The second Napa City Council candidate forum that took place Tuesday night at the Napa County Library focused on the environment.
All seven council candidates, along with Mayor Jill Techel and challenger Peter Mott, attended the forum hosted by the Friends of the Napa River, Get a Grip on Growth, the Napa Sierra Club and Napa Valley CanDo.
Each said they support or want to talk about a ban on single-use plastic bags. Charlie Rose said drafting an ordinance banning bags is an attorney's dream.
“We just dig right into this, questioning, ‘What is single-use? What is plastic? What is a bag?’” said Rose, an attorney. “This is something that, if elected to the City Council, I promise to work with the city attorney to draft an ordinance which is enforceable. ... Are we going to fund the police department to enforce this? We definitely have to have citizen input on as to what we are going to do about an ordinance.”
Mott, who is not up for reelection and will remain on the council whether he is elected mayor or not, promised to present a ban.
“We’ve looked at the issue and how to bring it forward,” Mott said. “I think we’re at that place. We talked about it recently when we implemented the sustainability program. ... We looked at possibly financing it through the waste management program we have through the city. ... I am fully committed as we get to January ... that we will move forward with that program.”
Alex Pader said he initially favored a fee-based system to reduce plastic bag use, but now supports a ban.
“When it comes to big-box stores, I think they can definitely take that on,” Pader said. “When it comes to small, locally owned businesses, I’m more interested into phasing that in over time or seeing if there could be a two-tier system. But absolutely, when it comes to big box stores, they’re having an impact on our environment and if we can mitigate that impact, we should.”
Alfredo Pedroza referenced the city’s sustainability plan and said the use and waste of single-use plastic bags needs to be addressed.
“I think it’s important that we have that discussion,” Pedroza said. “We’ve got to make sure we are very proactive. ... There’s two components. It’s the city government but it’s also the residents being active. If we take that two-pronged approach, I really think we can be effective. I definitely support having that discussion and I would move forward with that.”
Candidates provided mixed answers on what is the most critical issue facing Napa and how to reduce the city’s carbon footprint. Councilman Jim Krider said the city needs to protect the Rural Urban Limit line and its water supply.
“The RUL is one of the most valued pieces of legislation we have ever had and is one we absolutely have to maintain if we want to avoid what I would consider an environmental disaster, which is sprawl,” Krider said. “Napa Pipe is a very big concern of mine because I don’t think we need to be taking ground water out of there, that needs to be reserved for agricultural.”
Bill Bopf said recycled water should be used as much as possible.
“Another thing would be to use recycled asphalt, grinding it up and using it as the base,” he said. “Safe bike routes are badly needed. This is a wonderful community to ride a bike in and I enjoy it very much. ... We need to make sure they’re safe and people are not taking advantage of bicycles. ... I would make all of our city vehicles natural-gas-powered or electric.”
Techel said she will work to implement components of the city's sustainability plan.
“We need to reach out and work with the community to see what’s the next item they’d like us to look at,” Techel said. “I like the idea of having a community garden at City Hall. It could be right outside the front door. ... It would be great messaging for the community that we’re doing it. ... We need more paths and bike lanes, we need to get more charging stations, we need to find more opportunities for solar on city property.”
Scott Sedgley said education is key to success.
“We have to educate and promote personal responsibility,” Sedgley said. “I’d like to continue our progress in being a bicycle-friendly city. ... For the city, I’d like to reduce the fleet mileage by five percent citywide for all city vehicles. ... I think it’s an attainable goal. I would like to see it a consolidated governmental campus, city and county offices located in one center that is built to the latest efficiency standards.”
Doris Gentry said it's time to act and reduce electricity use and emissions.
“I’ve heard so many people talk about consolidation but we need to really do it,” Gentry said. “We need to take a look consolidating fleet management of our vehicles with the city and county. We need to take a look at consolidating equipment and any services we can and maybe consolidating planning departments and other city agencies to make it more user-friendly to the community and offer people a one-stop shop.”