Close as I've been to this process, a small cog to be sure, I didn't understand how important the effort of Soda Canyon residents has been until reading Barry Eberling's article and in going over the issues with our council after the hearing.
There are residents all over the state whose rural lives are impacted by the conversion of a wine industry into a tourism industry. It is an issue that needs to be broadened beyond the regulations of our small county. That conversation is already happening in Sonoma County and elsewhere in the state. Each place has its own processes and regulations that residents must confront. But the state Alcohol Beverage Contol ties us all together, the issue needs to be raised there. The residents of Soda Canyon Road are making the effort.
The ABC is charged with protecting both the health and welfare of the public and with protecting the quiet enjoyment of residents on their properties in relation to the granting of ABC licenses to businesses in the state. Health and welfare may depend on individual circumstances: Soda Canyon Road has traffic and fire issues that are unique and which may or may not influence the decision that the ABC makes in the Relic case. But quiet enjoyment is an issue to all who live in rural environments experiencing an influx of commercial wine tourism in their communities. Normally applied to liquor stores plunked down in the midst of poor urban neighborhoods, quiet enjoyment when applied to affluent wine county residents may illicit less concern from the ABC, but their licenses do have an impact on our lives and someone needs to find out what level of protection they are willing to afford when county or city governments put alcohol and tourism revenues ahead of residents interests in maintaining their communities.