Report #240, September 2017
In this report, the Commission calls for calls for bold and innovative approaches to transform the historic 615-acre campus in the heart of Napa Valley to better meet the changing needs of veterans statewide. This report builds on recommendations the Commission made in its 2016 report, A New Approach to California’s Veterans Homes, in which the Commission identified critical infrastructures issues on the historic Yountville veterans home that pose a public safety risk to residents and others.
This update report acknowledges efforts by the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to address some of these issues, particularly to fix the faulty elevators. However, despite repairs, the problems persist. The report calls for CalVet to develop ongoing and proactive strategies to monitor and repair structural problems immediately as they arise, while at the same time evaluating and re-configuring, as necessary, its homes program to ensure that the levels of care offered meet the needs of California’s veterans population.
The Commission recommends that California establish an independent entity to plan, design and manage the use of the Yountville property, beyond the current veterans home program. New uses could include affordable housing for veterans home employees and others, park space for residents and visitors, modernized office space in formerly underutilized buildings and a hotel and restaurants to serve the community while providing jobs for returning veterans. Though the Commission recommends the property should maintain a strong veterans focus, state law should be adapted to expand the use of the campus to allow long-term leasing agreements that generate revenue to be used for other veterans services across the state.