A NHA can be viewed as a problem-solver from an in-Delta perspective. It could allow the Delta to be maintained as a whole, filling in gaps that result from having many reclamation districts and other local authorities with responsibility for protecting and improving Delta levee systems. It would justify government funding for economic development, such as ag tourism and eco tourism, and for maintaining critical infrastructure.
Feinstein’s NHA legislation was a response to counties’ requests for appropriations to help them keep track of all the ongoing planning processes in the delta. With the NHA as proposed by Feinstein, dollars will flow to the counties through the DPC. The catch is that the Department of the Interior will hold the purse strings and have the final say on how funds are spent. The DPC feasibility study wouldn’t have to include that provision.
A NHA could provide funding to restore buildings and provide critical infrastructure improvements in communities like Locke, Isleton, Courtland, Clarksburg, Holt, and Thornton. This is an attractive opportunity. However, we would want to retain local control of land use decisions.
If land use options become limited in the future, counties may need a way to maintain a revenue stream and develop the local economy to continue to provide critical services to residents. Without arguing in favor of more industrial or residential development in the primary zone, we do need to be able to maintain economic viability into the future. Agriculture needs to be able to adapt to market conditions to remain prosperous. Innkeepers and marinas need to be able to do basic upgrades to support the recreation industry. We probably don’t want a NHA designation to limit those options.