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This is in reference to Stuart Smith’s letter of March 10, “Sticking it to landowners isn’t the answer.”

Mr. Smith agrees that property rights are not unlimited and argues that taking property rights by force of the ballot box is immoral. Mr. Smith says taking of property rights by force of the ballot box is an example of tyranny of the majority.

Mr. Smith also argues that Measure C is in essence, the product of greed. Greedy people who do not own watershed property are attempting to restrict the rights of those who do own watershed property. Greedy people do this just so they can have water for themselves. This taking of rights creates a class of property that benefits others who do not own the property. It is, Mr. Smith argues, making land a servant or slave to the larger community.

In conclusion, Mr. Smith suggests if a community-wide problem exists then all members of the community should equally bear the burden of fixing the problem.

I think this is an accurate assessment of Mr. Smith’s argument against Measure C. If it is not, my apologies to Mr. Smith are offered and correction is invited.

Mr. Smith fails to tell us what question is not answered by what he characterizes as “sticking it to the landowner.” Mr. Smith also fails to tell us what problem might exist, the burden of which the entire community should bear equally. Without this information, Mr. Smith’s arguments make a strong appeal to emotions but fail to provide a reasoned argument. To “reason” this out, we need to know what the problem is and we need to know if the community of voters should have a right to address the problem?

Or, put another way, under what circumstances should people who do not own the property in question be able to restrict the activities of those who do own the property?

The scientific facts regarding how watersheds operate are not in dispute; they are clear. And like all facts, these facts are neutral and support only one thing; the truth. It is true that damage to the watersheds will negatively affect the water supply of the valley.

It is also true that members of the community that do not own watershed property can be materially affected by what the owners of watershed property do with their land. The problem Measure C is intended to address is the negative impact that improper and ill-advised development of watershed property will have on the water supply of many thousands of people.

It is not true that Measure C prohibits all development in watersheds. It is true that there will be restrictions on property that if developed without consideration of possible negative impacts, it will adversely impact the water supply of virtually everyone. It is not greedy to want a dependable, safe and clean supply of water.

Rather than being the tyranny of the majority as Mr. Smith suggests, it is in the interest of voters to have a say on what affects their water supply. Otherwise, it would be the tyranny of the minority as owners of watershed property choose to so whatever they please without regard for the welfare of everyone their actions might affect.

So the problem is the thoughtful preservation of a resource that supplies our water. And, since what happens in the watersheds affects the water supply of everyone, it is only right that voters have a say in what happens in the watersheds.

An interesting section of Mr. Smith’s letter acknowledges the above analysis. Mr. Smith says, “This (restricting property rights by ballot measure) 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.” This is interesting because the benefit that watersheds provide for all of us is acknowledged.

Does anyone really think that a small group of landowners has the right to determine the quality and quantity of water others are allowed to have? To allow this kind of tyranny is truly immoral. This is why voters should have a say.

It is not “sticking it to the landowner” but rather, the interest of the community that is addressed by Measure C.

Richard Cannon

Napa

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