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Some of our board’s liveliest discussions aren’t over how to react to a guest, but what topics to write about in the first place.

Of course we can’t be certain of what’s going to happen in the next year, and plenty of our editorials will be reacting to unexpected events. But here are 12 topic areas we want to emphasize in 2018, in no particular order:


We want to hear what members of the City Council and Board of Supervisors are doing to address the local housing crisis that’s pricing out people who make our community vibrant.

We’d love to hear a developer’s perspective on the challenges of building affordable housing in St. Helena. We’re also curious about the extent to which October’s wildfires exacerbated the Upvalley’s housing shortage.


This is an election year, which we hope results in competitive races for City Council, school board and the Board of Supervisors, where Diane Dillon is already lining up endorsements for her re-election to District 3.

We plan to interview as many candidates as we can and probably endorse some of them.

Downtown vacancies

It bothers us to see so many vacant commercial spaces downtown. Who will step up to fill the Goodman’s space? Will it be an anchor tenant who can set the tone for Main Street and generate some much-needed buzz and vitality?

We’re especially interested in the role city officials and the new leadership at the St. Helena Chamber of Commerce will play in recruiting tenants.

SHAPE Committee

The St. Helena Assets Planning Engagement (SHAPE) Committee is conducting a crucial study, concluding sometime around April, that we hope leads to long-overdue decisions about what to do with the Adams Street property, how to address the deplorable state of City Hall, the police station and the Corporation Yard, and how to make better use of other civic facilities.

Count on us to react to the committee’s report and share our own thoughts on how the City Council should proceed.

Board of Supervisors

In our ongoing effort to understand St. Helena issues from a regional perspective, we want to talk to all five members of the Board of Supervisors about housing, tourism, and how changes around the county are affecting St. Helena.

Downtown Napa

We want to interview people familiar with recent development in downtown Napa and figure out how the Napa tourism boom is changing the Upvalley economy.

Are the new tourist-friendly hotels, restaurants and shops in downtown Napa changing the type of tourists we get Upvalley? If so, what can we do about that?


We want to interview people in charge of local marketing efforts and the hotels, restaurants and stores those efforts are designed to benefit. Are contributing taxpayers and businesses getting their money’s worth?

We’re interested in changes in the local tourist profile and whether St. Helena can still attract the sorts of visitors we need to sustain our current business types. Are our marketing efforts attracting the right people? What role do Visit Napa Valley, the Chamber, the St. Helena Tourism Improvement District and the city play in that process?


We want to hear directly from merchants about how they’re doing, what sorts of trends they’re seeing, and how the city, the Chamber and the community can help our economy thrive.

Recall aftermath

We congratulate Mayor Alan Galbraith and the proponents of the recall campaign against him for reaching an agreement to end the recall. We especially commend retired Judge Scott Snowden, whose mediation efforts led to the truce. We were skeptical about whether mediation could be successful, and we’re delighted to have been proven wrong.

Now we’re eager to see whether the agreed-upon town hall meetings this month and next resolve the underlying concerns that prompted the recall.


We want to hear from school officials and board members about how the district’s high funding levels are translating into academic performance. With the decline in standardized tests, how do we measure success?

We also want updates on the school food program and the various bond-funded facilities projects, both from the perspectives of bond oversight and public access to district buildings and fields.

St. Helena Hospital

The hospital is a crucial part of our infrastructure, so we want to find out how it’s responding to national changes in health care and whether it can remain financially viable and meet our community’s needs over the long term. We’re interested in how the hospital’s foundation is securing its financial future.

Local impact of national issues

We want to look at how the recently passed tax bill and other national initiatives (immigration, employment, economics, infrastructure) affect us locally. We don’t exist in a vacuum.

What did we miss?

Do you see any glaring omissions? Which issues do you want us to scrutinize in 2018? Email your feedback to