So, if you want to set limits on the ways wineries in Napa can expand, vote yes. If you don’t want these restrictions, vote no.
Letter to the Editor by Ellen Sabine, May 29 2018
Campaign ads aren't legally required to be truthful. The COPS flyer delivered to our mailboxes is one of many blatant examples of intentional deceit. It wasn't endorsed by police. The opposition to C campaign chose to create and pay for its whopper falsehoods. There are no tax increases from Measure C, and no resulting loss of fire or police protection.
I look for truth in advertising and honesty in general. We also need proactive approaches to anticipated problems instead of allowing ourselves to be caught behind the curve. Unfortunately, we now have countywide traffic that is out of control and are lacking thousands of units of workforce housing.
Water quantity and quality are crucial, with statewide trends toward less availability, not more. In Napa County we see lower flows in feeder streams and more development proposals at sites nearby. The California Dept of Water Resources recently raised the priority of the Napa River basin for potential oversight. We can commit to simple protective actions now for our water supply or do nothing and bear the consequences.
Wait and see isn't an option. Now is when we need to act to protect our water, not down the road when it's too late. It's up to us, not our leaders who aren't providing leadership on this water issue. Please vote for foresight and integrity, Yes on Measure C.
Letter to the Editor, By Lisa Hirayama, May 28, 2018
Once, I was naive enough to believe that Napa County was concerned about its residents, but my eyes have been glaringly pried wide open. I have attended many Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors meetings and realized that rarely have the boards met a winery development they didn't like.
Former Supervisor Keith Caldwell said at one meeting that Napa County's policy is not to punish violators but to bring them into compliance. That certainly explains why so many permit violators barely get a slap on the hand, i.e. The Caves, Reynolds Family Winery, Reverie, and Summers to name a few.
However, that opens another can of worms because there is little enforcement for code violators, so why shouldn't wineries get away with as much as possible.
I learned that in 2008, Napa County changed the definition of agriculture to include "wine marketing and sales," which, in effect, became a zoning change from agricultural to commercial use. That opened the floodgates and "farming" now includes everything from selling a winery's souvenirs (plates, cups, hats, etc) to hosting a wedding for 300 people.
The "No" side states that if Measure C passes, it will be the end of agriculture and farming. Since they are making so much more money on the new Napa definition of "agriculture," no wonder they aren't interested in protecting the trees and water quality. I admit, I wasn't paying attention to the change being made to zoning because I wasn't personally seeing the effects, but I now realize how detrimental that revision has been.
In October 2016, Supervisor Diane Dillon visited Circle Oaks and I asked what would happen if our wells went dry and we had to truck in water because of the Walt Ranch development (in watershed). She said I'd have to pay for it.
Given what has happened in the Carneros area, I have every reason to believe that it could happen to me. The same consulting firm that said there was plenty of groundwater to support the Carneros Resort and Spa development also said there's plenty of water for Walt Ranch.
The Carneros residents told the county supervisors back then that there wasn't enough groundwater in that area, yet the county approved it. Now, 10-plus years later, the city has been trucking in water to that area and just voted to start the process to connect the resort to city water pipes. Once again, another example of fixing a problem that should never have been given the green light in the first place.
I no longer trust Napa County to protect my property and water supply because I have seen how extremely solicitous they are to the wine industry. Supervisor Belia Ramos said at the Feb. 27 meeting when the supervisors voted to place Measure C on the ballot, that she felt this was the wrong way to initiate change and that the citizens should have come to the government to work out their issues.
I've had a front-row seat for the last four years and the commissioners and supervisors consistently ignore residents' concerns about every new winery and event center that keeps getting approved. The initiative route was the only way citizens felt they could have their voices heard.
Many people believe that the complex matters of protecting the watersheds and oak trees should be left to the county supervisors. With all due respect, have any of these people actually attended a county meeting when winery projects and appeals are being discussed?
I think not, because they would see that the commissioners and supervisors continuously approve every project and appeal before them in favor of the winery. Every concern by residents is mitigated away to a less than significant impact, always by the same environmental consulting service that the county uses for every environmental impact report.
This has been going on for years, which is why citizens have worked hard collecting signatures, not once but twice, to get Measure C on the ballot. They're tired of being ignored by the supervisors and planning commissioners.
Water is a limited resource, and climate change will make droughts more extreme and water sources more scarce. Napa County lost tens, if not hundreds. of thousands of trees in the Atlas Fire, yet Napa County will still allow remaining healthy trees to be cut down in the name of wine.
The effects of losing trees and not protecting the watersheds won't occur overnight---it will takes years or decades, but it will happen. San Francisco is planting 2,000 trees over the next two years to curtail global warming because they absorb carbon dioxide. Napa County will cut down trees instead.
If there was ever a time that a citizen initiative was sorely needed, this is the time. If you're unhappy with the direction that Napa County is heading, vote 'yes' on C.
By resolving to endorse Measure C, and explicitly doing so in discharge of our fiduciary responsibility for health and life safety of our city, we are strongly encouraging our citizens and, by extension, all residents of Napa County to vote for Measure C.