Mountain Peak Winery, P13-00320-UP Letter from Resident Daniel McFadden
My name is Daniel McFadden. My wife Beverlee and I have lived at 2362 Soda Canyon Road since 1991, where we operate a small vineyard. I am a professor of health economics and policy at USC, and an emeritus professor of economics at UC Berkeley. I have served as President of the American Economics Association, and have testified before the Federal Trade Commission on the economics of direct wine sales. I am the recipient of a Nobel prize for my work in transportation economics.
The MPV proposal includes a visitation program for 18,486 visitors annually, adding more than 2000 nine-passenger tourist bus trips per year, or even more private vehicles, to the traffic on Soda Canyon Road. This 7.8 mile dead-end road is narrow, steep, and winding, without shoulders or guardrails, poorly paved, with crumbling margins and more than 500 filled potholes. Heavy truck and vineyard worker traffic is already degrading the pavement and creating traffic hazards. The additional wine tourist traffic on this road from the MPV proposal would create enormous risks for Soda Canyon residents and for the taxpayers of Napa County. When wine tourist buses accidents on this road inevitably happen, the County will be called to account for gross negligence if it permits this visitation program without requiring safe access. The only prudent way to accommodate the MPV tourist traffic on Soda Canyon road is to widen, regrade, and repave the road to the standards the county currently requires for industrial projects. One can show with a simple economic calculation that property and business taxes from the MPV operation will be insufficient to cover the cost of this road upgrade. MPV should either withdraw their proposed visitor request, or pay for the 7.5 mile road upgrade needed to make their visitor program safe. It is an unreasonable burden on the taxpayers of Napa County to ask them to subsidize MPV operations by paying for the road upgrade and liability for safe access to their plant.
MPV argues that their proposed visitor program is an important element in their business model. However, Peju-Provence Winery located on Highway 29 with easy access and extensive wine tourist facilities says direct wine sales are about 15 percent of total wine sales. The percentage for a remote plant like MPV would certainly be less. Calculation shows the income from direct sales originating in an on-site visitor program at MPV will be far below the cost of upgrading Soda Canyon Road to provide safe access. The MPV visitor proposal makes economic sense for them only if the taxpayers of Napa County subsidize them by assuming the enormous cost of upgrading the road, or assuming the liability for gross negligence if the MPV visitor program is approved without assuring safe access. Napa County government should not impose a massive, unfair burden on Napa County taxpayers to subsidize the business operations of a private industrial plant.