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I respect the good intentions of the supporters of Measure C, but they fail to recall what the destination is of roads paved with good intentions. It’s where the Devil resides, and the Devil is clearly in the details of Measure C.

A stand of as few as two oak trees five inches in diameter chest-high on an acre of land may make that acre an oak woodland. After the quota of 795 acres of oak woodlands has been approved for removal, for all practical purposes that is the end of any additional agriculture development in the Agricultural Watershed District that would require the removal of oak trees, even if replaced by new plantings.

Section 18.20.060.E, as added to the County Zoning Ordinance by Measure C, requires the issuance of oak removal permits from the county for any oak tree removal in the AW District once the quota is reached, but it then goes on to prohibit the issuance of any such permit for agricultural use on parcels of less than 160 acres, and to limit the issuance of such permits on parcels of 160 acres or more to the removal of five oaks in any 10-year period. This is the death knell for any additional agriculture in the Ag Watershed except grazing.

It is important to understand the extent of this impact. According to the county, there are 443,348 acres of land in the Ag Watershed District (as opposed to 31,610 acres in the Ag Preserve). Within the Ag Watershed, there are 663 parcels of 160 acres or more owned by 298 different owners, and 6,425 parcels of less than 160 acres owned by 4,689 different owners. So Measure C will adversely affect the lives of almost 5,000 landowners, to say nothing of the number of farmworkers and others dependent upon a vibrant and healthy agricultural environment and economy.

Clearly there is a better way to protect oak woodlands and watersheds than through Measure C and its devastating effects.

Reverdy Johnson

Red Hawk Vineyards

Pope Valley

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