Here is a challenge: Provide a list of any and all times in the past five years when the Napa Board of Supervisors took a stand contrary to wine industry wishes.
Having trouble finding examples? That is why the writers of Measure C, the Watershed and Oak Woodlands Protection Ordinance were forced to resort to the initiative process.
Initiatives are filed as a last resort when people have lost faith that their government bodies represent them, often when people believe that officials are captive to special interests.
The Napa Valley Vintners helped craft Measure C. They were co-filers of the measure. The Vintners reversed themselves and withdrew after objections by some of the big boys in the industry. Far from being anti-agriculture, Measure C has a long history of substantial wine industry support.
Napa community activists have invested tremendous efforts over many years working to advance policy changes. But these efforts have brought us near to nothing.
Years of collaboration on two draft climate action plans, and still no plan. An adequate climate action plan would protect crucial woodlands which absorb greenhouse gases. Walt Ranch would not be allowed to cut down over 14,000 trees, while replanting less than 200. With a good climate action plan, we would not need Measure C.
In 2015, after an outpouring of community opposition to the proliferation of winery event centers, the county formed APAC, the Agricultural Protection Advisory Committee to examine winery policy. But in the end, APAC, stacked with wine industry representatives, produced no significant changes.
So: participate in county working groups, or testify at hearings. Then, step aside for the real “deciders”-- the wine industry—to weigh in and determine the final outcome.
When our board of supervisors functions as a branch of the wine industry, initiatives become the only way to enact vital environmental protections.
Measure C is a long-delayed chance for Napa’s voters to reclaim some power. It is perhaps our only chance, to say enough is enough. We value our woodlands, our water, and our wild habitat over excessive vineyard expansion into our hillsides.