Update 3/10/20The final loose end of the lawsuit challenging Measure brought by James and Heidi Barrett has been resolved. It was a question of how an "unavoidable " landing as stated in the ordinance should be defined. A list of FAQ's about the County's implementation of Measure D and its clarification of "unavoidable" was modified to be acceptable to both appellants and authors of Measure C. The lawsuit is ended. George Caloyannidis note to supporters regarding the final determination is here. The FAQ's for the implementation of Measure D are here.
Update 4/18/19The motion by the County to dismiss the lawsuit has been granted with the exception of the plaintifs' claims that Measure D's use of the term "unavoidable" in referring to takoffs an landings is legally vague. The decision is here
The effort to overturn Measure D by the Barrett's will now hinge on the vagueness of this one word.
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.
Update 2/28/17On 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.)
Update 2/22/18On 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.
According to Ballotpedia Measure D, the initiative to prevent private use heliports in Napa County, has been approved by 61% to 39%. George Caloyannidis now has now saved the serenity of the Valley two times.
It should also be a signal to Plumas County voters and their elected officials who (with the exception of one supervisor) have helped the owners of the GVR to build their airport (as a barn/storage building) in a place where airports were specifically prohibited by the Plumas County General Plan, and who, represented by Palmaz' lawyers continue to attempt to block local efforts to appeal the Planning Director's decision to allow private heliports/airports on ANY lands zoned agriculture, without environmental review processes or public input.
Though disappointed that the Napa Valley Register Editorial Board fell short of endorsing Measure D, which I sponsored, I couldn't agree more with the rationale that major changes in the code ought to be made through the legislative rather than the initiative process. But there is theory and there is Napa County reality. Sadly, they have been diverging further and further in the past decade.
What are people to do when faced with a looming problem of private heliport proliferation in the most desirable communities in the country when the legislators fails to recognize it and act?
Our supervisors have not only ignored this national trend but have been fully aware of it locally through the three-year-long process at the Planning Commission during the Palmaz family application for a personal use heliport. These hearings consumed just under 20 percent of the commission's hearings in a single year, and over 1,100 hours of staff time. Not the best use of the county's administrative resources.
Even worse, they have ignored the 70 to 90 neighbors of the Hagen Road community repeatedly attending these all-day hearings, anxious that an approval would destroy their quality of life and require them to disclose the presence of a heliport in their neighborhood when selling their homes. It takes an unusually serious concern for so many people to devote so much of their time fighting an issue.
This should have been enough for the county to pick up on public sentiment of private heliports spreading in our neighborhoods. If this was too much to hope for, it was inexcusable for the county not to accommodate a proposed ordinance by the law firm of Farella, Brown & Martell to address this issue through the legislative process, as the Register would have preferred.
The mere preparation of the proposed ordinance was an estimated $10,000 gift to the county. Instead of a 'thank you', it was rebuffed with an estimated 18-month waiting period and a fee of almost $2,000 before it would be considered. Mr. Farella did what any self-respecting person would do.
In stark contrast, the supervisors allocated time to review a disastrous staff recommendation to redefine a "small" winery to be larger than 53 percent of all existing wineries. And more time on how to "streamline" the hearings process by cutting public testimony from 3 to 2 minutes. They made time to approve 892,000 additional gallons of wine production, more and more winery visitors and events at one winery after another, many of them as rewards to egregious violators.
In answer to the Register's recommendation, if the county increasingly shows contempt to citizens' requests, shuts down or merely tolerates public testimony, when it makes every effort to accommodate scofflaws, all to the benefit of a handful while ignoring issues of wide concern, what options do the people have other than initiatives or replacing those occupying the peoples' chairs?
From personal experience, initiatives take an enormous commitment by dozens of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ultimately, they are a gift to the community because they offer it a choice, a choice only because the legislative process was denied them.
Nonetheless, initiatives have legislative benefits as well. They serve as warnings to governments that clouds are gathering in its skies. It is up to the elected officials to take notice to avert the looming storms.
With a state senator as Bill Dodd, who has never once attended a hearing on his major funder Mr. Palmaz' application, obviously uninterested in gauging public sentiment on the wider issue, takes the lead in opposing Measure D, he becomes the poster child of the rapidly evolving crisis in our increasingly incestuous county government.
5/2/18Helicopters make a lot of very irritating noise. Who would want to have more of them overhead? Well, our State Senator Bill Dodd for one.
At the end of Patricia Damery's very clear refutation of the falsehoods made by Sen. Dodd in the ballot arguments opposing Measure D (Arguments against Measure D are wrong), the Register's editor reached out to Sen. Dodd to respond: too busy to speak about it, he said; there might be unintended consequences; "the people" and supervisors should be left to handle these matters.
Private use heliports will benefit perhaps less than one tenth of one percent of the county's population. Yet the thump-thump-thump of helicopters will impact everyone, particularly as more and more of the county's plutocrats opt to heli-commute rather than subject themselves to Napa's increasingly congested roads.
Why is the opposition being led by Sen. Dodd? His constituency is now well beyond the parochial issues of Napa County. Why is he willing to sign his name to bogus claims to benefit a small handful of people, while harming the quality of life for the rest of his Napa constituents and the county's visitors?
Well, one might speculate looking at the donor list:
Perhaps it's the $17,000 from the Calif. Association of Realtors who know how much value a helipad would add to properties aimed at plutocrats. Or perhaps it's the $16,800 from the Halls, who might want to assure the future buyers of the remote Walt Ranch estates of their right to a heliport. Or perhaps it's the same amount from the Woolls who might want a quicker way to get friends and family from home to their remote estates.
Members of the Palmaz family are no ordinary Bill Dodd donors. In 2008 the Palmaz family donated $500,000 to Justin Siena school for the "Dodd Stadium" - to honor Sen. Dodd's parents. He might have been thinking about that when decided to oppose the heliport initiative.
Major political donors expect special consideration from their representatives. It's the American way (unfortunately). But that consideration needs to weigh what donors want against the larger public good.
In the short term, the defeat of Measure D will immediately benefit one very influential family. The appeal to the Supervisors of the Palmaz heliport application is scheduled just after the election. In the longer term it may benefit an increasing number of the uber-rich, some no doubt already Bill Dodd donors, who can afford to heli-commute .
But the impacts will be on us all. In a county that claims to be a bastion against the ills of Bay Area urbanization, an ever increasing din of helicopter traffic diminishes the environmental character for Napa residents and visitors who value the peace and quiet to be found here.
Given his responsibility to represent the entire county, and not just his major contributors, Sen. Dodd's opposition, and his untruthful opposition ballot arguments, have not been well considered.
George Caloyannidis sends this from Daryl Roberts:
Join me and vote yes on Measure D
Please join me and vote "yes" on Measure "D" on the June ballot. Measure "D" will prohibit private helicopter and helicopter taxi service takeoffs and landings in Napa County. Such a prohibition is necessary to eliminate noisy and accident-prone helicopter takeoffs and landings in our neighborhoods. Law enforcement, utility and emergency services are of course exempted.
The need for Measure "D" arose out of the Palmaz family's request to the County for approval for a private helicopter port, and the County's disregard of the Palmaz' neighbors' legitimate opposition to this unnecessary and intrusive request. Imagine having helicopters take off and land on your neighbor's property all day long!
Be prepared for dirty tricks and slick campaign advertisements in opposition to Measure "D". Opponents will ascribe provisions to it which it plainly doesn't have, such as regulating helicopter air traffic or who may or may not be a helicopter passenger. Also, beware of opposition from Senator Bill Dodd. In voting against the ordinance, approved in 2004, which prohibits helicopter landings at wineries, he predicted financial doom for the valley and numerous law suits, both of which never materialized. He is back as the author of the Argument against Measure D on the ballot in which he makes the same untrue assertions that Measure "D" will impede firefighting, medical services, and the replacement of power lines and poles. Remember, it was Dodd who, on behalf of Palmaz, tried to interfere with the District Attorney's 2007 lawsuit against the Palmaz for illegally grading hillsides and filling in wetlands, a suit which resulted in a $550,000 penalty and the requirement to rip out illegally planted vineyards and restore protected wetlands. It's clear that Dodd obviously favors the interests of the Palmaz over the rest of us, which is why his arguments should be taken with a grain of salt.
Don't be fooled ï¿½ join me and vote "yes" on D.
Retired Napa Deputy District Attorney
Why is Measure D on the June ballot? Unless you are new to town, everyone is well aware of the two-year drawn out procedure to process the application by 33-year-old Christian Palmaz for a private heliport on his property in Coombsville.
Palmaz doesn't like the 15 minute drive from his home to the Napa County Airport where he parks his personal copter. Regardless of the impact upon his many neighbors; four public hearings listening to his hired guns explain how his personal helicopter won't bother anyone; and the county Planning Commission's ultimate denial of his application, Palmaz is appealing that decision to the Board of Supervisors to be heard after the election.
Most commercial use of helicopters has been outlawed for many years now, but the loophole for personal use and abuse has been left wide open. More than 1,000 hours of county staff time have already been spent processing the Palmaz application, and yet no effort has been put forth by our Board of Supervisors to preclude a repeat of such a request by our new billionaire residents. None, nada.
Should Measure D by some chance be defeated, it will be the lead argument by Palmaz before the Board of Supervisors that "the citizens of Napa County are in favor of private heliports."
When you receive your voter information booklet in the mail you will be surprised to see that our own Sen. Bill Dodd is the lead opponent to Measure D. And why, you might ask? Dodd urges everyone to vote no on D because it is unnecessary and is only "in search of a non-existent problem."
Personally, I liken it to getting an immunization shot before I get a disease instead of after the disease, provided I survive the disease.
And so it comes to mind, just why would Sen. Dodd take such a position that is so contrary to the peace and quiet of our Napa Valley? It is quite obvious that the extremely wealthy carry a great deal of political clout, and once the county approves one such private heliport, our new neighbors in their $15 million homes will not be satisfied driving their cars to reach their new third home in Napa County.
Let's follow the money. Step back almost 10 years when then Supervisor Bill Dodd was leading the private-public partnership for the renovation of the Justin-Sienna athletic stadium. Supervisor Dodd was following in the footsteps of his parents who were ardent supporters of Justin-Sienna, and for whom the new stadium was going to be named Dodd Stadium. While the renovation totaled $2.5 million, the only substantial contribution mentioned in the Napa Valley Register was "The Palmaz family of Napa made a $500,000 donation."
According to the April 28 Napa Valley Register, the No on D campaign has received $11,000 in donations, $10,000 of which is from Christian Palmaz. I don't know about you, but somehow the definition of "coincidence" doesn't fit here.
Ten years ago Palmaz donates half a million dollars to a campaign for naming the stadium after the Dodd family, and today we have Sen. Dodd carrying the ball for the No on D campaign with possible benefit to Palmaz.
Please join me and everyone else in voting Yes on D. Enough is enough.
If you do care about keeping Napa a quiet, rural valley... PLEASE VOTE YES on D!
WHY VOTE YES ON D?
Have you ever lived under a helicopter path? Maybe you should ask someone who has! We've heard also that several owners are supposedly in the wings waiting to apply for backyard helipads upon the outcome of this election. Keep our skies and neighborhoods safe, clean and quiet.
HOW can YOU help?
PLEASE Forward this email message to ALL your Napa County friends! (put friends' names in the BCC field to insure privacy and prevent 'reply to all' messaging)
Post 'VOTE YES ON D' on your social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, NextDoor..)
Place Postcard (sent in mail) in your car window or house window….
Put up a Yard Sign: VOTE YES ON D/NO PERSONAL HELIPADS (signs currently on order with NapaVision2050, but make your own for now)
Don't forget to VOTE!!! Yes on D - Watch your mail for the ballot
DO NOT BELIEVE the OPPOSITION to D!
Don't let the opposition's arguments fool you. READ the existing statute and the proposed measure word for word. In essence, Measure D simply controls "PERSONAL HELICOPTER USE" to ensure Napa neighbors...its primary citizens, enjoy the life we pay for (through taxes) without threat to property values or quality of life. Helicopters by PG&E, Cal Fire, Police, Emergency Medical services are all operating right now and land wherever they need to. Measure D precludes future personal use heliports AND specifies under what conditions helicopters performing aerial agricultural operations may land at vineyards. It does nothing else. Measure D does NOT change existing laws relative to allowing PG&E and emergency services to serve and protect you and me. That would be ridiculous.
Tuesday, May 08, 2018 2:18 PM Tittel/Caloyannidis wrote:
Sorry we will miss you again Bill.
You state that "those organizing the NO campaign listed me first on the ballot arguments".
The ballot arguments are signed by yourself and cosigned by Peter White, Brian Bottari and Matthew Higginbotham. I have a hard time understanding who is the one who "listed" you without them signing the arguments.
If you can clarify this, I will add it in reading your statement at tomorrow's forum as to why you are unable to attend.
On 5/3/18 10:44 AM (GMT-08:00) Bill Dodd wrote:
I regret that the event conflicts with my legislative schedule in Sacramento.
While I don’t apologize for my opposition of Measure D, I regret that those organizing the NO campaign listed me first on the ballot arguments and somehow thrusting me as a de facto leader of the opposition, which I am not.
I bear no ill will towards you or the Yes on D supporters. I believe you are doing this with goodwill and good intention. I simply have a different viewpoint on the initiative process and their negative consequences to our County and it’s processes.
On May 2, 2018, at 8:30 AM, Tittel/Caloyannidis wrote:
Dear Senator Dodd and Vice Mayor White,
Napa Vision 2050 has organized a forum to discuss Measure D.
Following a brief presentation by me, you may make your own presentation and we will both be given equal opportunity to answer questions by the public.
The forum will be held at the Native Sons hall from 6:30 to 7:30 pm on Wednesday, May 9, 2018.
We would be honored if you would attend.
Why is Measure D on the June ballot? Unless you are new to town, everyone is well aware of the two-year drawn out procedure to process the application by 33 year old Christian Palmaz for a private heliport on his property in Coombsville. Palmaz doesn't like the 15 minute drive from his home to the Napa County Airport where he parks his personal copter. Regardless of the impact upon his many neighbors; four public hearings listening to his hired guns explain how his personal helicopter won't bother anyone; and the County Planning Commission's ultimate denial of his application, Palmaz is appealing that decision to the Board of Supervisors to be heard AFTER the election.
Most commercial use of helicopters has been outlawed for many years now, but the loophole for personal use and abuse has been left wide open. More than 1,000 hours of County staff time have already been spent processing the Palmaz application, and yet no effort has been put forth by our Board of Supervisors to preclude a repeat of such a request by our new billionaire residents. None, NADA.
While Measure D will have no direct impact upon the Palmaz pending appeal, should it by some chance be defeated, it will be the lead argument by Palmaz before the Board of Supervisors that "the citizens of Napa County are in favor of private heliports."
When you receive your Voter's Information Booklet in the mail you will be surprised to see that our own Senator Bill Dodd is the lead opponent to Measure D. And why, you might ask? Dodd urges everyone to vote NO on D because it is unnecessary and is only "in search of a non-existent problem". Personally, I liken it to getting an immunization shot before I get a disease instead of after the disease, provided I survive the disease.
And so it comes to mind, just why would Senator Dodd take such a position that is so contrary to the peace and quiet of our Napa Valley? It is quite obvious that the extremely wealthy carry a great deal of political clout, and once the County approves one such private heliport, our new neighbors in their $15,000,000 homes will not be satisfied driving their cars to reach their new third home in Napa County.
Let's Follow the Money. Step back almost 10 years when then Supervisor Bill Dodd was leading the private-public partnership for the renovation of the Justin-Sienna athletic stadium. Supervisor Dodd was following in the footsteps of his parents who were ardent supporters of Justin-Sienna, and for whom the new stadium was going to be named Dodd Stadium. While the renovation totaled $2.5 million, the only substantial contribution mentioned in the Napa Register was "The Palmaz family of Napa made a $500,000 donation."
According to the 4/28/18 Napa Register the NO on D campaign has received $11,000 in donations, $10,000 of which is from Christian Palmaz. I don't know about you, but somehow the definition of "coincidence" doesn't fit here. Ten years ago Palmaz donates half a million dollars to a campaign for naming the stadium after the Dodd family, and today we have Senator Dodd carrying the ball for the No on D campaign with possible benefit to Palmaz.
Please join me and everyone else in voting YES on D. Enough is enough. Let's put a stop to such events as the Dodd/Palmaz "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."
Update 4/25/18George Caloyannidis has sent this additional rebuttal to the lies in the ballot opposition statement.
MEASURE D IN A NUTSHELL
Measure D strictly prohibits landings for PRIVATE HELICOPTERS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY. Not those for PG&E, police, Cal Fire and emergency rescue operations or any other public services. Helicopter landings by these public service providers are NOT PRIVATE USE. In addition, they are already protected in existing County Code. They are therefore EXEMPT.
Measure D also amends existing Code by restricting helicopter landings at vineyards which perform aerial operations for direct agricultural production only in emergencies. PG&E, police, Cal Fire and emergency services are NOT PERFORMING SERVICES FOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION. They are therefore EXEMPT.
Why was this part of Measure D necessary? Because existing Code has been abused by wineries by transporting executives, consultants and visitors which is already against the law.
THE STATEMENTS ON THE BALLOT BY SENATOR DODD THAT ANY PUBLIC SERVICES WILL BE IMPEDED BY MEASURE D ARE FALSE AND MISLEADING.
4/18/18George 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.
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?
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.
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.