'If government won't set limits,' residents will

Letter to the Editor, The Weekly Calistogan, by Don Williams, April 23, 2018


Measure C is about more than saving trees and water.

It’s about recognizing that there are limits in Napa County.

It’s not the job of business to set limits. It’s the job of business to make money. That’s why wine industry organizations oppose C: their job is to make money. It’s the job of government to establish rules on how to do that.

And if our government won’t set limits, it becomes our job as residents and stewards of the land to do it.

That’s why this important preservationist proposal was generated -- not from the top by our legislators, but instead from the bottom by the thousands of us who signed to get it on the ballot. For years our supervisors have not seen fit to recognize limits. There still are no county-wide limits on production, or visitors, or events at wineries. Can the valley host an infinite number of visitors or events?

Nope. The numbers must be limited.

But county government has not done its job. Doling out permits for visitors and events without knowing the valley’s limits is an irresponsible expenditure of an irreplaceable resource. If our representatives won’t protect us from excessive tourism, tree-cutting, water exploitation, and helicopter noise, we must do it ourselves.

The St. Helena Star and other “C” opponents complain that initiatives are difficult to modify. They prefer collaboration among stakeholders. Sounds good, right?

Pshaw! After eight hours of testimony in a meeting of 500 locals in 2015, county government established just such a committee. Now its APAC report slumbers on a shelf, forgotten and ignored, a waste of time and paper. Measure C, by contrast, written in collaboration with wine industry representatives, and endorsed by many in that industry, will actually save trees and water.

The Star and other opponents quibble while Rome burns. Now is the time when traffic chokes our roads. Now is the time when tourism is supplanting agriculture. Now is the time when our towns are dangerously addicted to tourism. Now is the time not to equivocate. Now is the time to approve C.

Don Williams