A recent mailer received by Napa County residents, apparently authored by George Bachich, opens the first paragraph by saying, “Your property is about to be wrenched from your control.”
The second paragraph opens with, “Napa County is poised to revoke your property rights and damage your property value by enacting the Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance (WQTPO).”
It seems clear that Mr. Bachich has concluded that Napa County is designing an ordinance intended to harm our interests by stealing our property rights. In support of his argument, Mr. Bachich offers his interpretation of facts drawn from the proposed ordinance.
This is the type of scare tactics and fear mongering that has become all too common today. Anyone interested can read the ordinance by accessing it online and deciding for themselves. Aside from his interpretation, what can be made of Mr. Bachich’s core argument that the county is about to wrench control of your property from you?
I am a county resident and own a small piece of property. It's my hope that my property will at least retain its value while providing me with shelter and enjoyment. Isn’t that what we all desire? Mr. Bachich claims the county wants to wrench control of my property by enacting the proposed WQTPO.
Quite honestly, one wish for my property is to have a safe, dependable supply of water. Without water, my property will be worthless. Without water, my property will not provide the shelter and enjoyment I hope for.
However, I have no control of the aquifer that provides my water. I have no control of the watershed that provides the surface water many others depend upon. Most residents of Napa County share my same situation in that they do not control the source of their water either.
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For most of us, our water supply is in the hands of larger property owners who draw from the aquifers and engage in activities that affect water run-off. We (who have no control over our water supply) are, so to speak, “down-stream” in the water availability pipeline. We depend upon others “up-stream” to do the right thing.
When that concern has been brought up at county meetings, the response by the other side has been, "then get the money and buy the land yourself." With that type of mindset, what chance do I have of protecting my water source except for Napa County to be proactive. Climate change is a fact and the county needs to act now to assure that in the future there will be a water supply for both large and small landowners.
Disputes over water have been happening in California for more than a century. Mr. Bachich’s argument that the county is about to damage our property values by stealing our property rights is really dependent on the property in question. If large property owners are allowed the freedom to take actions on their land that harm the water supply of many other property owners “down-stream,” then the freedom granted to one has the potential to cause harm to many others. Untold properties can be harmed by the actions of a few.
As one of the “down-stream” property owners, I much prefer to view the county’s proposed ordinance as a protection of my property rights. Therefore, whether the county is about to steal your property rights or protect your property rights is entirely a matter of perspective. To borrow from Winston Churchill, never have so many been dependent on so few.