happen. The price, plus the time of year...not going to be 40,000 on Thursday and Friday. Probably Saturday...and a distant possibility on Sunday.

Will traffic be a mess? Yes. But there has been talk about this since February and will continue until May. If you can't figure out a plan to get around downtown in three months then the problem is not with the promoters. People in Southeast Napa should use Shetler or Imola rather than Coombsville. People who usually use East Ave. to get home will need to use 1st or Spring St. It's not rocket science, folks.

What is most tragic about this is that some of the people are willing to forego the obvious economic boost for four days of *possible* inconvenience. It makes absolutely no sense to object to this just because (gasp!) people will be having fun.

Oh hello

Woah, woah, woah! I think we're all failing to ask the most important question: will there be plastic bags there??? How unthoughtful of you, Napans.

Old Time Napkin

I sure wouldn't want to be anyone who lives near the fairgrounds. People sleeping in cars in front of your house, portable outhouses placed in front of your home, people taking up parking spaces that you normally use,, drunks/drug users passing out in your yard or depositing bodily fluids in your yard. It's bad enough for these people when the fair comes to town, but this will be a huge mess for those homeowners. I hope I'm wrong, but I see monumental problems associated with this event. Sure glad I live on the other side of town and I will make sure not to come to downtown Napa on those dates.


I think that this is one time when the City should allow homeowners to charge parking fees for spaces in front of their yards. If someone charges $25 per space, the driveway splace plus two cars on the street in front could add up to $400 for this event.

If homeowners do not want anyone parking there, event planners should give instructions to neighbors on putting cones up etc. Another thing that the neighborhoods could do if they don't want strangers parking in front is to park their own cars there.


Looking forward to it.

Jeff Beck

After paying up to $600 per person to attend Bottlerock, and spending most of the evening enjoy the events and having a few beers, then someone is going to have to wait two and a half hours to get out of the venue? Only to come back the next three nights? Shutting down roads for THREE hours in order to get buses in and out? I am all for giving the benefit of the doubt, but the venue simply isn't designed for 40,000 people. I am all for a big payout for the city and business, but just looking at the logistics here, the potential for failure is pretty big, even if the payout is substantial. I can only imagine buses trying to navigate the 29 corridor on a Friday night as they try and even reach people who park in Vallejo. Sounds like a good weekend to be out of town. Best of luck to the Bottlerock organizers and I am hoping for a good event. But count me out.


I'm all for this type of an event in Napa but it sure seems like critically important details are being worked out at the last minute.


My prediction - a mess of legendary proportions. I just hope that the promoters of this event are paying every cent of the costs required to put this train wreck on. And that they have deep enough pockets to settle the inevitable barrage of lawsuits. Now, get off my lawn!


Pretend you are a teenager and your mom and dad leave you alone at home for a week while they vacation.. Nice house, lots of friends and friends of friends will show up. Good wine , good food, nice weather. What could be better? Lets party dudes! :)


How do we spell Bottlerock....DISASTER Period.

glenroy doubt if there is anywhere near that number the cost to clean up and repair will be thousands of dollars....

The drunk driver revenue should go through the roof....

whoa cowboy
whoa cowboy

Too bad it's during the school year. They could of had people park at the college and then bus them in.


I was thinking the same thing. Or hold Bottlerock on days that the college is closed.


My apologies to the city council. The last sentence of my previous comment should have read" I put as much thought into my rental offer as it seems the city did in allowing BottldRock". The city should refuse services for this until they get an agreement from the promoters to pay for the services. No agreement- no services- no services -no bottlerock.


again, the city didn't approve it, they are just stuck wtih making it work. If they do nothing it will be a disaster.


They are just now thinking about the logistics? Gee city council don't think you should have thought of this BEFORE you approved it? We'll rent out a room for $1500.00 a nite or pitch a tent in the backyard for $1000.00, no bathroom or kitchen privilages for either rental. In by 11 pm out by 7 am. I put as much thought into offer this as our city council put into BottleDisaster.


The city did not approve it, the Board for the cash strapped Expo did. The city just has the job of providing all the services, which I hope we are being compensated for.


The tracks that the Wine Train has the privilege of using go from south county, including former Napa Pipe, right to Expo. Problem solved. Time to give back! Let's have some light rail for our existing infrastructure and all look like geniuses!


Exactly! The Wine Train from Napa Pipe right to downtown, the way to go! I used to live in Pasadena and we would get a major influx of people for the Rose Bowl and Super Bowl. BottleRock will be a really fun event, but with better transportation!


Oh...good idea! They really should step up and make that happen. We all might find that it's not a bad step forward.


We're going on a cruise. Adult kids will be here who are attending the event with friends. I pity the people that absolultely have to drive through that mess...those who live in the surrounding neighborhoods. I truly want it to succeed and make money for everyone from the overtime that must be paid to our police department and other city employees to the hospitality and local grocery/services businesses who can't help but be busy. I hope I get what I want, but won't be super surprised if it implodes.


You're going on a cruise, yet you say you want to avoid the crowds that Bottle Rock will bring in. That's kind of a conflicted view, don't you think? Avoiding a local festival because of the crowds, opting instead for a floating NASCAR race with occasional power outages and sewage disruptions. Doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.


It makes a ton of sense to me. We booked a long awaited "bucket list" cruise well over 6 months ago before anyone had even heard of BottleRock. Had nothing to do with the festival! We've been on cruises and have never, experienced anything like a power outage/sewer issues. We enjoy the experience or wouldn't keep going. All that really has nothing to do with BottleRock, so I'm a little dismayed at why you would feel the need to call me on the carpet for it. I have 4 people in my immediate family who have spent plenty of cash to purchase tickets to BR and we are happy to have them stay in our home. Even if we were home, we couldn't afford to go (I don't think my time-share units would pay for this as they did for the cruise, hotel, car rental and flight to Seattle for a visit prior to sailing). Crowds on a ship and the crowd BR will bring are two different animals. You did read the part that says I hope they can pull it off, right? I do support it, just can't see us participating.


That's not a half big idea as long as the vistors have a two way ticket...


What happen to the off season promotions? The Destination Council preached off season promotion for Napa Valley. (January throught Apil) We have Bottle Rock in May, Flavor/Napa and Film Festival in November which are the highest month in hotel ocupancy. The easiest and most profitable festivals take place during the high season. The challenge is to have an off season festival that brings in occupancy. Looks to me like no one is up for that challenge.


Good point.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.