Measure C, also known as the Napa Oak Woodlands and Watershed Protection Initiative, came out of election night with a slim 42 vote lead, but that count reflected only of about 40% of all votes cast, and Registrar of Voters John Tuteur cautioned that this was an unofficial preliminary count, and that when numbers were this close, it could go either way as more votes were counted.
However, as more votes were counted and release Friday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday following the election the trend turned consistently against Measure C, which on election day had held a 50.15% to 49.85% lead, but a week later was in the deficit 49.08% to 50.92% of the vote.
The tally released Wednesday afternoon showed 16,839 Yes votes and 17,471 No votes. There are still 1,000-1,200 votes to be counted, but with a 632 vote gap to close, it is highly unlikely that Measure C will pass, though the final count will not be released until the election is certified at the end of June.
Measure C and it’s restrictions on oak removal and vineyard development was seen as an attack on the wine industry by Napa agriculture associations, Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Grapegrowers, and Napa Farm Bureau, who worked together to defeat it.
Ryan Klobas, Policy Director for the Napa County Farm Bureau, says “We’re waiting until certification of the election to determine the final result, but we’re very pleased with the lead that we have right now. We mounted a large effort to educate voters about the unintended consequences of Measure C and we’re happy to see that voters are hearing that message.”
The Napa Oak Woodlands and Watershed Protection Initiative, which now appears to have failed marks the second attempt of its authors to limit oak removal and vineyard development in Napa via the ballot box. Their first attempt for an earlier version of the initiative to be placed on the ballot was rejected by the court due to discrepancies in the initiative gathering process.
However, it seems unlikely that this apparent outcome will be the last word said on the issue, which did receive support from some prominent Napa vintners and growers. Klobas says “We remain committed to addressing the issues raised in the election, but believe Measure C was absolutely the wrong vehicle to address those concerns.”
By Kim Badenfort