Regarding the Chamber of Commerce column written by Travis Stanley ("Napa Chamber: Housing, housing and more housing in Napa," June 13) – he initially and rightly pointed out the need for housing for our business community – and quickly digressed into the need for luxury housing in the form of Napa Oaks.
The Chamber’s claim is that there is not enough high end homes to attract tech companies and other large companies to move their business to Napa. The executive-level people can’t find homes to live in Napa. That argument does not work for me.
It takes a lot more than just luxury level homes to entice companies to move here – such as rentable space or buildable space for offices, workforce of all levels and education to support it.
We used to have a Napa Valley Economic Development Corporation that tried to do the very thing that Mr. Stanley says these houses will bring. It was successful for some years, and about eight or nine years ago it folded with lack of support from local industries.
In the history of the business community – also about eight or nine years ago the Visitor’s Bureau – now called Visit Napa Valley – began to get stronger with new leadership and much business community and political support, with this transition we have seen our tourism industry blossom through the roots of our wine industry and with political support.
Napa business is not as diversified nor does it have aspirations to diversify – hence the lack of economic development interest at the Chamber of Commerce level. About eight years or so ago, a group of interested Chamber volunteer leaders tried to start a business incubator at the Napa Airport called Trellis – there was interest in the community, but the effort died. It was a good idea, however there was lack of political support and funding for this to succeed.
My point is that in our community we do not need $1.5 million and $2 million homes on the hillside. It’s not right for our community when it was first introduced and it’s not right for us now.
We need our City Council to focus on providing housing for people who work in our valley and support the industries that are here right now – wine, hotels, restaurants, retail, transportation, technology, medical, schools. Every person in this group that lives outside of this valley, we need to give them affordable ways to live inside this valley and get them out of their cars and into their homes.
In a June 15 Napa Valley Register article ("City Council set to resolve battle over Napa Oaks II housing development"), the developer makes the claim that entry-level housing in Napa is being bought up and refurbished to the tune of $300K or more by luxury home seekers. It is an interesting claim with not much fact available to back it up.
The Chamber’s argument that Napa Oaks will give us some increase to our public infrastructure does not outweigh the fact that these homes will not help solve our housing crisis, which our own City Council has identified as their number one priority.