Napa Pipe

Napa Pipe developer Keith Rogal leads a tour of the property in September 2017. The former industrial site, once home to a Kaiser Steel plant, is being targeted for a planned community to include 945 homes and a Costco.

The city of Napa will commit to seeking a jump start on acquiring county lands needed to make the Napa Pipe community – and a long-awaited Costco warehouse store – a reality.

A 43-acre tract currently scheduled to pass from county to city hands at the end of 2022 would instead be annexed as soon as the end of this year, under a city application to Napa County’s Local Agency Formation Commission.

The City Council last week approved the early-annexation bid to LAFCO, which will review the plan and hold meetings on it before votes by the city’s Planning Commission and council. After Napa city and county draft an annexation agreement, the city would become the lead agency in overseeing the Napa Pipe plan and its state-required environmental study.

Napa, which absorbed 111 acres of county-owned land in 2016, hopes to speed up its acquisition of the remaining unincorporated lands to help launch the first phase of housing construction at Napa Pipe. When fully built out, the longtime industrial property near Kaiser Road on the city’s south side will include more than 945 homes, along with new retail, office and recreational space.

Accelerating housing starts at Napa Pipe would bring in the roads, utilities and other infrastructure needed to build the Costco, the expected retail dynamo of the new community. Furthermore, quickly uniting all the project lands under city control rather than a split city-county oversight will create an easier path for developers to build out the project. (A real estate director for Costco earlier said the company could open for business in Napa as early as 2021, but only if enough nearby housing is ready by then.)

Without a quicker annexation, builders could decide to stand pat until the current transfer date in 2022, the county planning director David Morrison said in June.

Project partner Catellus Development Corp. has said it could break ground on Napa Pipe utilities in mid-2020, and set the table for the Costco and more than 350 housing units, if city and county can move up annexation.

Meanwhile, Napa city and county are waiting on the passage of state legislation needed to fit Napa Pipe into state housing rules.

Senate Bill 235, introduced by state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, would let the county government count 140 affordable housing units envisioned for Napa Pipe toward its quota of homes available below market rates, even after the land passes to city control. That total would cover most of the 180 affordable units called for in the state’s Regional Housing Need Allocation for the county and its five cities in an eight-year window that runs through 2023.

SB 235 cleared the Senate in April and is scheduled to go before the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.