Skyline Wilderness Park

by Kathy Felch, Board Member and Attorney at Law

The newly-minted Government Code section 11011.24, effective January 1, 2020, allows the State of California, the current owner of Skyline Wilderness Park, to sell some or all the land we know as Skyline Wilderness Park either to the County or to the Napa Regional Parks and Open Space District. Napa Vision 2050 supported and testified in support of the enabling legislation, urging amendments that would have required the sale of the entire parkland to one or the other of our local districts. Governor Newsom signed the legislation which was presented to him without the amendments we suggested. While the bill was wending its way through the legislative process, Governor Newsom directed the compilation of a list of under-utilized state-owned property which could be used for affordable housing. The state’s Department of General Services compiled this list. This is the same agency that administers the lease of Skyline Wilderness Park to Napa County. Unfortunately, DGS listed twenty acres of Skyline Wilderness Park adjacent to Imola Avenue as a site for the construction of affordable housing. This is part of the Park referred to as the “flat part” or the “lower 50.” We are working to remove this acreage from the DGS list so the entire Park can be sold to our local agency. Napa County develops a legislative platform each year to guide its actions and lobbying efforts. The process to develop this platform is open to the public. Napa Vision 2050 submitted suggestions for inclusion in the County’s Legislative Platform. One of these suggestions includes efforts the County can undertake to ensure our Skyline Wilderness Park as a whole remain a public park in perpetuity. We proposed and advocate for the following:

• Support Measure K on the March 2020 ballot to ensure funding will be available to purchase Skyline Wilderness Park for use as a public park and wilderness preserve.
• Engage in negotiations with the State to purchase the entirety of Skyline Wilderness Park, including the mineral rights, for use as a public park and wilderness preserve as described in Government Code section 11011.24 and for no other purpose.
• Closely follow and participate in the Napa State Hospital Master Planning process to ensure that the entirety of Skyline Wilderness Park remains a public park for residents and visitors of the Napa Valley dedicated to open space and wilderness preserve consistent with Skyline Wilderness Park Combination District and Government Code section 11011.24.
• Work with the State Department of Conservation, Division of Mining and Geologist to remove the mineral resource designation Section MM as inconsistent with Government Code section 11011.24 insofar as it requires that Skyline Wilderness Park remain a public park and wilderness preserve in perpetuity.
• Work with the State Department of General Services to remove the designation of any part of Skyline Wilderness Park from its list of real property appropriate for the construction of affordable housing.