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Calistoga City Hall

In spite of Calistoga’s need for homes, a proposal to develop 47 acres into housing in Calistoga was shot down on Tuesday by speakers and City Council members for being too big for the city.

“I think this would be too much for Calistoga,” said Irais Lopez-Ortega, councilmember, of the proposal.

Known as the Yellow Rose Ranch, the nearly 47 acres located at 2650 Foothill Boulevard adjoins the Heather Oaks subdivision and the Napa River. True Life Companies, the developer interested in building on the property, does not own the land, but is in negotiations with the owners, said Leah Beniston, vice president of entitlements at True Life.

Several speakers denounced the project before the council made it clear that it would not pursue the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU is not a binding agreement with the developer; it is a mechanism to allow the discussion between the city and the company to consider options.

True Life was “vetted” and could pursue throwing up 47 homes on one-acre lots including granny units, Mayor Chris Canning said, but the company came to the city and asked what the city’s needs and interests were before putting together any kind of proposal.

The proposal described the request for about 210 market-rate homes and 40 to 50 below-market rate rentals that would be deed-restricted at or near 120 percent of the area median income. The number of homes was more than most could bear.

Councilmember Gary Kraus expressed concern over the traffic it would create at the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and Petrified Forest Road. Vice Mayor Michael Dunsford said he would never support any kind of “cookie cutter” neighborhood. Councilmember Jim Barnes said “McMansions” would do the community no good. Canning he wasn’t prepared to move forward with the proposal for the same reasons as his colleagues, but would entertain possible community forums to be held with the developer so the company can hear what the community would accept.

The council has made creating affordable or workforce housing one of its top priorities and has recently purchased land to address the lack of housing in the city. A senior apartment complex on Washington Street that is nearing completion is the direct result of the city putting aside money and working with partners to develop, build and manage housing, Canning said.

The council said it is willing to look at a different proposal in the future, but flatly denied the project put before them Tuesday night.

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