Vote NO on American Canyon's Measure J
Protect The Beautiful Park, Trails and Wildlife Wetlands
In the upcoming November election, American Canyon residents will be asked to vote on Measure J, a confusing ballot measure with flaws, misinformation, and significant ecological, agricultural and open space consequences. Here is the story of how this came to be on the ballot.
The Measure was initiated by the owners of the 157-acre Green Island Vineyards, a parcel at the end of Green Island Road which is zoned Agriculture, Watershed, & Open Space (AWOS). Should the measure pass, it raises a number of significant issues. Will Napa County voters need to also vote in the future regarding converting protected agriculture land to industrial commercial uses, a required process established by county Measure P? In this case, the owners of the parcel say the AWOS zoning designation will not change, only the urban city limits expanded to include the parcel. Their true motive, however, is revealed in the name they will give the parcel: Green Island Industrial Park.
Green Island Vineyards planted 130 acres of productive grapevines on their 157-acre parcel. Over time, the heavy clay soils on Green Island Vineyard, along with years of drought, made it difficult to grow and sell quality grapes. The owners concluded that conversion to industrial uses was their only means of returning an investment they had made decades before.
Unfortunately, the owners drafted an initiative containing several false and misleading statements. They described the land as “vacant” (yet 38 acres are still in production), they called it “undeveloped and blighted”, ignoring the irrigation infrastructure, vineyard row supports, and farm roads. They accuse saltwater intrusion of destroying the soil when their own soil expert emphatically denied this at a public hearing.
But there is another issue here. American Canyon has built a stunning gem of wetlands, nature walks and bird preserves in this same area along the waterfront. The popular 500-mile walking and cycling Bay Trail also runs through this area. Life sustaining marshes have been restored. In 2009, Ducks Unlimited organized the funding of a major estuary restoration project. Walking trails and informational kiosks about wildlife and wetlands were added.
Recreational opportunities now draw visitors to enjoy these accessible trails and ride their bicycles through this area. This estuary is part of the migratory bird Pacific Flyway and is home to many shorebirds. Local public officials and residents are proud to discuss their wetlands, give tours, and share this restored beauty and increased wildlife with the entire Bay Area.
These wetlands provide the principal habitat for migrating waterfowl and are critical to overwintering birds along the Pacific Flyway. They also provide spawning and rearing habitat for fish, especially the endangered green sturgeon, whose juveniles are found in the lower reaches of the Napa River. In addition, critical wetlands sequester and store large quantities of carbon in the vegetation and sediment below.
Measure J on the American Canyon ballot threatens all of this impressive restoration and flourishing wildlife.
The wording on the ballot seems simple enough: Should American Canyon expand the urban limit line and modify its General Plan to reclassify the 157-acre parcel as Green Island Industrial Park? Most residents don’t realize what is at risk.
The implications behind that simple request are more than meets the public eye. Besides a possible dangerous precedent in turning protected Ag Watershed and Open Space lands into industrial use without a vote of the people of Napa County, and all the destruction that will cause, the continuation of further industrial development along the estuary and wetlands will destroy any possibility of future restoration work.
If Measure J passes, five to eight years from now, when the incumbent city council members and mayor are no longer in office, and owners/investors have garnered their many millions from the sale of new, “industrial park” land, American Canyon residents will be watching yellow bulldozers ripping up the land next to the estuary, and wildlife destroyed, as concrete is poured, and wonder who approved this, and why was this allowed to happen? They’ll be met with the silence of those who went before them.
Don't Let This Happen
Vote NO on Measure J