Napa County voters won’t decide the fate of Blakeley Construction near Calistoga this November, but perhaps in 2018.
The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday declined to create a measure for the November ballot that would allow Blakeley Construction to remain at its long-time site. But Kelly Blakeley said the family would gather signatures itself to create their own measure for June 2018, given there are no 2017 elections.
“We’re not done,” she said after the meeting.
Supervisor Diane Dillon championed the Blakeley cause. But other supervisors had questions, and the deadline for creating a November measure is tight.
Supervisor Mark Luce said the better choice is for the Blakeleys to collect the necessary 3,700-plus signatures to create a measure, rather than the Board of Supervisors doing so.
Blakeley Construction has operated at 310 Franz School Valley Road since the early 1960s. But it doesn’t, and never has, conformed with the agriculture zoning on the property, leading to county code enforcement action in 2014.
Last year, Napa County and Blakeley Construction reached an agreement for the business to vacate the Franz Valley School Road site by mid-summer 2018. But Dick and Kelly Blakeley have said they’ve been unable to find another Napa County location where they can move the business.
People in Calistoga have expressed concern about the loss of a long-standing family business.
On June 21, Supervisor Diane Dillon asked that the Board consider putting a measure on the Nov. 8 ballot that would allow Blakeley Construction to remain. Only voters in Napa County can make such a decision affecting agricultural land under the county’s Measure P land use law.
“We did with regard to code enforcement what we had to do,” Dillion said. “But I think this is the opportunity to do what is the morally correct thing to do.”
Dillon said she was a proponent of Measure P and its predecessor, Measure J. But the Blakeleys have become “caught by the particulars” of the measures, she said.
Others saw it differently. County resident George Caloyannidis said the county’s policy of forgiving violators compromises environmental laws.
“Napa County continues to be the forgiver, the rewarder, the enabler,” he said.
Melissa and Robert Kennedy own land next to Blakeley Construction and previously pressed the county to enforce its zoning laws for the property. Tuesday, Melissa Kennedy opposed the county creating a Blakeley-related ballot measure for November.
Blakeley Construction has been an illegal use since it started, she told supervisors.
“What have the neighbors asked Blakeley Construction to do?” Melissa Kennedy said. “Obey the law.”
Dillon said hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Calistoga want to have a voice in the fate of Blakeley Construction.
“I feel—I know—what I’m doing here is responding to the community,” Dillon said.
County staff recommended against the Board crafting a November ballot measure, saying too little time remains. The Board of Supervisors has until Aug. 12 to place items on the November ballot, but this particular item would also have to go to the Planning Commission.
Dillon made a motion to move ahead with a ballot measure, but the motion received no second and didn’t go to a Board vote. But Kelly Blakeley looked upbeat after the meeting.
“We’re doing it by signatures,” she said. “We have the community support.”