It’s ironic that as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Napa County’s historic passage of the Agricultural Preserve, we face an initiative called Measure C, which is in direct conflict with our General Plan and threatens agriculture in the Agricultural Watershed and Open Space (AWOS).
The Ag Watershed represents 87 percent of the total land in Napa County. It is the largest zoning designation in Napa County, but only a very small percentage of the population live within the AWOS.
And yet, the future of our property and our family farms are somehow up for debate through an initiative written by a group of people who do not live or farm in the AWOS. The driving force behind the Agricultural Preserve was and still is the protection of agriculture from urban encroachment. Now, a handful of elitists want to stop all agriculture in AWOS.
To my great dismay, agriculture is under threat all over California, from Bakersfield to Redding, from Coalinga to Watsonville, but most shocking: also here in Napa. As our beautiful state becomes ever more urban, people become ever less understanding or interested in California’s historic and renewable resource, agriculture.
Measure C is wrong in so many ways. It’s vague, misleading, inflexible, unnatural, and unnecessary.
It discriminates against an unrepresented population living within the AWOS. It creates a condition of haves and have nots. It was written without any science to back it up. It is in conflict with our General Plan. The unintended consequences are serious and will be felt by taxpayers for decades. It is an emotional knee-jerk reaction to the difficulties we’re having in managing our environment.
We in agriculture have worked so hard for so many years to see the Napa River run clearer and less impeded than it has for 50 years. No good deed goes unpunished.
The Napa Fires of October 2017 should be enough to remind us now that if we choose to allow the mountains and upland areas to just go wild, then we had better be willing to accept the unstoppable wildfires, which will be inevitable. Highways, roads, homes, streams, forests or chaparral did not serve as firebreaks in that horrible tragedy - but agriculture did.
Let’s put a fire break around Measure C and put it out.