Napa County

Measure to restrict Napa County vineyards too close to call.

By Esther Mobley | San Francisco Chronicle | June 5, 2018

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

A ballot measure to limit further vineyard development in Napa County to preserve oak trees and water sources was ahead by just 42 votes Tuesday, with 99 percent of precincts counted.

Measure C, the Napa County Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative, was running 7,191 votes in favor, to 7,149 against, in Napa’s all-mail-in system. A final count is expected later this week.

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Napa County voters deadlocked on vineyard development restrictions.



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A Napa County ballot measure that would limit vineyard development in woodlands and along waterways was leading by the slimmest of margins late Tuesday.

The fate of Measure C, widely viewed as a public referendum on whether the wine industry’s expansion should be reined in, was too close to call. Of more than 14,300 votes counted, the measure led by a mere 40 votes. Thousands of votes remain to be counted, most of which likely will be tallied next week, a county election official said Tuesday night.

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The simple being made confusing.

A Letter to the Editor by Joanne Yates, May 23, 2018


Measure C is simple; its opponents have made it confusing.

Measure C protects the only natural water system we have left in the county that filters our water, stores it, and recharges the aquifers. That system is the “watershed”, which are wooded hillsides divided by ridges directing the flow of water into the ground and to streams.

That water is groundwater, and right now about 70 percent of it is being used by agricultural development.

There are no woodlands left on the valley floor to act as a filter, collector, and recharger for the aquifers because the majority of land has been clear cut and planted in vineyards. The rest is urban development. That is why an abundant, dependable supply of groundwater is critical to the county’s municipalities and vineyards/wineries.

The only land left for ag development is the county’s hillsides. Corporate winery interests know that and are working diligently to develop plans for extensive vineyards on land that was never meant for grapes. After all, if Hall Winery could get permission to clear-cut the oak woodlands on Walt Ranch, then why not the next wealthy ag-industry conglomerate that wants a part of Napa County?

But here’s the hitch: if the woodlands are cut down and the watershed areas can no longer filter, store, and recharge the aquifers, then where do we get our water?

Measure C protects the property rights of all those who choose to farm their land responsibly. Measure C protects everyone’s right to clean water. If that’s what you want for your family, your grandkids, and for agriculture, vote yes. If you want to support corporate profiteers, then vote no.

I urge you to join your neighbors and do the right thing. Vote 'yes' on C.

By the way, Sierra Club endorses Measure C and just announced its endorsement for Cio Perez as supervisor.

Joanne Yates

St. Helena

Why would anyone oppose Measure C?

A Letter to the Editor by Nancy Carter, May 26, 2018


As I write this letter, I am at a loss to understand why anyone would have any objection to Measure C.

Obviously, any resident of Napa County will be adversely impacted financially if the measure fails, but who will be most catastrophically harmed are the very people who oppose it, the winery owners. Without water, they are out of business. No water, no grapes, no wine, no tourists, no business, no money, the end.

Why it took an 85-year-old retired woman to point this out is a mystery. This does not bode well for the future of the industry. Napa County, however, will be fine with or without the wine business. The beauty and natural resources of the valley will remain regardless of the self-destructiveness of the wine industry.

With best wishes for our mutual survival.

Nancy Carter

Santa Rosa

Measure C is long-term good for the Napa Valley

A Letter to the Editor by Bernard Portet, May 26th, 2018

I have been reading with much attention many comments pro and con the proposed Measure C.

I respectfully disagree with several of the reasons expressed on the roadside panels, which I find of a very populist nature. They try to scare the electors, so they reject Measure C and I find difficult to agree with them: Hurt Agriculture? Increase traffic on Highway 29? Some claim that we should leave the decision up to the Board of Supervisors.

Fine, but does not the elimination of 14,000 oak trees strike you as way out of common sense? That is what the supervisors did approve.

Basically, the two positions, for a No or a Yes differ on their respective perspective: In my view, the No is a very short-term decision while the Yes looks towards the future and the well being of our children and grandchildren and generations past these.

We should all realize that availability of water and more particularly of drinking water is going to be one of the major issues of the future and therefore should seriously take into consideration the major importance of the protection of the water catchment surfaces we have and protect to a maximum our forested areas.

I do add my voice to Warren Winiarski’s comments, who has shown to be a long-term visionary for the protection of Napa Valley.

For our grandchildren and generations beyond, I urge you to vote Yes on Measure C.

Bernard Portet


What are the true motives on each side of Measure C?

A Letter to the Editor by Lynna Roberts, May 26, 2018


I am voting Yes on Measure C. I trust those who wrote it. With good character, high intellect and a proven heart for the conservation of natural resources their only motive is to save the oak woodlands and the watersheds.

Do not be deceived by language used by those who want to destroy the diverse beauty of the Napa Valley hillsides for sheer profit. Those opposing are concerned that their desire to expand vineyards across every hillside in Napa will be prevented by the people of the valley who think we have enough wine and enough vineyards as it is.

And don't be confused by the many mail outs and advertising that say No on C. Remember their position is funded by big money and those who apparently have little concern for conservation.

The true conservationist wrote the initiative with nothing to personally gain except the protection of our valley. They created a grassroots movement of hard working volunteers to get enough signatures of caring residents needed to bring it to the ballot for you to decide. The bottom line is more grapes equals less trees and less water.

Supporters of C fought in court for fair and truthful verbiage to be used on the voting ballot pamphlet instead of deceptive and misleading language used by the opposition to C. The opposition had to revise several of their statements and pay $54,000 for attorney fees to the Yes on C side.

Because of these grassroots conservationists' relentless commitment and their efforts, the public will now have truthful information on the ballot pamphlet on the "Con" side. But the No on C people can say whatever they choose on their brochures. And they intend on confusing those who really do care about our hillsides, oaks, wildlife, and watersheds.

If you care about saving and conserving these things, please vote Yes on C. Vote Yes on C to save the trees. Remember, the signs and brochures for "No" are paid for by those who stand to gain big financial profits. Think Yes on C for "C-onservation."

New vineyards are devastating to the environment. These projects strip, clear cut, burn, fence, contaminate and use millions more gallons of water than other possibilities and have the serious potential for damaging our water quality.

New vineyards bring the serious and highly probable potential for many more wineries; and with them event centers. This creates more use of resources including additional major traffic on our already crowded highways and roads.

I hope when people vote they will know what they are really choosing. Thanks to all those who show they care about our natural resources by voting Yes on C and preserving them for our future generations.

When considering your vote, ask yourself what the true motives are on each side of this Measure. And if in doubt follow the money.

Lynna Roberts


Don't wait to protect our environment

A Letter to the Editor by Wayne Ryan, May 27th, 2018


Please take a careful look at what's at stake with Measure C.

Like everyone else in Napa, I am overwhelmed with daily mailers from the "No on C" camp, and after doing my homework have decided that a lot of their argument is inaccurate and some of it downright untrue.

Measure C promotes the health of our natural environment, conservation and high standards of water quality. Maintaining pristine streams, rivers, wetlands and our watershed are of the utmost importance to ensure reliable water for the future.

Measure C is pro ag since the future of agriculture in California depends on water.

Who opposes this? Big corporate winery and vineyards interests who focus on the bottom line and short-term profit.

We have all seen the expansion of vineyards and the clear cutting of forests over the last 30 years. Now is the time to protect our oaks and watershed. The problem won't go away, so vote yes on C now or we'll be wishing we had done so 10 years from now.

Wayne Ryan


Say 'no' to deception, Yes to Measure C

A Letter to the Editor by Linda Kerr, May 27th, 2018


"Deception: noun.  Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary - "the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid."

The No on Measure C campaign of deception continues. They troll in the gutter for new ways to deceive the voters. “Event centers”, “traffic” – they know these words and all of their deceptions invoke strong negative emotions for many in the community. And they know these assertions are false.

Their mailers have included the name of a strong and outspoken supporter of the Yes on C campaign. And a deceased individual. And those that were neutral. Deception.

And now the latest mailer, makes it appear, in an oh so subtle sleight of hand, that the Napa Land Trust is against Measure C. The Land Trust is neutral. Deception strikes again.

They will say and do whatever it takes to make sure you are confused and dissuaded from supporting your own best interests. Don’t let them. Know the facts.

What will your 'yes' vote on Measure C do? It’s as simple as one, two, three. It will:

1. Place a cap on oak woodland removal. Current county practice places no limits on removal – the result, clear cutting of hillside oaks has become business as usual.

2. Increase water quality buffer zones along streams and wetlands.

3. Increase oak tree replanting.

Together, this will protect the quality and quantity of water flowing to our reservoirs and groundwater aquifers.

Don’t let deception guide your choice. Water is a limited resource. Say “Yes” to a more secure, stable, and cleaner water future for us, for our businesses, for our agriculture.

Linda Kerr


You’ve had bad habits all along; Now it's just official

A Letter to the Editor by Angela Camp, May 27, 2018



Say you are a 6-foot, 2-inch man and weigh 239 pounds. Just a random example.

By the official categorization, you’re overweight, but not obese. You think, “I’m a little heavy, but everything is fine.” Then, you go into a doctor and see you weigh more like 245.


Have you experienced a major weight gain? Not really, just a few pounds. However, you’re now in the obese category.

Your doctor says to watch your eating and get better exercise. You need to be on a program. This needs your attention. Bad things will happen if you don’t do something. You automatically get enrolled in programs by your health care provider.

You argue that nothing has changed much from your last weigh-in, so why all the fuss now? It’s just a couple pounds. Did the change from "overweight" to "obese" suddenly change what you need to do?

Actually not. You should have been watching what you eat and getting exercise all along. You should have been on a program to get into a healthy weight and watch all the things that lead to a healthy state. You should have been exercising regularly for many years.

Now, there’s a spotlight on it and everyone is paying attention and offering help. What do you do? Fight the idea that you need to get healthier or start jogging?

This is the situation with the Napa water basin. The state Department of Water Resources just recategorized Napa from Medium priority to High priority in a preliminary report.

The actual evaluative score went up just a few points, from being very high in the Medium category across the line into the High priority. It’s not a major change, numerically.

There was no single egregious action that screwed up the water table. It’s all of the things that happen - more wells being drilled, more vineyards planted, more people living here that put pressure on our natural water resource that are tripping alarms.

We need to do more. We need to have been doing more all along to protect water resource and quality, both underground and on the surface. We need to control the growing consumption better, and protect the supply. We need to get formal about this to protect the future. What we have been doing is not enough.

One thing we can do is protect the watersheds. That’s where the water comes from that ends up in the groundwater and in the surface streams. We can slow down and stop deforesting watersheds, because those forests capture water and guide it into the water table, so it is available all year round and finds its way to the basin under the valley.

One thing we can do right now, before any meetings, is to vote Yes on Measure C, which very simply protects the watersheds. We need to control our tree-cutting diet.

Angela Camp


California’s water pollution laws languishing without enforcement

There is nothing more Californian than our ability to swim, surf and fish in clean water. And yet, we have fallen behind Kentucky and Texas when it comes to clean water enforcement. With industry advocates in the federal driver’s seat, we need state leaders in California to hold polluters accountable for harming our precious water resources.

Jared Blumenfeld for The San Francisco Chronicle, May 24th, 2018.

Photo: Russian Riverkeeper

Photo: Russian Riverkeeper

"Two years ago, I hiked the length of California and waded the Kern, Feather and San Joaquin rivers. At their beginnings, these waters are crystal clear, cold, flowing strong and clean. More than 40 years ago, Congress passed the Clean Water Act to protect these national treasures from pollution.

When California’s rivers leave the mountain snowmelt behind, they embark on a difficult journey. Many are diverted, drained and pumped dry before they reach the Pacific Ocean. Those that keep flowing are often polluted with heavy metals, pesticides, bacteria, plastic bottles and runoff from industrial operations. In fact, the number of California rivers that failed to meet basic water quality standards for swimming, fishing and drinking shot up 170 percent from 2006 to 2010, (the last time our state undertook this legally required biannual task)."


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