The only thing that has truly become clear in the emotional back and forth concerning Measure C is that the residents of the valley really do care about its future. Unfortunately the discussion has drifted far from the basics that the initiative very clumsily attempts to address.
I want to urge everyone who is considering casting a vote on Measure C to go to the Napa County website, and under the Planning Department section, open up the summary of the Conservation Regulations (it’s only three pages). It clearly details the rules that we in the vineyard industry have been adhering to since 1991.
In 1991, the industry thought that the sky was falling as a result of the new rules, but we survived, and our practices have improved, as has the quality of the water in the Napa River and its tributaries.
If this ill-conceived measure passes in June, we will also survive.
Please also read the article in the Register by Garrett Buckland about the 50th anniversary of the Ag Preserve. The numbers are enlightening. Napa County reaps remarkable benefits from an industry with an extremely small footprint.
Human activities do inevitably have consequences, and we can only try to strike a balance between the consequences and the benefits. Nobody likes the traffic in the valley. We would be well-served by a meaningful effort to address our housing crisis, so that people who work here can live here. They are the source of our traffic issues.
A mean-spirited assault on the industry that supports them and their families is misguided at best, and hiding it behind the protection of oak woodlands is incredibly cynical.
Do the conservation regulations need to be revised? Maybe, maybe not. One thing for sure is that this initiative is not the way to go about it. It should be done in the way that the regulations were first formulated. That is by looking at the science, evaluating the facts, and listening to reasonable input from the community.
The wine industry and the grape growing community are the lifeblood of this valley, not a threat to its very existence, as some would have the voters believe.
We are not strip-miners, so please don’t look at us as if we are destroying the land upon which we depend for our very survival. Learn the facts. Understand the rules that currently govern vineyard planting and replanting, particularly on our hillsides. Understand how small is the amount of land that we farm to provide a pretty remarkable place for us all to live.
Then cast your vote.