Here are three major issues that Measure C will do:
1 ) After 795 acres of oak woodlands are converted to vineyard, Measure C prohibits all new vineyards. The start date for this limitation is September 1, 2017. Approximately 123 acres have already been officially converted. There is the unresolved question of the disposition of thousands of acres of burned oak woodlands.
2) Measure C immediately increases stream side set-backs. For Class I streams it will be 125 feet, for Class II streams it will be 75 feet and for Class III streams it will be 25 feet and 150 feet from any wetland without presenting any scientific justification.
3) Once the 795 acres limit is reached the cutting/removal of oak trees will be severely limited. Section 18.20.060 E(1) & (2) are very confusing, but it appears that parcels less than 160 acres will have an almost insurmountable obstacle to obtain a permit. Parcels over 160 acres will be limited to cutting one oak tree every two years when done for agricultural reasons. It seems that a Use Permit is needed if 10 oaks are to be removed for other than agricultural purposes in a single year. What is clear is that the new Policies and Goals inserted into the General Plan will make legal challenges to obtaining a Use Permit fairly easy.
Here are reasons to oppose Measure C.
1 ) Where’s the beef?
No problem has been identified that needs to be corrected. The supporters can only repeat the Big Lie that we need to preserve the watershed so that we can have enough clean water in the future.
2) Failed 20th Century forest policies mandated into the 21st century!
Quoting from the 2010 Napa County Voluntary Oak Woodland Management Plan:
“In the last several decades the combination of firefighting technology, fire suppression policy, environmental regulations and developmental trends has led to increasing fuel loads, greater occupancy of remote wildlands and greater potential for catastrophic wildfire. Fire suppression beginning in the 1950s has changed the fire regime in oak woodlands from frequent, low-intensity fires to infrequent, high intensity fires. Such high-intensity fires can lead to the loss of oak woodlands.” “Approximately 52% of Nap County’s oak woodlands are at high or very high risk for fire.”
Measure C will continue 20th century failed forest policies into our 21st century world. If Measure C passes, with time, the oak woodlands forests will gradually become denser and overgrown. These woodlands will use more water which will result in the forests releasing less water into our streams and creeks when we need the water the most. This is indisputable and is exactly the opposite of what Measure C claims will happen as a result of their initiative.
3) Measure C is both vague and flawed.
Measure C is vague and flawed. How flawed? According to the 9111 Report the measure is not fatally flawed, yet there are many legal issues that are certainly challengeable in court.
4) Measure C is in conflict with Napa County’s General Plan.
The Napa County General Plan has placed agriculture as the highest and best use of the land. Many of the goals and policies of the General Plan are to preserve existing agricultural land uses and to reserve lands for agriculture. Measure C is in conflict with the General Plan and that may have serious legal issues. For the first time in 50 years, Measure C will put housing development as more important than agriculture.
5) McMansions & wineries.
Once the limit of 795 acres of new vineyard has been reached property owners will have few options for the use of their property except for housing. This will encourage larger homes and more extensive use of out buildings. It will also encourage wineries to locate in the oak woodlands.
5) Measure C is in conflict with Measure J and stops new farming.
Measure C is also in conflict with Measure J. In 1990 the voters voted to freeze the zoning of Ag lands except through a vote of the people. Measure P in 2008 extended Measure J to 2058. Measure J protected agriculture. Measure C prohibits all new agriculture.
6) By the numbers.
Napa County is 505,000 acres, including 22,000 acres (4.5%) used for our cities. There are 46,000 acres of vineyards or 9.1% of the County. Napa land owners have protected 70,000 acres through the Land Trust of Napa County. There are about 135,000 acres of land in public ownership such as Skyline, Bothe Napa Valley and Robert Louis Stevenson State Parks, the Berryessa-Snow Mountain Wilderness, Las Posadas State Forest, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, just to name several.
Combining the Land Trust and the public agencies there are about 200,000 acres protected from development in the County, which equals 40% of the County’s land. There is 4.5 times more protected land than there is vineyard!
The County has estimated that there are 167,000 acres of oak woodlands in Napa County. The initiative uses a different definition that may result in more land defined as oak woodlands. What will be the exact results will not be known until Measure C passes.
The 2008 General Plan estimated that between 10,000 and 12,500 acres of new vineyards might be planted between 2005 and 2030. It is expected that 2,682 to 3,065 acres will be in the oak woodlands. Using the worst case, 3,065 acres, this works out to 0.6% of the County or 1.6% of the County.
The Napa County Voluntary Oak Woodlands Management Plan estimates that of the 167,000 acres of oak woodlands only 58,526 acres have “potentially productive agricultural soils.”
7) Voluntary action by Napa County citizens.
Napa County has a long history of improving our environment through voluntary actions:
1) 70,000 acres or 14% of the County has been preserved by The Land Trust of Napa County.
2) The Rutherford Dust Napa River Restoration project restored 4.5 miles of the Napa River starting in 2002.
3) The Oakville Napa River Restoration Project will restore 10 miles of the Napa River.
4) South Wetland Opportunity Area Restoration Project (SWOA) restored and enhanced 850 acres of floodplains and tidal marshes along with 77 acres of new oak woodlands.
5) Creation of the new Moore Creek park of 673 acres.
8) The dark side of democracy.
Most of us refer to the United States as a democracy, when in fact we are a representative democracy, a republic. However, initiatives are a form of pure democracy which can present issues in the form of what history calls “The Tyranny of the Majority.” With pure democracy the majority rules, which can lead to abuses, if the majority is not reasonable and does not respect the equal rights of the minority. Three wolves and a sheep vote on what to have for dinner. The wolves win the vote and eat the sheep.
Measure C is a classic case of Tyranny of the Majority. There is no doubt that the reason Measure C was created was to take the property rights from the owners of the oak woodlands so that Measure C supporters can have more water for themselves. This creates a subservient category of property that exists expressly for the benefit of others. In essence this land is now a servant, a slave, if you will, to the larger community. I believe this is a dangerous concept and is a perversion of our understanding of zoning.
If a community wide problem exists then all members of that community should equally bear the burden of fixing it. Sticking it to a smallish group of landowners is not the democratic way to solve our community’s problems.