February 13, 2020 – It is campaign season in Nevada County, and time to talk about policies and ideas for change that are achievable within the County government structure. As the Chair of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, I want to give all voters a picture of where I stand on the issues that affect us all. First, I am proud of the priorities the Board just adopted for 2020/2021, a few of which first became priorities when I joined the Board in 2017. Specifically, I championed expanding broadband as an economic development strategy, engaging in homelessness/housing comprehensively, supporting the Fire Safe Council to increase wildfire readiness, and legalizing cannabis production through an ordinance. All of these remain high priorities as there is clearly more to be done, and we have added a few more, such as preparing for PSPS power shutoffs.
Nevada County, like other counties, receives nearly half of its budget directly from the State and Federal government for important public services. For instance, the County is the last stop for people in poverty, and provides food, housing, mental and physical health services for thousands of residents who can’t afford it themselves. This is an underfunded mandate, so we must find creative ways to stretch these dollars. For example, Nevada County can now charge substance use disorder services for the underserved to Medi-Cal, increasing the chances of people to get help and become productive members of society. We must continue to innovate in these critical areas.
The County maintains roads, including vegetation clearing, along about 560 miles of public roads, but has no authority on the nearly 1500 miles of private roads. We have an Office of Emergency Services to help coordinate emergency actions, but we depend upon the Fire Departments and the Sheriff’s office for many emergency services, so good coordination is key. We must continue to seek additional funding to address these critical services.
Finally, the County has land use authority, which means we regulate land use through ordinances, permitting programs for cannabis, events, building construction, and more. Each of these needs regular review to make sure they continue to work effectively and aren’t overly burdensome.
As we all hear and read, the State of California has a minimum set of strict building codes that make building in California expensive. Fire agencies, similarly, have State requirements they enforce to ensure fire safety. Our County, however, does not add any additional requirements. In other words, we are enforcing State laws only, and I support that approach.
I am an active advocate for streamlining the permitting process to make sure that there is a level playing field for compliance. I continue to work on behalf of my constituents to ensure transparency and flexibility in the process. This year, the County is instituting a review of our building and permitting processes to find ways we can make the process friendlier to the average homeowner and builder.
We need more housing in Nevada County, especially affordable housing, as does all of California, and we need to build it without compromising the natural beauty of our land or negatively impacting our neighborhoods. One of my goals is to increase our building of infrastructure – through grants and reprioritizing funds – to reduce the cost of building in our priority locations. While we work hard to keep fees reasonable, abolishing them altogether – as some have proposed – is just not feasible to ensure the health and safety requirements we must meet.
One thing I want to make perfectly clear. I do NOT support the use of drones for any code compliance or investigation tools, as has been suggested by some. I value the privacy rights of all, and if this issue is ever brought to the Board, I can promise you an open and fair discussion that all concerned may participate in.
In my first term on the Board of Supervisors, I have advocated strongly for bold action when it comes to addressing homelessness, wildfire prevention, expansion of broadband, and the legalization of cannabis. I have shown that I can bring an issue to my colleagues, gain votes required to move a project or a policy forward, and follow through to get things done.
Collaboration is required to move big changes forward, and that only happens when you listen to all sides, look at best practices, and work together. You can count on me to expand the collaborative work I have done, and to ensure transparency and truth in my reporting. I welcome all with questions about my re-election campaign, or my positions on County permitting or other processes to contact me at 510-220-2590.