Because of my concern about the scale of the proposed True Life Companies’ project for the 46-acre Yellow Rose property on Foothill Boulevard (171 units plus the possibility of 27 Accessory Dwelling Units) I analyzed Calistoga’s General Plan as it applies to this property.

An overwhelming focus of the Plan is protection of Calistoga’s small town character, defined in part by scenic vistas and less dense development at the edge of town by contrast to the center of town.

Nowhere is that small town character more vulnerable than along the entry corridors, which are specifically identified for protection. Yellow Rose sits on an important entry corridor.

The Plan says: Development of entry corridor properties will have a “profound impact on the appearance and function of the community.” Such development “must preserve the rural open space character visible from Foothill Boulevard, and “be of a scale subordinate to the agricultural uses of properties located at (this) entry corridor.”

The Community Identity Element says: “The entry corridor policies specified for each entry corridor in the Land Use Element shall be followed.“

For all of these reasons Yellow Rose was zoned rural residential and limited to one house per acre.

Calistoga’s General Plan took years to write, involved multiple community workshops and was guided by a citizens advisory committee that met 42 times. While most of the content of the General Plan is required by state law, the small town character of Calistoga was so important to the community that the decision was made to devote an entire section of the plan not required by law to its protection (the “Community Identity” element).

I recognize that Calistoga needs to create housing for its workforce and that the council is empowered to amend the zoning regulations in circumstances that provide extraordinary benefit to the community. However, there are several vacant lots closer to the center of town than Yellow Rose, not on entry corridors and not zoned rural residential for such obvious reasons. Development of these properties will not profoundly violate our hard-fought General Plan and diminish our small town character.

Denis Sutro


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