I was not expecting LNV Planning Day to be as enjoyable as it was. Lucky Class #32 was ensconced in a cozy room at the Westin Verasa where we were treated to the expertise of a dozen enthusiastic, dynamic and diverse individuals involved in Napa city planning. From transportation to waterways to housing to economics, we learned the basics of how city projects go from idea to reality (or not).
After a healthy and delicious fall lunch by Chef Ken Frank at the hotel’s La Toque restaurant (did I mention lucky?), we broke into small groups and ventured into the late autumn sunshine to check out the former Cinedome and skate park sites. Each group used what we had learned in the morning about site restrictions and the needs of the community to brainstorm a project to present to Gordon Heuther, Jeri Hansen and Terry Scott, our “Planning Commission” for the afternoon.
Listening to each group’s pitch was entertaining and enlightening. Although there were a lot of similarities in the plans (underground parking, multi-story buildings, residential units) there were significant differences too. One group gave dog owner’s lots of consideration with a dog park and restaurants with outdoor seating. Another had roof top gardens as part of its plan. And another featured an art alley with roll up doors into artist live/work spaces that looked onto the historic stone buildings across the way.
The “Planning Commissioners” offered thoughtful and positive comments, pointing out items that wouldn’t fly with a real planning commission as well as ideas they thought were creative and solved the problems of the site in an original way. The entire day was a terrific blend of education and play. Personally I came away feeling like I had an enormously improved understanding of how city planning works.
Submitted by Angela Hoxsey, a participant in LNV Class 32.