Latest Results Show it's a 'No' on Measure C

Hotly contested ballot measure on land use regulations divided Napa County voters

by Stacy Briscoe
The latest round of election results has Measure C losing by a slim margin.

Napa, Calif.—Measure C, the Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative that some believe would impede future expansion of Napa County’s vineyards and development of new wineries, appears to have failed according to the latest election results.

Napa County’s fourth unofficial post-election night report, released late today, stated a total count of 17,471 “no” votes (50.92% of votes) versus 16,839 “yes” votes (49.08% of votes). 

Napa County Registrar of Voters John Tuteur, who won his re-election campaign, told Wines & Vines in an interview that, due to “voter-involved damage” to mail-in ballots, the county’s election division has between 750 and 1,000 ballots that need further review or duplication. Furthermore, California law requires that 1% of county precincts’ votes be counted by hand; with 167 precincts inside Napa County, the election division will be conducting a manual tally of all races on approximately 1,200 ballots from two randomly selected precincts, according to Tuteur.

“Close elections always put a lot of focus on the registrar, but remember my job is to count every vote accurately not quickly,” said Tuteur. “Final results will be published with the certified statement of vote during the week of June 25, 2018.”

Any remaining ballots, however, are unlikely to change the "no" votes margin of 632 votes. 

The Measure C initiative proposed the removal of up to 795 acres of woodlands in land zoned “agricultural watershed.” After that limit is reached, removal of additional trees would require a permit and every tree cut would need to be replaced by three more trees, according to the measure. Those in favor believe that protecting these zones would improve Napa’s water quality and, thus, its agriculture — namely its vineyards.

Those opposed to the measure have a different point of view, believing that limiting potential vineyard acreage can pose a threat to both the environment and the wine industry. In a previous article, Stu Smith, general partner and enologist at Smith-Madrone Winery in Napa, Calif., spoke to Wines & Vines about the potential for increased fire hazards and the limiting opportunities for smaller or up-and-coming grapegrowers and wineries.

Meanwhile, Measure D, the initiative to ban new personal-use heliports, won its race 20,640 votes (61%) to 13,218 votes (39% ). This initiative is a reaction to residential protests regarding vintner Christian Palmaz’s plan to build a helipad and heliport along his family’s Hagen Road property in Napa.

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