|Sep 1, 2015|
Update 7/1/16: Alfredo Pedroza was elected Supervisor of District 4 with 56% of the vote. There will be a runoff in November between Mark Luce and the developers' candidate, Ryan Gregory. The Woodland Protection Initiative received more than enough signatures to place it on the ballot in November, but was voided on a technicality by the County Council and that decision is now being appealed by the sponsors of the initiative.
County Districts Map
The District 4 race
Diane Shepp's website
Chris Malan's website
Alfredo Pedroza's website
2015 Campaign contributions Jan-May
2015 Campaign contributions Jul-Dec
2016 Campaign contributions Jan-Apr
2015 Campaign Contributions Sep-Dec
2016 Campaign Contributions Jan-Apr
Woodland Protection Initiative of 2016
NVR 10/9/16: Gregory, Luce plan different futures in wake of Napa supervisor race
St Helena Star 11/8/16: Koberstein, Ellsworth lead St. Helena City Council race
NVR 10/30/16: Gregory holds fundraising lead in Napa supervisors race
NVR 10/6/16: Luce, Gregory discuss how to govern Napa's wine world
SH Star 10/1/16: Candidate profile: Geoff Ellsworth
NVR 7/12/16: Napa County places open space tax on November ballot
NVR 6/9/16: Mainstream candidates prevail in Board of Supervisors elections
NVR 5/14/16: Measures on the June ballot (updated)
Ron Rhyno LTE 5/29/16: Governing for sustainable growth
Ginny Simms LTE 5/12/16: Former supervisor supports Shepp
NVR 4/30/16: Pedroza breaks $200,000 in fundraising
Ester Akersloot LTE 5/3/16: Vote to protect our environment
NVR 4/29/16: Supervisor, Assembly candidates meet in forum
Christina Benz LTE: Support Diane Shepp for supervisor
NVR 4/24/16: Tax measures on your June Ballot
NVR Editorial Bd 4/24/16: Stark choice in District 4
NVR Editorial Bd 4/16/16: Difficult choices in District 2
Donald Williams LTE 4/13/16: Support Shepp for supervisor
Joanna Muth LTE 4/5/16: Vote for Diane Shepp for Supervisor
NVR 4/5/16: Supervisor candidates tackle environmental issues
NVR 3/29/16: State, local efforts underway to protect oaks
Gordon Evans LTE 3/16/16: Were we at the same meeting?
NVR 3/16/16: Supervisor candidates tackle winery rules debate
NVR 3/15/16: Supervisor races taking shape
NVR 3/12/16: Initiative proponents hope to defuse opposition
Carl Bunch LTE 2/22/16: Supporting Shepp for supervisor
Gordon Evans LTE 2/18/16: Maybe he did answer after all
Paul Moser LTE 2/15/16: Pity the poor supervisor
Glynda Velasco LTE 2/10/16: Supporting Chris Malan for supervisor
Dell'Ario LTE 2/9/16: Question candidates' objectivity after contributions
NVR 2/3/16: Pedroza's fundraising dwarfs supervisorial field
NVR 1/27/16: Proposed initiative targets watershed protection
Haley Rekdahl LTE 1/25/16: In support of Chris Malan for supervisor
NVR 1/24/16: The race for candidate endorsements is well underway
John Dunlap LTE 1/22/16: Support Malan for supervisor
NVR 1/7/16: Supervisor Chairman Pedroza touts housing, transportation agenda
NVR 12/14/15: Environmentalist Chris Malan enters supervisor race
NVR LTE 12/15/15: Massive new local taxes coming?
NVR 12/3/15: School district weighing bond for next year
NVR 9/16/15: Gregory enters District 2 Supervisor race
NVR 9/1/15: Luce, Anderson will compete for supervisor seat
NVR 8/31/15: Pope's resignation creates Planning Commission vacancy
NVR 8/27/15: Supervisor Caldwell not running for reelection
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Nov 9th, 2016. No words can possibly express...
|Bill Hocker - Nov 9, 2016 12:26AM Share
On the day after the 2016 election I want to rant about the further shift of the Board of Supervisors into the developers' pocket and to rave about the consistent sanity of the voters of St Helena in confronting tourism development, but the election of an egotistical bully, liar, misogynist, xenophobe, racist, autocrat, con-man (and building developer) as President of the United States leaves all other concerns quite incidental and subordinate. Even barring apocalypse (a nuclear bomb in response to some international slight, say), the potential future of every institution that separates first world democracies from third world autocracies is now up for grabs. The realization that half of the American electorate has placed their anger, hopes and fears in the hands of a sociopathic snake-oil salesman - in the 21st century - leaves one at a loss for words.
Geoff Ellsworth for St Helena City Council (updated)
Vote for Supervisor Luce!
|Bill Hocker - Nov 4, 2016 2:36PM Share
NVR Editorial Board: The choice for 2nd District
Sup. Luce doesn't need (and probably doesn't want) my endorsement, but I'll offer it anyway. Vote for Mark Luce for District 2 Supervisor
As a supporter of development projects in the south county and of the expansion of the tourism industry, Sup. Luce may not seem like the perfect candidate for those interested in the preservation of Napa's open space and natural resources. All of this development has led to traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing, loss of local businesses, increased taxes for infrastructure, building projects in the vineyards and threats to the water supply and natural beauty of the county.
But he is being challenged in this election precisely because he had the courage to recognize that unlimited development may no longer be sustainable if the goal is to maintain a county devoted to agriculture and a rural environment (more here
). Developers see him as going soft on development, and have drafted their own candidate In opposition, one that brazenly proposes hilltop houses on his campaign poster.
Being soft on development is exactly what we need if the rural Napa that we know and treasure is to survive, because developers have very different plans for our future. Sup. Luce has shown at least a spark of independence from the developer lobby, a rare and valuable asset in the road ahead. For district 2 voters (and all us other Napans) who like where they live, the choice is clear.
Crony capitalism in Napa?
Diane Shepp is fighting for our future
|Ginny Simms - May 13, 2016 8:28AM Share
I am going to vote for Diane Shepp for supervisor on Election Day, and here’s why.
Diane has been supporting our art and educational communities for many years, and served two terms on our grand jury. What is important now is that she is thoughtful about future of our neighborhoods , and that she is one tough lady when it involves protecting our water supplies and our agriculture/open spaces.
Unlike some candidates, Diane Shepp doesn’t accept thousands of dollars from a wealthy helicopter owner, nor is she afraid of a big landowner/donor who plans to remove 24,000 oak trees, to replace them with vineyards, a water system and new roads.
These 35 parcels are at the top of the watershed that feeds the Napa City drinking water reservoir, and also feeds a large swath of the Coombsville MST. The city of Napa is concerned that heavy rains will overtake the runoff berms and send pesticides and mud into the reservoir.
These 35 parcels will also be developable as a large housing subdivision.
Diane is courageously fighting the size of the Syar mine expansion, because there is no measurement of the local life-threatening silicates blowing onto nearby homes and Skyline Park. (There are not even plans to measure these deadly particles during or after the expansion!) Diane Shepp supports local industries, but believes that health is most important.
Wine sales at the wineries are essential for success. But what if the 450 wineries have events that draw hundreds of visitors several times a year? Our local roads, even Silverado Trail, are maintained by local dollars, and are threatened by heavy congestion. Diane Shepp believes we should measure the cumulative effects on our health and our taxes before approvals.
Diane is the only candidate who is calling our attention to Napa’s high cancer rate. Are we causing this ourselves?
These positions may not be popular with the other candidates right now, but Diane Shepp is fighting for our future. Speak up, and vote for Diane Shepp.
Water, Forest, & Oak Woodland Protection Initiative of 2016
|Bill Hocker - Mar 13, 2016 9:14AM Share
This post now has its own page here
The Initiative website
The Initiative Facebook page
The Initiative Text
NVR 3/29/16: State, local efforts underway to protect oaks
NVR 3/12/16: Initiative proponents hope to defuse opposition
NVR 1/27/16: Proposed initiative targets watershed protection
(The property-rights argument is already being advanced against the initiative in the comments. The hedging of property rights through zoning and ordinances, of course, is the reason an agricultural economy and the Napa wine industry exists.)
In the 1980's, with the Napa Valley floor almost fully developed in vineyards and a continuing flow of wannabes wishing to fulfill their Napa dreams, vineyard development in the hilly watershed areas surrounding the valley began to take off. Following several vineyard clearing projects in the late 1980's that resulted in land erosion and river sedimentation, Napa county passed Conservation Regulations
in 1991 that established stream setbacks and maximum deforestation limits.
By 2002 it was apparent to some that the effectiveness of the 1991 measures were in doubt, given the magnitude of development in the watersheds, unless more protective measures were put in place. A stringent ordinance was proposed by environmentalists in 2002. In 2003 the Board of Supervisors passed a short term stream setback ordinance, banning commercial development within 25-150' from streams. Two measures were placed on the 2004 ballot in response: Measure O, an outgrowth of the 2002 effort, was created with 350-1000' setbacks and limits on deforestation. A counter Measure P, was created by the wine industry in line with the BOS 2003 ordinance. Both measures were defeated after a campaign by "land steward" property rights advocates.
In 2001 the State of California established an oak woodlands conservation fund to provide funding for the protection of oak woodlands. In 2010 a Voluntary Oak Woodland Management Plan
was produced by Napa stakeholders and adopted by the county as a voluntary plan to be used by entities that wanted to tap into the conservation fund. This document serves as the current basis for woodland protection in the county.
Since 1991 vast areas of the watersheds have been deforested and the landscape in the hills, seen on google maps, now resembles Vietnam after the war rather than the forests that once defined the hills around the valley. In some areas like the Rector watershed pictured here the deforestation is substantial. And another 300 acres of vineyard conversion is currently under review by the county.
As the California drought continues, concern has again heightened over the loss of forest and woodlands that retain and filter surface water for municipal reservoirs, over the depletion of groundwater and toxic runoff from ever more agriculture, and over the urban development of the watersheds for tourism facilities and vineyard housing estates. The relationship between the deforestation process and GHG emmisions has also become a concern in the county's climate action plan. The threat to the water resources and the rural environment of the county has never been greater. As with the impact of expanding tourism and industrial development on traffic and affordable small town community on the valley floor, the question of the long term viability of the watersheds and the commitment to the sustainable rural community envisioned in the county general plan is now back on the agenda.
NVR 3/4/04: Setback for setbacks: O, P lose
SF Gate 2/27/04: Napa Valley divided over competing land-use measures (O & P)
NVR 1/8/04: Advocates line up behind ballot measures O and P
LTE 7/11/03: Setback foes feed fear, lack facts
John Tuteur LTE 4/2/03: Setbacks might boost land values
NVR articles on the the 2002-2004 conservation battle
Napa County Conservation Regulations (1991, 2007)
County Voluntary Oak Woodland Management Plan (2010)
James Conaway: The Far Side of Eden: New Money, Old Land, and the Battle for Napa Valley The watershed conservation battle at the turn of the millennium.
Mr. Pedroza's town hall meeting at Vichy
|Gordon Evans - Feb 19, 2016 7:51AM Share
I haven’t seen any reporting on this event in the Napa Valley Register, so I thought I’d share a couple of my takeaways from Alfredo Pedroza's town fall meeting at Vichy Elementary on Feb. 10.
The meeting was well-attended, overwhelmingly so by opponents of the proposed Palmaz heliport, including myself. They were quite vociferous. To his credit, Mr. Pedroza remained tolerant, cool and calm, ever the politician. He endeavored to cover a variety of subjects concerning the county and its citizenry, and did so despite frequent interruptions. His main response mantra for the evening was, “I hear you.”
Notably, there was one gentleman who repeatedly interjected himself into the dialogue to defend and/or clarify Pedroza’s position as a "sitting supervisor,” This spokesperson’s condescending manner, being counter to Mr. Pedroza’s more folksy manner, left me wondering whose town meeting it really was. Although he was not introduced, I learned that he was Jim Jones, local attorney and former Napa City Councilman.
Of particular concern to me is the list of Pedroza’s campaign donors, information easily accessible at the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office. While it’s perfectly understandable that a majority of Pedroza’s donors represent the wine and tourism industries, my focus was on environmental issues he pointedly did not address. So, I asked him the following question:
“We all know that money is the mother’s milk of politics, and according to documents filed by you with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, in 2015, you received almost $20,000 from Hall (Walt Ranch), Syar (expansion) and the Palmazs - all entities that have environmentally-sensitive projects pending with the County. If they come before you to vote on, are you prepared to recuse yourself?”
Pedroza’s partial answer was basically that he was very grateful to all his donors, and he would never consider returning any money, as he saw no conflict of interest. Before he directly answered the question, he handed the microphone to Mr. Jones, who stated, “that’s not a legal issue, but a moral one.” Pedroza then moved on to other questions without giving a definitive answer. Maybe.
On second thought, perhaps that response was the answer.
NVR version 2/18/16: Maybe he did answer after all
Where the money is
|Bill Hocker - Feb 5, 2016 6:00PM Share
NVR 2/3/16: Pedroza's fundraising dwarfs supervisorial field
The purpose of this site has been to advocate for an end to the continuing urban development of Napa County in the belief that all development projects threaten, in the words of the Napa County General Plan vision statement, the "agricultural lands and rural character that we treasure" here.
The heavy-hitter donor list of Sup. Pedroza's campaign is a rogue's gallery of the individuals planning to profit off further development. Several have projects currently in the planning pipeline that will eventually have to be approved by the Supes. Though it seems a conflict of interest, it is hardly unusual that people with large business interests would finance the campaigns of politicians that will decide the fate of their future projects. Still, we keep hoping for some level of integrity in governmental service.
Mr. Pedroza, not yet 30, is already a polished and personable politician who will, no doubt, follow in the footsteps of his predecessor in seeking good faith compromises with development opponents that allow the development to go forward. But the magnitude of his contributions states the reality. He is the developer's candidate, and we must expect that the rate of development that has brought traffic congestion, affordable housing/local business loss, deforestation and resource depletion, and a rural landscape now littered with building projects is unlikely to be lessened under his supervision. The status-quo urbanization will continue and the rural character that we treasure will, in time, be gone. He will have numerous opportunities in the coming months to prove this assessment wrong and I very much hope he does so.
The campaign begins
|Bill Hocker - Jan 7, 2016 5:30PM Share
NVR 1/7/16: Supervisors Chairman Pedroza touts housing, transportation agenda
Supervisor Pedroza has laid out a couple of planks to his campaign platform. They are in line with ideas promoted by the Napa Valley Vintners
at the conclusion of APAC and since, namely that the problems confronting the county and generating the ire of residents are traffic and lack of affordable housing. Some, of course, might see these as merely symptoms of the continuous expansion of the tourism industry and non-napa-wine industry that bring ever more jobs and more traffic and the need for more affordable housing.
His proposal for a shuttle bus system, both for tourists and workers, perhaps from large parking structures at the airport, is not an unreasonable attempt to reduce traffic. As with any public transit system paying for it would be difficult, but compared to the cost of widening highways (an approach he appropriately renounces) it might pencil out. A tram running on the wine train tracks as far as the airport should also be considered.
The concept of building affordable housing is a little more difficult to imagine, given the years spent trying to find sites before the county grasped at the Napa Pipe proposal. The cost of the 190 units of affordable housing at Napa Pipe was 750 market rate units, 200,000 sf of commercial industrial space, a hotel, elderly center and a Costco. More low paid workers will be needed by the project than can be accommodated in the affordable housing created leaving the county in worse housing shape than had the project not been built. The infrastructure impacts of the project (mostly unfunded) will be enormous, and it is a guarantee that traffic jams will only increase.
New affordable housing projects should be pursued on infill lots in the cities subsidized with mitigation fees paid by tourism and industrial developments, but let's recognize that such approaches are difficult to realize and will not even fill the needs of the new workers needed, let alone alleviate current shortages.
The more logical approach to affordable housing would be to try to stop the hemorrhaging of housing units used for short term rentals. Perhaps hundreds of housing units in the county might become a bit more affordable absent the profits to be made from airbnb. The strategies that cities and the county might use to to make existing housing affordable deserve at least as much effort to find a solution as the grueling process of trying to develop new affordable housing. After pursuing the non-profit new housing approach, Our Town St Helena
is now pursuing the subsidization of existing housing.
But neither the expansion of the transportation system or the creation of affordable housing will do anything to solve those problems as long as development projects proceed at their current rate. Developers have shown a consistent ability to generate jobs and visitor experiences in Napa faster than any mitigations can possibly cope with. Let's remember that 120 new or expanded wineries are in the works representing over a million new tourist slots. Over 3000 market rate housing units are on the way. 2000 hotel rooms. Several million sf of commercial space. These projects
will be adding to the existing traffic and need for affordable housing long before any of our ideas on traffic or affordable housing are realized.
Job creation in most places is a good thing. But a place where the object is to maintain an agricultural economy, in which a "sustainable rural community" is enshrined in the vision statement of its general plan, an ever increasing amount of development necessary for an ever increasing workforce and tourist population will eventually fill up the fields. Yes, traffic and affordable housing should be worked on. But until the rate of new development is halted, it is a fool's errand.
PRESS RELEASE: Diane Shepp is in
|Bill Hocker - Sep 11, 2015 4:06PM Share
NVR 9/11/15: Shepp enters Board of Supervisors race
Community Leader Diane Shepp throws her hat into the Supervisor Race
Community leader and former teacher Diane Shepp has declared her candidacy for the District 4, Napa County Supervisor seat in the upcoming June 2016 primary election.
Community development and education are the primary focus’ of Shepp’s professional career as a teacher (Vichy Elementary), nonprofit administrator, fund developer, and artist. Shepp, a third generation Californian, was the first and only member in her immediate family to graduate from college. She and her husband Alan have raised two daughters since moving to the Napa Valley in 1984.
When asked why she decided to run for County Supervisor, Shepp replied, “In the past 6-8 years I have witnessed a dramatic change in the Napa Valley and I am disturbed by what has been happening. We moved here for the natural beauty and quality of life of a rural community. The dark quiet skies at night were spectacular. The vineyards and wineries were primarily on the Valley floor. From any given point in the Valley you could be in an oak woodland in 20 minutes on a bicycle. Traffic was manageable.”
Shepp continued, “I have been listening to what the local neighborhood coalition groups are saying about the trucking of Napa City water to support hillside vineyards while local residents are asked to let their lawns go brown. The preservation of our watersheds is critical to the wine industry as well as the protection of agriculture. The cumulative effects of the growth of the hospitality industry is also of concern.”
Shepp is concerned about the future of Napa County and believes there are things that can be done, “if we begin now to implement measurers that positively address voters concerns.” The primary election is a little less than nine months away. “We have a lot of work to do to up the level of awareness. This may be my first Board of Supervisor race, however it’s the first Supervisor race for my opponent as well and the voters will now have a voice in who is chosen to represent them.”
The Planning Commission and eventually the County Board of Supervisors will soon have the opportunity to review the recommendations of Agricultural Protection Advisory Committee (APAC). “We must address the quality of life of local residents and neighborhoods. Can the working middle class, the backbone of our country afford to live here? Can locals easily drive to and from their jobs? to the grocery store? to the hospital? Is the current Board of Supervisors considering the health, welfare and safety of local residents equally with the monied investment interests? We will see how they address these concerns.”
Shepp served on the Napa County Grand Jury 2007-2008 and as Pro-Tempore of the 2008-2009 Grand Jury; President of the Napa County Chapter of the California Grand Jurors Association (CGJA) 2010-2011 and 2012-15; and is currently the Vice President of the statewide California Grand Jurors’ Association. A highlight of her CGJA tenure was in 2013. She was honored as the Angelo Rolando Memorial Award recipient, one of CGJA’s most prestigious awards. The award is presented each year to the person who has demonstrated outstanding participation at both the state and county level in support of CGJA’s goals and objectives, applied excellent leadership skills, and effectively accomplished goals and projects.
Appointed by the Napa County Board of Supervisors in 2007, to the Napa County Commission for Arts and Culture, Shepp sat as Chair of the Commission 2009-2012. She has held executive positions with the John Muir Festival Center, the Napa County Arts Council, the Solano County Arts Alliance, the University Art Museum Council-University of California, Berkeley, Napa Emergency Women’s Services and the Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County.
Active at the local, state and national levels, Shepp is a founding board member of the Napa Valley Opera House Inc., Ag 4 Youth- Upvalley Ranchers, Napa Vision 2050, Protect Rural Napa and the Soda Canyon/Loma Vista Land Stewards. Shepp also served as a founding board member and Past President of the California Assembly of Local Arts Agencies; Past President of the Volunteer Council of the di Rosa Preserve: Art & Nature; Past President of Vichy Elementary Alternative PTA; served on the original faculty of Leadership Napa; and a former member of the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies Leadership Committee.
Shepp is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the Getty Leadership Institute. A charter member of the Golden West Women Flyfishers, Shepp enjoys fly-fishing, and travel when not in her art studio.
Announcement PDF is here
The 2016 election is upon us!
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