|May 1, 2019|
Update 4/9/19: Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance
On Apr 9, 2019, after several public meetings at the BOS and the Planning Commission, the Supervisors approved the Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance, the Supervisors attempt to respond to the issues raised by Measure C. The changes were not greeted with enthusiasm by any of the county's' stakeholders.
Update 10/20/18: Measure C
In 2017 the growing concern over climate change and the pace of vineyard development in the watersheds led community environmental activists to once again propose an initiative, in conjunction with some members of the wine industry, to be placed on the 2018 ballot. The vintners seemed to recognize that vineyard development of Napa's watersheds and woodlands can't go on forever and they wanted to be a part of the effort to draft a long term plan. In the June 2018 primary election Measure C, the Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative, failed by 650 votes out of 37,500 votes cast. The contentiousness of the campaign was seen by many as not just a vote on the protection of watersheds but a referendum on the pace of development in the county as a whole. The Supervisors, mindful of the community split that the vote represented, have renewed a Strategic Plan process to seek out a consensus on County priorities over the next three years. Part of that process is an attempt by the Supervisors to get agreement on changes to the conservation regulations, if any and move on.
9/15/16: The Conservation Regulations
In the 1980's, with the Napa Valley floor almost fully developed in vineyards and a continuing flow of wannabes wishing to fulfill their Napa dreams, vineyard development in the hilly watershed areas surrounding the valley began to take off. Following several vineyard clearing projects in the late 1980's that resulted in land erosion and river sedimentation, Napa county passed Conservation Regulations in 1991 that established stream setbacks and maximum deforestation limits.
By 2002 it was apparent to some that the effectiveness of the 1991 measures were in doubt, given the magnitude of development in the watersheds, unless more protective measures were put in place. A stringent ordinance was proposed by environmentalists in 2002. In 2003 the Board of Supervisors passed a short term stream setback ordinance, banning commercial development within 25-150' from streams. Two measures were placed on the 2004 ballot in response: Measure O, an outgrowth of the 2002 effort, was created with 350-1000' setbacks and limits on deforestation. A counter Measure P, was created by the wine industry in line with the BOS 2003 ordinance. Both measures were defeated after a campaign by "land steward" property rights advocates (who proposed their own law in 2005).
In 2001 the State of California had established an oak woodlands conservation fund to provide funding for the protection of oak woodlands. In 2010 a Voluntary Oak Woodland Management Plan was produced by Napa stakeholders and adopted by the county as a voluntary plan to be used by entities that wanted to tap into the conservation fund. This document serves as the current basis for woodland protection in the county.
Since 1991, vast areas of the watersheds have been deforested and the landscape in the hills,
In 2016, as an era of global warming begins to impact water sources throughout the state, concern has again heightened over the loss of forest and woodlands that retain and filter surface water for municipal reservoirs, over the depletion of groundwater and toxic runoff from ever more agriculture, and over the urban development of the watersheds for tourism facilities and vineyard estates. The relationship between the deforestation process and GHG emmisions has also become a concern in the county's climate action plan. The threat to the water resources and the rural environment of the county has never been greater. As with the impact of expanding tourism and industrial development on traffic and affordable, small-town community life on the valley floor, the question of the long term viability of the watersheds and the commitment to the sustainable rural community envisioned in the county general plan is now back on the agenda.
County comprehensive Timeline of Water Availability Analysis efforts from 1963 to present
2019 Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance
Comparison of Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance and existing code
2019 Staff letter with history of Conservation Regulations and Initiatives
2017-18 SCR Measure C page
2010 County Voluntary Oak Woodland Management Plan
1991, 2007 Napa County Conservation Regulations
Igor Sills LTE 5/8/20: Napa's woodlands are thriving and vital
Chris Marlin LTE 7/19/19: Trees can help save us from climate catastrophe
NVR 4/9/19: Napa County passes controversial tree and water ordinance, so what's next?
Wine-searcher 4/6/19: Napa's Problem is Cars, Not Drought
NVR 4/8/19: After marathon hearing, Napa County ready to finalize tree and water quality protection ordinance
Norm Manzer 4/2/19: Your Turn: Is this an extreme lack of integrity?
NVR 3/26/19: After marathon debate, Napa County supervisors pass watershed, tree protections
Laurie Claudine 3/11/19: Your Turn: Join together to protect our resources
NVR 2/24/19: Need a scorecard of key players in Napa's land use battles? Here it is
NVR 1/29/19: Napa's Board of Supervisors swamped with public comments over vineyard development rules
NVR 5/24/05: Property rights law proposed by Land Stewards
NVR 2/29/04: The homestretch for Measures O and P
James Conaway: The Far Side of Eden: New Money, Old Land, and the Battle for Napa Valley The watershed conservation battle at the turn of the millennium.
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