FAQs, Napa Oaks Environmental Protections
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What is the RUL? As defined in the General Plan, in 1973 the voters established the basis for what became the Rural Urban Limit line (RUL), an urban growth boundary identifying a limited area subject to urban development. The RUL has remained in place, virtually unchanged, for the past 40 years. A critical element to making the RUL successful is continuing cooperation with the County and neighboring cities in protecting surrounding open space lands, which is promoted by various policies throughout the plan. Maintenance of the Greenbelt designation on the lands outside the RUL furthers the General Plan objectives for protecting open space lands.
What is the General Plan history of this property? Refer to the Project Timeline on the Project Details page for more detailed information.
Isn’t this property considered the City’s greenbelt? As defined by the 1998 General Plan, the Napa Oaks property is not designated as the greenbelt. This designation is applied to lands outside of the RUL that bear a relationship to the City’s planning policies. Greenbelt lands that surround the RUL are to remain in agricultural or very low—density rural residential, public or institutional use. The General Plan seeks to maintain these areas by providing adequate land and development potential within the RUL to accommodate anticipated growth to the year 2020.
How common are General Plan Amendments? Since adoption of the Envision 2020 General Plan in 1998, there have been 53 General Plan amendments, ranging from major changes to relatively minor changes. One of the amendments included changing a Resources Area (RA) designation to mixed use. This was for the Stanly Ranch project. The General Plan allows considerable flexibility to the City Council to amend as circumstances change within the City and does get amended regularly.
Does this project have a significant Benefit to the community to justify an Amendment to the General Plan? The public benefits that Napa Oaks offers is extensive and unprecedented for a proposed residential project in the City of Napa. This project provides approximately $15 million of immediate public benefits plus $1 million of annual tax revenue. These benefits are beneficial to the entire City of Napa in that they provide housing now, cleaner water and higher water pressures and volumes, investment in the youth of Napa, open space and viewshed preservation and recreational amenities.
When did Davidon acquire the property? A full project history timeline can be found on the Project Details page of this website. Davidon purchased or entered into a purchase agreement for all pieces of the project in 1996, well before the 1998 General Plan. There was never any discussion about changing the General Plan designation of the property until Summer of 1998, well after Davidon invested millions into the project and had a valid application in for a proposed project.
Why did Davidon sue the City 15 years ago and what was the outcome of the lawsuit? Davidon Homes filed a lawsuit against the City of Napa immediately after denial of the project in 2002. Davidon argued the City stripped the vested property rights Davidon possessed on the property by changing the General Plan designation of the property to Resource Area (RA) after the City deemed the proposed project’s application complete. The ruling of the lawsuit stated that in applying the RA designation from the 1998 General Plan, the City “failed to proceed in a manner required by law, thereby abusing its discretion.” However the Court ultimately ruled in favor of the City because the applicant failed to prove that the City’s abuse of discretion was prejudicial. This was because the City had other independent grounds to deny the subdivision. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Court’s decision.
Why is a roundabout being installed at the project entry? Many concerns were raised about the existing speeding & safety problem on Old Sonoma Road and how this projects entry will make it even more unsafe. At the suggestion of the City of Napa City Engineer, the roundabout was implemented to mitigate these safety concerns. Click here for an explanation from City of Napa Public Works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVtZbyhnYSQ
Does Davidon have to acquire or condemn property to fit the roundabout at that location? No. The entire improvement will be constructed within existing public right of way and on Davidon’s property.
Is Old Sonoma Road too steep to safely accommodate the roundabout? According to the experts, the grade along Old Sonoma Road does not prohibit the ability to implement the roundabout. A final design will need to be prepared and reviewed prior to construction. Some minor adjustment to the grades above and below the roundabout will be necessary to meet the necessary standards. Click here for an explanation from the project’s traffic expert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqy5IrAEMIM
What is a detention basin and how does the basin work? It is California State law that requires all new projects to discharge no more than the pre-development discharge amount. The State also requires the water to be clean prior to discharge. The basin at Casswall does both, detains the water and cleans the water, before it discharges it into the existing storm drain system in Casswall. The basin will be designed to meet these requirements up to a 100-year rain event. In this most extreme case the basin will only hold water for a maximum of 42 hours. In typical rain events standing water will be minimal. Click here for an explanation from City of Napa Public Works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtBEZWYhP28
Why is the basin located down on Casswall? To meet the California State law for detention and cleaning, the basin location on Casswall is necessary due to the fact that it is the lowest point on the property. The location is proposed is in an existing vacant field. The appearance of the basin will be very similar to the existing condition in that it will be landscaped with native grasses and native trees to give it a natural setting.
Will this basin hold water and be unsafe for children or wildlife? The basin will be safely fenced off and will not hold water for more than 42 hours in the most extreme rain events. Click here for an explanation from City of Napa Public Works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzlNDkEKYAs
Will the basin be a mosquito haven? The basin will not hold water for more than 42 hours and therefore will not encourage mosquito breeding.
Will this project destroy our hillsides? Napa Oaks has effectively been designed to have minimal visibility by locating the proposed homes in areas that allow the existing topography and existing and proposed trees to screen the homes. Only a few portions of rooftops will be seen from outside the property. Napa Oaks will not destroy the scenic hillsides, and in fact, Napa Oaks preserves 1 mile of hillside visible from Napa.
What will I see from Foster Road and Old Sonoma Road? We have been successful in redesigning the project to effectively eliminate visibility from the neighborhood below. Click below to see what you will see driving along Foster Road and Old Sonoma Road. This animation completely removes additional screening from all existing homes and vegetation along these roadways. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUIkOet3Fps
Does a fault run through the property? After the 2014 Napa Earthquake, an active trace of the West Napa Fault was accurately defined within the property through extensive field investigation. The project geologist and geotechnical engineer, along with the City of Napa, have concluded that the project’s designed setbacks from this feature are a safe and conservative recommendation for home placement. Click here to learn more about the existing fault on the property: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DFOzp2CnEI
What is the Alquist Priolo Act? To learn about the Alquist Priolo Act please visit http://www.conservation.ca.gov/cgs/rghm/ap
Is it safe to live at Napa Oaks? Because of the additional Alquist Priolo field investigations completed this year, the entire site has been fully vetted and the fault line is accurately located so that no proposed home is at risk of damage due to fault rupture. All homes will be structurally designed to meet the latest seismic codes making Napa Oaks one of the safest places to live in all of Napa. Click here to learn more about the existing fault on the property:
How many trees does the project remove? The project proposes the removal of 509 trees of which only 136 trees are City regulated trees.
How many trees does the project plant onsite? Napa Oaks will implement over 700 newly planted oaks trees in 24” box size or larger. In addition in its partnership with Napa Resource Conservation District, the Acorns to Oaks Program will plant thousands of oak seedlings within designation areas onsite.
What is the Napa County Resources Conservation District’s Acorns to Oaks Program? Napa Oaks partnership with RCD will plant several hundred of oaks onsite while educating the youth of Napa. Visit to http://naparcd.org/acorns-to-oaks/ learn more this great community program.
How big are the lots and homes? The homes range from 3,418 sf to 5,109 sf and will be on lots averaging half acre in size.
How much will they cost? Pricing of the homes are not set at this time and will be based on the market at the time of sales. It is anticipated the homes will start in the low to mid $1 millions.
How does this upper level housing help the housing crisis? Additional inventory of upper level housing allows move-up opportunities, which in turn makes available more affordable homes. The upper level housing also relieves the high demand and pressure off of neighborhoods like Old Town and Alta Heights, where these affordable areas are becoming unaffordable because of the lack of new homes inventory.
How does Napa Oaks help the City’s need for workforce housing? Napa Oaks provides housing at multiple levels. The immediate contribution to a low—income project, by the Gasser Foundation, will expedite construction of workforce housing in the City of Napa. In addition, each home within Napa Oaks will have available an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) or Junior Accessory Unity which can be utilized as an affordable rental property.
Why not propose smaller, more affordable homes? Davidon has proposed an alternative plan called Alternative E. This plan allows for 35 smaller homes ranging from 2,000 sf to 2,500 and 35 larger homes. Alternative E provides no additional environmental impacts, while providing a more affordable component to the project. Please contact us if you would like to hear more about Alternative E.
What is the Gasser Foundation? Visit http://gasserfoundation.org/ to learn more about this amazing organization.
Why is Davidon partnering up with the Gasser Foundation? Workforce housing in Napa is needed immediately. The Gasser Foundation is in need of funding to commence certain low—income housing projects within Napa, and Davidon is offering to prepay close to $1.9 million in fees so that these projects can be completed now. This partnership expedites the construction of this housing by several years.
OPEN SPACE AND RECREATIONAL AMENITIES
What will the trail and trailhead hours be? The public will be able to enjoy the recreational amenities from sunrise to sunset daily.
Can I ride my bike and walk my dog on the trail? Napa Oaks welcomes both biking and dog walking on its trails. This is not the case on other Napa trail systems.
Will there be any agricultural use on the property? Davidon is reserving acreage onsite to retain its agricultural heritage of the property, and will continue to seek opportunities for its use by non-profit community groups.
Who maintains the open space and recreational amenities? The Napa Oaks homeowners association will fund and manage the maintenance of the entire 50 acres of open space. There will be no cost to the City of Napa and its citizens.