I attended the community meeting regarding the Hunter Project, an 87 (minimum) unit development along the St. Helena Vineyard River Walk. The project documentation was labelled “Affordable Housing/Workforce Housing.” Sounds good until we learned that to date, no affordable housing plans have been made part of the project. We did hear about 50-plus million dollar luxury homes, many situated behind the city-built levee.
Even if/when affordable units are added to the plan consider this: 87 units means 350 new residents in a city of under 5,800 people. One hundred and fifty new children in our school system, more need for teachers, police, nurses, gardeners, house cleaners, etc. So at best any new affordable housing may offset the newly created housing demand.
Now consider the negatives of the project:
-350 new water users added to a system we are told cannot support existing users;
-350 new sewer users to an aging sewage system that cannot keep up with current demand;
-150 more cars up and down Main Street, funneled in through Adams street and Starr Avenue;
-loss of beautiful open space around the St. Helena Vineyard River Walk;
-City (us) liability for any damage caused if and when the levee fails (estimated one in seven chance during a 30-year mortgage). It is disingenuous to disguise this land/cash grab as an affordable housing fix.