Are we the people of Napa County so drunk on our success as a legendary wine destination, that we do not see the seriousness of some of the negative consequences these successes have wrought?
Fortunately, the county is beginning a process to reconsider the issues of land use in our Ag Preserves and Ag Watersheds. In March 2015, the Board of Supervisors formed an ad hoc committee of various county constituents, the Agricultural Production Advisory Committee, to look at the Winery Definition Act of 1999 and to update regulations of wineries and event centers in agricultural lands.
Many, including Supervisor Luce, support a moratorium on wineries until, at least, we have a larger, updated plan in place that protects the Napa Valley from overdevelopment and environmental degradation. We now have issues in 2015 that we didn't in 1999, as well as some of the same-old — water, vineyard inclusion into fragile hillsides (watersheds), traffic, and a growing tsunami of tourists who can wash away the very place they come to seek beauty, wine and food.
We are in a time that the decision is being made about what master the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Department of Napa County are serving. Are they handmaidens of wealth: wineries and vineyards, restaurants and hotels, and the economics of tax dollars — or are they also protectors of the commons, ensuring the health of our watersheds, of our forests, our environment, our laborers, and certainly, our agriculture?
The mission statement for Napa County, and the Board of Supervisors, reads, "The County of Napa is dedicated to preserving agriculture and the environment and to providing leadership and services to advance the health, safety and economic well-being of current and future generations."
It has never been more important to let your voice be heard on these matters! Write our supervisors, attend BOS and Planning Commission meetings and make public comment, and support of local citizen groups insisting on "a place at the table" on these decisions. Our future depends on us acting now and we all need to be heard.