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The following comments were delivered by Augie Venezia, president of Fairfax Lumber & Hardware Co., of Farifax, Calif. Venezia is the chair of the Lumber Association of California & Nevada (LACN) Government Affairs Committee.
Venezia spoke at the Water Resources Control Board workshop on stormwater permitting held Aug. 17. Here is the statement in full:
"My name is Augie Venezia, president of Fairfax Lumber & Hardware Co., in Fairfax, Calif. We are a 99-year-old retail lumber and building materials business and today 100% employee-owned. I am also the Second VP and government affairs chair for the Lumber Association of California & Nevada, an industry trade association with nearly 400 member firms, and I am here speaking on behalf of those nearly 400 independent lumber and building materials dealers in MY state.
"I mentioned our nearly 100 years in business because my firm is typical of most of the lumber dealers in California. Many of the lumber businesses in this state are more than 100 years old. Many others were established in the post-World War II years. Most are family- or employee-owned. This industry is one of dedicated employees who built careers in this industry. Our lumberyards have deep roots and involvement in their communities, and we are a very environmentally conscious and concerned industry.
"The last three years have hit us hard. More than 60 lumber businesses in California have closed their main or branch operations since 2008. This industry is very well aware of the cyclical nature of this business and we know how to manage, but not when irresponsible regulations from government agencies get dumped on top of coping with a tough economy. We are facing diesel emissions, cap and trade, and now stormwater runoff regulations. We also face legislative issues from Proposition 65 and now a move to split the Proposition 13 Tax rolls, and what if all this doesn't work to fix our ills?
"I realize our planet is having a hard time buffering all the garbage the human population is throwing at it, but California isn't going to have much to work with trying to clean things up if the 'producers' that make up the state's economy end up closing or moving out.
"Our industry does not see any economic recovery in California. The irresponsible, arbitrary, unscientific and flawed proposed stormwater runoff regulations could well be the final straw for many California businesses. I’m not going to repeat the many concerns that others have tried to get this board to understand and consider.
"The cost of compliance and the failure of this board to consider reasonable options is killing more and more California businesses, but I’m here today talking about the people component of what you’re doing. It’s jobs and careers. It’s causing good businesses to go under, and that’s just plain wrong. I was born and raised in California, and I've watched MY state's GOLDEN COLOR go from the land of opportunity through the Golden Gate, hard work and personal responsibility, to getting its color from now being nearly cooked, and this makes me angry because you don't seem to care!"