Progress Towards Lake Berryessa Renaissance

Progress Towards Lake Berryessa Renaissance: Napa County Moves Forward

In an email to the Lake Berryessa News, Deputy Napa County Executive Officer Molly Rattigan reported that, “We are in the process of finalizing the marketing report with Ragatz Realty and the job description for the Concessionaire Manager for Lake Berryessa. Both should be final in early August and we’ll move to the bidding documents.  Plan is to release documents in September.”

Although the rebuilding process has been delayed several times, the latest being the COVID19 crisis, everyone following this process is breathing a sigh of relief that the wheels are, once again, at least turning.

The MPA’s first phase paves the way for the county to choose developers for three lakeside resort sites, Monticello Shores, Spanish Flat and Steele Canyon RecAreas.

Under Phase 2, by or before Nov. 1, 2030, the county will determine whether to take over  recreation management responsibility for two other sites -- Pleasure Cove Marina and Markley Cove Resort currently under multi-year contracts with Reclamation.

In Phase 3, by 2030 the county may elect to assume recreation management responsibility for Berryessa Point Recreation Area and Putah Canyon Recreation Area. (See Putah Canyon story on Page 2: Bureau of Reclamation Opens Ten Year Term Bids for Putah Canyon RecArea.)

In a statement to the North Bay Business Journal ( Rattigan said, “We plan to send out bidding packages by September. We maintain a list of interested parties and will provide information and updates about these emerging business opportunities.”

“It has been too long since we experienced a thriving Lake Berryessa,” said Supervisor Diane Dillon, chair of the Napa County Board of Supervisors. “We want to work with the community to restore economic vitality to the region surrounding one of Napa County’s most important recreational areas. We thank the Bureau of Reclamation for working with us and for providing the county the opportunity to bring back vibrant concessions at Lake Berryessa.”

Lake Berryessa Boat and Jet Ski Rentals and Repair Owner Marty Rodden hopes to see Spanish Flat, Monticello Shores and Steele Canyon redeveloped.

Although Lake Berryessa was closed for several months due the virus restrictions, since it opened last month the response from the public has been overwhelming - showing again that the lake is a major recreation draw. “We are booked up solid through August for our wakeboard, ski and pontoon boat rentals as well as for jet skis, fishing boats, kayaks and paddle board reservations,” Rodden said.

Rodden, a long-term local business owner with deep ties to the community believes, “A number of good companies plan to bid on one or more of these properties.”

Hopefully financially-solid recreation companies will recognize the profit potential described in so much detail in the Ragatz Report commissioned by the County in 2017: Lake Berryessa: An Untapped Resort Development Opportunity. (The full Ragatz Report is available at:

It is gratifying that the county is working once again with Ragatz to assist in writing the bid prospectus.

One enduring business, the Turtle Rock Bar & Café operated by Pete Leung for 40 years, regularly sees his parking lot packed with motorcycles, cars, trucks and boat trailers - even with the present health restrictions.

“The future is promising with opportunities for development, and property prices are going up,” said Leung, known for his famous egg rolls. “There is money to be made here if the county is willing to entertain new ideas, but we need to get resorts developed, new lodging, more restaurants, shower facilities as well as water and sewer infrastructure to support them.”

Most residents and regular visitors agree. The Ragatz report concluded, based on extensive input, analysis, and survey results that:

“The challenge and opportunity are to redevelop the five concession areas into resorts that more appropriately reflect the lifestyle of today’s participants in outdoor recreation – higher quality, more variety, greater convenience, more nature-based (but not forgetting the ever-popularity of motor boats and RVs), more family-oriented, etc.

If more care is given to these important trends, Lake Berryessa has the opportunity to: (1) become a significant year-round destination for the almost 10 million people in the Bay Area and Sacramento; (2) significantly impact the economy of Napa County; (3) be profitable to appropriately selected concessionaires; and (4) do so while maintaining and enhancing the natural environment.”

It is not the intent to make Lake Berryessa into a highly-commercialized, over-dense environment. Care must be taken to always balance the criteria of consumer demand, economic gain and protection of Lake Berryessa’s beautiful natural setting.”

This is 2020 - we know how to do that!                       © Peter Kilkus 2020