Council President Katz had a great opening statement on how Ag Reserve land was being considered for this project because it was cheaper and instead of the ZTA going too far he thinks it did not go far enough in getting solar arrays throughout the county, including downcounty. He raised the important point that holding these meetings by zoom and on you tube was leaving out the very people that live in the Ag Reserve and through no fault of their own have no access to broadband. In calling for a task force, he was joined by Craig Rice and Nancy Navarro. Councilmember Navarro related the story she told us on our Zoom call with her some weeks ago about the empty shelves she found on trips to the grocery store early in the pandemic while shopping for her family and how the Ag Reserve has a role to play in food security.
Then the waters got muddy, Council President Katz was asked to give shape to the Task Force he was proposing and Councilmembers seemed to get hung up on whether the work would be done in 2 months or 4 months and how many people would be on the committee. Councilmember Hucker, a co-sponsor of this ZTA had told us in a zoom call previously that a Task Force was the way to go as the Council was mired in so many other things at the moment. He then joined the other councilmembers curtailing the length and breadth that task force could take until it was not a task force at all. The Council began to move away from the idea of a formal task force, Councilmembers teased amendments they had to the ZTA that were forthcoming, consensus seemed to move toward a listening session with stakeholders and then to just returning the ZTA to the committee that voted for it’s approval in the first place who would hold 3 sessions with stakeholders – probably over zoom.
The end result of the 180 turn from better involving stakeholders to just informally returning the issue to the same committee again to reconsider a flawed proposal caused consternation on the part of Councilmember Friedson who asked staff to weigh in on whether a vote was needed. Hearing it was not he expressed surprise and dismay that this decision could be made with out a vote.
It leaves us with a question – why aren’t we taking a few more months to get solar right? Why aren’t we waiting for the Climate Action Resilience Plan (CARP) due out next month that was bankrolled by the County to tackle just these sorts of legacy climate solutions?