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In the ballot argument against Measure C the supporters of the wine industry claim that restricting vineyard deforestation of Napa’s woodlands would be "opening the door for event centers and more luxury homes to be developed across our agricultural watershed; destroying our viewshed and hillsides; and increasing traffic on our already congested rural roads and Highway 29."

No reasons for this thinking were mentioned, but such overt fear-mongering is apparently the new normal in this age of evidence-free claims. Forgive me if I find it hard to believe that a plutocrat will more likely splurge on a Napa fantasy without vines than with. And that corporations and plutocrats will more likely speculate on event-center projects without vines than with.

What’s most interesting in the statement is that even members of the industry now refer to wineries as “event centers” -- and that they are supporting the idea that the creation of them is destroying views and clogging roads. Hear, Hear!

But where was this concern while one event center after another was being approved throughout the county and while the traffic congestion was being worsened by ever more visitation increases, both new and retroactive, to existing wineries?

And their fear over luxury homes? Where was the industry concern when the all-weather roads and a water system were approved for the 35 parcels on Walt Ranch, opening an inaccessible wilderness for the development of luxury home estates?

Their talking points, of course, confirm exactly what Napa citizens have been shouting about, and writing about, and litigating for the last few years in large community meetings, at APAC, in countless planning commission and supervisor hearings and in the courts - while being opposed by the industry and its government every step of the way.

Now, suddenly, the industry is frets about more event centers, luxury homes and traffic congestion.

Of course there may be another, perhaps cynical, but more logical, explanation for the hypocrisy of the industry in their opposition statement (and the deceptions on their billboards!): that they are just trying to bamboozle voters, who they know are upset about industry-caused winery proliferation and viewshed destruction and traffic congestion, hoping they will believe the nonsense that restrictions on vineyard conversion of the remote areas of the county will lead to more building development there rather than less.

As is illustrated by Walt Ranch, given Napa’s agricultural zoning, vineyard creation is the necessary vehicle for real estate development in the watersheds. The defeat of Measure C would insure that woodland properties can continue to be developed and sold off to buyers wishing to tap into Napa’s vineyard-themed good life. Vineyard development is the essential precursor for more event centers and luxury homes to be built.

Don’t just take my word for it. Phil Blake, now regrettably an opponent of vineyard regulation, expressed the same point in a 2013 editorial: “The drafting of the WDO was a very important, visionary action on the part of county leaders to recognize both what the future would look like without responsible planning policy...The WDO report placed a strong emphasis on how unregulated vineyard expansion in our hillside frontier lands could be a major contributing factor to undesirable proliferation of winery facilities.”

The ultimate impacts of Measure C are no more predictable than those of the Ag Preserve were. We can be certain that Napa’s water quantity and quality will be better protected if the watersheds are left undisturbed - from agriculture or building development. For sure, as more vineyards are created in the watersheds, they will inevitably have luxury homes and event centers built beside them.

The main reason to vote Yes on Measure C is to protect the water resources that our county's existing farmers and residents will need in the future in an age of global warming. But the reduction of building projects that further urbanize our hillsides and add to our traffic will likely be an additional benefit of its passage. Don't be fooled by the inverted newspeak of the opposition ballot arguments.

Vote Yes on C.

Bill Hocker

Napa

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