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David Matheson photo 

The tasting room at today's Trinchero Family Estates winery in St. Helena. 


Local
Politics
Sedgley to run for Napa mayor in 2020 as Techel prepares exit

Jill Techel’s lengthy run as Napa mayor will end next year – and one of those hoping to succeed her will come from two seats away at City Hall.

Two-term Councilmember Scott Sedgley on Tuesday confirmed his candidacy in the 2020 mayoral race, on the same day Techel announced she will leave the post at the end of the current four-year term, her fourth.

Another member of the Napa council is leaving the door open for a run at the mayor’s chair. Doris Gentry, who was elected to the council in 2016, said Thursday she is “researching all the avenues” for a 2020 campaign but has not yet decided whether to run against Sedgley.

Sedgley, who was first elected to the City Council in 2012, said he decided to run for mayor shortly after the Nov. 6 elections, following talks with Techel and a promise of her support.

“Our current City Council is relatively new, I’m a senior council member, and think I would be a good choice to fill that role as we move into the next four years,” he said of his experience on a body that has gained three new members in the last two elections – including Liz Alessio and Mary Luros in November.

“It’s still two years away, but I thought I should let the community know that I’m willing to take on that responsibility and do it to best of my ability,” Sedgley said.

“It does seem early (to declare),” Sedgley said, “but that’s the reality of today’s climate: You make your wishes known and you start working toward that goal.”

He said he consulted the mayors of Napa County’s other four cities before making his candidacy public.

If chosen as mayor, Sedgley said he could better serve Napa as an advocate for the city’s interests in developing regional solutions to traffic congestion and housing shortages across the county and Bay Area – as well as for increased protection of the woodlands surrounding the city’s two water sources, Lake Hennessey and Milliken Reservoir.

Techel, meanwhile, decided Napa’s recovery from the 2014 earthquake had progressed far enough for her to leave behind her City Hall career, which has lasted more than two decades and began with two council terms before she was first elected mayor in 2004.

“We were just getting over the quake and I felt staying on another four years could ensure we get ourselves back on our feet,” she said of the 2016 race, in which she ran unopposed. “There actually was a lovely community feeling that we could do it together that motivated me in 2016 to stay and make it all happen.”

By running for mayor instead of another term as a council member, Sedgley will open a potential seat for a newcomer to political office – a development also supported by Techel in light of the new candidates who ran for office in 2018. Alessio won a council seat in her first electoral campaign, and the field included three contenders younger than 40 – Luros, who was returned to the council after serving for 22 months in 2015-16; Bernie Narvaez; and Ricky Hurtado.

“Scott’s wanting to do this, he’s been around, he knows people and I’m very confident he will be a great leader,” Techel said. “It also frees a spot on the council, and we see there’s energy for the next generation of leaders to come forward. Sometimes it’s just the right time to step aside and let that happen.”

Although Gentry was not on last fall’s ballot, state-required Form 460 finance reports show her campaign organization – currently named Friends of Doris Gentry for City Council 2020 – collected $42,075 in donations from Oct. 21 to Dec. 31, more than at least four of the six contenders in the November council race.

Updated reports for Narvaez and James Hinton had not been filed as of noon on Thursday, when the deadline for the filing period was at 5 p.m.

“After the last election, I can see cost of everything radically increasing,” Gentry said Thursday. “Whatever I run for, I need a strong nest egg to achieve it. I want to be in a sound position to be successful.”


J.L. Sousa, Register filo photo  

Napa Mayor Jill Techel.


Local
Real Estate
Dilapidated historic home reborn as a spiffy Napa vacation rental

As of 2014, things were not looking good for the 1880s-era home at 1461 Polk St.

The historic Napa cottage had been all but abandoned. The structure leaned to one side. The windows were boarded up. It’d been vacant for years. Napa’s 2014 earthquake left it in even worse shape. If no one stepped forward, the house could have faced demolition.

Today, the house has a new address and brand new look. The owners, the Chiodo family, had the house moved to 1377 Calistoga Ave., and then remodeled it from top to bottom. Recently the home was listed as a vacation rental for $5,000 to $7,000 per month.

“The house is terrific,” said next-door neighbor Diane McMinds. “They did a great job.”

“It’s worked out very nicely,” said neighbor Diane Low.

Low, McMinds and some other neighbors initially opposed the move, concerned about the size of the new parcel and the effect on the neighborhood. But after some debate, Napa’s City Council allowed the relocation.

In April 2017, the home was lifted and moved just one block over to the vacant parcel at 1377 Calistoga Ave. With the renovation finished, the two-bedroom, two-bath cottage is now available as a vacation rental on VRBO.com.

Reached on Wednesday by phone, family representative Gino Chiodo declined to speak about the house.

However, photos of the inside of the 865-square-foot cottage reveal a showplace-like interior with sleek appliances and stylish décor.

The small back patio has been landscaped and includes new fencing, flooring, seating areas and shade. Market lights have been strung above.

In accord with city ordinances, the home requires a 30-day minimum stay. The rental price is indicated as between $5,000 to $7,000 per month, depending on season and length of stay, according to the website.

The VRBO website lists the property for rent at $164 per night. But according to the property manager, VRBO breaks the pricing down to a daily rate automatically.

McMinds said that she did not know it had been listed as a vacation rental.

“The good news is it’s a tiny little house — they can’t have a giant party,” McMinds joked.

Low said now that the home is done, she has no complaints.

“For years, I’ve lived with that lot being vacant and I really fought having a house shoved in there,” said Low. Now, “It’s just like it’s always been there.”

Low said her only concern about the vacation rental listing would be loud parties or too much drinking, “but we’ve got a lot of B&Bs in the neighborhood and it hasn’t been a problem.”

“So far, so good.”


Local
Environment
Waste recycling center in Yountville to close March 29

A drop-off center for recycling household waste near the center of Napa County will shut down this spring, supplanted by other collection sites and curbside pickup service.

Yountville’s hazardous waste recycling center at the town corporation yard at 7501 Solano Ave. will close on March 29, officials have announced. Residents will soon receive mailers informing them of the closure and listing alternatives for disposing of motor oil, paint, batteries, antifreeze and old electronics, according to the town’s public works director, Joe Tagliaboschi.

Problems with keeping out non-permitted waste materials – at a facility with no staff on site – contributed to the decision to shut down the corporation yard drop-off center, he told the Yountville Town Council last week.

While signs at the collection center spell out which products may be brought to the corporation yard, Yountville staff increasingly must cope with the drop-offs of pesticides and other chemicals the town is not equipped or allowed to store, according to Tagliaboschi, who said many of those bringing in waste products are from outside the town.

“Things get dropped off that we’re not allowed to store, that we don’t have the training to handle, and it starts being a regulatory challenge,” he told council members.

The collection center, which Yountville jointly operates with Napa County, opened about 15 years ago when few places existed to safely dispose of hazardous household wastes, but more alternatives have made the facility expendable, according to Tagliaboschi.

Many hardware stores accept spent batteries and unused paint, and local waste management companies pick up used motor oil and filters at the curb along household trash by prior appointment. Electronic waste such as old televisions and computers can be dropped off free at both the Levitin Way recycling center near the Napa County Airport and the Clover Flat landfill outside Calistoga.

As an alternative to the Yountville facility, those seeking to dispose of antifreeze, batteries, fluorescent light tubs and paint can find a drop-off location at countyofnapa.org/recycleguide, or in Spanish at countyofnapa.org/guiadereciclar. Free curbside recycling of motor oil can be arranged through Upper Valley Disposal Service at 707-963-7988, Napa County Recycling and Waste Services at 707-255-5200, or Recology American Canyon at 707-552-3110.

Businesses should call 800-984-9661 for information on disposing of hazardous wastes.


Local
Wine Industry
Date set for Caldwell winery to make its case to Napa County supervisors

Caldwell Vineyard & Winery will have its day before the Napa County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 26 as the latest entry in the winery visitation debate.

The Coombsville-area winery wants to increase daily visitation from a maximum of eight guests to 35 guests and modify its marketing events plan. It wants to increase annual wine production from 25,000 gallons to 35,000 gallons.

Neighbors formed the Kreuzer Lane Protection Committee. They objected to the proposed level of winery-generated traffic on their narrow, dead-end rural road, which is the access to the winery at 270 Kreuzer Lane.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors set the appeal hearing date. Supervisors will settle yet another dispute concerning how much visitation should be allowed at wineries located away from major wine country roads.

The Planning Commission delayed making a decision twice last year. At the third hearing on Oct. 17, it wanted to allow still more time to digest new proposals and for the winery and neighbors to work out their differences.

“I think we’d just prefer a vote,” attorney Thomas Adams said on behalf of Caldwell Vineyard, even though that vote looked certain to be negative.

The commission obliged and denied the Caldwell Vineyard growth request by a 4-0 vote. The winery then appealed the decision to the Board of Supervisors.

Adams in the appeal packet addressed his request for a Planning Commission vote, as opposed to heeding the request from the commission to take more time and to work further with the neighbors.

“This was not an easy decision, especially since the viability of the winery is at stake,” Adams wrote.

A group of vocal neighbors appears to be strategically blocking the winery’s ability to craft an application acceptable to all, he wrote. In another part of the appeal, he wrote that the Caldwells are trying to be good neighbors and address concerns, but their efforts “never will be enough.”

Adams cited the costs and delays associated with another Planning Commission postponement.

The appeal said the traffic impact from the proposed visitor increase would be unnoticeable to neighbors. It also brought up the county’s right-to-farm law.

“Put simply, in Napa County, agriculture includes the right to produce, market and sell wine – even if it conflicts with ‘urban’ uses,” Adams wrote.

The Kreuzer Lane group saw things differently. One neighbor told the Planning Commission on Oct. 17 that a 500-percent visitor increase would be out of line for the agricultural watershed in a fire-prone area.

Attorney Denis Shanagher, who represents Kreuzer Lane Protection Committee, said on Monday that the group and winery haven’t reached any agreements since the Planning Commission hearing.

“I’ve had no communication with anybody on behalf of Caldwell,” Shanagher said. “I haven’t heard from anybody from the winery.”

Joseph Sabella told commissioners at the Oct. 17 meeting that he’d lived on Kreuzer Lane for 28 years. He liked the peaceful, bucolic atmosphere and the agricultural activity.

“Many years after I settled here came the Caldwell winery, which brought traffic, speeders and noise, all of which profoundly changed our peaceful hill,” he said.

These type of issues are arising more frequently as wineries say they are forced to turn more to direct-to-consumer wine sales. The Board of Supervisors last year began a discussion on how to address “remote” wineries away from such major thoroughfares as Highway 29 and Silverado Trail.