The posting of scores of signs urging Napa County voters to reject an Angwin land-use initiative has generated the ire of proponents of the measure.
Reading “No on Measure U,” the signs went up around the county late last week, attached to light posts, real estate signs and high up on utility poles, making them difficult to take down.
The “No on Measure U” campaign, backed by Pacific Union College, paid a private vendor to put the signs up, PUC President Dr. Heather Knight said Thursday.
Knight said the vendor informed the campaign that the postings were legal, although proponents of the measure disagree. Beth Painter, a land-use consultant working on the opponents’ campaign, said many of the signs were vandalized, torn up, and several were left on the college’s property.
A phone call to the vendor who placed the signs, Oakdale-based Kirk Briggs Signs Inc., wasn’t returned Thursday afternoon.
Proponents of Measure U, including the conservation group Save Rural Angwin, assert that many of the signs were posted on private property without owners’ permission.
Save Rural Angwin Chairman Mike Hackett said Thursday that while driving around to put up “Yes on Measure U” signs he’s asked property owners if they gave permission for the “no” signs to be put up. Everyone he talked to said they didn’t, he said.
“Our reaction is they talk about property rights but they violate other people’s property rights — it’s as simple as that,” Hackett said. “We could not find a single case where permission was asked for.”
Hackett said proponents have made complaints to Napa County’s and the city of Napa’s code enforcement about the signs, as well as the mayor of American Canyon, Leon Garcia.
Napa County Public Works Director Steve Lederer said his office will respond to complaints that signs are in a public right-of-way, but if it’s on private property it’s a matter for Napa County code enforcement.
Knight said she’s received complaints about the signs, all from members of Save Rural Angwin, and promptly passed them along to campaign staff.
“I received a couple of complaints from SRA members,” Knight said. “I’ve received two emails and sent them right along.”
In many cases, the “no” signs were placed deliberately in front of a “yes” sign, Hackett said. He said the “yes” signs were placed only where proponents got permission from property owners, and always in compliance with local zoning ordinances that regard political signage.
“Everybody else asked permission,” Hackett said. “These guys just came in and did it.”
Measure U, if approved by voters on Nov. 6, would change the general plan designation for three parcels of land in Angwin that have an urban residential designation in the General Plan and are owned by Pacific Union College.
Two of the parcels are west of Howell Mountain Road and would change to agricultural designation, which places them under the voter-approval urban growth provisions of Measure P, while the third is north of PUC and would change to public institutional.
Proponents, including Save Rural Angwin, contend that the measure will stop future development from occurring in Angwin.
Opponents, which include the college, argue that it would trample property rights, would disrupt the college’s long-term plans, and the changes it seeks to enact are better made by the Napa County Board of Supervisors.
Hackett said while he objected to the “no” signs, he wasn’t interested in ratcheting up the dispute.
“I don’t want to start a war of the signs,” Hackett said. “It’s not earth-shaking here.”