Urban voters key to Measure U’s election defeat

Even Angwin voters rejected initiative
2012-11-28T21:19:00Z 2012-11-28T21:33:46Z Urban voters key to Measure U’s election defeatPETER JENSEN Napa Valley Register
November 28, 2012 9:19 pm  • 

Measure U divided Angwin in a bitter land-use dispute before county voters soundly defeated the initiative at the polls three weeks ago, but analysis of the results shows an electoral divide that stretched far beyond the hilltop college town.

Proponents of the measure hoped voters would support the goal of stopping housing developments from coming to Angwin in the future, but 60 percent of voters rejected it countywide.

Measure U’s defeat was by a closer margin in the less populated Upvalley where it lost with 53 percent ‘no’ votes, according to the precinct results.

In the south county’s population centers — Napa, American Canyon and adjacent unincorporated areas — the margin of defeat was 10 percentage points greater — 63 percent, according to precinct data.

With its larger population, the south county accounted for almost 40,000 of the 50,862 voters who cast ballots for Measure U.

St. Helena was the only jurisdiction in the county to approve the measure, with 53 percent of voters casting yes votes. The measure failed in Angwin by a roughly 60-40 split.

If it had passed, Measure U would have downzoned three parcels of land in Angwin that are owned by Pacific Union College. The parcels each had urban residential designations in the county General Plan, and Measure U would have changed them to designations that prohibit residential development.

Arguing that the measure was an unfair violation of its property rights, PUC contributed $450,000 of its own money to defeating it. Relying on an independent legal analysis commissioned by Napa County, the college asserted that Measure U was legally flawed, and it would cost taxpayers to defend it in court if it passed.

An Angwin-based conservation group, Save Rural Angwin, placed Measure U on the ballots. Although it suffered defeat, it pledged to continue to fight for land conservation in Angwin.

In a statement Tuesday, Save Rural Angwin Chairman Mike Hackett charged that the college misled voters about Measure U’s parcels and its intent to preserve Angwin’s rural character.

Save Rural Angwin raised about $108,000 in its campaign.

“We were not able to sell our story as thoroughly as the college, which budgeted $450,000 for slick mailings, TV ads, and newspaper advertising,” Hackett said. “We did not have the resources to challenge those statements with full-page advertisements and TV advertising.”

Hackett said sponsoring Measure U helped broaden Save Rural Angwin’s base of support.

“More than ever, we are not just an Angwin community organization, but one which is countywide,” Hackett said. “Their vote indicated that they share our concern for ag land and for Angwin and they are out there to support us in our future activities.”

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(13) Comments

  1. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - November 29, 2012 1:33 am
    To the Save Rural Angwin group: You all did a great job. Measure U may have been defeated but it brought a great deal of awareness about the problems of development in rural areas.

    I also find it interesting that people in St. Helena care more about Angwin than many of those who live there.

    I believe that the college had a lot of influence on their students voting choices. Pacific Union College is not your typical college like UC Davis where students exercise higher levels of critical thinking. Most of PUCs students are not even permanent residents and yet they probably voted on an issue that they could care less about. Their interests were undoubtedly "can I get a scholarship for nothing".

    However, even if students had not cast their no votes, Measure U still would have lost. Angwin is out of sight but Measure U brought Angwin into the minds of those located in more populated areas. The efforts of Measure U proponents were not in vain.
  2. nweaver
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    nweaver - November 29, 2012 7:17 am
    Save Rural Angwin sounds like the Republican party: blaming the messaging rather than the message. The message of Measure U was "We can take away your rights to do what you want to do with your land."

    This voter at least saw Save Rural Angwin's message and concluded it was dangerous: I don't care what some religious school does with its land up in the hills, one way or the other. But I do care about the precedent of having the voters downzone land as a way of destroying its potential value for development.
  3. Wineandfood
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    Wineandfood - November 29, 2012 8:16 am
    "Pacific Union College is not your typical college like UC Davis where students exercise higher levels of critical thinking." - rudest statement ever! Your comments casting vast judgements on a group of people is scary! Just becasue people don't agree with you that means they can't think?

    Save Rural Angwin, and really all of up-valley needs to take this as a lesson. Napa and American Canyon hold your future in their hands. Time to stop treating them like second class citizens.
  4. napablogger
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    napablogger - November 29, 2012 10:38 am
    nwearver, the problem is, how are we going to save farming, if we are constantly building large developments in the middle of the woods in the ag preserve, farming in Napa is gone.

    If all the people with land that is now zoned for some type of development in Napa go ahead and do so there is no way the infrastructure can handle it or that we can maintain a farming community.
  5. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - November 29, 2012 11:10 am
    nweaver,

    I understand the point you made. I do not think that the more populated areas of Napa County voted against Measure U for the purpose of allowing the college to build dense residential development in a rural place. Voters had discomfort with zoning and land use changes that would become a matter of public vote, bypassing the planner and board of supervisor process. Voting No on Measure U was not a yes vote on growth in Angwin. I hope those developers who are swarming around Angwin have an awareness about thats situation. Developers should also know that there are so many obstacles to development, the risks will not be worth your time.
  6. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - November 29, 2012 11:13 am
    Wineandfood, that comment was from me, not Save Rural Angwin. I'm not even a member of SRA. I had a strong feeling Measure U would not pass but I wanted to use it as a vehicle for people to understand that growth in rural areas is never good. For me it was a vehicle to get a point across.
  7. Red Dirt Town
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    Red Dirt Town - November 29, 2012 5:09 pm
    The question is where is your water going to come from Napa? Once the subdivision has paved over the forest, once the ground water is depleted. And Lake Hennessy is dried gulch?

    Where is you clean air going to come from once the trees have been bladed off and pushed into a burn pile and the surface of Howell Mountain is hot black asphalt?

    Where are your eyes going to look for a cool undeveloped brake from the subdivision sameness of every other place you have ever been and could not wait to leave?

    And where will you escape too, when the noise, and smoke, putrid smell, crime and crowding drive you from your cities.....and you look around and Howell Mountain is gone?

    And where will PUC leaders move to ( Phoenix, LA, DC) once they have lined their pockets all in the name of God and destroyed the very place the once held sacred?
  8. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - November 29, 2012 8:41 pm
    In response to your comment: there's a lot you just don't know. All of those last minute provisional votes which took Tuteur time to sort through probably were from PUC students.

    I am unhappy with this college. I think that's obvious. I'm not going to sugar coat my feelings about the situation. I'm pretty sure they manipulated their students into voting the way THEY wanted students to vote. Any student who blindly voted a certain way just because someone told them to do it does not have critical thinking skills. I stand by my statement.
  9. sthems
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    sthems - November 29, 2012 9:42 pm
    Red Dirt Town Said:
    "The question is where is your water going to come from Napa? Once the subdivision has paved over the forest, once the ground water is depleted. And Lake Hennessy is dried gulch?"

    Hmm, what uses more water, vineyards with their ponds and bare dirt and wells, or houses with low-flow sinks? At least pavement drains downstream...
    If you look at it, the worst plans the college came up with would have used less water and had less of an impact than a standard vineyard (which all the AG people want in here since the value of the Howell Mountain Appellation is so high).

    "Where is you clean air going to come from once the trees have been bladed off and pushed into a burn pile and the surface of Howell Mountain is hot black asphalt?"

    Uhh, subdivisions can't burn brush, that is an Ag thing. Houses leave more trees than vineyards since houses like shade. Vineyards hate shade, but love bulldozers!
    Oh and they love chemicals too, maybe more than bulldozers. Bubye clean water!
  10. sthems
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    sthems - November 29, 2012 9:56 pm
    Red Dirt Town also said:
    "Where are your eyes going to look for a cool undeveloped brake from the subdivision sameness of every other place you have ever been and could not wait to leave? "

    How about the vineyard sameness this valley is infected with?
    Most of the forests I grew up playing in on this mountain, and most of the orchards and horse pastures and other variety has been chopped and burned in the name of the almighty Grape (and by grape, I mean green, dinero (although the workers don't get much of it))
    Yes, vineyards are more beautiful than subdivisions, but forests are even better!


    "And where will PUC leaders move to ( Phoenix, LA, DC) once they have lined their pockets all in the name of God and destroyed the very place the once held sacred?"

    Sadly, the PUC leaders haven't been doing much truly in the name of God for a long time, so please don't hold Him guilty for the bad decisions they make that go against His express directions.

    Some of us here still hold it sacred!
  11. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - November 30, 2012 1:57 am
    I'm having problems with my keyboard btw. When I strike a key, it can suddenly start typing somewhere else which messes up my sentence construction and spelling. My last few sentences above did not come out right, at all! Bugs me!
  12. Red Dirt Town
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    Red Dirt Town - November 30, 2012 9:13 pm
    sthems, It does not have to end with subdivisions and shopping malls or vineyards and ego wineries. It can simply just end....No development should occur on Howell Mountain as it is the source of the ground water for all of Napa Valley.

    I believe we agree.
  13. Wineandfood
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    Wineandfood - December 01, 2012 8:11 am
    Actually there is a lot you don't know - because you don't agree with them they were manipulated? I think you we're manipulated by Save Rural Angwin.
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