The proposed West Napa Street hotel soon faces a Measure B reverse yea or nay vote. A hotel is the best use of the property, and a good opportunity for the town in my view. Several items have been missing from the discussion.
This block of West Napa Street has been underutilized for years, so this is an opportunity to create.
The property will clearly not remain as is. Should the measure pass, the owner will face a new set of choices. Conforming use, non-commercial options are 32 single-family residences, or a three story residential development with a commercial district exception to a 40-foot-plus height. For commercial use, a Trader Joe’s would not be allowed, but a retail mini-mall would. Three, separate, 25-room hotels would be an ironic outcome. Voters should consider if any of the prior outcomes are preferable.
Also not discussed is the conversion of residential units to short-term vacation stays. Hundreds of them in this Valley are openly advertised, an unknown number are available privately. These conversions are filling market demand. However, this competes with another market, contributing to a shortage of rental housing and rising rents for locals. Almost perversely, a shortage of hotel rooms can be related to a shortage of rental housing.
Sonoma citizens can vote either “No, I do,” or “Yes, I don’t” on Measure B, but considering the entire picture is the best plan.