A proposed hillside development in southwest Napa is drawing the ire of neighbors yet again.
About 20 people attended a Tuesday evening meeting to suggest the scope of environmental studies of the proposed Napa Oaks II subdivision south of Old Sonoma Road.
Many said they raised the same concerns in 1997 when the same developer proposed a larger project that was eventually denied.
“I am very upset that this is being brought before us again. I thought we defeated it,” said Diane Pogue, who lives adjacent to the project site at 3095 Old Sonoma Road.
“We have a gorgeous view of a green mountain with lots and lots of oaks on it. We have turkeys, we have cows mooing. It’s being in the city but still having a bit of the country there. I don’t want that taken away from me,” Pogue said.
Davidon Homes wants to subdivide the 81-acre property into 54 lots for single-family homes and four lots containing 46 acres of open space. The 1997 proposal, which was made around the time the city rezoned the property from single-family to agriculture, called for 85 single-family lots.
The developer is asking the city to revert the zoning back to single-family residential so it can build homes that would range in size from 3,888 to 5,061 square feet, according to the city.
The project calls for lots of 13,031 to 36,444 square feet, with an average of 22,000 square feet, which is a half acre.
Neighbors said while they worry about loss of the tree-covered hillside, they have other concerns they want vetted in the environmental study. Chief among them is the potential for landslides, surface runoff that could cause flooding on their properties and increased traffic.
“We know what’s going to happen if they start moving trees and grading,” Sandra Ruark said. Her father and husband have had to build retaining walls to keep the hill off her property, she said.
Neighbors asked that the study look at the integrity of the hillside, which several said is slowly sliding into their yards.
“Has anybody ever considered what happens if that hill does come down?” Ruark said. “And if that happens, it’s going to be a heck of a lot of lawsuits. So please consider just making it a habitat for animals and keeping it peaceful as it has been.”
Kevin Eberle, a senior planner with the city, said the design and location of the lots would be based on topography so the least amount of grading is required. The property was graded decades ago, he said.
There would be one street into the subdivision, with a second street to be used only by emergency vehicles, Eberle said. The main entrance would be on Old Sonoma Road, near Casswall Street.
Multiple neighbors, most of them living on Casswall, said they will suffer from increased traffic on their streets, as they expect subdivision residents to cut through their neighborhood to get to Highway 29.
Eve Kahn, who lives in Browns Valley, said the property’s zoning was changed not because the city needed another agriculture area but because the property was “not the best buildable site.” She doesn’t believe that has changed, she said.
Under current zoning, only one unit is allowed for every 20 acres.
Kahn said an entrance off Old Sonoma Road could be dangerous. “I come down Old Sonoma Road all the time, and since I’ve heard about this project, I’ve tried to visualize that entrance. And right now it’s pretty blind, there’s a lot of trees there,” she said. “In the winter, it can get icy.”
Pogue and others said they fear what will happen to their homes if there is a significant rain storm. They shared anecdotes of past floods that ripped through their streets and said if the hillside is developed, there will be less permeable ground for water to soak into and it will eventually end up on their streets.
Neighbor Karen Scriven said she hates to sound like someone with a “Not In My Backyard” attitude, but she believes the potential loss of open space on Napa’s western border is an issue that affects many.
“The oak trees, the animals, the integrity of the west ridge of Napa Valley, these are things that are priceless,” Scriven said. “Once they’re gone, they’re gone. This goes way beyond those of us who live on Casswall or Utah (streets). It has to do with the integrity of this valley.”
The city of Napa will accept comments on what should be explored in the environmental impact report. The report will study any potential impacts and suggest mitigation measures in cases where the project would be harmful.