|Sep 3, 2017|
Measure D: The Plutocoptor Initiative
Text of Measure D to disallow private heliports
George Caloyannidis has begun the effort
to make sure, whether Christian Palmaz is successful or not, that there are no more personal heliports for wealthy residents being proposed in the county. He was instrumental in the original effort to halt helicopter use for winery visitation in 2004
NV 2050 links:
Napa Vision 2050 on Measure D
Apr 24, 2018 discussion meeting announcement
A community meeting will be held to discuss Measure D at the Napa Valley Country Club on April 24th, 2018. George Caloyannidis will present the Yes on D case. Opponents have been invited to present as well. The announcement is here
George has also issued this challenge
to Bill Dodd and the other signatories of the opposition statement to come and defend the outright lies therein and the erroneous implication that the signatories speak on behalf of the organizations that they work for.
NV2050 3/28/18: Interview with Measure Yes on D Author George Caloyannidis
On Feb 27th, 2018 the BOS placed George Caloyannidis' Heliport Ban initiative on the June 2018 ballot as Measure D. While numerous people spoke in favor of the initiative, there was no one to speak in opposition. The BOS had the option of simply adopting the initiative but chose to place it on the ballot. Sup Dillon specifically invoked the will of the voters in passing measures J and P requiring no less than a vote of the people in making land use zoning decisions. (Oddly this did not seem as important to her later in the afternoon as she voted in the 3-2 majority to set a precident by bypassing the voters and adopting the Blakeley Initiative
as an ordinance.)
Heliport Ban Initiative 2018 Election Resolution: Measure D
On Feb 27, 2018 the BOS will receive the "9111" Report on the initiative after which they will have 10 days to decide whether to adopt the initiative as is or to place the Initiative not the June 2018 ballot. The 9111 report describes legal shortcomings in the Initiative as seen by a consultant hired to review it.
Heliport Ban Initiative 9111 Report
Patricia Damery LTE 4/21/18: Arguments against Measure D are wrong
NV2050 3/28/18: Interview with Measure Yes on D Author George Caloyannidis
NVR 3/1/18: Napa County heliport initiative goes to ballot as Measure D
George Caloyannidis LTE 12/17/17: When you know Napa Vision 2050 has arrived -- by helicopter
NVR 12/12/17: Planned Napa heliport ban measure puts Palmaz proposal in new light
NVR 12/10/17: Napa County private heliport measure supporters turn in signatures
NVR 9/3/17: Calistoga resident plans to launch Napa County heliport ballot initiative
The Palmaz Heliport
As with most of us, the traffic in Napa is slowing down Christian Palmaz. Unlike most of us, his father, Dr. Julio Palmaz, has the means to do something about it. The county has just sent out this hearing notice
for the Final EIR for a heliport to be built next to the family house. The application is being pursued by Christian, who "lives and breathes aviation" and would like the neighbors to experience his passion as well, albeit from the ground. "What else can you do to alienate the world?" Dr. Palmaz asks in this 2009 article
concerning neighborhood opposition to the construction of his winery. He also alienated the county
by filling in Hagen Creek during its construction. (The county's complaint
In 2004, except for "helicopter landings solely in support of direct agricultural production activities" un-permitted commercial helicopter landings were banned in the county.
It was a very good decision. The ban was in response to one operator beginning to promote tourism flights to wineries. (This was before tourist processing become an agricultural activity in the 2008 General Plan so I'm sure at some point even this ban will be revisited.)
Unfortunately, at the same time the Supervisors allowed "Personal use ... heliports" to be a permitted use. Just like setbacks, the rules for wineries don't apply to houses. It was a bad decision. (Conveniently for some well healed oenophiles, the Palmaz house is next to the family winery, a vast underground wine laboratory
seemingly inspired by Dr. No. Separating buyers from friends may be a bit difficult to regulate.)
There is no end to the ostentatiously wealthy of this world who have or lust after an estate of their own in this prestigious wine capital. The Palmaz family, if the county permits, will not be the only helicommuters. In addition to the numerous conspicuous consumers already here, there are still around 4000 properties waiting to be developed into Xanadus. Helicopters would make commuting to even the most remote estate developments, like Walt Ranch, a breeze.
While the din of the armada traversing the valley might provide a bit of nostalgia for the Yountville vets, it is a catastrophe for those of us, ordinary and wealthy alike, who appreciate the peace and quite of this rural place.
What level of diminishment will the county permit to the quality of life of its residents to appease a few individuals? An entire tourism industry has grown around the exhibitionist desires of a gaggle of good-life entrepreneurs, bringing traffic, the loss of affordable housing, the littering of the valley and its ridges with expressions of ego, and the loss of rural peace and enjoyment to event center noise and lights. Must we also endure the constant thump-thump as those with the means avoid the traffic they have helped to create.
Alas, we now find ourselves in the full bloom of a plutocratic age beginning to shake up institutions large and small. Much of the community activism in the last 3 years has been about projects being developed by a handful of plutocrats wishing to impose their will to the detriment of their neighbor's quality of life. No doubt the loss of rural tranquility on Diamond Mountain Road, Mt. Veeder Road, Soda Canyon Road, Atlas Peak Road, Circle Oaks Drive, Hagen Road and many other places in the county by a handful of plutocrats means little next to the chaos being created by the handful of plutocrats now governing our nation. But one must make a stand where one can. The Palmaz proposal can't even begin to argue any benefit to the public welfare or economic vitality of the county, and only promises a degradation of the rural character that we treasure.
Napa Vision 2050 has already been reaching out to bring this issue to our attention. If you haven't done so yet, sign their petition against this project
. And send a letter to Napa County project planner Dana Ayres at
On Sept. 6th, 2017, the County Airport Land Use Commission and the County Planning Commission each rejected the proposal for the Palmaz Heliport. The decision will probably be appealed, but this is a rare win for the residents that will be impacted by the many development projects being proposed throughout the county. This project may just be an exception - its potential impacts are egregious both in its particulars and in the precedent it sets. But let's hope this is a harbinger of a shift in the county's interest toward balancing the interests of most residents against those of developers and plutocrats and their impactful good-life enterprises.
Napa Vision 2050 posts on Palmaz:
Napa Vision 2050 opposition petition
Dan Mufson: Pass a ban on private helipads
Christine Tittle: Many reasons to oppose helipad
George Caloyannidis: No helicopters over Hagen
Agenda And documents for Mar 1st, 2017 hearing
County's Palmaz Helipad page
County email to Interested Parties about the project
The notice for the 3/1/17 hearing is here
George Caloyannidis' analysis of the Palmaz heliport application is here.
County ordinance governing helicopters
NVR 9/24/17: Palmaz heliport will be appealed to Napa County Board of Supervisors
NVR 9/7/17: Palmaz heliport team weighs options after Napa Planning Commission defeat
Plumas County News 7/24/17: Heliport stirs more local controversy
(Palmaz heliport in Plumas Co)
The Telegraph (UK) 6/25/17: Hamptons homeowners take battle over noise from helicopter shuttles and private jets to the Supreme Court
Stefan LTE 3/17/17: Thank you, Christian Palmaz
Purcell LTE 3/14/17: Preserving rural character
NVR 2/27/17: County prefers Mount George site for Palmaz heliport
Dan Mufson 2/17/17: Pass a ban on helicopters (updated)
NVR 5/26/16: Planners get earful on proposed Palmaz helipad
SF Chronicle 5/21/17: Proposed helicopter pad inflames Napa Valley’s winery wars
NVR 5/3/16: Report finds no major impacts for Palmaz helipad
NVR 1/15/16: Proposed Palmaz helipad sparks big turnout
NVR 12/26/15: Proposed helipad creates waves in east Napa
(Lots of comments)
Gordon Evans LTE 1/23/16: Consider risk of bird strikes with helipad issue
Dan Mufson LTE 1/23/16: Pass a ban on private helipads
Christine Tittle LTE 1/8/16: Many reasons to oppose helipad
NVR 4/27/07: County sues Palmaz
SFGate 11/30/04: Charter chopper pilot refuses to put cork in winery flights
NVR 7/22/04: County says no to copter landings
NVR 2/5/04: Choppy ride ahead for proposed helicopter-winery tour
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Arguments against Measure D are wrong
|Patricia Damery - Apr 21, 2018 12:09AM Share
I want to express my outrage and disappointment in State Sen. Bill Dodd’s argument against Measure D (Yes on Measure D prohibits permitting more private heliports).
Dodd argues that under Measure D’s terms “Utility contractors, like those working for PG&E, won’t be able to use helicopters to replace power poles or service lines as they successfully did after the October fires.”
This is dead wrong. Measure D does not change County Code about the use of helicopters to install and maintain distribution lines to convey gas or electricity.
Dodd also states, “helicopter operators providing essential services may be restricted from landing on private property in Napa County if Measure D is approved.”
Again, dead wrong. Measure D does not change County Code about emergency use facility landing sites or emergency medical services’ landing sites. (Code 18.120.010/A.9).
Let’s be clear: this Measure D does not affect airspace or flight at all. It simply regulates landings of helicopters.
Did Dodd read the text of the initiative? Measure D makes two changes in County Code: 1. prohibiting personal use airports and heliports and 2. prohibiting helicopter landings at vineyards unless unavoidable, such as in emergencies. Aerial applications by helicopter for agricultural production are still permitted.
A Napa Valley Register article quoted Dodd as saying that his argument was based on the 9111 report commissioned by the Board of Supervisors to give “independent” legal analysis on the measure. Given the facts above, this analysis, as argued in front of the Supervisors by the Measure's attorney of Moscone, Emblidge, is flawed.
Senator Dodd has been invited to participate at several forums, including the League of Women Voters, to defend his statements but thus far has avoided participation.
Why would a state senator present “facts” that are so wrong? Are perhaps special interest funders behind him? Democracy requires access to the facts. How else can we make informed decisions?
NVR version 4/21/18: Arguments against Measure D are wrong
PDF: Argument Against Measure D and rebuttal
NVR 4/3/18: Backers of Napa County ballot measures cry foul on opposition arguments
|Bill Hocker - Apr 21, 2018 9:30AM |
At the end of this LTE in the Register the editor adds a note with a response from Bill Dodd:
Editor's note: The Register asked Bill Dodd about the issues raised by the author. He said his legislative schedule has made it difficult to accept invitations to speak on this initiative. He said his opposition to Measure D, and also to Measure C, relates to possible unintended consequences, which would be difficult to fix if the legislation is enacted by ballot initiative. The people and supervisors of Napa County, he said, "are perfectly capable of handling these issues" without resorting to initiatives.
By "the people", if in fact Sen. Dodd used the expression, it can be assumed that he didn't mean the 7000 individuals that signed the initiative petition or any of the individuals that might vote for the initiative. One suspects that "the people" in this case represents the monied interests in the county, some of whom contribute to his campaign (like Christian Palmaz
), "people" that are used to having the Supervisors make development decisions in their favor without the interference of pesky voters.
Bill Dodd's fake Measure D arguments
|Bill Hocker - Apr 18, 2018 12:09PM Share
George Caloyannidis has sent a challenge to Bill Dodd and the cosigners of the opposition ballot statement for Measure D
to justify their false statements regarding the impacts of the initiative and the erroneous implication that the organizations that employ the signatories, Reach Air Medical Services, PG&E and the City of St. Helena are also opposing the initiative.
The moneyed interests of Napa and their civil servants, seeing their privileged status being challenged by the residents of the county, again exercise the hubris of outright lies to try to get their way. Measure C supporters took them to court
and the lies were stricken. These lies are equally egregious.
OPEN CHALLENGE AND INVITATION TO SENATOR DODD
April 18, 2018
I am one of your constituents who voted for you to be our California Senator. I am also the sponsor of Napa County Measure D, the so-called Personal Use Helicopter Initiative.
As the author of the Arguments Against Measure D, you have assumed the leading role in its opposition. Moreover, you have done so in your privileged capacity as our Senator. As your statements cosigners, you have assembled: Brian Bottari, (signed "PG&E"), Matthew Higginbotham, (signed "REACH Air Medical Services") and Peter White, signed, ("Vice Mayor of St. Helena"). Your statements as they will appear on the ballot carry the full weight and credibility of a California Senator, and misleadingly those of the St. Helena City Council and those of PG&E and REACH none of which have endorsed them.
While arguments against an initiative may contain statements which opponents believe to be against their philosophy, or against the general interest of the citizens, or containing inaccurate provisions, they may not contain statements which are false and misleading.
The following arguments you have inserted in the ballot are patently false and misleading:
1) "Helicopter operators providing essential services may be restricted from landing on private property. When emergencies occur operators need flexibility to conduct their mission effectively".
2) "Utility contractors like those working for PG&E, won't be able to use helicopters to replace power poles or service lines just as they successfully did after the October fires".
I need to point out to you that the existing provisions in Napa County Code 18.120.010 exempt and protect the above services which are in no way affected by Measure D restrictions which specifically and solely prohibit personal use heliports and limit landing at vineyards during helicopter aerial operations for direct agricultural production.
Napa County Code specifically exempts helicopter landings by right for:
1) "Distribution lines installed to convey gas and/or electricity locally to individual services or to another such line", and: "Cable television lines and telephone lines other than long distance cables", and:"Helicopter emergency use facility landing sites".
2) "Emergency medical services landing sites", upon granting of a use permit.
The County Counsel Impartial Analysis confirms as much: "County Code currently allows emergency medical services landing sites upon grant of a use permit. Measure D does not change or affect this provision".
Measure D does not in any way modify, restrict, expand or eliminate these sections of the Code which enable providers to deliver the services they currently do and will do so in the future. Measure D addresses only personal use helicopter landing sites defined in the Code as: "For the owner, their family and occasional guests". To argue that PG&E, medical and emergency service helicopters are for personal use or that they conduct aerial operations for agricultural production is utterly false and misleading.
You and your cosigners have been invited to participate in forums organized by the Democrats of Napa Valley on April 16, the Hagen Road community scheduled for April 24 and The League of Women scheduled for April 25. Thus far you and all your cosigners have refused to participate.
Dear Senator Dodd:
At this point in time when the trust in governments and institutions is in crisis both nationally and just as much locally, and In the interest of the integrity of the voting process, I urge you and your cosigners to reconsider and participate in defense of your statements in the above remaining and future planned venues.
When you know Napa Vision 2050 has arrived -- by helicopter
|George Caloyannidis - Dec 17, 2017 3:56PM Share
On Dec. 4, my wife Christine and I delivered 6,072 signatures to qualify the initiative for the June 2018 ballot that will prohibit private and taxi helicopters from landing at sprawling homes and at wineries.
Many of the most desirable communities around our country -- Aspen, Long Island, The Hamptons, Torrance California, Westchester County, New York, just to name a few -- have failed to act in time and are now suffering the irreversible consequences.
As sponsors of the initiative and to celebrate the occasion of having spent so much of our own money and time in the process, Christine suggested a late lunch celebration at one of the valley's most beloved restaurants. If interacting with thousands of residents at shopping centers and farmers markets from Calistoga to St. Helena, to Napa while collecting signatures wasn't enough indication of voter sentiment towards the initiative and the Napa Vision 2050 organization, this lunch was even more revealing.
When it came time to pay, our waiter noticed my name on my credit card and, having read my many letters to the editor, was glad to meet me. He then informed us that he had joined Napa Vision 2050 and as lunchtime was over, he wanted to know more about the initiative and our motivation in pursuing it. Yes, waiters do read and waiters do care like anybody else in preserving our common quality of life. If they weren't, they could easily find jobs in the cities around us.
So, we asked him:
Is it in the spirit of the Napa Valley to disrespect one's neighbors right to a peaceful enjoyment of their property when we have two public use airports at both ends of the valley?
Is it right to compel our neighbors having to disclose the proximity of a heliport upon the sale of their homes?
Is it right to abuse the right to land a helicopter at vineyards for "direct" agricultural production by flying in consultants, executives and tourists to the detriment of the noise level of our valley?
And yes, law enforcement, fire and emergency providers may land anyway, anywhere and anytime.
In addition, our waiter was curious to know whether it was the Palmaz heliport application, which prompted us to get involved.
According to county records, planning staff alone has spent over 1,000 hours thus far in processing this application, which is still not decided on appeal. Some 100 fearing neighbors had to attend the five all-day hearings to date, had to engage lawyers and consultants to counter the massive amounts the applicant spent on his own experts, consultants and lawyers.
While the applicant reimburses the county for staff time, he does not pay for approximately twice that of the real cost including future pension costs for every hour spent on this application, county overhead for building maintenance, repairs, utilities, equipment upgrades etc. We are the ones who do, and the money is never enough. All, because this helicopter owner doesn't want to drive 10 miles to the Napa airport to fly for recreation and convenience.
As a result and to our common detriment, when applications like these come before the county, they monopolize staff, planning commission and supervisors' time, preventing them from doing the work we expect them to, which is to promote the health and welfare of the Napa valley residents.
For example, instituting proactive procedures when fire danger is imminent and foreseeable well in advance, as it was during our recent devastating fires. How can we be better prepared to prevent fires before they get out of control next time?
We need detailed procedures in place to face the next earthquake. The next flood. What can we do to alleviate the onslaught of commuters, traffic congestion? The list is endless, but it requires our supervisors to allocate their time in the interest of the public rather than that on an application devoid of any public benefit. It helps when applicants fund supervisor campaigns.
When a waiter is joining Napa Vision 2050, we know it is here to stay because it is the sole voice of the residents who have no other representation. They are wooed with empty promises only come election time with their well being forgotten once in office. Special interests have but a handful of votes but a lot of money.
Our waiter was pleased to learn that Napa Vision 2050 will have its sponsored initiatives information forum in January 2018. As always, questions and dissenting positions will be welcomed.
NVR LTE version 12/17/17: When you know Napa Vision 2050 has arrived -- by helicopter
|Bill Hocker - Sep 6, 2017 11:07PM Share
|Donald Williams - Apr 24, 2017 4:48PM |
[Email to County Planner Dana Ayres]
Among bad ideas the proposition of helicopters over Napa County is the worst. One flies directly over my house in Calistoga regularly---circling the neighborhood for about 15 noisy minutes on one occasion. It's a convenience for someone but a horrible quality-of-life degradation for us below.
You can read this in the quiet of your office; but I could not have spoken it to you at my house, if the copter was overhead, because of the clamor. It's that loud.
Please do what you can to prohibit this kind of intrusion into the valley.
|Stephen P. Rae - Feb 28, 2017 1:01PM |
[Email sent to Planning Commission]
28 February 2017
Napa County Planning Commission
1195 Third St., Suite 305
Napa CA 94558
RE: Palmaz Personal Use Heliport Use Permit #P14-00261-UP
Dear Chairperson and Commission Members:
I am writing to register my opposition to the granting of this personal use heliport Use Permit (#P014-00261-UP). The permission to establish such an obtrusive use associated with a residential use in rural Napa County displays a willingness to permit additional such uses in the future, and encourages others to consider doing so.
Currently, the citizens of our County endure frequent helicopter and low level plane traffic over residential and recreational lands. Over the years such traffic has increased. This traffic encroaches on the peace and tranquility that characterizes our valley. The land use assessment of this project fails to reflect the value of the quality of life in our county and disclose how this project may induce its subsequent deterioration.
I am surprised that the potential for this project to encourage others to do the same has not been assessed. And, I am surprised that reference to future review by the Airport Land Use Commission is understood by County staff to address the air traffic consequences of the use permit. Similarly, do we know whether County limits on frequency of use and air traffic patterns will be enforceable over time?
I believe that the Use Permit would open the door to increasing use of the site beyond County limitations and the encouragement of others to establish similar uses throughout the county wherever land and funds are available. Therefore, I suggest that the future cumulative effects of this project do not conform to General Plan considerations, violate the spirit and intent of land use limitations reflected in recent votes by residents, and constitute encouragement to proliferate similar uses in the Napa Valley.
Of course the No Project Alternative does not meet the personal wishes of the applicant. But, when does such a personal convenience outweigh the long-term consequences of further degrading the quality of life in the Napa Valley. Please DENY this use permit application.
Stephen P. Rae, PhD
|Henni Cohen - Feb 27, 2017 9:36PM |
[Email to County Planner Dana Ayres]
Dear Ms. Ayers,
I am writing to express my opposition to the prospect of the approval of a private heliport in Napa County. There is no justification for its approval.
The issues of noise, even with a "low-noise helicopter," restricted number of flights per week, and 'mitigation measures' as hinted at by the consultants who prepared the EIR, have been addressed by other concerned citizens.
The crucial question is why such a facility is needed? The individual in question does not live in an inaccessible area where there is no other way to get to his property. He is within an easy drive of the Napa airport and, surely, the drive would not take longer than a helicopter ride. And what about the times when there is bad weather that would prohibit the flying of the helicopter? The individual would have to drive to his residence under those circumstances. The heliport is merely an extension of the individual's sense of entitlement, to the detriment of his neighbors and Napa County, not a necessity.
If commercial helicopters are banned, shouldn't private ones be as well? They present the same noise, intrusion, and privacy issues that were the basis for the ban on commercial helicopter use.
I do not live on Hagen Road, nor near the proposed site of the heliport. However, as I live off of Soda Canyon, where the number of wineries seems to be proliferating to the detriment of our rural life and there are a number of large properties, I am very concerned about the slippery slope that will be created if the Palmaz heliport is approved. Once one such place is permitted, how can the County deny the application for other heliports? I would hate to see the skies of Napa become congested by private helicopters. Not a pretty thought. The many balloons one sees, especially during the summer, are bad enough, with their noise and sometimes intrusive positions above our homes.
I respectfully suggest that the Planning Commission take these points into consideration as it decides whether to approve or deny the application for the Palmaz heliport. And I believe that the only decision is to deny the application for a private heliport in Napa.
Thank you for your consideration.
Palmaz at the Planning Commission - Day 1
|Bill Hocker - Mar 1, 2017 10:10PM Share
NVR 3/1/17: Napa County planners open Palmaz heliport hearing
The first of two (or three) days of hearings on the proposed Palmaz heliport on Mt. George occurred today at the Napa County Planning Commission. 2 members of the public spoke in support of the project. 46 people spoke in opposition.
The Palmaz heliport is one of the numerous projects that have roiled all who feel the rural tranquility that has been the hallmark of Napa County is slipping away into the maw of an urbanized future. Like Walt and Syar and Yountville Hill and Woolls and Mountain Peak (and APAC) and numerous other projects around the county, the residents come out in mass to protest these tangible examples of the loss of Napa's irreplaceable rural character. Government councils patiently give them due diligence and then sanction more development on the basis that impacts have been abstractly rendered "less-than-significant". But the impacts are
significant, in traffic, loss of affordable housing and local businesses, the littering of vineyards and hillsides with building projects, deforestation, ever more taxes for infrastructure, and now the looming presence of skies filled with helicopters.
The Palmaz heliport should be a no-brainer. The discomfort of the entire population of Napa county having to bear the noise of more helicopters overhead is put against the desire of one person with means to avoid the 10 mile drive to the airport. Given the more remote location of the proposed alternative pad site, it is not even about saving time. There is no public welfare benefit, only a major impact. And yet the county staff has made every effort to find a way that the project can be approved. But, as one protestant said to the commission in the packed chamber "Your job is to oversee the welfare of the community. The community is here and they don't want this project."
While many speakers made the case eloquently about noise and wildlife impacts and the precedent it would set in a place crawling with plutocrats potentially lusting for a helicopter-of-their-own, it was the last public speaker that appropriately seemed to sum up the big picture of Napa's future and what's at stake here:
"My name is Stephen Winiarski. I have a house out there on Mt. George Ave. I'm coming late to the hearing and I don't know what's been said up until now, but I do feel like we're at a watershed moment for the valley where we need to collectively decide what kind of future we want for the valley here, whether it's something that's going to be of, by, and for the 1%er's, or it's going to be something that's for all of us. I feel like the idyllic and bucolic and tranquil nature of the valley which, given, is under pressure, there's something we all need to decide - how we want that to be preserved and how helicopters would negatively impact that lifestyle and that way of life that we all enjoy here in the valley. I think that once this starts then there's really no going back, and there's going to be more and more helicopters. Everyone who can afford it, and wants to have one and has the recsources and place to do it will do it. I understand that the staff is recommending approval. I find that a betrayal, honestly. I just wanted to make my thoughts and feeling known and how negative I believe the impacts would be for all of us. Thank you."
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