Napa County Farm Bureau opposes Measure C. It is not the environmental safeguard it purports to be.  

Entering its second century, NCFB families carefully manage agricultural lands and maintain open spaces, recognizing that healthy watersheds sustain the 9% of Napa dedicated to vineyards. Its members have contributed to the 20% of Napa permanently protected. NCFB led expanding the Ag Preserve minimum parcel size from 20 to 40 acres. It led preserving the watershed by enacting 160 acre minimums. In 1991, it supported the first hillside conservation regulations that continue to evolve to maintain Napa’s national conservation leadership. Leadership on these issues supported the balance between today’s productive agricultural economy, an abundance of wooded areas visible from the valley floor, regional parks and oak-studded hillsides across our county. With this multi-generational perspective, NCFB sees Measure C as eroding this delicate balance, favoring neither the environment nor farming but hardscape, upsetting a balance codified beginning with the Ag Preserve 50 years ago.

Measure C inappropriately demands that voters determine the validity of a complex and confusing regulatory scheme. A handful of people crafted a far-reaching measure they summarize as protecting our watersheds and oak woodland areas, but when looking at the specific provisions, the Measure does not preserve something we all value: our natural resources.

Measure C allows 795 acres of oak woodlands to be removed. Once the oak removal limit is reached, any two oaks 5” in diameter (smaller than a water glass) or greater would be considered an “oak woodland,” and removing two 5” diameter oaks without a permit could result in misdemeanor criminal charges, even if those two trees are in your backyard. Permits could be issued after the oak removal limit is reached, but only for residential and urban related uses, not farming. The authors and several vocal proponents exempt their own existing urban and residential uses, while discriminating against farming and open space, creating serious issues to the long-term preservation of agriculture and open space.

The unintended consequences of Measure C encourage landowners to creatively look at the remaining use of agriculturally-zoned land. Examples stipulated to in court include tucking permanent, non-agricultural structural developments around oak woodlands (which could range from luxury homes to wineries) or result in lower property values if there are no longer any income-producing opportunities for agriculturally-zoned lands. This is a real and serious unintended consequence of Measure C.

There is no scientific research or rationale that supports the need for Measure C. Quite the contrary, California government’s scientific study of the Napa watershed demonstrated that the vast majority of the environmental impacts coming from lands targeted by Measure C derive from “human actions” other than farming. Banning the least impactful “human action” of farming has wide-ranging implications for the future of Napa’s agriculture, watershed, and open space.

Measure C may sound like an environmental safeguard, but the ancillary results end motivation for existing voluntary efforts, and regular existing conservation regulation updates, thus crippling both agriculture and open space protections. Should Measure C fail, and we believe voters are recognizing the shortfalls and unintended consequences of Measure C, then we can resume efforts that better protect both agriculture and our environment.

Napa County Farm Bureau strongly encourages you to vote ‘No’ on Measure C.

Manuel Rios
Napa County Farm Bureau