Oak Woodlands

Oak covered hillsides on the outskirts of Napa. Napa County's draft strategic plan for 2019 to 2022 calls for creating stricter conservation requirements for the agricultural watershed areas.

Napa County’s proposed, three-year “to-do” list includes such weighty tasks as healing community divisions from the bitter Measure C watershed and oak woodland preservation campaign.

This 20-page production with 81 action steps is influenced by an online survey of 2,712 participants and more than 60 meetings since spring 2017. The idea is for the Board of Supervisors and the community to forge a common vision on a variety of topics.

“We want a Napa County where our families, community organizations and businesses thrive; where everyone feels included and valued and where we continue to experience the natural beauty that is this special place,” supervisors say in the draft introduction.

That’s hardly controversial. But, as the county’s recent history proves, people fight over the details.

Among the bigger challenges is finding a post-Measure C approach to the environment. Measure C narrowly failed to pass in the June election amid opposition from wine industry organizations, leaving bruised feelings in its wake.

Some strategic actions listed in the “Vibrant and Sustainable Environment” section of the draft plan resemble Measure C. They include increasing stream setbacks and tree canopy protection and establishing a vineyard development cap through 2030 based on the general plan.

“It’s going in the direction of Measure C. That’s my read,” Measure C co-author and local resident Jim Wilson said on Thursday.

Measure C tried to establish a vineyard development cap in watershed areas based on the general plan, though that cap would have been in perpetuity. It tried to strengthen oak canopy protections and stream setbacks.

“We are anxious to get started and see if we really have common ground with respect to strong and meaningful forest protections,” Wilson said.

The question is how much time Measure C supporters will give the county. If they opt for another election attempt in March 2020 or November 2020, they would have to gather more than 3,700 signatures to qualify a measure.

“The community activists have talked about that,” Wilson said. “We haven’t come up with a plan. We want to hear first of all how serious our county leadership is in obtaining strong (protections) via a solid ordinance.”

Napa County Farm Bureau, Napa Valley Vintners, Winegrowers of Napa County and Napa Valley Grapegrowers opposed Measure C. Among other things, they said such complicated matters should be decided by the Board of Supervisors and not at the ballot box.

Officials with the four groups did not respond to requests for comments on Friday.

The draft plan describes what the county wants to accomplish on a number of other fronts, from health and social services to libraries to transportation, but briefly. This is a broad-brush document, with details to come in the doing.

The strategic plan lists its “five pillars” to success. They are: healthy, safe and welcoming place to live, work and visit; livable economy for all; vibrant and sustainable environment; collaborative and engaged community; and effective and open government.

Each pillar has a number of “strategic actions.” They range from convening a task force of vulnerable populations and service providers to supporting the development of commuter rail. The draft plan is a recipe book of a type to keep the county busy until 2022.

“We will work collaboratively with our community members and partners toward achieving these goals and will regularly share the results of our progress,” supervisors say in the draft introduction.

Step one is passing a strategic plan that has community support. Go to https://bit.ly/2Otxmpo to see the draft plan and to submit comments to the county.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.