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Approved east Napa subdivision: Swapping vineyard views for ADUs

Approved east Napa subdivision: Swapping vineyard views for ADUs

Saratoga Vineyard homes planned in Napa

Cupertino-based Edenbridge Homes is proposing to convert a 3.5-acre vineyard off Saratoga Drive in Napa into a subdivision with 20 two-story, four-bedroom houses, which would be offered in a choice of three finishes and three floor plans.

Residents of Liberty Drive in southeast Napa will soon lose their vineyard views to a residential subdivision.

The 3.5-acre plot on Saratoga Drive between Capitola Drive and Silverado Trail formerly housed a private vineyard. But it will soon host 20 houses, with six of them equipped with extra plumbing and wiring to allow creation of first-floor accessory dwelling units should the owners decide to.

As a way to address the state-wide housing shortage, the Legislature has passed laws to promote ADUs. Napa’s local government is jumping on that bandwagon. The Planning Commission had added the ADU requirement on Saratoga Drive in December as a condition of approval for developer Edenbridge Homes.

According to Steven Rosen, a city planner, “the inclusion of ADUs was made in light of the need for housing, especially to accommodate intergenerational households.”

ADUs can be carved out of houses or built as free-standing structures on a residential lot. Most are under 1,000-square-feet.

In the case of Saratoga Vineyard subdivision, “All the owner would have to do is add an exterior door, close up an interior door if they choose and install kitchen and bathroom fixtures using the plumbing that is already in the walls,” Rosen said.

City Council backed the Planning Commission’s approval unanimously on Tuesday. Mary Luros recused herself from the vote because she had sold property within 500-feet of the subdivision within the last year.

Would-be-neighbors voiced concerns during public comment. Other than losing their views of rolling hills and green space, primary pushback was against anticipated increased traffic and congestion, decreased natural light and privacy and a feared reduction in home value.

A number of design and aesthetic concerns were also raised, and a lengthy but respectful back-and-forth ensued between Council, the representative from Edenbridge Homes, Eric Zweig, and residents.

Public works staff said the department “feels comfortable” that the developer’s plans for the subdivision meets regulatory requirements and adequately addresses worries about sunlight and storm drainage.

The department is also open to initiating a traffic study in tandem with law enforcement to address speeding concerns as part of a separate process, if needed at a later date.

“Our job here at the city level is to find more housing, to do infill … and to increase density with things like ADUs,” Councilwoman Doris Gentry said. “I’m so sorry that you’re going to lose your view but it’s my job to support housing.”

Gentry also tried to placate fears of those like the Dombrowskis – the family composed four of the five individuals who spoke during public comment — who raised questions about noise and overcrowding.

“The people moving into these ADUs are likely going to be calm, not the rowdy, party-going type, perhaps a more gentrified family,” she said.

Councilman Sedgley recognized that though this doesn’t exactly address Napa’s affordable housing problem – the General Plan slates these to be sold in the “mid- to high-range” though pricing will be set by the market at the time of sale – it does chip away at the supply issue.

“Edenbridge has done really good work in Napa, and we try to be sensitive,” he added, referring to the developer’s four other real estate projects throughout the city.

Proposals for the Saratoga Vineyard Subdivision, including the creation of a new cut-through street, four on-site parking spaces per home, and three different exterior finishes and floorplans, comply with Napa’s General Plan requirements.

Feel free to reach Carly Graf at @carlykgraf, or (713)-817-4692.

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City of Napa reporter

Carly Graf covers Napa city government and community issues. She received her master’s degree from Northwestern University in Chicago. She most recently worked for a news outlet in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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