SodaCanyonRoad | Vote Amber! 20 years of "growth" is killing Napa

Vote Amber! 20 years of "growth" is killing Napa
Bill Hocker | Jan 15, 2020 on: 2020 Campaign

[NVR LTE version 2/24/20: Vote Amber: 20 years of "growth" is killing Napa]

I urge every resident of District 4 to vote for Amber Manfree for Supervisor.

While claiming concern for environmental stewardship, Supervisor Pedroza, in fact, continues to pursue the pro-development growth agenda championed by his predecessor and mentor, Bill Dodd, elected to the Napa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) 20 years ago.

Together, they have led the BOS in promoting more tourism and industrial growth than the county can handle, clogging county roads with traffic, creating an affordable housing crisis, and consuming small town life to serve a growing tourist population.

Mr. Pedroza continues to craft and support county policies that level woodlands for vineyard estates, fill farmlands with tourist attractions and pave wetlands for warehouses. His decisions benefit the entrepreneurs that contribute to his substantial campaign war chest while residents are left to suffer the impacts of their developments.

Mr. Pedroza worked to eviscerate the BOS response to Agricultural Protection Advisory Committee recommendations, a process begun by public concern over winery proliferation.

He approved the 2,300 acre Walt Ranch vineyard estate project, the remote Mountain Peak Winery and supported, through his commissioner, the Palmaz personal heliport, each to benefit plutocrats in the face of overwhelming opposition from his own District 4 constituents.

He opposed Measure C's robust woodland protections, instead backing a weak alternative unlikely to curb current deforestation. He supported the redefinition of agriculture in county code to lock in tourism as an agricultural activity. He supports bringing ever more tourists by generously funding Visit Napa Valley and streamlining winery use permits for new venues to accommodate them.

He approved the expansion of the Syar excavations abutting Skyline Wilderness Park in the face of substantial environmental and resident concern. He approved Girard, Raymond, and other winery projects all vigorously opposed by residents defending their neighborhoods against commercialization. And he appointed a Napa city developer to the County Planning Commission to advance his land use agenda there.

Existing housing and transport problems, and those that will be added by the many, many projects already approved but not yet built, do need creative solutions. But they must be responsibly conceived. Just building more housing and transport infrastructure will induce more growth and exacerbate, not reduce, existing problems. Left in the hands of the current board majority, new development projects, and the workers and visitors needed to make them profitable, will continue to come. More hillsides and wetlands will be cleared, more buildings will fill the landscape, housing and traffic problems will only worsen, and Napa's spectacular rural environment will continue to disappear.

It is imperative to challenge the pro-growth agenda that Mr. Dodd and Mr. Pedroza have been pursuing for the last 20 years. To do so we need a new majority on the BOS -- one with Supervisors who will protect our environment and quality of life.

To prepare for an uncertain future, we need leaders who understand climate change, and how to responsibly manage development pressure and the importance of sustainable land use not tied to the "fairy tales of eternal economic growth" in the words of a prominent environmentalist. We need leaders that will support those residents, vintners and growers who understand the unique and fragile value of a rural, small-town enclave in the urbanized Bay Area.

We need Amber Manfree to achieve that new majority. In addition to the refreshing, personable authenticity lauded by the Register's Editorial Board, Dr. Manfree brings a scientist's analytic ability to define problems and devise solutions and a longtime rural resident's desire for solutions that protect the unique character of this place. Most importantly, she knows that in the land use battles that have made Napa a "national treasure", it has been a commitment to preservation rather than growth that has allowed this rural environment and agricultural economy to survive the past 50 years and that the same commitment is needed now more than ever if they are to survive the next 50.

Please vote for Amber Manfree for District 4 Supervisor. The future of Napa County's rural heritage depends on it.

Bill Hocker
Soda Canyon Road, Napa

A longer, perhaps less bombastic, version of this article is here