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David Bradshaw, lawyer who fought St. Helena development, dies

David Bradshaw

David Bradshaw

David Bradshaw, a St. Helena resident and attorney who advocated against over-development and fought a local housing project in court last year, died Jan. 1 of pulmonary issues. He was 72.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, at St. Helena Catholic Church.

Bradshaw was a principal in the law firm Jackson Lewis. According to its website, Bradshaw specialized in employment and labor law.

He and his wife Vickie have been active in St. Helena politics since they moved to town three or four years ago, calling for a moratorium on housing development on the east side of town, suing the city for approving Joe McGrath’s 8-unit housing project on McCorkle Avenue, and threatening to sue the city in federal court for housing discrimination.

A Napa Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit against the McGrath project in November. Vickie Bradshaw said Wednesday that her late husband had already hired a legal firm to appeal the case, and the appeal will be pursued in accordance with his wishes.

Bradshaw said her husband deeply loved everything about St. Helena.

“We’ve lived in a variety of places and have had a lot of really good friendships, and in our 33 years of marriage we’ve found some of the best friends we’ve ever had in this city,” she said.

Vickie Bradshaw said her husband’s involvement in local politics was motivated by four major interests: protecting ag land from urbanization, ensuring that St. Helena’s new General Plan is as strong and consistent as possible, addressing what he saw as a problem with city staff instead of the City Council improperly making decisions about exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act, and making sure affordable housing was integrated throughout St. Helena.

“He devoted all of his free time to trying to resolve those issues,” Vickie Bradshaw said.

In an October 2016 letter accompanying a legal claim against the city, David Bradshaw threatened to sue the city for housing discrimination, calling St. Helena “a segregated city, with an affluent White west side and a diverse east side where most Hispanics, seniors, and members of other protected groups live largely in a concentrated area near the Napa River.”

Last March the City Council agreed to delete a proposed new zoning designation from the updated General Plan that Bradshaw had said would contribute to the problem. No federal suit was ever filed.

Bradshaw’s letter was sent on behalf of St. Helena Residents For An Equitable General Plan, the McCorkle East Side Neighborhood Group, and the Protect The St. Helena Vineyard Riverwalk Community Group. The first two groups were plaintiffs in the McGrath case.

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