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Napa's Smart Growth Requires Skyline Park Expansion.PDF

Published on: Mar 3, 2016

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  • 1. Monday, March 9, 2015 NapaValleyRegister — A5 Opinion&LettersEMAIL | EDITORIAL BOARD Brenda Speth • Publisher Sean Scully • Editor Michael Haley • Community member Ed Shenk • Community member Cindy Webber • Register staff Mary Jean McLaughlin • Community member LETTERS TO THE EDITOR YOUR TURN Monday, March 9, 2015 | A5NapaValley Register DISTRICT 1 Brad Wagenknecht | 253-4828 | 253-4386 | Fax: 253-4176 DISTRICT 2 Mark Luce | 738-7319 | 253-4386 | Fax: 253-4176 DISTRICT 3 Diane Dillon | 944-8280 | Fax: 253-4176 DISTRICT 4 Alfredo Pedroza | 253-4386 | 225-2019 | Fax: 253-4176 DISTRICT 5 Keith Caldwell | 259-8277 | 253-4386 | Fax: 253-4176 NAPA COUNTY SUPERVISORS KNOW YOUR REPRESENTATIVES CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE SENATE Lois Wolk (D) District 3 Capitol office: Capitol Building, Room 5114, Sacramento, CA 95814 | (916) 651-4003 District office: 1040 Main Street, Suite 101, Napa, CA 94559 | Phone: 707-224-1990 | Fax: 707-224-1992 ‌ASSEMBLY Bill Dodd (D) District 4 Capitol Office: P.O. Box 942849, Room 5160, Sacramento, CA 94249-0004 | Phone: 916-319-2004 District Office: 725 Main St., Suite 206, Woodland, CA 95695 | Phone: 530-662-7867 4381 Broadway St., Suite 108, American Canyon, CA 94503 | Phone: 707-552-4405 U.S. CONGRESS SENATE Barbara Boxer (D) 112 Hart Senate Office, Washington, D.C. 20510 | (202) 224-3553 District office: (510) 286-8537 For e-mail, go to: Dianne Feinstein (D) 331 Hart Senate Office, Washington, D.C. 20510 | (202) 224-3841 District office: (415) 393-0707 | Fax: (202) 228-3954 For e-mail, go to: HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Mike Thompson (D) Washington: Cannon House Office Building, Rm 119, Washington, D.C. 20515 | (202) 225-3311 | Fax: (202) 225-4335 For e-mail, go to: Local: 1040 Main St. #101, Napa, CA 94559 Phone: (707) 226-9898 | Fax: (707) 251-9800 GOVERNOR Jerry Brown (D) Sacramento office: State Capitol Building Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 445-2841 | Fax: (916) 445-4633 | GUEST EDITORIAL ‌C ritiquing California’s state and local tax structure — which generates more than $200 billion a year — has become something of a cot- tage industry. Politicians, academicians and journalists perpetually debate whether we are taxing too much, or too little, whether tax burdens are fair, and whether they incen- tivize or discourage economic growth. The debate always includes competing notions of how taxes could be improved. There are some points of consensus — that Californians bear a relatively high state-local tax burden (11-plus percent of personal income), that an ever-increasing dependence on income taxes on a relative handful of high-income Californians has dangerously increased revenue volatility, or that dozens of “tax expenditures” shield certain transactions, income streams or assets from levies. They are called “tax expenditures” because their fiscal effect is the same as if their beneficiaries received direct allocations of money from governmental budgets. They are often called “loopholes,” and some certainly are that — exemptions from taxation carved out at the behest of narrow interests, supposedly for a benign public purpose. There are dozens of such narrow interest tax breaks, and no leg- islative session is complete without new ones being proposed and sometimes adopted. Recent examples include corporate tax breaks for the motion picture and aerospace industries in hopes of generating more job- creating activity, and to compete with tax breaks in other states. When the debate over taxation turns to reform, closing unjusti- fied loopholes always rates a mention, but as a new report from the Legislature’s budget analysis office demonstrates, there’s probably not much new revenue to be gained from that strategy. State sales and income tax expenditures, the report says, total $55 billion a year, but the big ones that account for most of that impressive total don’t benefit narrow interests but rather millions of ordinary Californians. The biggest is the sales tax exemption for food, valued at $5.6 billion, followed by the income tax exemptions for employer- supplied health insurance ($5.5 billion), mortgage interest expense ($4.7 billion), employer contributions to workers’ pension plans ($3.6 billion) and Social Security benefits ($3.2 billion). The 19 largest tax expenditures total $45.3 billion and only two, a $1.6 billion credit for corporate research and development, and a $1 billion sales tax exemption for livestock feed and other tangible agricultural expenses, could be said to benefit narrow interests. It’s highly unlikely — impossible, really — that the big tax breaks with broad applicability will be scaled back. So while closing some unjustified loopholes may be worth doing, especially as part of wider tax reform, it would not generate the big bucks that some seek. Dan Walters writes for The Sacramento Bee. Closing tax loopholes not necessarily the answer for California DAN WALTERS Thompson dishonors Israel ‌I was extremely disap- pointed and disheartened to learn that Mike Thompson joined a small minority of legislators in boycotting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress. Out of a total of 535 members of Congress, 58 Dem- ocrats chose to side with far left activists and show disdain for one of our most important allies and a steadfast friend of the U.S. It is sad to see Congressman Thompson’s name among those on that dishonorable list. In adopting this stance, Repre- sentative Thompson may have been swayed by petitions pro- vided to him by far left groups like the North Coast Coalition for Palestine. The NCCP has, as its “enlightened” objective, the termination of the state of Israel, which they refer to as an “occupation.” Apparently, the only people entitled to occupy any part of the Middle East, according to the NCCP, are Muslim. The Palestinians that the NCCP advocates for are the same people that danced in the streets and celebrated the 911 attacks and handed out holiday sweets to celebrate the recent massacres in Paris. Congress- man Thompson’s decision to join the enemies of freedom and tolerance is a grave political misjudgment that will remain a ugly blemish on his record. Rich Jacobson Napa MICHAEL PIAZZOLA ‌S yar Industries, operating for over 85 years on the Napa Vallejo Highway, has an application pending before the county Planning Commission to increase its production of mined, aggregate materials for construc- tion by 1 million cubic yards, and operate in that manner for the next 35 years. The commission- ers have a unique opportunity to enhance the quality of life in Napa and advance its famous reputa- tion as a place with abundant, unspoiled open spaces by working with the state in acquiring Syar’s business and preserving the real estate forever. So the com- missioners are not faced simply with a “yes” or “no” decision to create a bigger mine, but a more profound one that could favorably affect the county for generations if it considers a broader vision. ‌The Syar application has been pending for a number of years, and because a commission vote is imminent, the response from neighbors living nearby and advocates for the Skyline Wilderness Park has been swift and sharp in opposition. The neighbors cite impacts to the ecosystem that have not been adequately considered or dis- missed as manageable with little mitigation by GHD Inc. of Eureka, the author of the Environmental Impact Report that will govern how the expanded mine operates. Environmental protection groups like the San Francisco Baykeeper allege the existing operation is a polluter and in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. Bay- keeper has notified the applicant and the state it intends to litigate (again) with Syar. The local Sierra Club and the Skyline Park Citi- zens Association also oppose the mine’s expansion. The county’s allowed uses within the industrial district where Syar works permits busi- nesses “such as administrative facilities, research institutions, and specialized manufacturing organizations.” Mining is not manufacturing. Syar then oper- ates in this zoning district as a “pre-existing non-conforming use.” This is a real estate term, simply translated, that allows for the use of a property that is out of character with the neighborhood it resides in, often in violation of the zoning overlay. Furthering the idea, the deviating use was by definition in place before con- sistent zoning codes and maps were adopted, and was allowed to remain after their implementa- tion because it was existing and forcing the property owner to change the use to conform to the zoning code could create an economic hardship, or possibly a “taking” by the city or county demanding the change. Here are the seemingly con- flicting dynamics at play: Neigh- bors and watchdog groups want Syar denied its permit to expand, its operation is inconsistent with every other land use nearby, and Syar likes the income it realizes in mining building materials for use in the region so much it wants to grow. How to protect Skyline Park and the adjacent neighbor- hoods and realize the profits Syar expects by virtue of an expanded mining operation? The answer lies in the purchase of the Syar properties and incorporation of its 920 acres into the Skyline Wil- derness Park. How could the county afford the acquisition of Syar’s 920 acres? The Napa Valley Exposi- tion within the city limits of Napa is Syar, in reverse. It operates as an underutilized fairground, RV park and amphitheater within what is functioning as a semi- urban, mixed-use neighborhood in downtown Napa bordered by Soscol Avenue and Silverado Trail. It has a market value between $40 million and $60 million. The Expo properties should be sold by the state’s 25th District Ag Association — at the county commissioners’ urging — to a developer who will eventu- ally weave the property into the neighborhoods to its east, west and north. The sale proceeds would be used to purchase the Syar Industries properties for the benefit of the association and the county. Among many other potential sources to complete the Syar purchase are revenues from a new fairground complex. Napa County and the asso- ciation should then reclaim the stripped cliffs at Syar and design a proper entrance to Skyline Wil- derness Park, coupled with build- ing a fairground, natural stone amphitheater, campground, and a visitor center within the new Skyline Park expansion. Due to its visibility and ease of access, the Syar site is a supe- rior location for events of any sort than one that has become crowded out by downtown Napa’s reach into the environs around Third Street and Silverado Trail — and is obsolescent in its own right. Last century’s strip mines contributed to the region’s growth by providing raw materials, yet these operations today, given Napa’s economic evolution into agribusiness supported by the hospitality industry, are no longer appropriate. There is too much at risk. The county’s supervisors and planning commissioners must focus on preserving the qual- ity of life Napans enjoy and the county has become famous for, solve the problems of two major nonconforming land uses that responsible growth has deemed inappropriate, and leverage its natural assets to further confirm Napa’s reputation as a recre- ational paradise. These county officials will never be faced with a greater opportunity to locate appropriate uses in the places where they belong. They must act with confidence in executing what will be a complex yet neces- sary program of sale, acquisition and redevelopment. We as concerned citizens must support them in undertak- ing their work to build an appro- priate gateway: Napa Valley on the Syar Industries properties, in conjunction with realizing the careful expansion of downtown Napa onto the current exposition acreage. Both endeavors are eco- nomically and environmentally justifiable to the future; they will only further the county’s deserved reputation as a delight- ful place to visit, and an enviable place to live, for many years to come. Piazzola is a veteran real estate asset manager, with experience in management, acquisition and disposition of real estate for a variety of firms and projects, includ- ing Disney and the Howard Hughes Corp.’s South Street Seaport renovation in New York. He lives in Napa. Securing Napa’s future requires Skyline expansion ‌STORY: End of the reel for Cinedome COMMENT: Goodriddancetobadrubbish.It’sbeenan eyesoreforwaytoolong. Pleasenomoretastingrooms,pharmacies ormalls...Weneedparking! bowlerhat,March 5,10:38 p.m. COMMENT: Goodluckwiththat,Ididthinkthemovie housewasinterestinglooking. Oldtimenapan,March 6,8:24 a.m. Highlights from

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