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Editor’s Note: The following questions were submitted by the Shasta Environmental Alliance (SEA) to all November 2020 Redding City Council candidates. The responses are being published in the order in which they were received. Redding City Council candidate is the second in this series of Redding City Council candidate Q&A’s.
About Mark Mezzano, Redding City Council candidate
Mark Mezzano was a California Highway Patrol officer from 1983-2011. He transferred to Mt. Shasta in 2000, and Redding in 2005. Mezzano has served on two multi-agency task forces targeting general law enforcement in San Bernardino City and Professional Vehicle Theft in San Bernardino County. He is currently a volunteer with the Shasta Lake Kiwanis in Shasta Lake and Redding. Mezzano and his wife Kathy celebrate 30 years of marriage this month. Thet enjoy hiking, boating, fishing, playing golf, and cooking for family and friends. The Mezzanos have two children, Marcus, 27, Kristine, 25, soon-to-be son-in-law, Joshua Plummer, and two Yorkies, Lucy and Lola.
Mezzano invites the public to email him to discuss in greater detail any Redding-related issues. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shasta Environmental Alliance questions
SEA: Redding is losing its tree canopy. Do you support a new Tree Ordinance for Redding requiring mitigation fees for removal of our native oak trees similar to those enacted in many California cities, including Chico, Santa Rosa and Roseville with the funds used by the City to plant and maintain more street and park trees? (Note: This would not apply to most individual lots with a home or business on it.)
MEZZANO: This is an excellent idea, and it appears to have proved beneficial in other cities. I support the idea, with the understanding we continue to involve the Fire Marshall, Redding Electric Utilities, and our parks department. Establishing a protocol to ensure we protect the eco system is necessary. At present it appears the current ordinance in Redding might need review. As a councilmember I would welcome the opportunity to strengthen it in the interest of environmental progress. Current scientific research clearly shows the benefits of adding trees to our environment. A mitigation program requiring developers to replace trees they remove during development with environmentally friendly drought resistant trees is appropriate and in the best interest of our city and our residents.
SEA: Homeless camping along the Sacramento River and other riparian areas are damaging our natural areas and polluting our waterways. Past City efforts at removing homeless camps over the last ten or more years have only resulted in the return of people days later. What solutions would you support to end this problem whether providing supervised camping places, other housing, or your own ideas.
MEZZANO: I agree with your assessment. We need to enforce our city municipal code regarding illegal camping. I have seen the damage done to our ecosystem firsthand. Councilwoman Winter is of the opinion the homeless crisis is beyond that of city government. Mayor McElvain failed to mention the homeless at this year’s State of the City address. Affordable housing is at the forefront of my discussions with constituents. If elected, I intend to form a task force of city, county officials, civic and religious leaders and members of the homeless community with a goal of creating a workable plan based on successful programs I have been vetting for the last two months.
SEA: Being available to hear the concerns of your constituents is important. What will you do to meet or otherwise make yourself available to hear the concerns of all the citizens of Redding, not just real estate developers or others with money? Do you feel it is important to hear the concerns of all sectors of your constituents even though you may not necessarily agree with them?
MEZZANO: I agree completely; access to local leadership is a must. If elected I plan to work fulltime. I retired from the California Highway Patrol with honors and have no other commitments preventing me from making myself available. I will even go as far as saying if I play golf on Wednesday, I’ll work later in the evening in order to meet my commitment. I am committed to setting aside personal agendas if it benefits the City of Redding and its citizens. If you have a problem, I am interested in hearing it and your solution. If I can make it better, great, if I not, I will tell you why and ask for another solution. I want people to be candid and tell me what they think I need to be doing. I value their advice and support. With honest, strong, straightforward advice I will make decisions in the best interest of the citizens and businesses of Redding.
SEA: Wildfires and fuel loads are of concern in Redding’s greenways and open spaces. Are you aware of and/or would you be supportive of fuel reduction treatments that are also sensitive to protecting habitat for birds, wildlife and native flora?
MEZZANO: I am aware of the need to reduce ground fuels. For years, the mentality regarding wildland fires has been “Just put it out as fast as you can.” The lack of proactive programs promoting a healthy forest was for the most part nonexistent. A recent grant funding program targeting ground fuel reduction in Susanville contributed to the successful containment of a lightning strike fire to just 10,000 acers just this season. A second grant location not yet completed was contained after just 26,000 acers. We have the technology and the resources to effectively manage our forests. We just need to make it a priority and we must consider bird habitats, wildlife and native flora when conducting any ground fuel reduction program.
SEA: To help counter the effects of climate change and save costs, do you support efforts such as the gradual conversion of the fleet of City of Redding cars, trucks and equipment to electric as new purchases are made? What other suggestions do you have to reduce Redding’s greenhouse gas emissions?
MEZZANO: In theory, replacement of combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles sounds promising. Gradual replacement would most likely have minimal financial impact on local government. In theory because we must consider the environmental cost producing EV batteries. My research of lithium-ion EV battery production is less encouraging: Researchers discovered battery production for electric cars ultimately produces more carbon dioxide up to 74 percent more than efficient conventional vehicles when manufactured in a fossil fueled factory. Automotive manufactures are in the business of battery powered vehicles. As battery production scales up, emissions from producers relying on less than clean energy to build the batteries will increase. Another concern with current battery production – which weighs about a 1000 pounds – are the metals required and the mining process, which is far from environmentally friendly. As research continues to evolve, the production of lithium-ion batteries should move into an environmentally friendly community. Ultimately, I would support pursuing alternative sources of fuel, including propane and nitrogen for vehicles operated by our city.
SEA: Would you support an increase in Redding’s tree canopy on streets, parks, and in residential areas to counteract the increasing heat of Redding summers and the consequent heat island effect?
MEZZANO: Absolutely. I think this concept has substantial merit. I would also ask you to review my answer to question #1; specifically the concerns I identified when considering a tree-removal program. Counteracting the Heat Island affect is one thing many citizens in Redding would most likely get on board with. We all suffer when our summer temperatures exceed 100 degrees. The heat island effect contributes to higher daytime temperatures and reduced nighttime cooling and let’s not forget higher air pollution and heat related illness and deaths.
About the Shasta Environmental Alliance
The Shasta Environmental Alliance (SEA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in 2017 to fill the need for a strong, united, and organized voice to advocate for the environmental integrity of the Sacramento River Watershed. SEA is composed of various local individuals with 19 supporting organizations ranging from Wintu Audubon, Sierra Club, Trails and Bikeways Council to California Native Plant Society. SEA’s website is www.ecoshasta.org.
In 2018 the SEA conducted a Redding City Council Candidates Forum at the First United Methodist Church that drew about 100 people, and that aired live on local FM station KFOI 90.9. In 2016 SEA organized another candidate’s forum, which had about 160 people in attendance. This year, due to COVID-19, SEA asked candidates to answer a questionnaire on issues of interest to our supporting organizations and individuals. Each candidate was asked to provide a photo and a 50- to 100-word bio. Candidates were asked to keep their answers to 25 to 150 words per question.
Part of the mission of the Shasta Environmental Alliance (SEA) is to educate citizens of this area about environmental issues. This year, six candidates have filed for election to the Redding City Council and SEA has sent each candidate identical questions on environmental issues that SEA is concerned about. Two emails and one letter were sent to each of the six candidates. Julie Winter, Mark Mezzano, David Robbins, Monique Welin and Adam McElvain responded. Candidate Jack Munns did not respond to our inquiries via email, letter and phone.
Each candidate was limited to 150 words per question. Responses were proofed and edited only for misspellings and are, otherwise, identical to the original answers received from the candidates. First-person bios were changed to third-person.
As SEA is a non-profit organization, it will not be endorsing any candidates.