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The rains of last week have caused us to recall the history of flooding in Vineyard Valley and the involvement of both the city and the county in building the St. Helena Comprehensive Flood Control and River Restoration Project.

When we moved here in May of 2000, this mobile home park was like a ghost town teeming with contractors, trucks, noise and dust. They were still rebuilding from the 1995 flood.

However, we had looked at several other locations and could see the beauty of the design and the landscape. We also liked the sales staff and management who were very friendly and helpful. We had been discouraged by Realtors in Santa Rosa because of the two flooding events in 1986 and 1995 but we forged ahead. That was the start of a 10-year relationship with the City of St. Helena in working with them to achieve the building of the project.

At this time, we have conflict in Vineyard Valley about the Space Rent Stabilization Ordinance proposed by the city of St. Helena and supported by many residents of Vineyard Valley. The most prominent who oppose the ordinance cry “We don’t want government involvement in our business here.” This caused us to go back and look at the history of Vineyard Valley since it was envisioned in 1968. We have a wonderful little booklet of 14 pages titled “The Tumultuous History of the Development of Vineyard Valley Mobile Home Park.” This information came from microfilm copies of the St. Helena Star.

Fox and Bentley were the original developers, who in 1968 sought rezoning necessary to build a mobile home park on this acreage. There was an immediate outcry from the community who opposed a trailer park. In 1969, the developers continued their campaign and the City Council unanimously approved the rezoning. The opponents gathered signatures to make the building of the trailer park a referendum. Does this sound familiar? Seventy-six percent of qualified voters cast their ballots. The result was 890 in favor of the mobile home park and 342 opposed.

The city however, put strict, unusually restrictive terms on the permit. Many of those terms having to do with design and landscape are why this park is as beautiful as it is. Restrictions on space prevent me from describing more of the requirements but it should be of interest to the St. Helena Public Works Department that much of the sewer line including a loop from Pratt and a line from the park to Allison were installed by Vineyard Valley Developers. In 1974 the Park went into bankruptcy and Bank of America took possession.

In 1975, a group led by Dick McDonnell purchased the park.

The first flood occurred in 1986 and city government had to step in to assist in evacuation and the establishment of flood prevention restrictions.

In 1995, another flood occurred with the need for park residents and owners needing assistance from the city.

In 1998, the voters of Napa County passed Measure A, an increased sales tax measure, which allowed the beginning of serious flood prevention measures.

So, for those of you who want government to stay out of Vineyard Valley, we wanted to provide a little history lesson. Without assistance and involvement from the city and county, Vineyard Valley would not be here today.

Pat Dell and Grace Kistner

St. Helena

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