Bill Hocker | Jan 23, 2020
Chuck Dell'Ario LTE 1/23/20: On-site worker housing is the answer
Mr. Dell'Ario's letter is a very thoughtful proposal to include the provision of employee housing as an integral part of the development approval process. It comes (coincidentally?) on the same day that I happened to view a portion of the 1/23/20 meeting of the Napa County housing committee.
I have seldom looked at Napa County commission meetings beyond the Planning Commission and BOS meetings. When I started viewing, County Council Jason Dooley was making a presentation (agenda letter here
) on the Employee Housing Act
, a state program regulating the construction and maintenance of employee housing. The members of the commission were seeking the definition of farmworker housing. Specifically the question came up as to whether winery workers, including hospitality workers, are to be considered "farmworkers". It is a question that I, and others, posed some time ago
along with other implications of the County's changing definition of agriculture in 2017.
Farmworkers are defined, apparently, under the Employee Housing Act as employees of an "agricultural employer". He indicated that under county code, which defines the marketing of wine as an agricultural operation, hospitality workers might be considered "farmworkers". The California labor code also defines an agricultural employee and Mr. Dooley gave that definition in its entirety in his agenda letter. An agricultural employee, among the more expected jobs in agriculture, is also one who is involved in the "preparation for market and delivery to storage or to market". As we are constantly told, the wine market has changed and direct-to-consumer sales at wineries are the new market. What does "delivery to market" mean in this context? The county is already flirting with hotels on Ag land. Will the county now allow condo units to be built on Ag lands to accomodate winery hospitality staff in a tight housing market?