Napa Vision 2050 (NV): Why are you running and what sets you apart from the other candidates in your district?
Cio Perez (CP): I have been involved with Napa County issues for more than 35 years, usually with land-use and water issues. In my opinion, in the last two decades, many of the decisions made by the Board of Supervisors have created small steps in eroding the ag preserve, and other ag preservation measures voted on by our citizens. I would like to stop this from happening.
I’m the only candidate for District 3 that has the background that combines education, practical experience, and history that is needed to help guide the Board in making better decisions. My education was science-based (BS degrees in Viticulture and Oenology) and my profession has been in farming locally for more than 50 years. I was involved in the development of Measure J and later Measure P and their campaigns. I have also been involved in developing County policies and legislation for protecting and preserving our ag lands, watersheds and the environment. Having this history gives me a better understanding of how decisions will influence the outcomes. Again, no other candidate has this advantage.
NV: What areas need improvement for the BOS? What are your solutions/suggestions?
CP: I feel that many of our current Supervisors lack the background and the basic knowledge necessary to understand the staff reports that are coming out of the Planning Department. Without the proper background and understanding, they are not asking the pertinent, important, and necessary questions on projects. Without these critical answers, they are not making the best decisions in some cases. This could be remedied by the Supervisors improving their own knowledge and experience with certain subjects. They could take the time to read and study Measure J and P, as well as the Winery Definition Ordinance. They could benefit by studying the history behind the Ag Preserve.
They can also improve their ability to listen to individuals from the community that have a professional background in the areas in question that are testifying at a hearing.
NV: What are your personal actions and involvements in advocacy for our social inequities? (such as housing, food insecurity, language access, LGBTQ+, racism, etc.)
CP: I am currently involved with Napa Housing Coalition representing the Jack L. Davies Agricultural Preservation Foundation. The Housing Coalition is currently developing policies that the cities in the County can adopt to improve their abilities and opportunities for housing developments to be inclusive of low income and workforce housing. In the past representing the Napa County Farm Bureau, I participated in discussions with non-profit groups and county agencies addressing social issues.
The communication between the County Supervisors and the City Councils is extremely important in developing solutions. It is important that solutions consider the County, city, and community needs, while at the same time preserving our agriculture lands. I feel in the past and currently, there is a lot of discussions, but very few solutions and no action. Our leadership, both cities and county, need to develop solutions and start taking action now, especially regarding the housing stock for low-income and workforce housing. It is important that these housing needs be integrated with all income levels, all races, and sexual preference within the same development.
As Supervisor, I will make sure that programs addressing social inequities, food insecurity, and low-income family needs be addressed and well-funded in County budgets.
NV: Talk a little about your personal journey to understanding climate change. If you ever had a call to action, what was it?
CP: Farming for more than 50 years, I have seen and experienced the climate changes that have been occurring over this time. In fact, there has been a marked increase in the degree of change over the last 10 years. Over this time there has been a definite change in temperature extremes, along with a change in the precipitation and weather patterns.
With last year’s record drought, and the resulting impacts that it had on the communities and the environment, we need to be better stewards of our water resources.
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?
CP: There is no good reason for the County not to have their Climate Action Plan in place. The County has made it their choice to drag out and avoid any meaningful plan. My goal and recommendation will be to have a plan developed and adopted by the Board before the end of my first year in office.
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?
CP: California’s water resources will always be inadequate in a drought period with its current developments. With the climate changes that are here, there is no guarantee that there is sufficient snowpack in the Sierras, nor the opportunity to fill State reservoirs to capacity annually. To allow new developments will only put California closer to experiencing water deficiencies every year, even with “normal” rainfall. To help resolve this water shortage, the State has become more dependent on groundwater to fill in the shortfall of reservoir sources. This change in water sourcing created areas of “over drafting” groundwater, so the State passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014. This act required that each County in the State look at, and address, the sub-basins within their County and develop a plan for each aquifer to keep from over drafting, and to use groundwater fairly, equitably, and sustainably for all well users in any basin.
Because of SGMA, the County is required to create a plan to address the condition of our groundwater. This act places the responsibility for groundwater security directly on the Board of Supervisors. I feel that the County’s adopted plan does not meet the minimum that was required by SGMA. The approved plan is inadequate to truly address the needs of the environment, the creeks and river, and their tributaries and eco-systems.
The other area of importance are the watersheds. The County needs to strengthen the conservation measures in our ordinances and codes to prevent any more deforestation. The deforestation will impact the water quantity and quality from our watersheds, as well as increase the sedimentation that will be detrimental to the aquatic life in our creeks and river. These impacts will have a direct effect on the water resources for our cities and their communities.
If I am Supervisor, I will encourage the Board to resolve the inadequacies in the GSP, and encourage the Board to strengthen our regulations to better protect our watersheds.
NV: What is your understanding of current land use issues in regards to deforestation?
CP: The continued deforestation in our watersheds will affect the quantity and quality of the water that will fill city reservoirs and will reduce the flows in our creeks and river during the spring and summer. Deforestation will increase sedimentation and erosion during the heavy rainfall periods. The other issue of deforestation is the County’s ability to address climate change. One of the easiest ways to address climate change is to keep every healthy tree for carbon sequestration.
As previously stated, the County needs to pass stronger legislation and regulations to preserve and protect all of our forests and watersheds.
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?
CP: New developments in high fire-prone areas should be discouraged. The recent experiences with wildfire have shown the difficulty of evacuating residents and the dangers of getting emergency response vehicles in these areas that have inadequate roads. These issues are compounded when they involve a commercial project with a hospitality component. Any increase in population will increase the chances of having a fire, and will put a higher demand on a water resource (like a well). Considering the effects of fires on the biodiversity in our watersheds, any increase in fire potential is something that should be discouraged.
NV: 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?
CP: The Walt Ranch has given our citizens a chance to understand the importance of choosing a supervisor, and the importance of having strong, clear, and protective conservation ordinances and codes. The view and position of the developers of Walt Ranch come from a “property rights” position, and deep pockets that developers often have. The opposing views come from an effort to protect the watershed, the environment, and the character of the area. The opposition to the project also considered the climate change effects of removing so many trees.
If I were on the Board when the Walt Ranch was being considered I would have opposed the project at all stages.
NV: Have any current or future land use applicants, to your knowledge, reached out to you to donate money or goods to your campaign?
CP: To my knowledge, there have not been any donations to my campaign, money, or goods, from anyone who has submitted or plans to submit an application involving land use.
NV: What suggestions do you have to increase involvement and public participation for Spanish-speaking and upvalley residents? How about American Canyon?
CP: I plan on having an office in the St. Helena area for meeting opportunities with my constituents, as well as any other citizen of Napa County. I will have daytime office hours, evening hours that will accommodate those that work during the day, and some hours over the weekend. There will always be the opportunity for any Napa County citizen to arrange a day, time, and place that will be convenient for them to meet. Also, I will plan on having local community meetings in Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville, and Pope Valley.
I can speak some Spanish, but if I know that an individual’s first language is Spanish, I will have someone that will help with interpreting the discussions at a meeting. Some of the community meetings will be specific for Spanish-speaking community members, and I will encourage these members to attend and give me their thoughts and views.
For American Canyon I will attend their community events, and possibly set up a “table” if appropriate.