Napa and Sonoma counties are in the early stages of rebuilding as the region recovers from the massive fires that decimated the region last year.
In a stroke of good timing, Calistoga, the city where the Tubbs fire began on Oct. 8, has already approved a condominium project for 50 units of sorely needed housing.
Housing has become an urgent need for those whose homes were destroyed in the fire. Last month, the Calistoga Vista development cleared the city’s planning commission; the city council votes on the project next week.
The Tubbs fire began Oct. 8 north of the city limits on Tubbs Lane. Fierce winds blew the fire into Sonoma County and Santa Rosa with devastating results. Calistoga lost 30 homes on the outskirts of the city.
Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning said the market-rate housing would be geared toward lower and middle-income residents—precisely those suffering from a dearth of available housing made worse by the fires.
Calistoga Vista, located on Grant Street, will offer 46 condominiums and four live/work townhomes. The development includes 18 studio units, 15 one-bedrooms homes, two two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom condos.
While Canning predicted a waiting list for applicants, it hasn’t yet been created. The new homes can’t come fast enough, but construction won’t begin until early 2019.
New development is often a contentious issue in Calistoga; the Vista project, however, appears to have been improved with minimal opposition. There were two public forums on the project last year. At the first one, no members of the public showed up. At the second, there were four people in attendance.
The project is designed to be eco-friendly. Napa-based architecture and construction firm Healthy Buildings created the project and designed it for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Solar power and other environmentally conscious technology will be part of the design, says Lisa Batto, managing principal at Healthy Buildings.
It’s only 50 homes, but with many people still displaced from the fires, it’s a start, says Canning.
Another well-timed development is the city’s new Boys & Girls Club, which began its first full year of use in 2018. The Napa Valley Vintners Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga clubhouse benefited from a $10.5 million capital campaign that drew from donors across Napa County. Had the fundraising campaign been waged after the fires, it would have faced competition from the many fire-recovery fundraising efforts.
The facility’s primary purpose is to serve the area’s youth, but its versatility may provide a bigger boon to the community, says Canning. The 14,000-square-foot clubhouse and kitchen double as a rental venue. Fundraising events are still being held to help those impacted by the fires, and the facility offers a venue for those events.
Canning hopes rental revenue for other events like weddings and quinceañeras will help keep the club’s coffers filled in the uncertain economic climate following the fires.