Will we ever get back to a time and place when it’s actually acceptable to have a difference of opinion without one’s sanity, motives or even personal and professional integrity being called into question?
My viewpoints and messages are respectfully delivered, and never as an “expert” opinion. My voice will never project as the loudest in the room, debate or argument.
To assist me in coming to a conclusion to support Napa Oaks, first as an individual and later as the Napa Chamber of Commerce considered the project, I sat in on a countless number of individual and group meetings with elected officials, housing coalitions/organizations, economic development experts, local business members and leaders, developers, hospitality/tourism industry executives, and wine industry members.
The topic of housing needs is always the overlying factor, but it’s often too difficult to get past the argumentative segment of the discussion: what type should be our priority? Workforce? Affordable? Urban? Single-family? At what costs and whose expense? Who is going to build it and where? What mix of housing types do we need so we have a diverse inventory for anyone who wants to live here? Can we get the local government cooperation necessary to make a project possible? Can we get the support of the community?
It turns out those last two questions have become the most critical to any development project -- of any kind – getting off the ground. That’s why, as a concerned individual member of our community, I submitted a letter in support of the Napa Oaks project to the city Planning Commission and City Council shortly after the October fires, and after speaking with friends and acquaintances from Silverado Highlands and Soda Canyon who’d lost everything.
They were all looking for resolutions and options to restart their lives without moving away from a place they deemed very special and “home.” Many also found it difficult to return to the scene of that life altering devastation.
In my mind, and before having any conversations with my board, Government Affairs committee, staff or even my wife, I made up my mind to support Napa Oaks as an opportunity for those less fortunate than I. My home is less than one quarter of a mile from the Atlas Peak Fire that burned 52,000 acres. I can’t express how fortunate and blessed I am to be here to lend my support — for anything or anyone.
So it’s pretty simple. No political intrigue, espionage, or conspiracy of board members working behind the scenes against community members in opposition of the project. We’re simply attempting to advocate on behalf of an NCC member seeking support for a seemingly insurmountable task/fight they’ve been fighting for almost 20 years. The advocacy arm of the Chamber recently provided the same level of support for No on C, Measure 3 and Assembly Bill 3087.
I’ve been here long enough to know that everyone has an opinion of the purpose of the Chamber. Many formed that opinion without bothering to explore the new direction that’s been taking place over the last four years. We work very hard to engage ourselves, connect with our members and collaborate with any and all working to positively influence local business, sustainable growth, and the community we’re all so fortunate to live, work and play in.
I enter my fourth year as CEO with a great deal of pride, appreciation and gratitude of the effort, commitment, patience and diligence displayed by the NCC staff, Board of Directors, GAP Committee, members and ambassadors. All play important roles in restoring the confidence of the local business community. We welcome our return to the stakeholder table and will continue to make positive contributions for inevitable growth and change, even when we can’t all agree on the process for that change.
President and CEO
Napa Chamber of Commerce