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2 new faces picked for Napa Planning Commission; Gordon Huether reappointed

Napa’s city land-use authority will welcome two newcomers, while its longest-serving member is returning.

The City Council on Tuesday night selected the Napa housing developer Bob Massaro to join the Planning Commission along with Ricky Hurtado, a council candidate in 2018. Massaro will serve a two-year term on the commission through the end of 2022, replacing Michael Murray who did not seek reappointment, while Hurtado will complete the year left in the term of Beth Painter, who served five years before winning election to the council Nov. 3.

Returning to the Planning Commission will be Gordon Huether, a longtime artist and owner of Gordon Huether Studio who has served on the land use and zoning body since December 2004. Huether, who holds one of the agency’s two seats (of five total) that Napa reserved for design professionals such as architects and land-use planners, was the only incumbent among 17 people to apply for posts, and the only unanimous choice of the five council members.

Hurtado and Massaro each were chosen by three members of the council, besting Danielle Barreca and Beverly Shotwell, who received two votes each. Council members each voted for three candidates after interviewing the applicants in video calls from City Hall, which remains closed to audiences during the coronavirus pandemic.

No other candidates received votes from the council.

The council voted 4-1 to approve the slate of planning commissioners. Bernie Narvaez cast the only dissenting vote, calling for Huether to receive a three-year term and Hurtado and Massaro to serve two years.

A Napa native and a community engagement director at the Cope Family Center, Hurtado placed third of six council candidates in the 2018 election, behind the winners Liz Alessio and Mary Luros. Afterward, he was one of the 15 people selected to the General Plan Advisory Committee, which is guiding Napa’s creation of a new land-use guidebook to set growth and zoning policy through 2040.

Through his work on the general plan committee and elsewhere in the community, “I’ve understood the importance of listening and collaborating, which is key for someone in this role,” Hurtado said during his interview. “… I may not be the expert on everything, but I am ready to work and grow to support the community.”

Massaro, who has lived in Napa for 25 years, is chief executive of the Healthy Buildings design, construction and management companies, which specialize in environmentally sustainable housing construction.

Describing the balancing of land-use and development interests as “like a Rubik’s Cube,” Massaro pledged to consider the effect of future development not only on the Napa economy but also on local housing, which has remained in short and costly supply nearly 10 months into the economic disruption of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Huether, entering his 17th year on the Planning Commission, declared himself as engaged in Napa’s development as ever.

“I’m very passionate about it and feel I’ve made a lot of important contributions,” he said during his video interview as he also looked ahead to the development questions Napa will soon face — particularly over its general plan and the future of the increasingly tourism-driven downtown and Oxbow areas. “I think this round is particularly important … this is a particularly important time to be up there: a lot of important projects, a lot of work ahead.”

The others to receive votes were Barreca, a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley who also is serving on Napa’s general plan committee, and Shotwell, a Colgin Cellars business and sales manager who from 2014 to 2020 served on the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission, the body that certifies projects involving historic landmarks.

The remaining applicants for the Planning Commission were:

  • David Campbell, a former Napa Valley wine executive and Tillerman Tea founder who ran for the City Council’s 2nd District seat in November
  • Kara Brunzell, principal and architectural historian for Brunzell Historical
  • Michael W. Rupprecht, senior counsel at GVM Law LLP in Napa
  • Ryan O’Connell, founder of and an affordable housing advocate
  • Tyler Rodde, executive chef of the Oenotri restaurant
  • Sudhir K. Chaudhary, vice president of Chaudhary & Associates Inc., a civil engineering and surveying firm
  • Sally Gordon, life coach, former wine industry public-relations director and former owner of Gordon’s Café and Wine Bar
  • Judy Chang
  • Guillermo Rosas, general manager of Guillermo’s Gutters
  • Katherine Lambert, a professor at California College of the Arts
  • Heather McCollister, supervisor realty specialist and leasing officer with the U.S. Forest Service

Two other planning commissioners, Paul Kelley and Reed Oñate, are in the middle of two-year terms that run through the end of December.

This story has been modified since the original posting to correct the length of the terms Napa City Councilmember Bernie Narvaez sought for members of the Planning Commission.


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Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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