Vineyard owner and Measure C supporter Randy Dunn says the official defeat of Measure C won’t speed up Napa County’s politics, which seem to him to move at the same maddeningly slow pace as its traffic.
What will continue rushing forward is development of wineries, vineyards and housing estates, said Dunn, who moved to Napa Valley in 1975 and started his own vineyard.
Nor is Dunn optimistic about the Napa County Board of Supervisors meeting on July 10 to discuss the aftermath of the bitterly fought Measure C campaign, thinking it likely that any genuine efforts to address runaway development, damage to the water table or excessive logging — issues he cares deeply about — will be buried in do-nothing committees.
“I hate committees,” Dunn said, adding an expletive.
But he and the people who supported Measure C and its restrictions on land use and tree cutting in the valley aren’t feeling defeated, he said.
He says they are more angry. Whether that will lead to further action remains to be seen, although Dunn said he and others on his side plan to meet with county officials soon to present more information about damage to the environment by development, particularly logging. But it may take some time for them to focus their efforts after the bruising fight over Measure C.
“I’m not going to tell you,” he said with a weary chuckle when asked about the group’s future plans. “But I know that we don’t have a strategy. The only strategy that I think will be maintained is the truth, which is kind of a novel concept these days.”
Agreeing to disagree
Although he might agree with Dunn about the glacial speed of some governmental bureaucracy, Ryan Klobas, policy director at the Napa Farm Bureau, thinks Measure C, had it been passed, would’ve made things worse in the valley, not better, particularly for vineyard and winery businesses. More regulation isn’t the answer, he said.
“Napa County has some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the country,” said Klobas. “It isn’t easy to go through the process to get the acreage you want.”
Klobas said the Napa Farm Bureau, where he’s worked for nearly a year, isn’t just sitting smugly after successfully shooting down Measure C.
“We plan to get together soon and discuss next steps,” he said. “Whatever the exact process is, it needs to be evidence based, science based, data driven.”
On the face of it, both Klobas and Dunn want a focus on the truth as they move forward. But they disagree on determining what that truth is, and that’s the biggest problem Klobas said he had with the proponents of Measure C.
“The argument that Measure C was needed to protect the water or save oak trees was not true, because there was no evidence that was a problem,” said Klobas.
Pointing to a lack of specific scientific studies or statistics showing a problem during the campaign, Klobas said the Napa Farm Bureau and its 600 members will insist on a more rational debate moving forward. The Measure C fight, a bruising battle that even descended to litigation over the wording on the ballot materials, wasn’t particularly rational, he said, but based more on resentment against wineries.
“This was narrowly targeted at vineyard planning; you could build a house, or a solar charging station, but not a vineyard,” he said of the proposed restrictions on land use. “We can’t let emotion rule this.”