NVR Eds: the time has come - just not now
on the web at: http://sodacanyonroad.org/forum.php?p=1875
Bill Hocker | May 4, 2018

Update 5/4/18
The Yes-on-C campaign has labeled the Editorial Board's "the-time-has-come-just-not-now" approach as absurd, which it is. It is the same approach Sup. Ramos, one of the opponents of Measure C, used on the Raymond decision concerning use permit violations. It is obvious that the time will never come for reform in Napa county if left up to the establishment.

NVR Editorial Board 4/28/18: Our view: The measures on the June Ballot

The Register's Editorial Board opinion on Measures C, D and 3 is a bit disappointing. It seemed that in all three cases they voted, reluctantly, against the ideas that they lavished their praise on. What kind of decision making is that.

On Measure C
"We agree with almost all of what the backers of Measure C say....Where we do disagree with the backers of Measure C is in the notion that we have exhausted all possible avenues to protect the watersheds before reaching for the dangerously blunt and inflexible weapon of a ballot measure."

Actually the Walt Ranch hearings and appeals and court case over a four-year period were a thoroughly exhaustive attempt to protect the watersheds through normal political avenues. Yet it was not enough to save them from substantial deforestation for the development of 35 new vineyard estate sites.

As Nancy Tamarisk of the Sierra Club has recently written: "Initiatives are filed as a last resort when people have lost faith that their government bodies represent them, often when people believe that officials are captive to special interests."

As Tony McClimans has written in a recent editorial about previous efforts to pass more comprehensive watershed protections: "Confronted by staunch industry opposition, decades of board majorities declined to take action."

And Katy Felch writes: "Our local governmentís lack of respect for welfare of the citizens of this county has led in large part to the emergence of these two initiatives."

After Barry Eberlings's excellent reporting over the last 4 years, the Editors know that the Supervisors have had numerous opportunities to address "the legitimate cry of frustration" by county residents. The Supes have sided with the moneyed interests every time - just as the Editors have.

Given the effort and the money that it takes to get an initiative on the ballot, by residents that will see no financial benefit from its enactment, it only happens after first exhausting public forum solutions.

If C wins, there will be complicated issues to be worked out. And the courts, the county and the authors will eventually craft a solution. But the incentive will be there to find a solution because the voters have spoken. If measure C fails, the Supes will have no incentive whatsoever to support further protection the watersheds. The voters have spoken. Elections have consequences. The watersheds will be open for development.

On Measure D

"We are not adverse to the change proposed in Measure D, but aviation is a complicated legal area, and this would be, as far as we know, the first such ban in the state, possibly in the whole country...We believe the idea of banning heliports, as simple and appealing as it is, deserves deeper scrutiny through the regular legislative process."

Frankly, there will be no issues if Measure D is passed. It will add a few words to existing code bringing private heliports under the same prohibition that now applies to commercial heliports. Where does the Editors' concern for "deeper scrutiny" come from? "Personal use" is pretty easy to define compared to "commercial use", yet the prohibition of "commercial use" heliports has held up without issue. And not supporting it because it will be the first heliport ban? Was the Register also so weak-kneed when the first Ag Preserve in the nation was proposed?

The Editor's stance again seems like a complete cave to the county's monied interests.

On Diane Dillon

It's entirely appropriate that the Editorial Board's support-but-can't-support opinion is paired with the Image of Diane Dillon and the headline "Experience Counts". The Register has taken Diane Dillon's governance style to heart. Sympathy for the preservationists' viewpoint, a few acknowledgements of the grand success that is the Ag Preserve and then approval of the latest development project or industry-crafted legislation.

She has unfortunately voted wth the "growth" majority in most of the damaging development issues in the county during her tenure: 2008 revisions to the general plan to equate tourism with agriculture, revisions to the WDO in 2010 to allow more tourism at wineries, Napa Pipe to allow the largest single urban expansion in Napa history, the Syar Expansion to increase construction materials needed for development, Walt Ranch to allow vineyard estate development on 2300 acres of undeveloped woodland, the denial of the APAC recommendations that sought to curtail winery-event center proliferation, the addition of winery tourism to the County's definition of agriculture, as well as numerous contested winery projects like Woolls Ranch, Girard, Bell and Caymus, being proposed to increase tourism development. All of these projects were opposed by concerned citizens on the basis of the damage they, and the urbanization they will induce, will do to rural character, resources and environment of the county.

APAC, Walt Ranch, Syar and Palmaz in particular, with intense community participation in each and no tangible accommodation of community concerns beyond modest technical "mitigations", set the stage for the Initiatives. The Editorial Board calls the initiative a blunt instrument to create policy, and wants a more inclusive process. For the residents who have spent four years and tens of thousands of dollars in the traditional development process with nothing to show for it, the initiative is the only instrument still available.

To repeat Nancy Tamarisk:
"Initiatives are filed as a last resort when people have lost faith that their government bodies represent them." Such is the case in Napa County, and it will probably continue to be so as long as corporate and plutocratic developers have more say over the future of the county than the preservation-minded citizens who live here and are driven by the desire to retain something special rather than mine it for profit.

And On Measure 3

"We urge a yes vote on RM 3, though we donít feel good about it."

Such decisiveness!

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