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Jeremy Madsen

Why Greenbelt Alliance supports Napa Pipe

Jeremy Madsen

Napa County, with majestic Mt. Saint Helena and bucolic vineyards, inspires people all over the world. Greenbelt Alliance recognizes that protecting places like these from development means saying yes to putting homes somewhere to accommodate the next generation.

But where?

Greenbelt Alliance makes the decision to support sustainable development very carefully. We evaluate proposals based on strict guidelines.
We studied Napa Pipe, the development proposed near the city of Napa, for more than four years.

In late March, we announced our support for the project, noting that it has some challenges to overcome.

Grow Smart Bay Area

Greenbelt Alliance is guided by our vision, Grow Smart Bay Area.

We have found that it’s possible for the region to accommodate future families by creating homes on places such as underused parking lots, old industrial sites, and declining strip malls.

What’s more, encouraging development within already urbanized areas will make our communities more walkable and equitable while protecting our farms, forests and watersheds.

We have a choice for how the region grows: we can build on open spaces and farmland, lengthening commute times, adding cars to already congested roadways, and worsening quality of life for everyone.

The alternative — and what Greenbelt Alliance champions — is to grow smarter. Adding homes in areas that have already been developed, like the Napa Pipe site, is a means of protecting our beautiful open spaces that both sustain local economies and define our region.

Napa Pipe

The Napa Pipe proposal is consistent with Grow Smart Bay Area in part because it is on a former industrial area right on the edge of the city of Napa.
In fact, the 154-acre Napa Pipe site was identified in our Grow Smart analysis as a location for infill redevelopment.

The proposed development has many good features.

Located close to most jobs in Napa County, it provides enough housing for people who are already part of the community.

Local hospital workers, for example, would be able to find a place to live in their price range.

The new neighborhood will have 40,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, which will give residents the opportunity to walk or bike to their destinations.
The plan also features more than 30 acres of parks, open space, and proposed improvements along the Napa River, including a nearly one-mile stretch of the Bay Trail and the Napa River trail that will be open to the public.

Contaminated land will be cleaned up, and wetlands will be restored.
Other amenities, including a daycare, marina, sports field, outdoor theater, transit center, interpretive nature center, and public safety building, are planned. The developer is working with the Napa Valley Unified School District to ensure new students’ needs are met.

The plan also has earned gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Greenbelt Alliance recognizes that the Napa Pipe development is immensely complex and challenging.

Over the years, residents, elected officials, and the development team have cooperated to overcome concerns, such as water sources and transportation choices.

We are confident these challenges will continue to be addressed as the details of the project are finalized. To read our position statement in full, visit growsmartbayarea.org.

More places to live

Napa County is a beautiful place to live, but reasonably priced homes are in short supply.

As a result, more than 21,000 workers commute into the county from cities such as Fairfield in Solano County, where it’s cheaper to live.

Part of the solution to this imbalance is providing homes near jobs; Napa Pipe would provide 2,580 homes with more than 500 priced affordably.
Greenbelt Alliance supports Napa Pipe because we believe it will improve lives and be good for the environment.

To become a more sustainable place, Napa County simply must provide housing choices for the thousands of workers who help the local economy thrive.
When people have the option to live closer to their jobs, they can choose healthier lifestyles, more time at home, and less strain on their wallets.

The proposed Napa Pipe development is the best way to meet Napa County’s housing needs, shorten local commute times, and reuse this contaminated site.

People have to live somewhere.

On the one hand, we can build housing on farmland and open space, or we can transform a piece of long-abandoned land into a flourishing, sustainable neighborhood 15 minutes from downtown Napa.

We think the choice is clear.

Jeremy Madsen is executive director of Greenbelt Alliance.

This article was originally published in the Napa Valley Register.

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