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North Valley Municipal Council priority goals

North Valley Municipal Council priority goals

Members of the North Valley Municipal Advisory Council (NVMAC) convened virtually on Jan. 13 and set immediate and long-term priorities, a vital early part of forming the Valley’s newest organization.

The group chose to immediately focus on outreach, emergency preparedness, and traffic and safety. Other suggested priorities, including affordable housing, climate change, and reducing the area’s carbon footprint will be addressed later.

The NVMAC was formed by and for the First District Supervisor’s office to provide information on what’s happening in the Kenwood and Glen Ellen areas. It will also inform these communities on vital issues and underwrite some community projects with a modest $10,000 annual budget.

Subcommittees were chosen to explore the three top priorities set at an earlier meeting. Outreach was top of the list from the start. The advisory council was designed for members to actively engage their neighbors and local businesses to learn about emerging issues and communicate with First District Supervisor Susan Gorin. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely curtailed socializing and information exchange on many levels, leaving the council members with the big job of working through that. Council members Vicki Handron, Melissa Dowling, and Chair Arthur Dawson will work as a sub-committee to develop ideas for forming closer community ties among various groups, including Spanish- speakers and others. They will also work on developing partnerships with businesses, non-profits, and various community groups.

Outreach members will look to identifying demographic groups, including elderly, homeless, young adults, etc. They are tasked with learning and informing the whole council and the community about available county resources.

Vice-Chair Daymon Doss, Rick Newhouser, and Matt Dickey (also a member of the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission) will explore establishing emergency response teams, review existing evacuation plans with an eye to improving them, educate people about wildfire readiness, house hardening, fuel reduction, prescribed burning, and places to learn more about wildfire preparedness.

Traffic and safety issues will be contemplated by Kate Eagles, Angela Nardo-Morgan, and Jed Cooper, who will undertake designing a community survey to identify problem locations, learn about possible bikeways, and refine a proposed Eldridge-to-Glen Ellen bikeway plan.

A welcome note was sounded by NVMAC administrator Arielle Kubu-Jones, who made a presentation on funding available to the Council.

A 2016 ballot measure increased local Transient Occupancy Funds enough to provide funding for several municipal advisory councils in the county. As a top tourist destination in the area, the First District receives the second highest allocation of the county’s five supervisor districts, amounting to nearly $195,000 for 2019-2020, the source of the current $10,000 allocation to NVMAC.