Napa Local invites local residents to visualize Downtown

Napa Local invites local residents to visualize Downtown

Napa Local invites local residents to visualize a Downtown that reflects our needs, which would include local businesses that serve local people. This vision of downtown Napa would sit firmly on the principles of the local economy where profit multiplies throughout the local community, thus benefitting local business owners and residents alike. In this scenario, profit stays local and is not removed from the community into corporate coffers. This vision of downtown would include truly unique storefronts and would add to our value as a quality destination AND place to live.

To cultivate this vision and foster a vibrant local economy, we need concerned residents to come together and create a Downtown that embraces local businesses and does not force them out.

Higher rents in Downtown Napa are threatening an increasing number of local businesses. The latest causality is Baker Street. For decades Baker Street has been a local fixture of Downtown Napa. But, now the owner of Baker Street is being forced to pay four times their current rent.

Locally owned Eye Works faced a similar fate months ago. Now, instead of a local business which helps strengthen the local economy, we have a Starbucks coming into the spot they vacated. This will remove even more profit from the local community.

Corporate chain stores cause nearby property rents to increase. An ordinance to regulate formula businesses would ensure that our Downtown is not invaded by corporate chains, thus keeping the rents affordable for local business owners.

Furthermore, our city council should explore the idea of rent control for commercial spaces. Rent control exists for residential spaces, why not for commercial spaces?

This is a crucial time for the future of Downtown Napa. Downtown Napa is on the cusp of revitalization. Several people are expecting to profit handsomely through the revitalization of Downtown Napa. As these property owners and developers impose their private vision upon Downtown Napa, where does the community stand? At what cost should these people be allowed to profit? At the cost of quality? At the cost of affordability? At the cost of losing our local economy?

Will our Downtown be sold to the highest bidder?

Downtown Napa is a common space which we all share, not a private project held by a select few individuals. Does the community even have a say over what our Downtown becomes?

Elections are coming up this November. Our candidates need to answer these questions clearly.

Will they side with property owners and developers? Or will they side with the local merchants and the average people?

- - - - -

Karen Garcia and Catherine George

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Alex Shantz August 31, 2012 at 12:58 AM
"Alex, you would like to take the decision away from the "handful of property owners and developers" and put it into the handful of people behind Napa Local... " No, I would like the decision to be made collaboratively with input from the entire community. An ordinance could set up a process to do just that. "It is also interesting to me that you would want government interference (or as you choose to call it here an ordinance) when my memory is telling me that on other topics you have said to keep government out of it." Yes, perhaps you do have me confused with a different Alex. I don't conceptualize it as "government interference". I conceptualize it as community participation. In a democracy, the government is the people. And, governments have the ability to establish processes to ensure everyone as an ability to help make decisions which impact us. These are very basic democratic principles that many institutions are based on.
Catherine George August 31, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Lorie - Yes indeed - great ideas, thanks! And yes, a poll is on its way. Stay tuned...
Catherine George August 31, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Lisa - Thanks for sharing. I agree that there are many things that most of us actually agree on. There is no reason to be so polarized. Thanks for the demographics link - very useful info. Napa Local is busy researching all options, and talking to local merchants to ask what they want, and what their needs are. At this point we are just talking and I think that's great. It is best to focus on solutions - how do we solve the issues, how do we create what we want, what works best?
Catherine George August 31, 2012 at 03:29 AM
D Doombos - I've heard this from many others as well: "Perhaps the problem is that there is no cohesive vision" That is exactly why Napa Local is asking people to visualize! Please picture what you would like to see downtown and post it here, thanks!
Penny September 03, 2012 at 07:06 PM
You are not going to like my comments but what we really need downtown is an anchor store like Macy's. Small business would build around such an anchor and offer goods other than the anchor. That is the way all successful shopping centers operate. I know the thought is not to do that in our downtown but it was the way downtown was successful years ago - it had Penney's, Montgomery Ward, Woolworth's and Albert's Dept. store. What is there now does not draw me downtown even though they schedule events. The anchor stores bring customers to the area and then they visit the independants. The downtown started to die years ago when Penney's was told by the city they could not sell items like appliances and furniture. That is why they left. Going to cute shops is fine for tourtists but you need the support of locals too.


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