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?
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Karen Garcia and Catherine George
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