SodaCanyonRoad | Email exchange with Bill Dodd
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Email exchange with Bill Dodd


Bill Hocker | Jul 29, 2014 on: The WDO

On Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:50:09 AM Bill Hocker wrote:

Subject: Impacts of the 2010 WDO changes

Supervisor Dodd,

Regarding your response to Geoff Ellsworth at the BOS meeting yesterday:

After reviewing the articles [linked above] it is true that the discussion of proposed changes in the WDO in 2009-10 didn't seem to broach future winery development as a result of these changes. (Although the "tough economic times" that establish the need for the changes is mentioned). As you correctly remembered, the discussion concentrated on increasing profitability in existing operations.

But what's good for the existing goose is also good for the future gander, and I would think that the changes made in 2010 have been a principal factor driving requests for expansions and new wineries since. (i don't discount a more receptive planning commission as well). The proposals aren't being made to process more grapes - there are few new napa grapes available. And they aren't being made because wine making is becoming more profitable - increased competition for the limited grapes raises their price and that of the land they are grown on, making profits on napa wine increasingly small.

Developers are using the increased visitations as the base for their business plans. Ask them to forgo the marketing events and just build a winery with 200 tasting slots per week and most of the proposals would disappear. The event numbers need to be big for things to pencil out, and hence the size of the visitation requests you have been seeing.

Don't hesitate to tell me I'm wrong.

Bill Hocker
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On Jul 27, 2014, at 8:02 PM, Bill Dodd wrote:

Bill [Hocker]

Thanks for your email. I don't agree, I believe all these wineries would be coming back for approvals for their expansions regardless of anything that happened during those hearings in 2009-10

In short,If we never even discussed the issue in 2099-2010, what is happening now would be happening anyway. We simply took no steps that impacted these applications.

Bill [Dodd]
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On July 28, 2014 9:56:17 PM, Bill Hocker wrote:

Bill [Dodd],

Many thanks for your response. One of the things that has been enlightening in my first foray into public life over the last 4 months is how approachable the government of Napa is at all levels - that I have a great deal of respect for, thank you.

Your response brings up 2 questions:

1. What was the reason that you re-opened the WDO in 2010, if not to encourage greater tourism in the face of the recession?

2. Regardless of why these current proposals are happening, given that many citizens and some stakeholders are beginning to see the impacts that increased tourism is having, do you think that the proposals currently in the works, perhaps 50 projects approved but not yet built with at least 800,000 tourist slots, and perhaps as many more projects (estimated by Mr. Morrison) working their way toward the planning department, are beneficial to the agricultural future of the county?

I'm not alone in thinking that tourism has already had detrimental impacts both now in the traffic congestion that everyone, even Rob McMillan, is already complaining about, and yet to come in the large tourist facility proposals in the boonies like the one next door to me or Gary Margadant, or those at the heart of the valley like the ones next door to Andy Beckstoffer and Christian Moueix. Shouldn't all of these projects be re-evaluated in consideration of their long term impacts on the environment of the county.

The reality that every property over 10 acres in the AP/AW zone is entitled to a 100,000 gal/year winery with tens of thousands of tourist slots each, if not discussed in 2009, I think should have been. And maybe needs to be discussed now.

Bill Hocker