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Ghosts in the Napa Valley? It’s the wrong time of year, right?

But ghosts there are. Those would be all of the people who have appeared at Napa County Planning Commission and Supervisor meetings over the past several months to speak up to preserve their livelihoods, telling stories of their vineyards and wineries, of their family history in the Valley, of the perseverance required to be farmers, of doing their best job not only to be nurturing caretakers of their properties but also of their businesses and their employees.

Earnest person after earnest person -- climaxing a week ago when the Planning Commissioners blithely moved forward ahead to establish new punitive regulations masquerading as the Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance.

There was an ocean of words spoken out loud in those hearing rooms over the last several months. And? These were more than persuasive-sounding ghosts, they were real people expressing their concerns and fears. These were the people who have small parcels that will be denied the opportunity to plant a vineyard or even build a house. These were farmers pleading to not have even more of their land taken from them.

There were other people from other strata of the Napa Valley wine industry, too, all with solid rationales for why this ordinance should be put on hold. None of their concerns or fears were addressed in any concrete way. It’s as if all of those words were uttered by ghosts, and that all of that energy and frustration went into a ghostly time-space continuum.

Gob-smacked. Incredulous. Stunned. My thesaurus is not up to the task. This is a sad day for “democracy” in the Napa Valley.

Julie Ann Kodmur

St. Helena

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