Napa Vision 2050 (NV): Why are you running and what sets you apart from the other candidates in your district?
Garrett Hale (GH): I am not at liberty to define what sets me apart from the other candidates, as there are many facets of their lives that I or the public may not be aware of at this time. Readers will be able to draw their own conclusions based on our responses. What I can tell you is that the many facets of business experiences I have led me to be a critical thinker, which is so important in a construction and excavation environment, as well as a steward to surrounding myself with individuals of high(er) intellect and success with whom I can collaboratively make decisions. I am a Contractor, working with the local workforce daily. I have been a local and foreign businessman, holding a corporate position in contracting, retail, marketing, real estate lending, mining, and solar. As a Napa Native of Hispanic descent, I want to preserve the greatness of the Valley and its heritage, which draws millions annually from all over the world, while improving the beauty and operations to a World-Class example of how a World Class destination should look and operate.
NV: What areas need improvement for the BOS? What are your solutions/suggestions?
GH: Many people have voiced opinions of concern, all the while not realizing the enormous capacity of venues that the Board of Supervisors must oversee. Areas for improvement are Transparency, more effort to announce, publish, print, or post signage, to give public awareness of current venues, progressions, and needs of the community. A simple example we are familiar with would be a road/ highway sign, showing funding requirements, targets, and achievements, where the public can visually see their tax dollars at work. In addition, and as recently mentioned in a B.O.S. meeting, the public needs to be encouraged to step up as well, and make themselves aware of the topics at the beginning stages of development, rather than after an issue has gone to vote; this can be easily achieved by attending more board meetings but seems to not be a path by the local residents for reasons such as work hours, cumbersome parking, time off work, etc. In an economically challenged environment for the working class here, I can see how those issues may be valid. Therefore, an alternative idea would be a public signboard with a quick synopsis of agenda items that are up for Board of Supervisors’ review, or to be on upcoming elections, along with their status. This type of public display on an electronically fed board would give the public easy access, (say in front of the courthouse or the old clocktower plaza/ Dwight Murry Plz) along with a greater feeling of transparency. I feel that many local residents would perceive a greater sense of transparency and become more aware as the electronic board would be a more natural attraction and convenience that may in turn lead to public discussion amongst the community.
NV: What are your personal actions and involvements in advocacy for our social inequities? (such as housing, food insecurity, language access, LGBTQ+, racism, etc.)
GH: I have been engaged in business and employment of most of the different socio-economical residents, not local advocacy boards or organizations. I have worked with the labor community in Napa and have always paid one of the highest, if not highest wages because I believe in rewarding production and efficiency. I have always pushed all employees, many of which have been part of the Hispanic community, to rise up and become integrated with the Native-born citizens by promoting them internally or to fellow employers who would pay more for production and quality, regardless of background; Many went on to open their own businesses and have been able to sustain the cost of living here in Napa. I have even housed and hired a few homeless Napans. One later became a schoolteacher abroad and another a local business owner of a fly-fishing company. In addition, my family upbringing has been of Hispanic descent where my Hispanic grandmother, who often lived with us, taught us Spanish as a second alternative while being surrounded by foster brothers and sisters as well as my dear sister who had the strength to go through the tribulation of marring her wife at a time when laws were just breaking through and controversy was high here in California. I have a very positive outlook on humanity that simply focuses on respect over personal background or choice.
NV: Talk a little about your personal journey to understanding climate change. If you ever had a call to action, what was it?
GH: Climate change is a multi-tiered topic and issue still under great study by world-renowned scientists; That said, we should rather focus on what is right for humanity and nature. If we focus on clean air because of potential climate change and pollution, then it can become controversial and lengthy in scientific and historical deliberation, but if we take respect, as our foundation, and focus on how the same topics will have an impact on improving our health and the environment around us, then we increase the likelihood of coming to common ground. We must as well look at the global impact; according to the International Energy Agency, 2020, Energy-related emissions of Carbon dioxide in the PRC have increased 80% between 2005 and 2019, while US energy-related emissions dropped by more than 15 % during the same period. For a gross synopsis, if we were encumbering 80% of the effort toward conservation while a few other parts of the world are contributing to 80% of the pollution, then we need to become less dependent on those countries who are producing gross waste to produce our consumed items and or look at ways to offset; there is not enough time in this brief response to properly extrapolate on the diverse processes of international emission mitigations, but one can quickly deduce the possibilities of shifting financial and study group support to a country or countries who are engaging in 100% waste pollution wherein their currencies are in the ranges of 10,000 to 1 US dollar and offer a tremendously greater amount of pollution mitigation for the money.
Another blatant and visual example of consumer-generated pollution is the fuel burned in the international transportation of goods, having a tremendous environmental impact on the ocean and atmosphere, not to mention the massive accumulation of disposable plastic products that often end up back in the natural environment. My business travels to West Africa led me to understand how, while many first world countries are beginning to expense greater costs on further managing our already existing recycling efforts, these countries were disposing of masses of plastic and debris floating down rivers into the ocean, and those not close to rivers and tributaries, being burned in the streets and roads due to the lack of ANY refuse or recycling. I strongly feel we must always focus our topics on common ground. Isn’t the goal of most of humanity to live life to its fullest extent. The SOLUTION most often is based around “are we doing our best?” Once again, respect for one another and respect for the world we live in.
NV: Climate change is not coming – it is already here. Napa County has yet to pass a Climate Action Plan. What are your goals and recommendations for Napa County?
GH: I feel that for now, we should expedite the planning process of an action plan by exposing the simple solutions of conservation. We need to look at efficient processes like exploring reusable versus disposable products which impact, labor costs, fuel costs, pollution, and reliance on foreign manufacturing.
Traffic mitigation: Standing traffic has a huge impact on the clean air: regardless of whether electric or gas, we often forget that at minimum, we are burning resources to keep the inside of the car at a moderate temperature and burning additional energy by the inertia required from start-stop.
I feel focusing on an expedited plan of conservation, would be the appropriate current action as our limited resources from our current budget, needs to first find ways of more efficiently managing some budgets or generating funds, to create a financial source to be first put toward the solutions for those suffering in our community; We should be able to quickly address both.
NV: What is your understanding of California’s water resources? How do you intend to use your knowledge to inform and lead on Napa county’s water issues? What responsibility does the BOS have in establishing water security for Napa County residents, both rural and within city limits?
GH: We need to look at storage, some new and some from conservation; Again, a multi-tiered study and understanding of the true values of supply, usage, evapotranspiration, etc., EX: Simply eliminating the enormous amount of water sent down the storm drains from fire hydrants when there is sediment in the city water would be a good example of conservation. We have filters, and we have water delivery companies that are under severe pressure to balance water distribution from a then less than abundant water supply in the city. The storage of wasted water would also generate revenue for local water delivery companies and additional revenue for the county. We must also address the Concerning state-level decisions such as a nearly 30-year unsuccessful attempt to save the delta smelt, wherein the state of California has known we are heading into a multi-year drought, but Northern reservoir managers have continued to release water through the delta, and into the Pacific…. [ California Globe 2021] Although there is no way to extrapolate here within. We must work to push the state to follow through versus stagnation; we must address the pressures put upon us by the state for additional housing and therefore water usage, while being subjected to water conservation requirements, as the state delays in such matters as the water storage projects already funded by the multibillion-dollar proposition 1 in 2014.
Lastly, we must work together with the conservationists to understand what areas of the watershed (new water collection, not groundwater) could be developed with the least amount of environmental impact and the understanding that a potential land swap (un- developing a currently developed property which is sitting defunct in a surrounding area or another city) , could be made wherein that defunct property could be developed for wildlife to offset the new watershed area; there are many multi-acre paved and warehouse properties just sitting.
NV: What is your understanding of current land use issues regarding deforestation?
GH: My understanding is that we are continually pushing to develop properties laden by forest, but it is not just the forest removal that is of concern, related to regrowth, or replanting in another location or the same location, and then removed after vines begin to yield, rather the need for complex studies that have to be performed such as but not limited to, botanical, biological, evapotranspiration, erosion, and wildlife relocation. We are not identifying enough of the long-term effects, and we are still discussing old study habits such as watersheds instead of groundwater reserves; watersheds were measures and discussions related to farming and housing long ago, prior to the massive development of our now heavily impacted vineyard valley and current climate. Secondly, from my research, I do not see that we have attempted to look at co-op development that would offer solutions to forest fire breaks/ mitigation while sufficing the entrepreneurial gratification of a Personal Wine Label, and potentially offering a no-cost or low-cost involvement of the local Napa Valley College or even UC Davis viticulture program
NV. What are your concerns regarding the watersheds, water usage, and biodiversity within high fire-prone areas? How would these impact your decision on upcoming applications?
GH: We need more watersheds: where vineyards exist(ed) and large trees once stood, there is an effect by a watershed that was “held” by the canopies and root systems, that eventually traveled into the tributaries, watersheds, and even aquifers. This would need to be addressed with an appropriate in-depth study, which I have yet to see. There are so many facets to this topic, even the potential of repurposing a vineyard that has become defunct or ripped out for infestation: since we can not reverse the deforestation in that particular plot, then maybe we can utilize this type of situation for watershed development. Owners could be incentivized in a multitude of ways both monetarily and by land swap. Decisions would have to be made in a case-by-case situation; property in a low-impact area would not have the same level of impactful concern as a property at the head of a watershed.
9: One of the latest policy controversies was the Walt Ranch decision. Could you please share your understanding of the different sides of this issue as well as how you would have voted if you were on the Board? The situation has many holes and is still short on full disclosure and scientific studies (some of which were mentioned earlier), but most importantly, for the applicant and the county of Napa, the time decay has cost both entities an enormous amount of financial burden and time decay, which could have been put to use in many other much-needed venues: more waste!
I would have addressed the development feasibility early on, looked at the obvious physical property connections and personal connections, and addressed whether there was a conflict. I would have done my best to intervene and not allow a board member to be put in the current situation: we are supposed to work together, with the community for the greater good. The board needs to be a consortium of trustworthy individuals who honestly work together to be the stewards of the county and an example of strong community support and leadership
NV: Have any current or future land use applicants, to your knowledge, reached out to you to donate money or goods to your campaign?
NV: What suggestions do you have to increase involvement and public participation for residents throughout the county and particularly Spanish-speaking residents?
GH: We need to bring back community centers: other counties have rec, swimming, etc., why not Napa, the world-class tourist destination? Public recreational areas would be open to all residents of Napa, and therefore by default fulfill the Hispanic community.
What would help with integration? Transparency, Solutions versus ideas, Fundamental help versus emotional support, Integration by eliminating segregation.