In the next couple of weeks, the city of Napa will be releasing a new hotel study. This report is to show the capacity the city has to absorb new hotel rooms without impacting room and occupancy rates of the existing hotels.
I haven’t seen the study yet but I’m willing to bet it will show there’s plenty of capacity left, even taking into account the 800-1,000 rooms that are approved or in the planning process but haven’t been built yet. This is a cause for concern because what this study won’t show is the stress such additional growth puts on our infrastructure and our housing supply.
I have been a strong advocate for the increase in tourism and hotel development over the last decade. Our revenue from TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax) funds has grown from $4 million to $5 million per year to over $20 million. This has allowed us to significantly improve our local streets and roads, to add a new much needed fire station in Browns Valley, to fully fund our budget reserves, and to develop additional parks and amenities within the city that benefit our residents.
That being said, I think everyone recognizes that the cost of renting or buying a home here is getting out of reach for most and the increase in traffic that impacts us all is unsustainable.
Thus, I will be calling on the City Council to implement a moratorium on all new hotel development until we have the opportunity to fully look at what needs to be done, and how to fund mitigation for the housing and traffic impacts that development brings with it. Napa is a safe, inviting, healthy, and enjoyable place to live it would be a shame to ruin that seeking a couple more dollars for the coffers.
Editor: After this letter was published, on May 16, Mott sent the following update: "In further researching the process of a moratorium I found out it takes a 4/5ths affirmative vote of the Council for approval, and there would be a great deal of difficulty in defining where to allow or stop projects already in the pipeline without exposing the city to litigation. With that in mind I decided a better path would be to press the council and staff to come up with final language for the city’s Hotel Policy that addressed the need for a citywide overlay to define where projects should go if at all and what type (luxury, full service, limited service), and to also look at the cumulative housing and traffic impacts associated with each project. Failing to plan is planning to fail, and that is decidedly our current trajectory."