|Aug 18, 2014|
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The stress of being a county official
|Bill Hocker - Sep 20, 2017 5:38PM Share
NVR 9/20/17: Highest Paid Napa County Employees
Normally this would be an uninteresting news story except that the second highest paid employee in Napa County - after County Council/acting CEO Minh Tran - turns out to be the Staff Psychiatrist. We always suspected that dealing with a demanding clientele and an irate public was horribly stressful on the courageous and hard-working administrators that keep the county government functioning. Now we know how stressful.
Grand Jury: Please investigate this!
The Town Halls of August
|Bill Hocker - Aug 17, 2017 12:01PM Share
Sup. Pedroza's Town Hall: a difference of opinion
NVR 8/11/17: Napa Supervisor Pedroza on the firing line at town hall meeting
As town halls have been going in this country of late, that of Sup. Pedroza on Aug 7th was a civilized affair. Our Supervisor started out his presentation expecting some disagreement - we may disagree, he said, but disagreements lead to better decisions - and gave a smooth presentation of the background statistics and his program for a healthy future Napa, with more affordable housing and more jobs and a flyover at the Soscol junction. The powerpoint is here.
There was a bit of pushback. The issues that have been of greatest concern to residents in the Soda Canyon, Atlas Peak, Montecello Rd regions were given their most fulsome airing in Cindy Grupp's comments: Citizens are not listened to. Dissenting expert opinions are dismissed out of hand. There is no balance of interests between residents and developers - the developers win every time. The supervisors are ignoring the hundreds of people that showed up for the Mar 10th 2015 joint BOS-PC meeting to protest against the level of development occurring. She quoted from the petitioner in the recent court decision in Sonoma, in its failure to consider the true impacts of development in their CAP: "It is time to admit that perpetual growth is not sustainable."
Other speakers also voiced concern. Yeoryios Appalls asked why, with $80 million in tourism taxes in 2014, the roads aren't fixed. Where is the cost benefit analysis for all the tourism development that is going on. Harris Nussbaum asked how, with 5000 people on the waiting lists for housing and more low paying jobs being added to the county with every project approval, the housing crisis will be solved with a handful of difficult-to-realize low cost housing units in the pipeline. We aren't going to build our way out of the housing crisis. Barbara Gubbia asked how fast-tracking wineries, a proposal Yeoryios appallas called a solution looking for a problem, would benefit residents. Anne Polotas asked about the 1000 opposition signatures ignored in the Mountain Peak decision. Residents don't have a government that listens.
I listen, Sup. Pedroza responded, but I respectfully have a difference of opinion.
As I found out in a previous meeting with Sup Pedroza, at each occasion that the negative trajectory of tourism development is brought up, rather than discussing it, Sup Pedroza cuts off the discussion with, well, we have a difference of opinion. Next question. He knows that the development projects that he is supporting and promoting are generating the traffic and housing problems, and that any discussion that questions that relationship is one discussion that he does not wish to have. Just concentrate on mitigating the impacts.
Sup. Pedroza began his presentation with some raw statistics that seemed in a nutshell to encapsulate our problems: Less than 1%/yr population growth in the county (actually .07% and projected to decline
) probably due to the high cost of housing, and 14% growth in jobs since 2014, (actually 3.1%/yr
) , due mostly to the expansion of the tourism and construction industries. The difference between jobs and housing creation leads to both housing shortages and traffic congestion, the principal impacts that everyone focuses on. The reality is that as long as the new-housing-to-new-jobs ratio remains at 1 to 4, no amount tweaking will alleviate the increasing impacts - they will only get worse.
He also knows that the imbalance will not be solved by building affordable housing - yet he proposes it as a solution. 4 projects were presented that may generate 200 affordable housing units when they are realized years from now. As Mr. Nussbaum pointed out there are 25 times that number of families on waiting lists for affordable housing now. How many more will be waiting by the time the projects are completed. Affordable housing is a feel-good talking point, but no solution to the jobs-housing imbalance
The one solution he will not discuss is on the other side of the housing-jobs equation: limiting job creation by limiting the urban development. It is, of course, against the DNA of any politician to disparage job creation. But job creation is the essence of urbanization, and if the county is interested in remaining an agricultural economy, as it often claims, then job creation in the non agricultural sector must be looked at differently than in a traditional economy based on ever increasing job growth.
The real difference of opinion between this supervisor and many of his constituents, is in whose interests are to be served. Sup Pedroza promotes urban development, through housing projects and infrastructure projects and more tourism while presenting the opinion that such development is necessary to preserve the agricultural lands and rural character treasured by his constituents. It is an opinion that aligns neatly with the banking, real estate, tourism and construction interests that stand to profit from Napa's 50 year legacy of open space preservation. These are, not coincidentally, the same interests that contribute generously to political campaigns.
The citizens that are speaking up, however, are of the opinion that the promotion of such urban development is the death of agriculture and the death of the rural character that they treasure. Indeed they see the rural character disappearing with every building project approved, in traffic congestion, loss of affordable housing and local businesses, a landscape defaced with building projects. Those impacts are not opinions. They are the reality created by an opinion that continuing development projects will have a less-than-significant impact on, or are more important than, our rural, small-town way of life. It is an opinion with which many in the county respectfully, or not so respectfully, disagree.
Napa Vision 2050 Town Hall: a multitude of opinions
NVR 8/11/17: Residents have say at Napa Vision 2050 forum
I wasn't at the Napa Vision town hall three days later. On reading Barry Eberling's account and on reviewing notes taken by a participant at the meeting the proposals seemed to encompass a wide gamut of opinions, some of which might be geared to slowing the urban development of Napa County, and some, like a commuter rail system or affordable housing projects, aimed at reducing impacts to and fears of current residents, will in execution only further urbanize the county and induce future urban growth.
Beyond the absolute moratorium on development, I was looking for suggestions to slow the pace of development, in the way that minimum parcel sizes and 1% housing growth cap and voter approved rezoning did to curb the growth of housing development in past decades. Yet the urban development of Napa county through tourism and industrial uses is every bit as great a threat to the agricultural lands and rural character that housing presented 40 years ago. And the strategies required to stop the urbanization should be just as radical.
As suggested, and as was suggested at the May 10th 2015 joint BOS-PC meeting, a first step would be to consider a big picture general plan that integrates county and city issues and begins to look at a desired limit to ultimate growth of the county. The vision needs to be restated and should answer the question, put to developers as well as preservationists: what do you want the county to look like 50 years hence? (I would like fewer buildings, less traffic and less population than it does now, of course.) And then ask, how does one make it so?
But perhaps even before that, an initiative should be put before the voters to gage support for a radical slowing of urban growth in the county. Or else an initiative proposing to limit the amount of future tourism and industrial development in the way that Proposition A in 1980
limited housing development. Is such a limitation either legal or feasible? Proposition A was challenged and found legal. I don't know if a limitation on tourism or growth in general would be so, and it would probably depend on the metrics used to measure both, but that is the kind of solution, rather than adding more transport infrastructure or housing, that can begin to control the urban trajectory the county is on. Once future development controls are in place then there is the possibility that housing and transport fixes might help.
Proposition A 1980
Napa County Policy AG/LU-119 Growth Management System
The official Policy AG/LU-119 begins on page AG/LU-74 of the Napa County General Plan Land Use Element
Napa Vision 2050 will be having another Town Hall, this time in St. Helena, on Thurs Sep 7th 2017, 7:00pm at the Native Sons Hall, 1141 Oak St.
We didn't elect the staff
|Donald Williams - Aug 15, 2017 7:44PM Share
Background: Our representatives on city councils and the board of supervisors hire helpers, collectively called “staff,” to research topics they need to decide on. Our elected representatives routinely rely on staff’s recommendations regarding the issues that affect us.
Noteworthy: At a recent St. Helena City Council meeting, when dozens of citizens objected to a staff proposal, something remarkable happened. The council heard the citizens and actually voted as the people wished, counter to its staff’s recommendation.
It was remarkable because too often in this county, elected officials hide behind staff. Mr. Pedroza did the other night trying to justify his vote to allow more winery visitors up Soda Canyon Road.
But staff takes its cues from its boss, the board of supervisors. In this county---where planning commissioners and supervisors profess respect for our semi-rural character but incongruously allow ever more visitors and non-agricultural winery events; and where wineries which ignore their permits are forgiven then actually rewarded for their transgression---staff is not blind. It sees how friendly its bosses are to rampant development.
It’s not likely to recommend denial of a project if it can be in any way permitted. And staff, being “expert,” as Pedroza avers, is educated enough to articulate objectivity and defend those recommendations that it understands its bosses like.
Yet---what do the residents of Soda Canyon Road care about staffs’ recommendations? They didn’t elect staff. They elected a representative they thought would respond to their legitimate concerns. They know from daily experience the hazards of that road and the danger of tippling tourists. But as for their supposed representative---he heard staff, not them.
No wonder Napans appealing to their representatives about development feel cynically like Sisyphus. Over and over, same old thing: “less than significant impact.”
Maybe there’s a glimmer of hope. For years, Upvalley residents have been remarking the loss of the semi-rural character of the valley as tourism vies with agriculture for the county’s soul. The Soda Canyon Road travesty is just one example. But it’s been difficult for Down-valley residents, mostly in urban Napa or suburban American Canyon, to appreciate the extent of the county’s transformation from a semi-rural arcadia to a tourist mecca.
Now, at last---judging from robust attendance at the Napa Vision 2050 town forum, and from recent letters to the Register---the tourism plague is infecting Down-valley too. Big hotels are planned. Crowds jam the streets with music festivals. The model trains will vanish. Good-bye small-town Napa.
As for quiet, rural Upvalley Napa County: just a memory.
Unless -- unless we voters realize the decision is ours. We don’t have to elect people who’ll use staff to justify the degradation of Napa County. We can choose representatives who actually hear and respond to what residents want.
St. Helena City Council voted out incumbents. So can we.
NVR LTE version 8/15/17: We didn't elect the staff
CAP at Planning Commission: to be continued...
Facing public discontent, the County lawyers up
BOS strategic planning retreat
|Bill Hocker - Apr 26, 2017 10:34PM Share
|Glenn J. Schreuder - Mar 15, 2017 |
I think we are witnessing the hollowing out of the Napa community:
- Spiraling housing costs.
- Projected declines in public school enrollments.
- Absentee home ownership - vacation/2nd home ownership all over cities from Napa northward.
- Monocultural agriculture (lack of agricultural diversity)
- A single dominant, primary industry (lack of economic diversity)
- Distant corporate ownership replacing family ownership of the means of production.
- A generation of kids who will find they need to leave the community they grew up in or risk becoming part of a significant economic under-class (with some limited exceptions i.e. kids from wealthy families)
- Conspicuous, ostentatious, tasteless displays of material wealth.
Definitely not the Napa I grew up in and not the one I fell in love with.
The spell is broken.
|Amber Manfree - Mar 15, 2017 |
Is it just me, or are county employees concerned about all the same things we are?
Traffic, locals/working professionals being priced out, class conflict, decisions not being based on data, residents concerns not being incorporated in planning decisions, road conditions... the county being sued.
It's a familiar sounding list!
I think it's missing biodiversity/conservation/limits to growth issues, though.
Community Vision Roundtable #1
|Gary Margadant - Mar 24, 2017 10:43AM Share
|Kathy Felch - Mar 24, 2017 |Here is the Ice Breaker
the public is expected to fill out. In addition we were asked to put our answer on a 3x5 card that was read out loud to the group. I would not call our discussion with Leanne/Molly contentious but rather very frank yet polite. Essentially that the process is insulting and not effective to convey to our elected officials what their constituents want them to work on. More detail to share with you at a meeting.
Beckstoffer steps up again
|Bill Hocker - Jan 7, 2016 1:12PM Share
NVR 1/6/16: Beckstoffers preserve 25 acres of St. Helena farmland
In this 2015 article from the Virginia Quarterly Review
, James Conaway quotes Andy Beckstoffer:
"At this point I have to decide what my career's worth. Never in the history of mankind has agriculture withstood urban growth long-term, but here we have the best chance. Agriculture's clearly the highest and best use of the land, but whether that will save it I can't say."
I have used the middle sentence as a touchstone in describing what all of the activism is about these last 2 years. But the first sentence is important here: his career and legacy as a steward of agricultural land (profitable to be sure) is worth more than the increased profits to be made by converting his fields into tourist attractions. Is it up to Andy Beckstoffer to individually save the agricultural base of the county, when the government is unwilling itself to stand up to good-life entrepreneurs for whom growing things is just not profitable enough; and to stand up for its own general plan vision of a "sustainable rural community"? It may be. He is, of course, in a better position than anyone to withstand the urban growth encroaching into the vineyards in the form of event centers. But more will have to stand up to ensure the long-term viability of a rural Napa county.
The canard gets repeated often these days that it's either tourism or houses. It's not. It just takes a recognition and acceptance on the part of individuals and our government that maintaining the agriculture is more important than maximizing profits. It was the same decision that was made in 1968. Decide to forego some profit (not all because Napa grapes are a profitable investment, as Andy Beckstoffer well knows) and agriculture survives, without the urbanization that development interests seek.
One of the things that has maintained the energy needed for this quixotic quest to save the county from itself has been the recognition that at least some growers, and some vintners, see that the development trends in the county will not allow their way of life, their careers, to survive into the future. Few have been willing to stand up publicly, either from fear of losing potential future profits, or from a sense of omertà among the fellowship of the wine industry. Lets hope this is an indication that the attitude is changing.
More on Andy Beckstoffer on SCR here:
More James Conaway
Beckstoffer on development in St Helena
Beckstoffer Vineyards letter on code enforcement
The nature of the process
|Bill Hocker - Dec 3, 2015 1:03PM Share
After the agenda review at the end of the Dec 2nd planning commission meeting, (and apparently to an empty chamber) Commissioner Cottrell voiced her appreciation for the work that staff had done on the Tench winery in moving the project to the point that it was able to receive nothing but kudos leading to its approval.
Her comment triggered a long (12 minute) exchange between staff and the commission about the changing nature of the staff-applicant interaction and the nature in the conditions everyone was now working under that was well worth listening to. It begins at approximately 3:38:00 into the video
Climate Action Plan Public meeting #1
|Bill Hocker - Nov 11, 2015 4:56PM Share
NVR: County climate action plan heats up
I attended the first CAP public meeting on Nov 9th. I'm not sure that the GHG trail that I created from Berkeley and back again was worth it. It was principally a powerpoint presentation by the consulting firm, Ascent Environmental Inc., hired by the county to do their CAP, laying out the process for producing a CAP. The powerpoint presentation is here.
People had some questions - position statements really. One person in the audience was quite concerned that CAP's do not really look at the problem holistically, for example assessing the entire lifecycle of the wine industry in its generation of GHG's.
Dir. Morrison was quick to remind everyone that the county can only assess a very small part of global climate change (they have no ability to influence the GHG's produced by county municipalities much less the rest of the world). The county is already doing more than most CA counties, most US states and most of the nations of the world. It has a 1%/yr growth limit on housing, and voter regulated ag zoning protection. The CAP is drafted to respond to the requirements of State Assembly Bill AB32
which is proscriptive about its areas of concern.
In the most memorable statement of the evening to me, Dir. Morrison did admit that while he was in Yolo County they did an analysis showing that an acre of urbanized land produced something around 100 times the amount of GHG's produced by an acre of farmland. But this was not the kind of abstract analysis asked for in the CAP. CAP mitigations might be used to try to reduce the GHG's of various specific practices but CAP is not a tool to promote policy regulations limiting urban development entirely. (Such as a 1%/yr limit on job creation or non-residential building area.)
As the speaker pointed out, without allowing the mega questions to be asked and the mega solutions to be proposed, the CAP was principally designed to be an environmental (and governmental) fig leaf that allows GHG producing development to continue. Like widening highways, reducing GHG without also reducing the urban development that creates the problems just means more development while at best the problems remain the same.
As I have tried to point out in my own screed on growth issues
, the concept is out there of a no-growth, sustainably stable economic future. Napa, with its high value agricultural economy dependent on restrained urban growth, is in a better position than most to realize a successful no-growth economy.
Ms. Walters of Ascent Environmental indicated that the place to take up the larger questions of development and climate change are at Scoping Workshops
of the State Air Resources Board. (although the guiding principals of the Scoping plan to "create jobs and support a robust workforce" and embody a "market based program" seems to be stacking the deck against success).
Update - Climate Action Plan public meeting #2:
NVR 2/26/16: County tallies up its greenhouse gas emissions
The Climate Action Plan Nov 5th and 9th
|Bill Hocker - Nov 3, 2015 9:15PM Share
The Napa Sierra Club is hosting a community meeting on Nov 5th to explain how the latest climate science shows global warming can be slowed and discuss specifically what we in Napa can do.
Location: Napa Main Library
Contact Christina Benz
Jim Wilson LTE: Why not value oak woodlands for climate effects?
Jim's LTE is the latest in a string in a buildup to the county's Climate Action Plan discussions
on Nov 9th.
Patricia Damery LTE: Response on vineyards and carbon dioxide
Christine Tittle LTE 10/20/15: On forests and vineyards
Mark Luce LTE 10/16/15: Vineyards also offer environmental benefits
Mel Boybosa LTE 8/3/15: Vineyards don't do better than forests
NVR 7/2015: Napa County resuming work on a climate action plan
Merenlender et al. conversion of native habitat to vineyard case study
Grismer, Asato: woodland to vineyard conversion stresses groundwater supply
Carlisle et al: Effects of conversion of woodlands to vineyards synopsis
Williams et al: Carbon assessment across vineyard-woodland landscape
Lawrence L Lab: Forests contribute to golbal warming
County's Climate Action Plan page
County voluntary oak woodland management plan
Napa County 2012 Climate Action Plan
(too hard on the wine industry apparently)
Supervisor Luce seems to have thrown down the gauntlet with the recent editorial
on the environmental benefits of vineyards as opposed to woodlands. I'm sure that the issue of vineyard conversion will be a major topic in the climate discussions.
As the studies above do or don't show there may be difference in the global warming contribution of CO2 between woodlands and vineyards. The facts presented by the studies are, like many facts, interpreted to the benefit of a thesis on the part of the researcher. (Are eggs healtful or not?
) But intuitively, in the short term, the conversion of woodlands to vineyards can't be a good thing CO2-wise. Hundreds of years of stored carbon in wood and soil are cut down, dug up, released and burned back into the atmosphere by D10 cats belching smoke for months. And then the vines are tended ever after by diesel tractors and watered by pumps running most of the year (depleting aquifers that may be thousands of years in the making). The forests just sit there storing carbon and replenishing the aquifer. (OK, there is the occasional forest fire.)
Once the climate change horror of the conversion has taken place, I suspect that the climate impacts of forests versus vineyards when considered as abstract ecosystems are really small when compared to the impacts of the hundreds of thousands of vehicle trips that new urban growth and tourism, heavily promoted by the municipalities and county (and Supervisor Luce), will bring into the valley each year. The conversion of forests and vineyards into buildings, roadways, parking lots and gravel pits (and vineyard-themed subdivisions) should play a much more important role in the discussions.
Little will be accomplished in the way of global warming until we stop the real growth problem causing it: the growth in the world's population and the urban development necessary to accommodate it. Unfortunately, real population control is probably not something Napa governments have the courage to take on. But they can make some effort to stop promoting the influx into the county of a transient population (tourists and workers) and of creating the urban development and greenhouse gasses necessary to accommodate it. Napa in the last 50 years has done a good job on the urban growth front, which is why many of us are here. Unfortunately that commitment is wavering, and an attitude that selling things is a higher use of the land than growing things has begun to take hold. A recommitment to the original intent of the ag preserve
, to protect a rural place from urban development, is one local way to combat climate change and should be a part of the CAP discussion.
Keeping up with the news
|Bill Hocker - Aug 27, 2015 10:21PM Share
A news link feed that keeps up with the totality of the world's wine industry with a lot on the North Bay: WineBusiness.com
Current Projects in the County Planning Department
|Bill Hocker - Aug 20, 2015 6:09PM Share
The county now has a current projects page on their website which lists projects under review with links to their documents. They are still in the process of getting the projects up. The page is here
63 winery events every day
|Norma Tofanelli - Aug 10, 2015 7:21PM Share
Almost a month ago, APAC staff report for 7/13 revealed that 23,000 events have already been approved at wineries.
These are vested - cannot be reduced or taken away.
23,000 annual events:
= 63 per day
= 442 per week
= 1916 per month
And APAC is poised to offer a formula to approve yet more.
March 10 forum focus = issues with winery event centers and traffic.
I thought this was the most explosive data revealed yet by the county.
Yet I have not heard any concern, other than from Mike Hackett, from 2050 or the public in general.
No comment at APAC, no letters to editor, no comment at BoS meetings (other than Geoff)
Is there no concern? What is the strategy?
? ? ?
Mike Hackett adds:
It's the most disturbing fact to come out of the TPAC hearings ( tourism protection advisory committee) and I'm writing an LTE at this moment regarding this issue. I'm unable due to other mandatory appointments to attend this morning, so I'm hopeful that Geoff and others will bring this, once again, to the forefront.
It seems obvious that the impact of tourism is screwing life up for our residents, but the politicians want to maintain the same future growth. Sad but true.
|Bill Hocker - Aug 10, 2015 6:24PM Share
[link sent to George Caloyannidis from Asst. Planning Director John McDowell]
Principles of Napa County League of Governments
NCLOG was (is) an organization set up between the municipalities and the county because of the lawsuit over affordable housing
filed against the county in 2002 (and that led to the pursuit of the Napa Pipe project
. The lawsuit helps to explain the county's paranoia that the project may not happen.)
At the Mar 10th joint meeting of the Planning Commission and BOS
one of the commitments made was to form an ad hoc committee involving the municipalities and the County to begin to address the growth issues confronting the county. That committee has yet to be formed. This League would, of course be an ideal structure to begin to confront those issues.
Mike Hacket adds (to George Caloyannidis):
So now we have two official County docs (see here
) that mandate reducing traffic and actually caring about the quality of our residents. You found them both, so we all owe you a world of thanks. Whether referencing these 2 documents can alter the course of action from the BOS or Planning Commish is doubtful. Follow the money.
Climate Action Plan 2 at the BOS
|Chris Malan - Jul 14, 2015 9:46AM Share
BOS agenda item 6H 7/14/15
Hello Board of Supervisors,
With the contract being approved today for CAP 2 Napa County must reduce carbon emissions by:
1.) reducing green house gas emissions-no trade offs-but calling for all projects new and established to reduce GHGs so we join in other efforts statewide to reduce the devastating and dangerous human impacts causing climate change
2.) protect and promote sequestration of GHG through natural eco-systems for the health safety and welfare of Napa-our forests and wild lands are not suitable for agricultural/vineyards (deforestation)
We look forward to a robust CAP2 that protects and conserves our natural resources which is the genisus of clean and available water sources for all who live here, including the animals.
Auction Napa Valley
|Bill Hocker - Jun 9, 2015 8:51AM Share
Successful Auction adds millions to help valley
Few will take issue with an infusion of $15 million to organizations providing needed and often underfunded services to the Napa community. Harnessing of the desire of some for conspicuous displays of wealth and attainment of the good life to provide help to others for an improvement of their lives is the true magic of Auction Napa Valley.
Unfortunately, no doubt, several bidders will now be looking to build a winery of their own to more substantially participate in the good life they have found here, and the dynamic that turns an agricultural environment into a wine-themed playground for the wealthy will continue.
Grassroots Guide to CEQA's Purpose, Power and Process
|David Heitzman - May 30, 2015 9:16AM Share
This workshop will be an introduction to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
with a focus on its purpose and implementation especially intended to empower residents and groups with the ability to affect decisions at the local level.
We are fortunate to have speakers who are expert in the application of CEQA. California State Parks, Office of Historic Preservation has offered their CEQA expert to speak and adjusted his work schedule to ensure that he could speak at this event. This is big. Their logo and name is on the flyer. Amy Minteer, Esq. is travelling from Southern CA to speak. David Morrison is coming on Saturday and understands the value of this information. My wife has also offered to distribute the flyer to her organization’s (California Preservation Foundation) members in the North Bay and will help moderate the program.
The flier is here.
Saturday, June 6, 2015
10:00am - 4:00pm
Napa Valley College, Community Room
2277 Napa Vallejo Hwy
Napa, CA 94558
Registration fee $35/$45
Register online here
A snail mail registration form is here
Volker Eisele's second memorial
|Bill Hocker - Apr 20, 2015 12:15PM Share
A second memorial for Volker Eisele, co-hosted by the Napa Farm Bureau
, the JLDAgFund
, and the Napa Valley Vintners
took place at the Charles Krug winery on April 19th. (The NVR article is here
) While his tenacious protection of the agricultural ideal over the last 40 years was duly lauded, many felt that the the best memorial to the man would be to continue his work. Norma Tofanelli, president of the NFB, in her closing remarks at the event embodied this attitude:
"We are once again in the trenches. In response to growing public concern over the burdens of Napa Valley’s increasing commercial success, the Napa County Supervisors have just formed the Napa County Agricultural Protection Advisory Committee to once again ask the perennial Napa Valley question: “how much is too much?” As our wineries increasingly become event centers on ag land and traffic delays impact every resident, commuting worker, tourist and farming operation - how much is too much? Most afternoons, it takes over an hour to travel the 25 miles from Calistoga to Napa. A week ago, traffic into Calistoga on the highway was backed up for over 2 miles where it used to back up “only” about a mile or so. And the 2 major luxury Calistoga resorts haven’t even been built yet. How much is enough? More and more, our roads are closed for tourist events and are being taken over by “recreational users”. How many more tourist sardines can we pack in this can before we are all squeezed out? Before we lose any semblance of quality of life for those who live, farm and work here? When do we realize we live in a very tiny valley with very limited resources that are being exploited beyond sustainability? How many more projects will be approved that must rely on trucking their water in and trucking their waste out? When is enough, enough?
"In 1968 a courageous Board of Supervisors passed the revolutionary Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve zoning regulations in an attempt to save the land from being paved over like the rich farming lands of Santa Clara and San Jose, gone forever. In 1990 we argued and passed the Winery Definition Ordinance which sought to preserve the land, but it has proven to be insufficient in preventing increasing commercialism. Now we are facing the same problems, the same foes. For decades, Volker led the battle to save this land while maintaining economic sustainability. He devoted his intellect, his energy and his own funds to fighting to save the farms and wilds. Tom May once told me “Volker is the last man standing”. But he’s not here to lead us this time. Volker once said “...I’m not going to be here forever. And if this county is supposed to be preserved, I mean, there have to be other people, obviously.” WE are those other people. The most meaningful tribute we can pay to Volker, the most honor we can give is to keep up the fight. We must have the courage to say “Basta. Enough IS now enough.” For Volker, for the land, for the wilds, for future generations."
Norma J. Tofanelli 5/19/15
Boisset hosts another party
More James Conaway
|Bill Hocker - Mar 31, 2015 10:40AM Share
Dan Mufson and Geoff Ellsworth sent a link to this James Conaway article:
Napa Valley and the Jeffersonian Ideal
Great photographs by Peter Menzel
including his one of Andy Beckstoffer (who says, eloquent as always, "At this point I have to decide what my career's worth. Never in the history of mankind has agriculture withstood urban growth long-term, but here we have the best chance. Agriculture's clearly the highest and best use of the land, but whether that will save it I can't say."):
Ah, the ironies of environmental preservation
|Bill Hocker - Mar 23, 2015 2:30PM Share
This received via Next Door Soda Canyon:
|Bill Hocker - Mar 20, 2015 2:39PM Share
NVR: Possible Indian casino plan alarms vintners, county
NVR: Local groups meet to analyze casino threat
(Including Vision 2050 quote!)
NVR: Judge rules against Wappo tribal recognition lawsuit
Read the comments to the articles: a lot of satire surrounding the idea that the vintners have ruined the valley already with their lust for the tourist dollar, so who are they to protest one more tourist attraction. Whether the potshots are sincere or warranted or not, the idea is out there that the valley is becoming something that none of us, residents, growers or vintners, want to see and the wine industry shares most of the blame for not controlling tourism growth when it was powerful enough to do so.
Now, as the development and tourist industries have begun to dominate the future economics of the county, with interests that align naturally with the money, jobs and development that might accompany a casino, the wine industry is beginning to get nervous. How fortuitous that a NIMBY army has already become mobilized in its pushback against the wine industry, a force that can now be enlisted by the vintners and the county against the casinos.
Volker Eisele Memorial Tribute
|Daniel Mufson - Mar 20, 2015 10:12AM Share
Colaitioneers, we've been invited to join in this tribute to Volker Eisele. Let's all plan to attend to honor him--who gave us the Ag Preserve we are striving to defend.
Death in Paradise
|Bill Hocker - Mar 19, 2015 5:00PM Share
NY Times: A Vineyard Dispute, $800,000 in Cash and Two Dead in Napa
Wine Industry Insight has been tracking the story here
Following on the Jeff Hill story
of wine-industry ambition run amok, this terrible tragedy concerning Robert Dahl and his investor is starting to shine a light on a dark undercurrent that until now has just been the subject of less sinister parody and scorn about the valley. The Napa Valley has become too glamourous, too obsessed with the good-life, too much about the expression of wealth and elevation of ego - and no longer about the creation of wine. A winemaker sums up the attitude so clearly in the NYT article: “It’s not about the wine or the work that goes into it, It’s about the lifestyle — drinking wine every night and having great dinners.”
Most of the individuals behind the vast increase of boutique wineries in the last decade are not as insane in their ambitions or unrealistic in their prospects as these two cases suggest; but for many the ambitions no longer represent the simple desire to make the best wine in the world, and that is a cause for concern.
It needs to be asked again if the the resources of land and water that support this agricultural economy and the rural way of life that residents cherish are to be jeopardized by the vanity of the wealthy and the ambitious seeking trophy investments. There may be a limit to the demands of conspicuous consumption that can be placed on a community before it disintegrates under the load, just as there surely is for individuals.
Road Closures at the BOS, Mar 17th
|Gary Margadant - Mar 15, 2015 11:04PM Share
Mar 17th planning commission agenda
10B - road closures
Some interesting facts about Road Events.
We can comment on the procedure at the BOS meeting on tuesday OR you can send in your suggestions via email to your supervisor of choice.
David's staff report talks about a public benefit, but only mentions money to a Non Profit in Napa County.
But what is the benefit to the Residents? Visitors? Napa County'
Also, after reading the pertinent code, I noticed 10.24.080 B, where the permit will have automatic approval if the director has not acted on the application within the time period set forth in subsection (A)......
The permit application window is 1 year in advance up to 60 days before the event, BUT the director only has 20 working days to review and approve the event. (gosh, this sounds familiar to our normal treatment). THIS sounds like it favors the applicant.
See 10.24.120 for Appealing the granted permit: THE public has only 4 working days after the approval decision to appeal the approval. WHAT, ONLY 4 DAYS. This favors the applicant and Director over the residents along the roads. And then there is noticing? How can the . residents of NC and residents along the route receive notice in 4 days? For that matter, what is the noticing requirement?
And then there is 1.20.150 violation penalties. What is the penalty?. In 6/15/04 punishment was $100 fine.
Geoff Ellsworth has a casting call!
Diane Shepp and Dan Mufson honored by County
|Bill Hocker - Mar 3, 2015 9:23AM Share
Diane Shepp (president of Protect Rural Napa) and Dan Mufson (Chairman of Vision 2050) have been honored by the Supervsors of Napa County for their work on the Napa County Grand Jury. The presentation and proclamation of Grand Jury Awareness Month by Diane Dillon will be viewable on the county viewable on the county video archive when available with the presentation starting at 00:10:30 into the video.
Imagine Napa a national treasure!
|Jim Wilson - Feb 27, 2015 4:50PM Share
I'm a tourist in the village of Mendocino. I love this place because it never changes. Plus I can breathe.
A group of residents got together and petitioned to have it put on the National Registry of Historical Places effectively freezing it as it was in 1971. Not long after neighbors petitioned the State to make the surrounding property on the headlands a State Park. They got that too.
Resident activists argued that the coastal aquifer was at risk and no further extraction should be permitted. You can't build. There's no municipal water district. Just wells on individual lots. They only have a sewer district and what they call the Historical Review Board. That board has immense power and it's said they don't cave to developers. There's nothing to develop but occasionally a merchant wants to hang a sign or change the color. They won't won't get a variance.
The photo here is of a California Legislature proclamation. The last "Whereas" reads, "The community of Mendocino has preserved the 19th Century village and guarded its rich history." Then it resolves to commemorate its founding.
If Napa's a National treasure let's really preserve it. Let's put Bill Dodd to work on a resolution saluting the ag preserve on its 50th anniversary with an annual celebration to follow. What would the founders think? Farm or Funville?
Dan Mufson adds:
Ah, the sun setting beyond the coast. The waves lapping. But no mega winery in town. The
Halls could rejuvenate the place in a matter of moments. Chrome sea lions. The sun cries.
The meaning of viewshed
|Bill Hocker - Feb 16, 2015 11:32AM Share
I was out taking pictures up near Dear Park and the Trail yesterday and I took some of the Titus Winery under construction. I came back and looked at the site in Google Street view and realized what is at stake in the construction of these vanity wineries. It is an issue that came up in the Yountville hearing, perhaps because it is such a prominent location, but doesn't seem to play a big part in other projects - yet the impact is just as great.
The view below is just as you emerge from a wooded area of the Trail heading south and the grand expanse of the Napa Valley opens up before you. It is a majestic evocation about what the Napa Valley is. Or was. We now have a tourism event center in the way: Roll over to view:
Winery loading and traffic jams.
|Daniel Mufson - Feb 16, 2015 8:49AM Share
So much for private property
Gary Margadant adds:
Ah, the Yountville Hill Saga.
Please note that you just passed Consentino Winery, a pre WDO, that never planned for deliveries from large articulated Lorries. So the trucks never enter the winery and park along 29 and in the center lane to off load supplies and equipment . The neighbors are not happy. Call 911 if you ever experience this. (or 253 0911 direct to local 911 dispatch if using a cell phone) (if you call 911 on a cell phone, it goes directly to Golden Gate CHP in Benecia).
Do you think these people need a permit from the CHP to stage this vineyard tour/protest since it affects traffic safety. Geoff ? What is the difference between this and signs?
A phenomena commonly experienced in Maui when the whales are jumping. Everyone stops abruptly and runs to the edge.
Geoff Ellsworth adds:
I guess I figured it out, this is a bad precedent, once we get in some practice in with our signs we can maybe figure how to strategically place them and perhaps work with CHP to get them to respond directly to incidents like this. Are you in contact with the upset neighbors?
County CEQA EIR and notification hearing, Feb 10th
|Bill Hocker - Feb 4, 2015 4:01PM Share
[Email from Deputy Director John McDowell at the County Planning Dept]
Dear Regular Customers of Napa County,
As you may recall, late in the 2014 Staff solicited your feedback on draft changes to the County’s Local Procedures for Implementing the California Environmental Quality Act. This item went before the Planning Commission on December 17, 2014. Thank you to those who submitted comments at that time. Updates include:
1) amend the County's local procedures for implementing CEQA to eliminate the option of allowing applicants to contract directly with environmental consultants for preparation of CEQA documents including Environmental Impact Reports;
2) expand the radius of public notice provided regarding CEQA documents from 300 feet to 1,000 feet from the project parcel; and
3) other non-substantive clerical corrections.
Next Tuesday morning, the 10th day of February, 2015, at 9:15 a.m., the Board of Supervisors will be conducting a public hearing
to consider adoption the proposed changes as recommended by the Planning Commission. The public hearing will be held at the South County Campus, 2741 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, Building 2, South County Campus Large Conference Room, Napa, California.
The Department Staff Report, as well as the latest version of the proposed CEQA Procedures will be available through the Board of Supervisors February 10, 2015 agenda web page either this afternoon or tomorrow. http://napa.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=21
Please contact Brian Bordona (email address above) or at 259-5935 if you have questions or comments.
Interesting data from BOS on Trail closings
|Norma Tofanelli - Feb 2, 2015 11:56AM Share
Trail closing data
- NV Marathon is an old one but closing the roads increasingly a problem for locals also.
Gary Margadant adds;
Interesting piece of information. 5 of the 13 events on Silverado Trail close the road, pushing all the traffic over to 29. The other 8 will disturb the traffic. Mark you calendars for dates to avoid the Trail.
And then there is the question of other road closures. I note that the script across the document top indicates that this doc is only for Silverado Trail. To discover the full impact of Road Events we need to ask Steve Lederer or his deputy Director (Roads), Rick Marshall, for information/copies pertaining to other road events in NC.
I tried searching the County Web Site for this information, but it was not available via a google search.
Norma Tofanelli adds:
Yes - very interesting.
Now the roads are tourist commercial....
Another good piece of data and good visual, I think, would be another column to the Yountville Hill winery application spreadsheet - what they asked for vs what PC gave - bet they are the same.
Don't think they've denied or knocked down any numbers?
|Jim Wilson - Feb 2, 2015 9:00AM Share
Some thoughts based on our [PRN Board] meeting yesterday:
I mentioned Pennie Opal Plant and Shannon Biggs, cofounders of Movement Rights. I'd like to invite them to speak to our various neighborhood associations in the Grand Coalition. They have experience in the community rights process. I'm working on it. http://www.movementrights.org
Some thoughts on strategy and action items and measures. This document (attached) is based on pre-gathering-of-the-tribes meetings held in my neck-of-the-woods leading up to the launch of the GC. We didn't complete the details of our lobbying actions or community outreach. Emphasis is the respect and valuing of our watersheds.
I'm looking at our mission statement.
Dedicated to promoting land conservation awareness, education and outreach in Napa County for the benefit of current and future generations.
As far as conservation I'd emphasize the need for climate-friendly planning in all we do from now on. The latest science - and not-so-latest science, to be honest - demands a moral choice. Either we live in harmony with Nature or wreck it. We know that to have conservation, or a livable planet, we need a workable climate. Napa County is one of of the three counties in the 9-county BAAQMD that does not have a Climate Action Plan. The BAAQMD is busy planning for absolute carbon emission reductions of 80%(!) by 2050. I wonder if all the wine we pour is a sign of blissful ignorance, or desperation.
David Morrison headed up CAP in Yolo Co but he hesitates to go all in. Napa is uniquely qualified to lead since the industry has so much to lose if we fail to drastically reduce GHG pollution starting now. This is not hyperbole and all we need to do is point to January's issue of Scientific American and the fate of Napa wine in a business-as-usual scenario. But Napa's leaders are climate freeloaders. We don't want to hear about China and India. We need our supervisors to be climate leaders now and we will need a strategy to grow the political will to do that.
In last Sunday's Press Democrat, a few days after reporting Guy Fieri's winery was unanimously rejected by the Board of Zoning Adjustments - again below the fold of section B - the homage to Bill Kortum. He worked on getting Coastal Commission ballot initiative, PG&E's nuke plant at Bodega Bay, and a variety of Sonoma Co conservation efforts. But what struck me was how one eulogist called him the opposite of NIMBY. He was an IMBY.
We need to be IMBYs. We're going to be painted as nay-sayers. Paul Woolls pulled this on the Mt Veeder Stewardship folks: You say No to everything. Whether that's true or not isn't the point. If we are to come to a change in our collective consciousness regarding our watersheds and neighbors treating neighbors humanely, we are going to need to provide a vision for a better place. A Yes to the better place, making us neighborhood associations the IMBYs of conscientious care of our land and ourselves. As promoters of land conservation we promote the conservation of the fragile climate on which nature - birthing grounds for future generations - is wholly dependent.
Speaking of Climate Leadership, there's a large rally in Oakland Saturday 2/7
. I think this would be a valuable experience for us if you haven't been to one lately. We can lend support to a state-wide cause and come away energized with new ideas for our Napa awareness and outreach efforts.
Ron Cowan adds:
See attached winery GHG emissions chart
. Add to to these figures the GHG emissions due to grape pomace disposal.
The next 50 years!
|Bill Hocker - Jan 23, 2015 5:41PM Share
At the Planning Commission hearing for Girard (continued) and Larkmead (approved) on Jan 21st, 2015, I got to see the shape of the new planning commission in action and I must say that I was a bit giddy by the end. Heather Phillips, in the chairperson's position, has been the lead force in giving voice to the damaging impacts that ever increasing tourism will have on a sustainable agriculture economy in the valley, and she was not letting up in her questioning on these two projects.
The new commissioner, Anne Cottrell, appointed by Supervisor Dillon to replace Bob Fiddaman, was savvy enough to bring up the issue of grape sourcing
in the Girard situation, a topic that the opponent didn't bring up. It was a major question since the Clos Pegase across the street is owned by the applicant and is a pre WDO winery not required process Napa grapes, but one that probably uses Napa grapes now - exactly the issue at the heart of the capacity question
And Commissioner Pope was back! 'What is this valley going to look like in 30 to 50 years', he asked. Just as he framed the question about a tourism versus agricultural economy in May, this question is at the heart of the debate that is going to happen this year beginning in March. The debate has shifted from the specifics of the WDO to the real question the county needs to deal with: how does the agricultural economy survive another 50 years of development pressure. We normally hear about the development that has been prevented in the last 45years, but the reality is that the amount of development that has occurred and is about to occur is enormous. If the rate of change continues another 50 years the Napa-Vallejo metropolitan area will probably include St. Helena and the rest will be Town 'n' Country malls, à la the Nut Tree, extolling the virtues of rural life.
And as if all this weren't enough, Deputy Planning Director John McDowell suggested one approach among several 'on the table' this year was to stop all development! Heady stuff.
Hard at work for you
|Daniel Mufson - Jan 23, 2015 3:05PM Share
Napa supervisors tour Argentine wine region
“You want your decision-makers to be broad thinkers and this broadens your experience and knowledge in those three areas that are extremely important to Napa – the relationship between tourism, government and agriculture,” Supervisor Luce said last week.
Today these photos (click photo to download) of them hard at work were posted in the agenda for the next Supervisor’s meeting:
Volker Eisele Eulogy
|Bill Hocker - Jan 8, 2015 9:48AM Share
Jon-Mark Chapellet was one of those giving a eulogy at Volker Eisele's memorial and his portrait of the man and of his cause are well worth reading. He graciously sent me a copy:
It’s a great honor to have known Volker and consider him a close friend. No matter what I say at this point though I couldn’t do his legacy justice, nor could I begin to express my sadness in his passing. My heart goes out especially to Liesel, Christiana, Alex, Catherine, Simone and Triston.
The man had a big life and a legendary personality that you felt from the moment you met him. Unless you spoke German though you were likely to be corrected in the pronunciation of his name. For the linguistically impaired he would often accept, as passable, changing the “V” to an “F” and just saying “Folker.” Those with a true sense of adventure could take a step further, swallow the “r” and try to get it right. He might let you know how you did with a “ya” if you got close or a raised eye brow if you didn’t.
I’ve put together some words that help me describe the person I knew.
He was Fearless, Gracious, Thoughtful, Generous, Tireless, Funny, Shrewd, Insightful, Inspirational.
He was an Activist, Organizer, Fundraiser, Political strategist, Historian, Visionary, Public intellectual, Mentor, Organic farmer, Opera lover, Nature lover, Hiker, Mushroom forager, Grape grower, Fruit tree cultivator, Pate lover, Cheese hater, Business owner, Tour guide, CCD teacher, Choir singer, and this list could go on and on but most of all he was a Friend.
Getting together with Volker was delightful and fun but often made me feel like I should be doing more for my family, my community and more to preserve this land. It wasn’t that he was trying to make me feel guilty, but he was just leading by example. I’m not sure that he ever actually told anyone what was truly on his plate but he was always thinking big and taking action.
Though his politics were decidedly partisan and his approach was often confrontational, he spent his life working with everyone and anyone that could understand the need to protect agricultural land and open space as an always threatened and irreplaceable resource. On his watch, and largely due to his efforts, we have retained nearly all of the County land designated for agriculture and open space since the founding of the Ag Preserve.
A true believer in democracy, Volker felt that the best way to ensure the continuation of the Ag Preserve was to entrust it to the citizens of the County. Thus, with the help of many who shared his vision, Measure J was born and later extended by Measure P which takes it out to 2051. We talked about it being our descendants who would once again be called upon to consider this legacy.
Thanks largely to the work that he did, the sacredness of the Ag Preserve is a fact that almost everyone in this county now takes for granted. As a marker of this, note that no one running for political office from the left, right or center could be elected if they didn’t unequivocally support this heritage. So, mission accomplished and we can all go about our business until 2051, right? Volker was never that naive. Our own successes in making beautiful wines in this seemingly preserved idyllic setting have created new challenges that he knew must be addressed. Traffic impacts, regional growth imperatives, local development schemes, winery definition issues, and environmental concerns of all types were all on his radar and agenda.
At 77 years of age, he was happy to have Alex and the rest of his family by his side to take over the reins of the business but he showed no signs of, nor interest in, slowing down when it came to political engagement. In fact I could never keep up with all of the things that he was involved with at any given moment. His light shown all over this valley and beyond and it’s now up to us to keep it burning bright.
Our friend is and will be missed for a long, long time to come by all who knew him. Volker, we love and admire you and will always be inspired by your work and your heart.
Hundreds pay tribute to Volker Eisele
Also these Letters to the Editor:
Eisele helped define what napa is
Volker Eisele: leader, hero, friend
Angwin loses a stalwart friend
Eisele family thanks well-wishers
Eisele's widow: pay tribute by continuing Volker's work
Volker Eisele 1937-2015
|Bill Hocker - Jan 2, 2015 8:58PM Share
Agricultural land advocate Volker Eisele dies
Many people are responsible for the fact that Napa County doesn't look like Santa Clara County and that it retains a robust agricultural economy and rural character. But the embodyment of that effort, the strategist behind its realization and an articulate voice of conscience for the cause was Volker Eisele. The county still faces the same pressures from development interests that he spent his life containing, and his loss makes those dangers all the greater. I only met him once, briefly, yet I have the feeling that lamentations and eulogies would not be his style. There are challenges now to the legacy he helped create, and hopefully the best memorial to his life will be to find the necessary resolve to protect that legacy another 45 years.
Rue Ziegler's interview of Volker Eisele for the JLD Ag Fund is here
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
|Carol Kunze - Dec 16, 2014 4:47PM Share
To All Napa Land Conservation Advocates -
We have all fought long and hard to protect the land in Napa.
You have an opportunity this Friday to help permanently protect all the federal lands in the Berryessa Snow Mountain area
(http://berryessasnowmountain.org), including over 40,000 acres of public land in eastern Napa County.
A number of national and regional conservation organizations, including the Sierra Club, have been working with local activists on a campaign to permanently protect the federal lands in the Berryessa Snow Mountain area by having it designated as a National Monument - which would ensure the land remains public open space forever.
Two months ago, President Obama designated the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California as a National Monument. Nine months ago, the President designated the Point-Arena-Stornetta Pubic Lands in Mendocino County as a National Monument.
This Friday, officials from the Obama Administration are coming to Napa for a public meeting on whether the Berryessa Snow Mountain area - that includes over 300,000 acres of federal land in Napa, Solano, Yolo, Lake and Mendocino counties - should be designated as a National Monument.
The meeting will be hosted by Congressman Mike Thompson, with guests including Congressman John Garamendi, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Bonnie, and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.
Proponents of National Monument designation for this area believe the land should remain public open space for the benefit of current and future generations, providing both wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.
This meeting is the one opportunity to show the Executive branch of the national government that we want our federal open space lands to be permanently protected.
We need people to come to show their support. Can you join us?
Berryessa Snow Mountain Public Meeting
Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center
Friday, Dec. 19th 2014
2277 Napa Vallejo Hwy, Building 100
Napa, CA 94559
For more information about the Berryessa Snow Mountain or the Meeting this Friday, contact Carol Kunze (email@example.com
Napa Sierra Club
Our new supervisor
|Bill Hocker - Dec 10, 2014 2:39PM Share
Barry Eberling has an article out on Bill Dodd's replacement (with lots of comments):
Pedroza applies to fill Dodd's Board of Supervisors seat
I don't know Alfredo Pedroza, but the article raises some questions for those of us interested in the preservation of a rural environment. First, he is being recommended by Bill Dodd whom I closely associate with the development direction that has been dominant in the country since he was elected in 2000. Second, he is a banker, a profession traditionally much more closely aligned to development than to preservation interests. Third, he seems to be moving on from his city council job before he has had a track record, implying more a commitment to a career path than to the issues and people that got him elected. Fourth, his issues of interest mentioned in the article are not encouraging: jobs and housing may be a rallying cry in most places, but not exactly what you want to hear if your goal is to preserve a rural quality of life.
Mr. Pedroza is fulsomely praised as a person who can work with both sides, much as Bill Dodd has been. In Mr. Dodd's case that skill has been used, IMHO, to find the right mitigation or common interest that will allow development to proceeded. It is a skill that needs to be treated with some skepticism.
The most important aspect of the article to me were the instructions on how to apply for the position. Although Mr. Eberling is quite neutral in his presentation, the implication here is that there are still options, and that we should not be afraid to pursue them.
The application for the position is here
Bill Dodd's parting words of wisdom
|Jim Wilson - Nov 25, 2014 4:47PM Share
In case you missed this morning's BOS meeting, some last words from Bill Dodd.
First, to me and Dan, informally, just before the meeting started (paraphrasing):
-Don't be down on Napa Government . Keep pushing your issue. People are listening. They're hearing what you're saying especially on WALT.
Then from his farewell speech:
-Our Napa County staff are second to none.
-Thanks to Keith Caldwell MST is done. He doesn't ask for credit, he just knew it was needed. [We need to meet with Keith]
-Our management staff blows me away how competent and smart these people are. They are RAISING THE BAR and I am very very impressed with them.
-I have never stopped valuing our County employees - all their hard work, the General Plan, emergencies. The best.
-I do this job for a reason. It blows my mind, with all the naysayers, we live in the greatest place ever.
I wonder if the other supervisors feel that way. They also recognized Bill as a guy who always put his family first, and was always available for his constituents. [I'll admit I'll miss him since he was okay by our family. We knew him from church and school as kids. See Leonore's ode to him and his recently deceased mother. She read it to him from the podium during a BOS meeting last year.]
Soooo. Perhaps we can add to Bill's earlier admonition to stick to the facts, like: Yes, we're not naysayers, and yes we love this place! We love our families, we're the best, and yes we're here to help raise the bar! (and draw the line...)
[Jim- you make me feel bad that I brought up the campaign contributions in my Woolls summary. -BH.]
Director Morrison's important debriefing to the PC
|Gary Margadant - Nov 12, 2014 10:53AM Share
The noticing changes and the CEQA procedural changes for DEIR were announced by David Morrison at the 11/5 Planning Commission Meeting. I refer to the Video @ http://napa.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=21&clip_id=2811
. The exchange begins at 00:42:00 into the video.
The video is very important since David touched on several points, many of which I too need to recount via the video, since I arrived late.
The earthquake messed up the video process and TV station 27/28 is currently doing the work in the temporary BOS diggs.
Noticing and CEQA contracting changes
|Gary Margadant - Nov 12, 2014 7:49AM Share
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: McDowell, John
Date: Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 10:21 AM
Subject: Napa County CEQA Guidelines Update
To: "Bordona, Brian"
Dear Regular Customers of Napa County Planning, Building and Environmental Services,
On November 19, the Planning Director will be requesting the Planning Commission recommend the Board of Supervisor’s amend the Local CEQA Guidelines to eliminate the option of allowing applicants to contract directly with environmental consultants for preparation of CEQA documents including Environmental Impact Reports; expand the radius of public notice provided regarding CEQA documents from 300 feet to 1,000 feet from the project parcel; and, several non-substantive clerical corrections.
Napa wine decline?
|Carl Bunch - Nov 6, 2014 9:50AM Share
There's a long and interesting article in the Underground Wine Letter
on the present and likely future of the wine industry in the Napa Valley caused, at least in part in my opinion, by the proliferation of many new (ie. "wealthy") out of towners who want to be in on the game of commercial wines and wineries (ie. wine-tasting and event-centers, etc.) thus having the effect of corrupting the initial reasons for the County's Ag Preserve.
It's worth a read as an argument for the potentially gloomy future of the Napa Valley as a wine-producing part of the world (not to mention the ongoing diminishment of the Valley as a wonderful place to live).
Where has Napa Valley gone?
Napa Valley's future
|Carl Bunch - Oct 13, 2014 12:12PM Share
Marge and I are becoming involved in some very important issues that are developing in the Napa Valley pertaining to the efforts by a number of people, many of whom are from out-of-state, who are purchasing land for wineries or expanding existing wineries throughout the Valley. The County of Napa, through its Planning Department, Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, is receiving and reviewing applications from wineries to engage in direct-sales marketing and wine tasting visitor events which are having devastating impacts on the County's water and watersheds, roadways (just try to drive on Hwy. 29 or Silverado Trail and our local streets and roads!), hillsides (through deforestation), views, wildlife habitat and general quality of life. Our governmental agencies are often simply rubber-stamping these winery applications from proposed and existing wineries, benefitting the very few and harming the rest of us who cherish this Valley.
Napa Valley is one of the most beautiful places on earth and why most of us have chosen to live here. It is, however, a fragile ecosystem and requires vigilant maintenance and protection from those of us lucky enough to call the Valley home.
A number of community groups around the Valley are attempting to appeal to local government agencies to stop theserubber-stamp approvals of winery projects. Examples are the Atlas Peak Watershed Coalition, the Soda Canyon organization, the Save Yountville Hill group and the Mt. Veeder Stewardship Council. Winery problems in all of these areas are prompting these citizen groups to raise one very loud voice to help make local government understand that it is us they must represent and that they need to make municipal decisions and find county-wide solutions in an effort to slow down uncontrolled development and protect our precious valley and county.
Petitions are being distributed for your signature to help persuade our county officials that we care and that we have sufficient numbers to cause them to use their consciences and exercise common sense. Please sign a petition when it is given or forwarded to you or you find it in your mailboxes. Please feel free to let me know that you have signed such a petition and I'd be pleased to come to you and pick it up.
WDO History Reading
|Gary Margadant - Oct 13, 2014 10:33AM Share
A good bit of WDO history can be found in the book "Oral Histories of Napa County Agricultural Preserve"
, A project sponsored by the Jack L. Davies Napa Valley Agricultural Land Preservation Fund, by Rue Ziegler, Ph.D. Look to the chapters on Mel Varrelman, Tom May, Ginny Simms and John Tuteur, most is about the Ag preserve, but Mel's is a good primer on the WDO.
The book is available at the Farm Bureau, 811 Jefferson St, Napa, 707 224 5403, $30.00
Chapters of the book are available at the website: http://www.jldagfund.org/home.html
, see "The Book" in the upper R corner.
Winery Ghost Tours
|Daniel Mufson - Oct 2, 2014 10:33PM Share
They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
(Big Yellow Taxi, Joni Mitchell (did she write this for us??))
First build yourself a castle. Then add ghost tours. What will be next? Waterslides, theme parks… What ever happened to the WDO?
Ghost tours offered at UpValley castle
Open Comment Period Before PC and BOS meetings
|Bill Hocker - Oct 2, 2014 10:44AM Share
I just had a look at the video of the Sept 23rd BOS meeting
. During the open comment period at the beginning of each meeting for the last couple of months Geoff Ellsworth
gets up to promote our preservationist cause. He is being joined by others. Norn Manzer, the first speaker, was quite effective and should be seen. He has also written a letter-to-the-editor about the "Carmel-ization" of St. Helena that is quite good.
And now the people of Circle Oaks and other opponents of the Walt Ranch project on Atlas Peak
have become regulars, prompting a Walt Ranch representative to also make comments. To our great benefit the Walt Ranch opponents are an extremely articulate and organized group.
The Supervisors have become concerned about this unscripted exercise of community activism and considered briefly how the process might be altered - perhaps by moving it to the end of the meeting or by discouraging presentation of material that may be covered in a regular public hearing in the future.
The open comments section of meetings is, of course, the purest example of our right to exercise free speech and to petition our government concerning our grievances. You are encouraged to let your grievances be known.
The open comments for this meeting begin at the 25:00 minute mark and are all well worth watching.
Soda Canyon Road Needs This Sign!
|Dana Estensen - Sep 30, 2014 8:54AM Share
Just wanted to share with you this sign that is now up on Trinity Rd (Sonoma County) when you turn off Hwy 12 heading towards Napa (turns into Oakville Grade on the Napa County side). I like it! Short and to the point. This is the road that I sent an article about a month or so ago where GPS send all sorts of vehicles over it as a short cut and big trucks tend to get stuck and create a hazard.
Peter Jensen on the earthquake aftermath
|Glenn J. Schreuder - Aug 28, 2014 11:58AM Share
Like most of us on the east side of the county, we got lucky and had also zero damage from Sunday morning’s quake.
I work at AUL Corp www.aulcorp.com in the three storey office building on the corner of Main and Clinton Streets in downtown Napa. My office window overlooks what remains of the Vinters’ Collective building.
We lease the entire 3rd floor and 2/3s of the second floor and ~110 employees. The earthquake sheered an overhead fire sprinkler off on the west side of the building and flooded the west half of our office and to a lesser extent the 2nd floor. Remarkably, we have insurance coverage for this.
(The restaurants beneath on the first floor are okay and safe and ready to serve lunch and dinner so feel free to come out and support our wonderful downstairs neighbors, the food in both places is great, particularly Napa Valley Bistro)
We have reconstruction crews drying out the office, carpet and flooring has been removed, people temporarily relocated and we are up and running. It’s been an ugly few days but we are clearly gaining on the issues we have identified and have only one yellow tag (Restricted Access) for one of our conference rooms to show for all our troubles. Everyone in the valley is very fortunate that the quake didn’t occur during business/daylight hours, the injuries and loss of life would have been significant.
Hope everyone is safe and sound. My thoughts and prays go out to those who were injured and the folks looking at some very stark consequences as a result of the quake.
I hear we have a newly identified fault line in Browns Valley as well.
Notes presented to Napa County Board of Supervisors 8/19/14
|Daniel Mufson - Aug 21, 2014 9:45AM Share
From Berryessa Estates in the east to Mt. Veeder in the west, serious signs of water depletion have descended upon us. We are in an exceptional drought. It is past time for all citizens of this county to sit together to plan for our collective water security.
Certainly we have had county leaders who were exceptional stewards of the our land—they fought to give us the Ag Preserve, the WDO and other initiatives that have made our county the envy of many. But, I’m afraid we’re loosing control as we have transitioned from family farms to mega corporate businesses with headquarters in TX, NY, Europe and Asia.
I support the idea of performing a comprehensive cumulative analysis of the state of our environment. Given the extreme drought in our state and county, and the recent analysis of the Napa Register Editorial Board, regarding “how little we really know of how the wine industry is working and affecting life in Napa County”:
I request you declare a state of emergency and a moratorium on ANY more winery permits, even those in the hopper, until this analysis is ready.
Yet Another Zinfandel Lane "Crush-N-Party Pad"
|Gary Margadant - Jul 12, 2014 2:35PM Share
Paul Franson of the NVR just reported in todays paper that their will now be an additional winery across the street from Raymond. See the copy below.
I also included the property report for the parcel across the street. We need to look @ Permits P12-00305, P13-0021, E14-00364 and P14-0017 to see what is going on and the size of the winery & visitation in the existing permits.
Cumulative Impact, here we come.
Napa Valley Register
JULY 10, 2014 12:00 PM • PAUL FRANSON
Araujos buy vineyard and winery
Last year, Bert and Daphne Araujo sold their highly regarded Eisele Vineyard in Calistoga to the owners of famed Château Latour in Bordeaux.
Now they’ve found a site for their next ultra-premium winery in the Kohala Vineyard at 588 Zinfandel Lane across from the entrance to Raymond Vineyards.
The 11.6 acre property has a permit for 50,000 gallons of wine annually plus generous marketing entitlements.
Pacific Union International was on both sides of the deal. Jeffrey Warren represented the Araujos and Robyn Bentley of Wine Country Consultants and Will Densberger represented the seller, Kohala Investment Works.
|Geoff Ellsworth - Jul 11, 2014 2:16PM Share
[from Geoff Ellsworth of NapaSonomaVoice.net
Two important Napa County dates coming up. I’m reaching out to all citizen stakeholders and those in the wine/grapegrowing industry and hospitality industries who believe we’re at a tipping point of development and need to immediately pause to discuss the way forward.
I believe this argument is not with wineries per se but rather a business plan/marketing trend implemented by certain wineries and hospitality endeavors that is overly dependent on an aggressive schedule of direct-to-consumer sales and/or marketing events.
The consequence of these sales or brand building techniques are an encroachment on our shared public resources such as water, roadways, public utilities, emergency services etc.
As this trend escalates, the CUMULATIVE IMPACTS are reaching a point of great concern regarding our sustainability, safety and quality of life and we must stand together now to protect our resources and this delicate valley.
Tuesday July 15 9 AM
Napa County Board of Supervisors meeting.
We can use the public comment period to demand the supervisors assess the CUMULATIVE IMPACTS of new development and re-assess the WDO (Winery Definition Ordinance).
Wednesday July 16 9AM
Napa County Planning Commission -
Winery Hearings including:
On Zinfandel Lane near Hwy 29
The latest numbers I have that they are asking:
Daily visitors - 500
Employees - increase to 90 from current 24
Events - 50 events annually
Parking spaces - increase from 81-130
This is just off an area of Hwy 29 where traffic is already impacted, numerous other large wineries on the same two lane corridor have just been approved or are on the slate, upvalley traffic and services will be greatly affected by the CUMULATIVE IMPACTS of these projects
Both meetings are at 9 AM at:
County Administration Building
1195 Third Street. Suite 310 Napa, CA 94559
It is critical to have a strong turnout at both meetings.
Even if you don’t speak your presence will be important. If you do speak, a short, crisp voicing of your concerns can be very powerful when added to the voices standing up with you.
A strong email campaign is also important to having our voices heard.
Below are the email addresses of the supervisors and planners. A few short lines under a subject like CUMULATIVE IMPACTS, WATER, TRAFFIC, or whatever your concern is can make a difference.
I am also sending emails urging the Board of supervisors to RE-ASSESS WDO IMMEDIATELY (Winery Definition Ordinance). This can be used as a subject as well.
NAPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
NAPA COUNTY PLANNING DEPT.
John Mcdowell - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Fiddaman -email@example.com
Heather Phillips - firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Pope email@example.com
Mike Basayne firstname.lastname@example.org
Terry Scott - email@example.com
Sean Trippi - firstname.lastname@example.org
Atlas Peak into Land Trust
Joint BOS / Planning Commission Meeting to discuss Winery Tourism !!!
|Bill Hocker - May 16, 2014 8:29AM Share
agenda item 9E
The agenda summary is here
This site's own digression on Winery-tourism is here.
Date: Tues May 20th, 2014
Time: 9:00 am
Napa County Board of Supervisors Chambers
1195 3rd St, Napa 94559 (map)
Combined Board of Supervisors Planning Commission meeting to discuss:
1. Noticing procedures (enlarge the 300' neighborhood noticing requirement for new proposed projects)
It is very important for the residents of Soda Canyon Road to be at this meeting, to be seen as well as be heard. The winery tourism issue is at the heart of the projects that have been approved on our road and that will continued to be approved in the future unless some change is made in the County's attitude. For those of us concerned about what Soda Canyon Road will look like 20 years from now, this is the first meeting to have our views received.
2. Winery visitation, marketing and cumulative growth impact analysis (Cumulative effects of approved and future winery-tourism projects)
3. Environmental Impact Report process (reliance on applicants paid consultants for project analysis)
4. Climate Action Plan status (current status of County' greenhouse gas reduction policy)
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