It’s time for the leaders and residents of Napa County and the cities of Napa to tell the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Regional Housing Needs Authority (RHNA) to “stock up.”
In Nancy Reagan’s famous anti-drug campaign of the 1980s, “Just Say No.” County leaders should vigorously adopt this position and sue the state of California if necessary to counter the pernicious dictates that threaten to preserve what makes this valley special.
First, let’s be clear, state housing mandates handed down by nameless and faceless state bureaucrats are really like a “drug” that is ultimately pushed by development and real estate interests that put pressure on Sacramento. I believe these mandates are “sold” under the auspices of creating more “affordable housing” in “our local communities” and the general idea that all population growth is good. I’m sorry, that’s hooey. If you really dig into the housing mandates, all they really are is a “primed” request that counties and municipalities create new zoning areas for higher density housing. There is no “real” requirement that such housing be actually built to actually house the low-income “families” that this mandate presents as its heart-pounding siren song. All of this only benefits development and real estate interests in bed with Sacramento.
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Second, the last time I checked, the population of the People’s Republic of California has been declining. Why should/should we build more housing when the simple equation of supply and demand does not support it. Businesses and future retirees generally shun the state because of its onerous tax and regulatory structure. Ultimately, if state leaders want more people for the ideal of “growth is good,” they need to look in the mirror at their business promotion and support policies, because that’s really what that supports their working classes and their families.
Third, how does the idea of increasing housing make sense in the face of our current struggle to provide enough water and electricity and fire safety to the people who already live here. Have you traveled Interstate 5 to see the appalling shrinking of Lake Shasta and tracked the state of our shrinking reservoirs and water allocation away from agriculture and housing?
Finally, state housing mandates threaten the Napa Valley Ag Preserve. Let’s be real people. Most locals here believe that the 1968 agricultural reserve ensured that the bucolic nature of this valley would live on in perpetuity. Spoiler alert! State housing mandates will systematically take bites out of agricultural and rural property in the Ag Preserve, and eventually kill it. It will be the “death of a thousand cuts”. Witness the ridicule of the county trying to put new housing in spaces that really don’t work. Ultimately, I believe that the borders of each city in Napa Valley will continue to expand into what was once rural and farmland. Ultimately, Napa Valley will shift toward the agricultural orchards and farms that once dominated the area around San Jose, which have been paved over for office campuses and housing sprawl.
It’s time for the leaders and people of Napa County and the cities of Napa to “just say no.”