Let me begin my comments with two disclaimers:
First, in the several years I’ve known George Caloyannidis (author of the Private Use Airport and Heliport Initiative), I’ve found him to be an honest, thoughtful person of great intellect and integrity (not a bad letter writer, either). I respect him immensely.
Second, as a 50-plus year pilot and resident of Napa County since 1995, I was initially opposed to the Palmaz project, and said so publicly. However, since I’ve had the opportunity to visit the proposed Mt. George Alternative Site, and review the related documents, I’ve changed my mind.
That said, I must take exception to George’s statement that such applications monopolize county staff’s time ("When you know Napa Vision 2050 has arrived -- by helicopter," Dec. 18).
It is their job to review permit applications, regardless of the subject. In the Palmaz case, it happens to be as much about exercising one’s property rights as anything else - it will be up to the voters or the Board of Supervisors to determine whether the health and welfare of Napa Valley residents will be adversely affected. County government exists to serve all the people, and is required to impartially evaluate all the matters that come before it, regardless of their subjective palatability - this is our system of laws in action, and the pendulum swings in both directions.
Additionally, George implies that if so much “monopolized” time weren’t wasted on issues like the Palmaz project, plans could have been in place to deal with such foreseeable natural disasters as fires, earthquakes and floods.
Perhaps, but despite the public clamor for such plans following the August, 2014 earthquake and numerous floods, little has been accomplished in addressing these. And this before the Palmaz project was even a factor in the allocation of the county's time.
Further, it would appear that the time devoted to Palmaz’ plan is a significant causal factor in the county’s relative inaction on out-of-control tourism, traffic congestion, crumbling infrastructure, high cancer rates, lack of low-income housing, climate change and God only knows what else. That’s a bit of a stretch.
This healthy, albeit emotionally-charged, debate is precisely what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they created this great Democratic Republic. Fair is fair.