Yountville council approves; Calistoga, county expected next

NAPA — All but one of Napa County's cities are officially on board to join a regional marketing effort as Yountville voted to support a tourism business improvement district in conjunction with the Napa Valley Destination Council.

Calistoga, while supportive of the TBID, will officially vote on the matter on April 20. The vote was pushed back to accommodate an absent member of the council.

Citing no fiscal impact by the respective chambers of commerce, the Yountville City Council last week agreed to adopt a resolution expressing support for the TBID, which would implement a 2 percent assessment on visitor’s fees that will be distributed into a marketing fund with the Destination Council.

The Calistoga Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the TBID, and Destination Council spokesman David Turgeon said there is “wide support” there.

David Shipman of Vintage Estate Group in Yountville lobbied the council to support the TBID, comparing Sonoma County’s destination marketing fund of an estimated $6 million countywide to the Destination Council’s comparatively anemic annual operating budget of $437,000 to promote Napa County.

“We’re behind, and needless to say the lodging community has suffered in occupancy and rates,” said Mr. Shipman, who coordinated the Yountville petition to hoteliers to gain support. “We think this is a good vehicle. At this time, I believe it’s in the best interest of the community and the properties and the county.”

Now that the city councils of Napa, St. Helena, American Canyon and Yountville have expressed support – and with Calistoga likely to join later this month – the county board of supervisors must wait for petitions from all hotel owners in the county to gauge their support.

In order for the TBID to pass at the county level, the board needs to have a simple majority of 51 percent from hoteliers approving the TBID, according to Larry Florence of the Napa County Planning Department. And before each individual city could officially endorse the TBID, 51 percent of hotel owners in each jurisdiction needed to sign petitions expressing support, according Mr. Turgeon.

Preliminary collective support from hoteliers around the county is promising, Mr. Florence said, and Mr. Turgeon said the simple majority threshold has been met in each city.

“By far and away, people feel that the TBID is currently the best method of obtaining sustainable funding for Napa County,” Mr. Turgeon said.

Yountville Town Manager Steven Rogers wrote in a staff report to the council that the city stands to receive between $150,000 and $170,000, which would be used for “Yountville-focused tourism and marketing-related programs” based on Transit Occupancy Tax returns. “The proposed Napa Valley TBID will likely have an overall positive impact on the town of Yountville,” the report said.

According to the Napa Valley Destination Council, the countywide effort could raise up to $4 million. Each municipality would contribute 75 percent of generated revenue to a countywide fund while receiving 25 percent for local tourism marketing. The 2 percent self-assessment from hotel owners would be in addition to the various local TOTs.

Each municipality will be required to form an oversight committee, and a countywide oversight committee will consist of eight hoteliers, a representative from each city, one person from the county and one representative from the Destination Council.

The county will introduce a resolution of intent to adopt the TBID on April 27. A final hearing will be held on June 15. If approved, implementation of the TBID is expected by July 1.