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It's official: Napa's Measure C Lost

John Tuteur certified the June 5 elections Monday
by Kerana Todorov
June 26, 2018

The defeat of the measure that could have restricted vineyard development in the hills above the Napa Valley floor became official Monday with the certification of the Napa County June 5 elections.

Measure C was defeated with 50.90 percent to 49.10 percent, according to results Napa County Registrar of Voters John Tuteur released Monday afternoon.

Jim Wilson, a retired quality assurance manager at Anheuser-Busch brewery, led the grassroots campaign to pass Measure C with Mike Hackett, a retired airline pilot.

Wilson said he was disappointed with the results. Measure C ran an ethical campaign. As time went on, there was confusion about how to vote.

But the voters are much more aware of the issues. ”We’re as determined as ever,” Wilson said. This is a process of education, said Wilson, who is particularly concerned about climate change. “We cannot continue to bead down creation.”

“I think that continuing business as usual is dangerous,” Wilson said.

Napa County Farm Bureau, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, the Napa Valley Vintners and other trade groups opposed Measure C, calling it unnecessary, vague and full of unintended consequences,
“We’re very pleased with the results,” Ryan Klobas, policy director at Napa County Farm Bureau said on Monday.

“The Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture is pleased that a majority of voters recognized that Measure C was not the best path forward to protect the watersheds and oak woodlands we all cherish,” Klobas said in a written statement. “While we recognize Measure C was written with good intentions in mind, there are simply too many flaws and unintended consequences that would have hurt rural property owners and farmers should the measure have passed.”

The Napa County Farm Bureau and the Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture are looking to sit down with proponents of Measure C, Klobas also sad. The group urges the Napa County Board of Supervisors to appoint an independent panel of scientists, engineers and others to “conduct an in-depth review of existing rules and regulations governing watershed and oak woodland protection efforts, and identify opportunities to enhance or refine existing regulations if any issues arise for the betterment of our environment,” Klobas wrote.

Wilson said so far supporters of the Measure C campaign have not sat down with those who opposed Measure C. “We have to see what the offer is,” Wilson said. They won’t meet if “It’s a dog-and-pony show,” he added.

The Napa County supervisors last week brainstormed on how to approach land-use issues such as those raised by Measure C.

Three supervisors, Ryan Gregory, Alfredo Pedroza and Belia Ramos, opposed Measure C. Chairman Brad Wagenknecht and Supervisor Diane Dillon, both of whom were re-elected on June 5, took no position.

Dillon won a new term with 56.6 percent of the vote against Lucio “Cio” Perez, whom the proponents of Measure C supported. Wagenknecht ran unopposed.

Dillon advocated hiring a consultant to lead discussions on key issues and engage the community. She also advocated having science-based discussions, inviting experts from UC Davis and UC Berkeley
“We need a process that is open, that is transparent, that is informed, that is interactive and is inclusive.” Dillon said.

But others were cool to the idea. Gregory asked for more focus. “The board needs to show leadership,” he said.

Ramos said the Napa County Board of Supervisors should resume prioritize the issues.

“I think we need to keep it here at the board,” she said. “We need to let that podium be the one that tells us if we’re headed in the right direction,” Ramos said, referring to the podium where members of the public address the board.

Ramos reiterated her opposition to the initiative that placed Measure C on the ballot. “I do not believe that the initiative process is the right way by which we should determine our land-use. Land-use is our greatest responsibility as elected officials,” Ramos said.

Further discussions are scheduled for July 10.

Measure C would have limited the removal to 795 acres of oak woodland acres without a permit; it would have created new buffer zones along streams ranging from 25 to 125 acres in the agricultural watershed. It would have mandated a 150-foot buffer zone near wetlands. Tree mitigation would have been 3:1 instead of 2:1.

In a separate vote, Measure D, a measure to ban future private heliports and airports in Napa County passed 60.88 percent of the votes, according to the elections final results.

Like Measure C, Measure D was placed on the ballot after an initiative campaign. The initiative that led to Measure D was spurred by vintner Christian Palmaz’ application to build a helipad and heliport at his family’s property east of Napa. Napa County’s Airport Land Use Commission and Planning Commission, both voted in September against the project. An appeal was filed before the Board of Supervisors, which postponed a hearing on the matter until July.

Commercial helipads have been illegal in Napa County since 2004.

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