Do we feel bad for a vineyard operator in the Cuyama Valley that doesn’t get to build its “frost protection” ponds anymore? 

If you’re Andy “I’m With COLAB” Caldwell, yes. 

Does his opinion actually matter? That’s a rhetorical question.

He’s very concerned about Santa Barbara County’s mistreatment of North Fork Ranch, which some folks believe is connected with Harvard University, aka Brodiaea Inc. And, according to The Harvard Crimson, aka the university’s newspaper, the rumors are true.

But Caldwell doesn’t live in Cuyama, so he’s not dealing with the impacts of an overdrafted aquifer that caused the ground to subside in the recent past. He’s probably also on the side of Big Carrot—yes, that’s an actual thing (cue dastardly music)—which sued everyone who overlies the Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin over the water rights it believes it’s losing because of the state mandates forced on basin users as part of the State Groundwater Management Act. 

You see, the whole problem with being labeled a “critically overdrafted” basin is that basin overliers are now required to take steps to mitigate that overdraft. For all the laymen out there, that means everyone needs to cut back on their water pumping as part of an official plan. And I don’t think that 15 acres of aboveground “frost protection ponds”—aka reservoirs—that will pull more than 30 acre-feet of water per year out of the groundwater basin just in case Harvard needs to prevent springtime growth from getting frost-bitten quite fits in with the whole conserve-water ethos that Cuyama (apart from Big Carrot) is trying to project right now.

There are other ways to protect vines from frost, you know. Things like where you plant, how you prune, and wind machines or heaters—although the latter two do use energy so greenhouse gases might be an issue. Eesh. And the first two take forethought. 

Caldwell tried to cherry-pick from the staff report to make his point.

“The Planning Commission finds that the proposed project is not compatible and subordinate to ‘the agricultural character’—what the heck does that mean?” Caldwell said during the commission’s May 10 meeting. “Every vineyard in the region has a frost pond.” 

Well, you see, if the Sun, aka “the media,were to use a quote like that, it would be referred to as something that was taken out of context. What the staff report actually said was that “due to the size and number of reservoirs proposed,” the project isn’t compatible with the “agricultural character” of the area. 

What does the agriculture part of COLAB mean anyway? Big Ag? Or local ag? Because Caldwell seems to be siding with the big over the local. 

Must be nice to be able to just pick and choose the parts of quotes you need to support your points—even if the facts and context of those quotes don’t support your points. 

This whole frost pond discussion has been happening for at least four years, so what’s next? I feel an appeal coming on. And why not? Harvard’s got the resources to keep it moving forward. I’m sure the Board of Supervisors can’t wait.

The Canary is sick of Big Mouths. Send your two cents to [email protected].

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