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Answer: It's about time

Answer: It's about time

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In the Feb. 19 article, "Napa worried about hotels," we learn the City Council asks if curbs should be imposed on new hotels. Response: Duh. As a resident in Napa since 1967, I can truly say, 'It is about damn time.'

The sheer volume of new hotels in Napa and the county is staggering. And the size being approved and built is something for San Francisco, not Napa. The addition of a high-rise hotel such as the Archer in downtown, which is far beyond the current skyline downtown, is abominable, in my opinion.

Who is responsible for this approval? Why were the local citizens not afforded the right to vote on this? Major proposed structures in downtown, or within Napa proper, should, in my opinion, be placed before the citizens, who have to live with the consequences, for a vote requiring a 2/3 majority.

We, the citizens who live here, are best in the position to decide if such building would be to our benefits or not - or indeed - if we even want such building to occur. It would be upon the developers and the city and/or county to convince us of the merits of the project to gain our support. What a concept. The people would actually matter.

We do not elect government officials who then feel free to put their whims and preferences into reality - at our expense - for possible political reasons, political contributions, - or, at best, all on their own to decide what is best for us in such matters. This practice must come to a halt.

Napa County citizens must be allowed to decide the future of the Napa Valley and our city - not government officials. This foundation of democracy pertains to wineries - new and/or expansions - as well. Put all such proposals before the People for a 2/3 majority vote. Let these developers pay us for a while. Such drastic decisions affect our open space, water sheds, drinking water, air, traffic infrastructure, safety issues, and provide an influx of tourists, which must be to our collective benefit or not allowed, period. Let us vote on major building and wineries issues.

Now isn't that a novel concept? Hmm, sounds like a good ballot initiative to me. But make sure government is not provided some conceived loophole. They will take it every time.

After all, we placed open space issues on ballots like Measures M, P, and J and passed them for a reason and not to be circumvented by local government by questionable legal maneuvers. I would respectfully suggest that government starts listening to the people.

The current plans under consideration for Napa. as stated in the informative article by Howard Yune - is an additional 1,200 rooms proposed by 10 developers. Most of which, by the way, are more than likely not from Napa - or even located in the state. These developers will not have to live with the consequences of such an influx. Let’s analyze a little, shall we, which it appears is not currently a common practice or part of their resume' in the city or county government.

Current conditions of city streets and sidewalks are - to be kind to the city and county - in ill-repair. Hotels are not profitable with only one occupant at a time, so let’s say a family of three or four on average for say 1,100 rooms at full occupancy per night - (100 set aside for the single) -which in the hotel business is wishful thinking at best - but you do the math. What impact will this have on city and county roads and highways? Safety issues? This is each and every night. With sidewalks in current conditions, has any consideration been given to probable lawsuits against the city and county for pedestrian injuries from “trips and falls" etc.?

In my role as the Napa County "demanded negotiator" for Skyline Park, and the original front person and first president responsible for organizing, planning, developing the Park, and assisting county counsel in writing the various contracts to obtain approval, construction, operation and maintenance for the park dating to 1973, I had to deal with every department in Napa County, and with much of the City of Napa as well.

In many cases, I had to personally interject controls and measures into this planning, which looked not only at present issues, but those of the future as well. This has always been my personal practice based upon years of training and experience. In many cases, sadly, this was not the practice I found being applied by various government agencies and departments. I still witness this same lack of "vision" in much of the government practices today. Yes, state and federal as well.

Robert Wilkinson


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