To Promote the Health, Welfare and Safety of our Communities by Advocating for Responsible Planning
to Insure Sustainability of the Finite Resources of Napa County.

Welcome to Napa Vision 2050

Our Napa Valley by Hardy Wilson Looking west across the Capell Valley towards Walt Ranch whose ridgetops are to be stripped of trees to make room for grapes.
Napa Vision 2050 is a coalition of 14 affiliates in Napa County that have joined together to lobby local governments on current development policies and practices.

As an IRC 501(C)(4) public benefit corporation, it is our mission to Promote the Health, Welfare and Safety of our Communities by Advocating for Responsible Planning to Insure Sustainability of the Finite Resources of Napa County.

You are always invited to visit us on facebook for the latest updates as well.

15 posts 

Why should you care about the State Groundwater Sustainability Act (SGMA)?

NV2050 Admin - Mar 29, 2017   Share

The water wars have only begun!
Every project that comes before the Napa County Planning Commission must show that there is enough water for the project. We have witnessed a great deal of variance in how this is managed.

County hydrologists/consultants say there is plenty of water for a vineyard or winery and then nearby neighbors and communities run out of water, or have the quality of their water severely impacted by these permitted projects.

The most notable example is the Carneros Inn which has had to truck in water and is now asking for extension of a water pipeline from the Congress Valley Water District.

The State Groundwater Sustainability Act (SGMA) mandates that every county have a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) in effect no later than Jan. 1, 2022. It also mandates that a county which does not have a Department of Water Resources (DWR) approved plan in place by Jan. 1, 2017, must either form its own Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) or apply for an Alternative by demonstrating that it has been a good steward of groundwater resources for at least 10 years and that its practices do not have, nor will they, any “undesirable results.”

Examples of such undesirable results in Napa County include: dewatering of streams, saltwater intrusion, land subsidence, decline in groundwater quality, groundwater surface levels declining (wells going dry, especially in the northeastern and southern portions of the Napa Sub-Basin).

Napa County has chosen to take the latter alternative route, which, given the proposal they’ve submitted, amounts to a very expensive subterfuge “end run” around both the letter and spirit of the law.

Many individuals and groups including NapaVision 2050 have submitted detailed comments in opposition the County’s proposal. Other groups involved thus far have been: ICARE (Institute for Conservation Advocacy Research and Education - the fiscal sponsor for LRC), North Coast Stream Flow Coalition (NCSFC - an ICARE project), the Mt. Veeder Stewardship Council, Bell Canyon Watershed Alliance, the Nature Conservancy, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Watersheds Alliance of Atlas Peak, and, of particular significance, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

Three comments have been submitted supporting the Alternative, all from industry/trade groups: the Natural Resources Committee of the Napa County Farm Bureau (and that at the personal behest of Patrick Lowe, Napa County Natural Resources Conservation Manager), Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) and Winegrowers of Napa County.

What can you do?

You can read the comments at:
You can submit your own comments as the deadline for public comment has been extended to April 1st.

NapaVision 2050's comments are also here.

A Community Vision- Napa County to Host Roundtable Discussions

NV2050 Admin - Mar 22, 2017   Share

Napa County will host a series of local meetings throughout the valley to gather input and ideas for a community vision that can help shape the Board of Supervisors priorities. Meetings will be conducted in English and Spanish.

The Register article on the first meeting is here:
NVR 3/25/17: Citizens pepper Napa County leaders with ideas for the future

The schedule is as follows:
    · March 23: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., McPherson Elementary School multipurpose room, 2670 Yajome St., in Napa;
    · March 25: 10 a.m. to noon, American Canyon High School cafeteria, 3000 Newell Dr., in American Canyon;
    · March 28: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Calistoga Community Center, 1307 Washington St., in Calistoga;
    · March 30: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School multipurpose room, 1316 Hillview Pl., in St. Helena; and
    · April 3: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Yountville Elementary School cafeteria, 6554 Yount St., in Yountville.

The roundtable discussions follow the board’s strategic planning retreat, which highlighted current and future opportunities and challenges the county faces.
The small group roundtable format will be led by county staff and consultants at The HR Matrix whose goal will be to collect information about areas of focus.

Why You Should Care About the Definition of Agriculture (updated)

Eve Kahn - Mar 20, 2017   View on SCR  |    Share

Update 3/16/17: Editor's note: On Mar 21st 2017 the Board of Supervisors will consider changes to the County Code of Ordinances to reflect 2008 changes to the General Plan which include agricultural processing, tourism processing (marketing) and farmworker housing projects all as part of the definition of agriculture. (item 9B here)

[letter first published in this NapaVision2050 newsletter in Dec 2016]

Prior to the 2008 County General Plan (GP) update, the definition of Agriculture in our County ordinance was quite simple: Agriculture is the growing of crops, trees, and livestock. Many other uses may be permitted/allowed but must remain related, subordinate, and incidental to the main use.

We are a county that has valued our Ag lands. In 1968 the Napa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) put in place the Ag Preserve, the first ever in United States, which protects most of our lands outside of cities and towns from development.

However, the huge success of the Napa wine industry during the 80’s necessitated an ordinance to keep winery development consistent with the protection of Ag Preserve. On January 23, 1990, the Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved the Winery Definition Ordinance (WDO). This ordinance defined a winery as an “agricultural processing facility” for “the fermenting and processing of grape juice into wine.” The ordinance also allowed for wineries to sell and market wine, but such marketing activity must be “accessory” and subordinate to production.


Every 10 years the Napa County General Plan (GP) is updated. The Steering Committee for the 2008 update was comprised mostly of industry representatives and winery owners eager to expand their business options. The updated GP, approved by the Board of Supervisors on June 3, 2008, expanded the definition of Agriculture to include not only the raising of crops, trees, and livestock, but also the production and processing of agricultural products and related marketing, sales and other accessory uses. Agriculture now also includes farm management and farmworker housing.

The second event began with the economic downturn of 2008. The wine industry pressured the BOS to include direct marketing as an accessory use of agriculture. The BOS approved this in 2010. This means that VISITATION, WINE AND FOOD PAIRINGS, AND RELATED EVENTS, are consistent with “accessory use of agriculture”.


For parcels zoned Ag Preserve (AP) or Ag Watershed (AW), agriculture is a use “by right” (without a use permit). And the Right-to-Farm ordinance (signed by everyone buying property in Napa County) states that the County will not consider the inconveniences or discomforts arising from agricultural operations to be a nuisance. If you live next to a vineyard or winery, you have to accept the noise, odors, dust, chemicals, and operation of machinery which go along with agriculture. If you object, your alternative is to go to court.


What happens, then, when visitation, wine and food pairings, often four or five course meals, and outdoor marketing events are included in the Definition of Agriculture— not just accessory uses?

Are these marketing events provided the same level of protection under the Right-to-Farm as those of actually farming? Are these uses consistent with the protections of Measure J, the 1990 initiative amending the Napa County general plan that sought to preserve all agriculturally designated land? Any change in agricultural land use must be with voter approval. RESTAURANTS ARE SPECIFICALLY CITED AS GROWTH THAT HAS TO GO INTO THE CITIES OR ONE OF THE VERY SMALL URBAN NODES IN THE UNINCORPORATED AREA, UNLESS VOTERS ARE WILLING TO ALLOW AN EXCEPTION.

What about Housing on Ag lands in this Change of Definition of Agriculture? Who really qualifies as a Farmworker – often called Agricultural Workers? Are the chefs or kitchen/wait staff at wineries and event centers the new Farmworkers? Can high-density housing be built on our Ag Preserve and Ag Watershed lands to accommodate them?

Changing agricultural lands to include expanded commercial uses (by right) violates the intensity of uses and protections under Measure P, which extends Measure J’s protections until 2058.

One of the key phrases in Measure P: to protect the County's agricultural, watershed, and open space lands, to strengthen the local agricultural community and preserve the County's rural way of life. By expanding what is allowed (whether by right or by permit), the rural way of life is/can be destroyed. The number of unintended consequences is significant.

This issue will be coming to the Board of Supervisors soon. Please contact your Supervisor requesting that the definition to Agriculture not be modified until all the unintended consequences are understood.

Diane Dillon
Alfredo Pedrosa
Ryan Gregory
Brad Wagenknecht
Belia Ramos

Highway improvements increase traffic (updated)

George Caloyannidis - Mar 16, 2017   View on SCR  |    Share

Katy Freeway, Huston - never wide enough
Update Editor's note: NVR 3/16/17: Napa officials talk about scrapping Hwy 29 widening in American Canyon
This is one of the few government acknowledgements that road widening doesn't relieve traffic congestion, it enables future development and induces traffic increases to fill the lanes available, a fact already known to traffic researchers. This comes one day after the City of American Canyon presented their plans to widen Hwy 29 to encourage more development. Kudos to the NVTA.

Dignitaries always flock to ribbon-cutting photo ops, but established traffic findings throw a damper on the champagne.

Research at UC Davis -- one of the best in the nation on traffic studies -- has shown that the widening of traffic arteries does not alleviate traffic congestion. In fact, as Professor Susan Handy who was a contributor to that research explained during her last April's presentation at the NV2050 Forum on the Tourism Economy, the widening of traffic arteries alleviates traffic congestion for between one and two years and then makes congestion even worse than it was before. Though Caltrans has not yet adopted that policy, it has posted it on its website. In the face of overwhelming evidence, it will surely follow in time.

That the widening of arteries alleviates traffic congestion is intuitive but the reason why it makes it worse is more complicated.

During the congestion easing phase, all traffic increasing projects which undergo CEQA review evaluate current traffic conditions and are given a green light on their traffic impacts which they might not have gotten had those improvements not taken place. In other words, more traffic-increasing projects are approved than would have been otherwise. This facilitates more traffic until the previous saturation point is reached. But the net effect is that more traffic is dumped on the side streets of communities and overall congestion gets worse. Not to mention increased parking requirements.

A great example of this pattern is the Highway 29/Trancas Street underpass. For those who remember traffic conditions before those improvements more than a decade ago, there was a bottleneck at that location but nowhere else further Upvalley. That ribbon cutting celebrated the easing of traffic congestion. But here we are today, the percentage of pass-through traffic remains at less than 10 percent, but additional development was facilitated by valid CEQA review and here we are with the intolerable conditions of today.

It is great that the eyesore utilities have been placed underground and that the easier left turns will facilitate better traffic flow for a while, but overall traffic will increase because of them. When the rest of the developed world is abandoning traffic lights in favor of roundabouts, St. Helena will get one more of those traffic-delaying relics to facilitate an unwise development project. Make no mistake; even more development will slip under the CEQA radar during the coveted window and the quality of life of local up-valley communities will suffer.

Sip the bubbly with caution!

Weekly Calistogan 10/4/16: Highway improvements will increase traffic

Roads on Mt. Veeder

Patricia Damery - Mar 15, 2017   Share

The following letter from Napa resident Chris Bell addresses the deplorable conditions of the roads on Mt. Veeder, conditions increasingly common on our county roads. Although the County continues to support growth in tourism and wine sales, the situation with our country roads is precarious and dangerous and the County contends there is little money to fix them . Mr. Bell raises the question: what about residents? With so much money pouring in from the hospitality and winery businesses, why is so little being used to ensure our roads are safe? Bell offers a solution.

My wife and I went to a sort of "town hall" meeting last week that the residents up Mt Veeder pulled together after enduring some pretty tough and dangerous situations in last month’s storms. There were about 50 of us there with our district supervisor and the head of the county road department and local fire chiefs.

As we drove north for the 15 minute drive up Mt Veeder road to the meeting we passed three places where the road was only one makeshift lane. It had either caved off into the creek, or a landslide had come down into the road. The road was temporarily filled back in or graded to allow a tight and very slow passage…And then another one lane section that has caved off the hillside and has been that way for so long the temporary guard rail is now covered with moss…There were also a few other large sinking spots that were on the verge of failing with another good storm. None of the ditches that allow drainage were flowing because they haven’t been cleaned out in years and the pot holes and huge fishers in the road promoted many a hit the brakes quick situation.

Remembering back about a month ago, we had a massive landslide just south of us on Redwood road that shut off the southbound path into Napa for a week, making this northbound route the only way out for about 600 people. This “detour” makes the normal 7 minute drive to Napa about an hour and 15 minutes during traffic hours.

What we learned in this meeting is this:

Our county road maintenance is paid for by a gas tax and hasn’t been changed since 1993. What has changed is that now we have very efficient cars and electric cars, and revenue from gas tax has shrunk over 25% since 93. It seems most of that budget goes to Silverado Trail because of the high volume of traffic there.

Napa county passed "Measure T" last year but won't see any funds available until 2018 at which point they will be able to begin the year’s worth of engineering and planning to repair our road. So today, in 2017 the road is barely passable…it’s the only way out if there is a road failure heading south, and it's not going to be fixed until maybe 2021.

Now consider this scenario…This road travels thru some of the most wooded forest in California, and there’s about 600 people, numerous wineries, commercial vineyards, a few 10-30 million dollar estates, it’s a well driven back route for bikes and cars between Napa and Sonoma and a well traveled route for Mt Veeder grapes during harvest. And according to the officials, it will be 4 or 5 fire seasons between now and the time ANY if this is fixed???

If a fire starts up on the mountain we will have a mass exodus down the mountain at the same time we have potentially 100s of large emergency vehicles and equipment heading up the mountain… many of them weighing 10-20 times over what the roads have people admitted is a very low weight limit on the current road. Remember the footage of the residents in Lake County last year having to flee thru the burning roads to escape?

What we now have the potential for is a headline that reads "Hundreds trapped (or killed) in Mt Veeder fire"…followed by billions in losses to property because firefighters couldn’t get up the mountain with heavy equipment and emergency services.

This is scary and potentially possible.

Now here’s the ironic part…Napa county generates massive dollars annually in wine and tourist related businesses for the county and creates a hefty income for the federal coffers…And according to Google Napa county property tax records show an all time high of $30 billion last year. So there is plentiful dollars generated by the use of the roads and land in Napa County… yet the politicians have created and are allowing a potentially life threatening situation on ours ( and I’m sure most other) Napa county roads.

If you consider how many bottles of wine are produced in Napa County, and added a 5 cent a bottle tax ( charged to the buyer not the winery) on every bottle that went out of this valley to pay for the roads that everyone who makes, buys and drinks the wine uses…we would have ample funds available every year by now to stop this dangerous situation. But the valley gets richer, the tourists get drunker, the airport hosts more private jets and our roads get busier every year as we sit there and listen to all the red tape and political reasons why our rural county roads are not on any high priority lists for immediate repairs. It’s time to rethink how this is working out now that lives are now in danger for our rural residents.

Political talk and justifications for "5 year plans" to repair and make our roads safe will be a huge liability when we have a tragedy that cost the lives of Napa residents.

In 2017 in one of the richest producing counties in the nation there is no excuse for this scenario to even be possible. But this is the reality on Mt Veeder in Napa, California, 2017.

1 Comments Show/Hide

Goodbye, Napa Valley

George Caloyannidis - Mar 10, 2017   Share

We thought we would share with you a recent letter to the editor to the St. Helena Star, written by Chuck O'Rear. As many of you have, we knew Charles (Chuck) O’Rear and his wife Daphne Larkin.

Some people, like Chuck, have helped put the Napa Valley on the map, set it on a solid foundation towards a bright future and entrusted it to our local governments for its stewardship. Chuck's odyssey, rather late in life is a testament to our failed leadership from Calistoga to American Canyon. That leadership continues to remain oblivious to the distraction it keeps promoting week after week invoking mock environmental analyses and lending nothing but a deaf ear to citizens who have been sounding the alarm and continue to do so at public hearings.

I could do without all those irresponsible leaders if the Napa Valley could get its Chuck O'Rears and other locals back who have been leaving in alarming numbers. Supervisors, Mayors, Council members and Planning Commissioners you have done it! You took our valley from us and handed it over to those who never put in a day's honest work in its behalf.

As Chuck says: Goodbye, Napa Valley; and it is for good.

Citizen Power!

NV2050 Admin - Mar 8, 2017   Share

Hello Napa Vision 2050 supporters!

Are you yearning for some democracy?
Frustrated with Napa County’s continual approval of harmful projects?
Think it’s impossible to get something done against all odds?


Monday night, March 6, 2017, after a 18-month battle, our brave, dedicated and organized neighbors in “Fresh Air Vallejo” beat back plans to construct a private industrial port (VMT) at the mouth of the Napa River. The first tenant, as a part of the VMT/Orcem application, is a cement plant (Orcem/Ecocem). The bulk of the ‘future’ tenants are unknown. The project is being pushed by group of industrialists, including Jim Syar of his privately-held corporation Syar Industries—Syar Napa Quarry fame.

The proposed site is the historic Sperry Mill. It is located right next to Sandy Beach, the waterfront community where the San Francisco ferry slows down
as it enters the Mare Island Straits.

This site is so close to an elementary school that Orcem representatives and its attorney actually tried to explain why hundreds of diesel trucks flooding the residential streets next to the school were not a bad idea.

And in a textbook example of greenwashing, to lessen the diesel truck impact VMT/Orcem would utilize the 19th century railroad that runs through Vallejo up to Napa Junction and deploy barges up the Napa River.
Our neighbors were fighting for us too.
Dare we dream that it is possible for our Napa County officials to catch a strong case of democracy from Vallejo?
Today we are celebrating this effort, and ask that you join us in our mission!

Vallejo Chamber of Commerce Supports Residents: No Cement Factory!

NV2050 Admin - Mar 5, 2017   Share

VTH 3/7/17: Vallejo Planning Commission rejects Orcem/VMT project
VTH 3/6/17: Vallejo commission meeting Monday [3/6/17] to discuss Orcem/VMT

Press Release

On Monday, February 27, 2017, Vallejo's Chamber of Commerce (CoC) decided to support the City of Vallejo’s Staff recommendation, the vision formed in the New General Plan, and the wishes of the residents of Vallejo in opposing the Vallejo Marine Terminal (VMT)/Orcem Project application. With this, they are proving themselves to be the next generation of leaders and relevant in bringing prosperity to Vallejo and our neighbors in coming decades.

Given we are well into this new age of information and business without borders, it begs the question: How does a CoC serve a purpose in the 21st century? If it upholds the vision and values of its community, then yes. If its members are the puppets of a dinosaur corporation, then it is time to let it die since it is no longer an "advocate on behalf of the community at large." Time for those people who are starting new businesses—co-working, Kickstarters, and home-based but global—to form a new kind of chamber.

CoC’s may no longer be defined by city boundaries. Their service territories can span as little or as much as the businesses forming them desire. CoC’s may focus their members around specific needs such as women-owned, LGBT, heritage, or regional- or shared-cyberspace goals.

However they form, they must be open to coalition building with neighboring and/or like-minded chambers because CoC’s are key in introducing B2B (business-to-business) to nurture growth. Sadly, profit can sometimes drive decisions that are in opposition to the health of a community. Right here on our own Napa River we've seen it: The “green” cement company planning to produce portland cement, the many meetings between Syar and Orcem: these relationships must be questioned: Who benefits?

That word ‘benefit’ is so important to the Millennial generation, that Deloitte studies show over 70% of Millennials demand companies value equally the 4-P’s: People, Planet, Purpose and Profit. And when major players like Unilever are now lead by CSR (corporate social responsibility), integrating it into all departments, ‘Benefit Corporation’ is no longer the stepchild of business, but the worldwide B-Corp movement. “B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.”

The challenge for any ‘institution’ is remaining relevant in this fast-paced climate; Vallejo’s Chamber of Commerce is heading in the right direction with this declaration supporting City Staff's recommendation for permit denial of VMT/Orcem.

Thank you,
B. Todi
Account Strategist, Tesser
Fresh Air Vallejo Volunteer

Watershed Initiative set back

Jim Wilson - Mar 2, 2017   Share

NVR 3/3/17: Appeals court backs Napa County in watershed initiative dispute

Dear supporters of the Water, Forest and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative,

I'm very sorry to have to report this sad news. We received word yesterday that our appeal has been denied. Our attorneys disagree with the decision, of course, and are studying the opinion and considering our options. It is indeed annoying, and incredibly disappointing that we've come to this point after so much effort.

I will say however that we've never been more determined to place our measure on the ballot. Napa is a tiny county, and while the locals here in the past might not have been a hotbed of activism, people here get it! What we're seeing now is there's a groundswell of tremendous support for our work to get this initiative passed. The environment that sustains us and governs us cannot continue to wait for the protections offered by our measure, given the current threats to our forests and streams.

The initiative will enhance no-cut stream buffers to protect water quality, as well as put a cap on the amount of oak woodlands that can be destroyed. Our allies in Napa and throughout the State have been a terrific help in their commitment to action on our behalf. Recall Patricia Damery's comments last year, not long after the County removed our initiative from the ballot, speaking for all of us when she addressed the Board of Supervisors:

    "People want the opportunity to learn more about the issue of our watersheds, what keeps watersheds healthy, and to vote. Forests and our oak woodlands are essential to a healthy watershed. Watersheds are essential to clean, abundant water for now and into the future. Water is critically important to health, and we should have the right to vote on matters that affect our health."

It isn't quite what we'd hoped for but we're confident we can do this! Thank you for your patience. I look forward to updating you soon on next steps.

Las Vegas and the lessons of growth

George Caloyannidis - Feb 28, 2017   Share

During the Napa Vision 2050-sponsored forum on the "Tourism Economy" in April 2016, one of the panelists, Mr. Eben Fodor of the planning firm Fodor & Associates who conducted studies on the long-term fiscal impacts of urban growth, cited his 1998 findings on the Thornburgh mega destination resort in Oregon.

He calculated that after all fees and public improvement costs were paid, the net uncollected cost of incremental service capacity for a single residential unit was $33,408 for a total unaccounted public cost of $46 million.

As we have come to believe that growth and a balanced budget are the barometers of a healthy economy, the Thornburgh development in spite of its enormous size of 1,375 homes, hotels and golf courses did not garner the proper attention, considered specific to that development.

But, during a recent visit to informed friends in Las Vegas and based on a Feb. 6 article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, there is evidence that that metropolitan area -- one of the fastest growing in the nation -- which hosts 75 percent of the state's population is experiencing similar negative development-induced effects. Both Las Vegas and the Napa Valley are tourist-based economies, and as they both found out in 2008, they are singularly vulnerable when the economy contracts.

But, according to Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts International, the Las Vegas economy is poised for a "giant leap" with 170,000 new visitors, especially from China. The projected $200 million in economic growth will fuel additional casinos, hotels and a variety of new entertainment venues and homes.

In addition, when one considers the beginnings of some economic diversification attracting company headquarters and some 42,000 manufacturing jobs, the massive housing developments that keep prices and rents affordable ($875 for a 1-bedroom) in the ever-expanding outskirts, one would think that the Las Vegas fiscal future based on such growth couldn't be brighter.

However, there are signs that the growth model is not working out as planned for existing residents. For the past 12 years, Nevada has had and made do with a 3 percent cap on the annual property tax increase on owner-occupied residential units and an 8 percent tax on other residential and commercial properties. But instead of the cap being lowered by the revenue of the tens of thousands of new residential and commercial units as would be expected, there is a push to increase it. If development growth is a metric of economic success, shouldn't services improve and their costs go down rather than up?

According to the Journal, local officials rationalize that, "population continues to rise, oftentimes growing the demand for government services, but property taxes haven't grown at the same rate." This just proves Mr. Fodor's point. Here now, we have a major city asking its residents to finance its growth. Who benefits?

One must also consider that Las Vegas -- the only major U.S. city established in the 20th century -- has not yet faced the huge bill for the maintenance of the massive expansion and increased tourist use of the infrastructure due in the next several decades. But in the Napa Valley, that future arrived a long time ago.

The reality, as Mr. Fodor explained, is that once the economy enters the vortex of development growth, government becomes increasingly beholden to the immediate revenue of developer fees and other taxes just to keep up with the increased demands growth itself generates. "We do not charge developers enough," he said. The evidence is in the unending general revenue bonds, measures, fees, assessments and taxes to finance the repair and expansion of roads, schools, water districts, sewer plants and more growth-serving public employees and their pensions.

The big growth winners of the model are the handful of developers. The enablers are the growth-dependent governments playing catch-up to balance their ever- increasing budgets one year at a time. The loser is the working middle class that is footing the bill of this ingenious arrangement. And so the income gap widens.

Of course, there is good and bad growth. There was a time when the development growth model was in a contributing mode, the one that builds our bridges and roads. But when it crossed the line from contribution to exploitation on so many levels as it has, it left potholes in its wake for the common man to fix, a sign that the model has run its course.

It is high time for our small valley to explore new paradigms if it is to survive the induced-growth model pursued by its governments. The decades-old words of Robert Parker calling it, "the most beautiful wine country in the world" are hanging by a thread.

NVR version 2/28/17: Las Vegas and the lessons of growth

Open Letter To Alfredo Pedroza, Chair, Napa County Board of Supervisors.

Daniel Mufson - Feb 27, 2017   Share

When the Rains Don't Come: Irrigation Pond Bottom, January 2014
Alfredo Pedroza, Chair
Napa County Board of Supervisors

On December 13, 2016 you and the rest of the Board voted to approve the Napa
Valley Subbasin Analysis Report which concluded that the Napa Valley Subbasin
was now and will continue to be sustainable for the next 20 years. The report
was prepared by Luhdorff & Scalmanini at a cost of over $600,000. This report
provided extensive modeling in an attempt to prove its assertion of sustainability.

At the hearing on December 13, 2016 on this Report (Agenda item 9A), using
data from the consultant’s slide presentation, I raised concerns about how the
county would protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens if the projected
water budget were on the negative side as the consultant presented. These data
slides which do not appear in the final report that showed a projected water
budget (2016-2025) deficit of 14,300 AFY, projected for hot and low rainfall
conditions. The report also made an assumption that the State Water Project
allocation would remain at an average of 42%. This is not realistic as the
allocation has been dramatically cut in recent years to as low as 5%. I raised the
possibility of our municipalities needing to use ground water for their supplies
under these conditions.

Neither you nor staff ever discussed or answered these important questions.
And then last week on February 24, 2017 the County presented its Draft Climate
Action Plan at a Special Meeting of WICC. The draft plan reached an opposite
conclusion about the future Napa environment and water supplies more dire than
those in the Subbasin Report. The draft conclusions were essentially the issues I
had raised in December. I quote the report below:

    “… the County is still currently vulnerable to water supply
    issues due to drought and other factors. The County will face
    challenges in providing sufficient water supplies in the future
    due to climate change effects, coupled with an increasing
    population (i.e., mostly in the incorporated areas) and increasing
    water demand. While the County has already taken steps
    towards achieving long-term groundwater sustainability, there is
    still a possibility that water supply availability may change in the
    future and will need to be further addressed. [Appendix C 21/26]"

So my question is, which report is correct? One says our water situation is fine
thanks and the other concludes Napa County has water vulnerability. One report
was issued by Public Works and the other by Planning, Building & Environmental
Services. The County paid substantial money to consultants to produce both
reports in addition to devoting what appears to be considerable staff time.

Both reports were reviewed by WICC. Which report is correct?

Has anyone actually read the reports other than the volunteer members of Napa
Vision 2050?

Does no one see the contradictions?

When will our community see our governing officials address this glaring
important and expensive inconsistency?

The future health, safety and welfare of Napa’s residents depends upon getting
the right answer.

Will you act to get the County’s money refunded if you determine that one report
is found to be erroneous?

Will you act to have Napa County rescind its Subbasin report from the DWR?

“We can no longer afford to make infrastructure decisions that do not explicitly
account for climate change. Instead, the [government] must tackle adaptation
issues head-on. This will require more research to better model and understand
future impacts, a commitment to incorporating such research findings into
planning, and on-the-ground projects that protect vulnerable communities and
industries.”[Alex Hall and Mark Gold (Institute of the Environment and
Sustainability at UCLA), Sac Bee, 02/26/17]

Napa Vision 2050 recommends that WICC to hold a Public Forum on the
methodology used to create these reports and their conclusions. Methodology
should also be the main topic at the May Watershed Symposium.

Daniel Mufson, President
Napa Vision 2050
PO Box 2385
Yountville, CA 94599
Diane Dillon
Ryan Gregory
Belia Ramos
Brad Wagenknecht
Notes from Napa County Climate Action Plan, Appendix C, Climate Change
Vulnerability Assessment for Napa County, February, 2017

“For purposes of this assessment, where possible, climate change effects in the
County are characterized for two periods of time: midcentury (around 2050) and
the end of the century (around 2100). Historical data are used to identify the
degree of change by these two future periods in time. The direct, or primary,
changes analyzed for the County include average temperature, annual
precipitation, and sea-level rise. Secondary impacts, which can occur because of
individual or a combination of these changes, are also assessed and include
extreme heat and its frequency, wildfire risk, and snowpack (CNRA2012a:16-
    • Increased Temperatures
    • Increased Frequency of Extreme Heat Events and Heat Waves
    • Changes to Precipitation Patterns
    • Increased Wildfire Risk
    • Increased Likelihood of Flooding
    • Sea-Level Rise (with elevated groundwater and salinity intrusion)

“… the County is still currently vulnerable to water supply issues due to drought
and other factors. The County will face challenges in providing sufficient water
supplies in the future due to climate change effects, coupled with an increasing
population (i.e., mostly in the incorporated areas) and increasing water demand.
While the County has already taken steps towards achieving long-term
groundwater sustainability, there is still a possibility that water supply availability
may change in the future and will need to be further addressed. [Appendix C

“Increases in temperature, along with the frequency of extreme heat events and
heat waves, can also affect the agriculture industry, which is a large driver of the
County’s economy. The significant, overall outcome of warming is the likely
reduction in yield of some of California’s most valuable specialty crops (CNRA
2014: 21). More specifically, climate change could have serious effects to the
wine industry in Napa County, which produces an average of 90 percent of
American wine (Mayton 2015). The County currently has 400 wineries,
C-14 Napa County Draft Climate Action Plan producing more than 9.2 million
cases of wines totaling over $1 billion dollars in sales. The wine industry in
Napa accounts for $10.1 billion of $51.8 billion economic impact from
winemaking and related industries in California (Napa County 2013:28).
Increases in temperature and moisture could impact the growing of wine
grapes, by causing late or irregular blooming and affecting yields (Lee et al.
2013:1). [C-13]”

“Increased average temperatures and a hastening of snowmelt in distant
watersheds, along with local and regional changes in precipitation and timing of
runoff in local watersheds, could affect both surface and groundwater supplies in
the County. As a result, the County could struggle in the future in providing
Napa County Draft Climate Action Plan C-15 adequate water supplies to its
residents. Water users could face shortages in normal or dry years, if demand
continues to increase. The points of sensitivity identified because of changes in
precipitation patterns are shown below in Figure 14.”

“In terms of agriculture, changes in timing and amounts of precipitation could
affect local aquifer recharge for groundwater supplies in the future, which could in
turn affect water supplies for agricultural uses. Conversely, as the weather gets
warmer with climate change, agricultural demand for water could intensify
because in extreme heat conditions water evaporates faster and plants need
more water to move through their circulatory systems to stay cool (CNRA
2014:21). More specifically, attempts to maintain wine grape productivity and
quality in the face of warming may be associated with increased water use for
irrigation and to cool grapes through misting or sprinkling (Lee et al. 2013). [C-
15]” The use of GW for misting was not mentioned in the Subbasin Report.

“A changing climate is expected to subject forests to increased stress due to
drought, disease, invasive species, and insect pests. These stressors are likely
to make forests more vulnerable to catastrophic fire (Westerling 2008:231). While
periodic fires are natural processes and an important ecological function,
catastrophic fire events that cannot be contained or managed, can cause serious
threats to homes and infrastructure, especially for properties located at the
wildland-urban interface (i.e., where residential development mingles with
wildland areas) (California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection 2009). Ecological
functions are further impacted as the risk of fire increases. When it does rain in
burned areas, more soil washes off the hills and into roads, ditches, and streams.

Napa Valley Ground Water Sustainability-A Basin Analysis Report for the
Napa Valley Subbasin

“The ability of the SWP to deliver water to its contractors in any given year
depends on a number of factors, including rainfall, size of snowpack, runoff,
water in storage, and pumping capacity in the Delta. Biological opinions on
threatened and endangered fish species are new significant factors affecting
SWP deliveries. The actual delivery, or yield, varies from year to year and is
described as a percentage of the contractual entitlement. Annual SWP deliveries
are a percentage of Table A water, including additional amounts in some years
from the carryover of unused allocations from prior years or water purchased
from the allocation of other SWP contractors. While 100% of the Table A
entitlement may be available in wet years, lesser amounts are delivered in
normal, single-dry, and multiple-dry years. The current SWP Final Delivery
Capability Report 2015, issued in July 2015, projects that under existing
conditions (2015), the average annual delivery of Table A water is estimated at
61%. [78]”

Helicopter Landings in Napa County

George Caloyannidis - Feb 23, 2017   Share

In 2004, Constant Diamond Mountain Winery and a Wine Country Helicopter operator filed an application for a landing use permit, arguing that winery helicopter landings would provide an economic benefit to the county and have a minimal contribution to traffic reduction. Thanks to the efforts of one Napa Vision 2050 Board Member, the supervisors were not convinced and made such landings illegal, under Napa County, Ordinance # P 04-0198-ORD, enacted June 15, 2004. This ordinance effectively prevented an entire new industry of helicopter operators from crisscrossing the sky and disrupting the Napa Valley scenic and quiet agricultural environment.


NVR 2/27/17: County prefers Mount George site for Palmaz heliport

Currently, there is a private use helicopter application for a Landing Use Permit on Hagen Road in Napa (UP# P14-000261) making its way through the process at the County with the scheduled hearing at the Planning Commission on March 1, 2017. Private use helicopters are solely for private recreational or convenience purposes with only negative impacts on the public on a variety of fronts, including risks of accidents, which helicopters are prone to, higher CO2 emissions and, especially, noise pollution . Absolutely nothing justifies their use.

Currently there are helipads on Diamond Mountain, Pritchard Hill, Hennessey Ridge and reported landings at the above locations and on Tubbs Lane in Calistoga and Atlas Peak Road. All are illegal. Many other landings are also reported taking place around the county due to lack of enforcement . All are waiting for Palmaz approval, which will open the door for them.

If this first use permit is granted, hundreds of wealthy homeowners will follow. Air taxi operators may also avail themselves of the business opportunity.

If this sounds farfetched, Uber tested this model during the recent Aspen Festival. The sure to follow proliferation of helicopter flights over the Napa valley skies will drive the final nail to our peace and quiet environment.

Stop private heliports in Napa County! Show up at the March 1, 2017, hearing, 9 am, and voice your objection. County Administration Building, 3rd and Coombs Street, Napa, CA.

Sign the Napa Vision 2050 petition opposing private heliports in the county here.

Ubercoptors? Heli-no!

Last Chance: Make your Public Comment on the Climate Action Plan!

Jim Wilson - Feb 21, 2017   Share

URGENT: Napa County's Climate Action Plan is nearing completion. If it becomes a reality, we'll be stuck with yet another "half-way measure" that places short term profit over the long term health and well-being of our dangerously compromised climate. This is outrageous.

Thursday, February 23, is the final public meeting on Napa County's Climate Action Plan (CAP). The county has contracted with Ascent Environmental to prepare a Climate Action Plan detailing measures that the county will take to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in alignment with state targets. This document can be critical to our efforts to control regional warming or it can be a drain on time and resources if it supports business as usual.

Unfortunately, our CAP is being finalized using antiquated measuring standards at a time when both the State and our regional air district (Bay Area Air Quality Management District) are shifting focus to “short-lived climate pollutants” which have a much greater warming effect than CO2 ((e.g. Methane, Black Carbon, F-gases and Ozone). Methane is 34 times more powerful and black carbon 900 times more powerful than CO2. Their global warming potential is even higher in the near term (ten years) when we still have a chance to postpone irreversible climate tipping points. We need to focus where GHG reductions can be most effective because the CAP will determine what future measures developers take to reduce emissions-- so let's make sure we get it right!

The CAP will require projects to comply with a dead-on-arrival GHG Consistency Checklist. Projects that comply are eligible for CEQA streamlining and need not analyze their GHG emissions. But this Checklist will not be prepared in time for in-depth public comment. Nor will it comply with recent GHG laws and regulations.


CAP fails to provide feasible forest conversion mitigation.
CAP fails to account for any wetlands and soil conversion GHG emissions.
CAP fails to fully account for winery and vineyard operations GHG emissions.
CAP fails to fully account for visitation GHG emissions.
CAP fails to provide adaptive management monitoring standards as required by CEQA.
CAP fails to comply with Senate Bill 1383 methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbon emission reduction standards.
CAP fails to comply with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District GHG emissions accounting standards.
CAP fails to set measurable targets for.reducing Vehicle Miles Travelled
CAP fails to set standards for new project emissions.

Take a look at the Public Review Draft, also attached, come to the meeting, and ask questions.

• Why does measure LU-1 target retaining only 30% of the existing tree canopy? What would emissions reductions be if 50% and 70% were targeted?
• Is planting 2500 trees each year realistic in terms of space and manpower available?
• How will measure LU-3, prevention of burning 80% of trees removed during land conversion, be enforced?
• How will the Napa CAP pursue the state Air Resource Board's 2018 goals for reductions in methane, black carbon, and F-gases when the CAP inventory does not separate out emissions contributed by these pollutants?
• How will the CAP Consistency Checklist determine the emissions of a project and the decrease in emissions by the CAP measures taken?
• Why don't the transportation measures set goals of reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled as a measurable target?
• What amount of emissions is allowable for a new project? What Threshold of Significance standard will Napa County adopt?


The solution we offer is to hire an expert ASAP to address the inadequacies of the proposed CAP and secure the best possible protections. The critical knowledge and action needed is within our grasp. Please make a generous donation today.

We have a right to a livable climate for a livable planet, now and for our children. Join us in demanding decisive action.


Thursday, February 23, 2017, 3pm

2751 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, South Campus, Building A
First Floor, Conference Room, Napa CA 94558

Transient Party Town! (updated)

Bill Hocker - Feb 20, 2017   View on SCR  |    Share

The Big City comes to sleepy Napa
Update: NVR 2/20/17: Napa asks, How many hotel rooms are enough?

NY Times 2/1/17: A Waking Giant or a Monster? Developers Eye Once-Sleepy Napa

In the Times article Napa Vision 2050 is recognized nationally for its efforts to slow the urbanization of Napa County. Kudos to Harris Nussbaum and Patricia Damery.

Jim Wilson on the Napa Vision 2050 Economic Forum
It's exactly the effect we heard is coming at George Caloyannidis' Tourism Economy Forum in April of last year:

Samuel Mendlinger:
  • Tourism accelerates the polarization between the population and the very wealthy.
  • Polarization begins when businesses begin to cater to tourists and affluent locals at the expense of townsfolk.
  • Now a major social revolution: small group of elderly people and few young people.

    Q: Whose town is this anyway? What can community do so the power doesn’t get concentrated in the hands of a few?
    A: There are a few only. Locals are usually the last to get a voice in tourism development. Usually money does the talking. Local leaders who are wise enough know that the local people need to be part of the process. Most people don’t really know what their long-term needs are. Community groups need to have experience.

    Know what they’re doing, how to get things done, like NV2050. It’s what attracted me to this event in Napa. Hospitality is about cheap labor. Tourism is about value added.

    Q: Local schools close and students are sent out of town?
    A: Imbalance. Older population crowds out the younger people. Mis-managed tourism.. Petersborough losing its school system,, and its vertical, complete society. Declining school enrollment is a sign that either young adults don’t want to have children, or they don’t see a future in the town.

    Q: How do you organize the population?
    A: NV2050 is a great example. You’re anxious over the future, you’re organizing through people who can organize, and have the time and abilty to see things through. Then expand! It’s bottom up. Top down is very rare.

    Q: How do you recommend citizens get involved in decisions on smart tourism?
    A: Mendlinger: What is motivation for County and City political leaders to get involved? Do they want more development or a higher quality of life for citizens? If interested in business they won’t listen. But if you have wise leadership you’ll do the part of the job that improves the quality of life. Especially in Napa you have a great pool of experience and wisdom. It’s cosmopolitan not provincial. Political leadership has to listen to well-organized citizens who understand how real life works. Citizens can go far. Like this meeting where you have political leadership plus informed citizens. I traveled fro Boston to see how Napa is doing, and I am encouraged by the possibilities. Rural areas - resource extraction areas – when industry pulls out there’s not much reason for community to be there.

    Q: Advice on blasting open “iron triangle” government/agencies/industry?
    A: Mendlinger; How to develop experienced and wise leaders and citizens is the question. I just don’t know how.

Eben Fodor:
  • In an economic impact study, costs are just as important as revenues.
  • Too much tourism can overwhelm a community.
  • Impact studies usually tout all the benefits of a development. Fiscal impacts are often overlooked and no multipliers are used.
  • The reports that go out make the development look great but it’s not. There’s no balanced perspective with costs to the community.

Napa Vision 2050 Economic Forum: Understanding the tourism driven economy
George Caloyannidis' articles on growth and tourism
More on Napa City development here
More on Napa Growth Issues here

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Pass a ban on private helipads (updated)

Daniel Mufson - Feb 17, 2017   Share

UPDATE 2/17/17:
County Planning Commission Hearing for the Final Environmental Impact Report on the Palmaz Heliport Project will happen on Mar 1st, 2017, 9:00am at the County Building, 3rd Floor, 1135 3rd St Napa. The notice for the hearing is here

The Board of Supervisors chambers were full last week [one year ago now] for the meeting on the Palmaz Heliport ("Proposed Palmaz helipad sparks big turnout at meeting," Jan. 17). It is difficult to understand why the non-essential pleasures of one individual can trump the health, safety and welfare of ALL of his neighbors.

We have collected more than 500 signatures on a petition against the heliport. Neighbors from Hagen Road, Coombsville and beyond came to protest this intrusion. The question asked by many was why even go through the environmental impact report process, isn’t there anyone (Supervisor) who can step up a demonstrate leadership and put a stop to this?

We understand that a proposed ordinance has been submitted to the Supervisors to change zoning regulations to prevent private helicopter landings. It would be marvelous if they could promptly act on this and save everyone lots of time and effort to deal with the environmental impact report process.

Helicopters are not safe. The Register carried a story (“FAA seeks industry help as helicopter bird strikes increase,” Dec. 28, 2015) about the FAA’s concern about bird strikes on helicopters. With so many large birds, including eagles, herons and geese, residing in the proposed flight path and about Mt. George it is inevitable that there will be an air strike and tragedy.

I recently suggested that if this heliport is approved, there will be many more applications and we will see the proliferation of Uber helicopters for the Uber rich. We have now learned that Airbus is working with Uber to supply these air taxies (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 18). So I say to the Supervisors, if you don't stop this project, we will be inundated with helicopter traffic. “HELI-NO!"

Oh, and while you’re at it, let’s ban delivery drones.

NVR version 1/23/16: Pass a ban on private helipads
NapaVision2050 Palmaz Petition page
SCR Palmaz screed

And coming to a theater near you! The Invasion of the Ubercoptors.

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