Soda Canyon Road


Mar 14, 2014

Soda Canyon takes its name from the carbonated springs that lie about 2 miles up the road. The canyon runs parallel to and just east of the Napa Valley. The road is a small country lane that winds its way up Soda Creek, over a steep grade and ends on a high plateau at the edge of Rector Creek Canyon. The plateau is the watershed of Rector Reservoir on the eastern side of the Napa Valley.

This area, described in the Napa County General Plan as a dark-sky environment, is remote from the light and noise of the Napa Valley and beyond. Until recently, the area has been entirely residential, agricultural or undeveloped watershed. Only two commercial wineries have been on the road in the last half century: the small White Rock Winery on Loma Vista and the large Antica Napa Valley set in its own 1000 acres on the Rector Plateau.

Within the last several years, however, two new wineries have been permitted on the road. Unlike the previous ones dedicated to making wine with minimal accommodation to tourism, the intention of the new wineries, on properties with no grapes or residences and up difficult access roads, is to offer a remote rural venue for wine tourism rather than a reasonable venue to process grapes. They are the result of a commitment by the County, in the wake of the 2008 recession, to encourage more tourism to help boost the county's economic viability.

Now a third, much larger winery with tasting rooms, Mountain Peak Winery, is being proposed. The scale of this new proposal and its ambitious tourism marketing plan mark the true impact of the County's commitment to wine tourism even in the most remote corners of the county. This project promises to change the character of life on Soda Canyon Road. And if successful, it will not be the last such project to cash in on the bucolic remoteness of the rest of the canyon. That remoteness will, of course, be destroyed in the process.

Documents
CHP 2013-14 Incidents on SCR
CHP 2013-15 trafic accidents on SCR
SCR wineries in Napa Co database
SCR wineries - Napa Co Excel spreadsheet
SCR Fire Issues
Map of Fire hazard risk on SCR
Map of wineries and vineyards on SCR
Napa Soda Springs

Soda Canyon Wineries


The details of The Caves at Soda Canyon, The Relic Winery and Mountain Peak Vineyards proposal are each shown on their own pages


Astrale e Terra
Atlas Peak (Antica)
La Valette
Relic
Mountain Peak (appl)
Roy Estate
V-12
Waugh (The Caves...)
White Rock

SC Rd#
3148
3700
2915
2400
3267
1220
2001
2275
1115 Loma Vista

Since
1999
1987
1989
2013

2011
2012
2010
1987

gal/yr
20,000
450,000
20,000
20,000
100,000
12,000
22,500
30,000
20,000

tour/tasting
appt
appt/tst
no
appt
appt/tst
appt
appt
appt/tst
appt/tst

visits/yr
52?
5200

6600
14575
2700
2100
4200
520


Soda Canyon Road











Relic Winery 2013


The second tourism-oriented winery use permit to be approved on the road is the Relic Winery at 2400 Soda Canyon Road. Construction is just beginning in 2014. It has its own page here.

The Caves at Soda Canyon 2010



The first tourism-oriented winery use permit to be approved on the road is the Caves at Soda Canyon at 2275 Soda Canyon Road. It has its own page here.

V12 Winery 2008



Kleis/Vasser Winery at 2001 Soda Canyon Road

Winery Website
Planning Commission Documents
Opposition Letters

Stagecoach Winery 2001



Dr. Jan Krupp submitted an unrealized use permit application for a winery at the center of his Stagecoach Vineyards in 2001. Stagecoach is perhaps the single largest contiguous vineyard to be created in the County in the last 20 years, after the neighboring Antica vineyard in the late 80's.
Use Permit Application Documents
Napa Valley WIne Library Biography of Jan Krupp and Stagecoach history
Petition for ABC license 2002

Shepp Stagecoach Winery protest letter 2002
ABC protest acknowledgement 2000

Astrale e Terra Winery 1999


A winery called Astrale y Terra has been in place at 3148 Soda Canyon Road since 1999. The property was sold in the last few years and the new owner, Guarachi Family Wines, is applying for a new winery license. They call the property Meadowrock.
The public notice for the license is here
The definition of an 02 Winegrower license is here.
The SCR Meadowrock page is here.

Whitbread Winery 1987


In 1987 the County issued a use permit to Whitbread of California, for the winery that would become first Whitbread, then Atlas Peak, now Antica Napa Valley own by the Italian Antinori family (Piero Antinori). It is the sole commercial winery currenty on the Rector Reservior Watershed, at 3700 Soda Canyon Rd. The winery is permitted for 450,000 gals/yr, 47,000 sf winery, minimal wine tasting, and is set within 700 acres of vines on a property of nearly 1000 acres.

Parcel Permit History
Benton vs Board of Supervisors Lawsuit
Whitbread 1987 Use Permit
Atlas Peak 1995 Use Permit Modification
Atlas Peak 1998 "Reprimand"

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22 comments



Stuck on Soda Canyon Road


Alan Shepp - Apr 17, 2017 9:37AM  Share #582

Update 4/19/17
Some of the members of the Soda Canyon community on their way to the hearing on the very inaccessible Caves at Soda Canyon winery almost didn't arrive because of a typical example of inaccessibility on our road.




Update 3/27/17
Just another day on the road.





Update 2/15/17
Residents send along these photos of an encounter that may become all too familiar along the grade: stranded tour buses awaiting reinforcements in their assault on the Rector plateau.







And the final indignity below: being towed from in front of the Mountain Peak site (probably the first place they were able to turn around after being hauled up the grade?).



It appears that the van was headed to the Beau Vine vineyard as part of a release party at their nascent winery on the Trail at Soda Canyon Road. Approval of modification to the Beau Vingne winery just happened at the planning commission (the hearing is item 9B here) in what one could only consider as a love-fest about what Napa "family" wineries should be about.

The visit to the vineyard in conjunction to a event at the winery does raise a question that I have always had about visitation to vineyards as opposed to wineries. Visitation to wineries is regulated to the nth degree, implying that unpermitted tourism visitation to vineyards might be illegal. Is that true? Even as an opponent of tourism to remote areas of the county, if the allowance of vineyard visitation defuses the need to build wineries in remote vineyards, that is a much preferable alternative. Provided that visits to vineyards don't become events, with food service and large quantities of people, there should be some codification of the process which does not now exist. (Of course, containing the extent of a privilege once codified has been at the heart of problems now confronting the county.)

2/2/15
It begins again, our first for 2015, overloaded vineyard truck dead on last curve, had to be towed with tractor.

The end of the Trail? (updated)


Bill Hocker - Jan 10, 2017 11:10AM  Share #1071

black: existing wineries & left turn lanes
red: proposed or approved
The Silverado Trail, along the east side of the Napa Valley, is still a great ride (for cars and bicycles) at times other than the afternoon rush hour. Well banked curves and maintained surface allow a meditative, almost zen-like, cruise through the rolling landscape of vine rows and valley vistas. It is the ride that defines the Napa Valley as an Eden, a paradise on earth, for visitors and residents alike. It is a last local vestige of America's great passion for the open road. And it is about to disappear.

A major modification to the Reynolds Winery, the last of several wineries being proposed or expanded on the small stretch of the Trail around the Soda Canyon Road junction comes up before the Planning Commission on July 19th 2017. Already in the last few months 3 new wineries, Sam Jasper, Beau Vigne and Grassi, have been approved, adding to the 2 large unbuilt wineries, Corona and Krupp that were approved in previous years. Also the approved Mountain Peak winery at the top of Soda Canyon Road will beadding to the traffic. In all about 350 trips/day will be added to the intersection. The approvals call attention once again to the issue of continued development on this most iconic of Napa's highways.

This particular section of the Trail is becoming quite impacted by proposed wineries. It is a harbinger of the development sprawl happening along the Trail and throughout the county. (As we use every opportunity to point out, there are currently some 100 new or expanding wineries approved, most not yet built. There are some 60 more in the planning department awaiting review (18 more added in 2016). As we have seen lately, the department and commissioners seem invigorated since the election to begin moving as many projects as possible through the pipeline, as they must in their failing attempt to keep up.

Above is a map of the Soda Canyon intersection. There are now at least 8 existing or proposed left turn lumps on the Trail in the 2 minute drive between Hardman Drive and Black Stallion Winery. Little will remain of the 2-lane Trail. It will now be a section fraught with the driving angst of merging traffic. Will all of these turnouts make it safer? Maybe for those forced to become familiar with the concept of middle lane refuges. For most drivers there will still be the heart attack (and involuntary swerve), as a car dashes out from the left straight at their car and at the last second turns into the refuge lane.

The number of vehicle trips generated by the proposed wineries is adding up. Counting the Mountain Peak project, up Soda Canyon Road next to me, there are now almost 360 more trips/day planned of this bit of the Trail. That's only 3% of the 11,000 daily vehicles that use the Trail at this point. Is the increase significant? Soda Canyon Road is already rated at Level of Service (LOS) F on weekday and Saturday afternoons and traffic signals are already warranted on weekday afternoons. They will shortly be needed on Saturdays as well. It is harrowing to make the left turn into the continuous stream of 55 mph traffic at rush hour. The traffic backs up behind the Soda Canyon stop sign waiting for one's rendezvous with fate. Perhaps all the left turn bumps and merging traffic will slow things enough to make the turn less dangerous? I doubt it.

The Soda Canyon intersection, like many intersections along the Trail and Hwy 29 already requires signalization for safe operation. The cost of those signals are contributed to by mitigations fees added to the use permits. The signals don't get put in, I think, not just because that mitigation fees aren't enough to cover the costs (and the money is needed elsewhere), but because everyone knows what signalization means - a rural place is becoming a suburb. It is the death of the open road.

This map begins to give a sense of the winery strip mall that the rest of the Trail will become in the future. There are still 3 or 4 parcels in this stretch available for wineries . Given the present trajectory, projects will be proposed soon. (The property just north of the Reynolds Winery has recently sold.) It is logical that the lower part of the Trail will reach winery buildout the earliest. Looking up into the valley from Skyline Park, one can sense the urban landscape oozing north. The widening of the Trail, now being done one left turn bulge at a time, reflects that flow.

Is it too late to save the Silverado Trail? The openness of the landscape along its route defines Napa County to the rest of the world. As the area around Soda Canyon Road shows, that iconic image will become screened and diminished by development if more protections are not put in place. It is past time to realize that the Trail is more important to Napa than just an access route to ever more wineries or just traffic relief from Hwy 29. The expansive views from the road are the mental images that everyone retains of this place.

If the present development trend continues, the enjoyment of the Trail as the meditative cruise needed to be at one with the rolling majesty of the valley and its bounty, a single experience more important than all the winery "experiences" combined in maintaining Napa's image as a premier wine making region, will soon be gone.

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My other take on a similar theme, the visual damage to the Trail's Edenistic landscape caused by winery construction, is here.
Also related: The Trail at Soda Canyon is drying up.

-------------------
[Email sent to Dep Planding Director John McDowell regarding this]

Mr. McDowell,

Sorry for this rambling note - I know you are busy.

I wanted to thank you for going out on a limb to voice your concerns yesterday about the potential for art advertising to become a big issue in the future and the need to get on top of it now. You know better than everyone else, the policy seems to come only after irreparable damage has been done. Director Morrison's disinterest in confronting the issue was disappointing. It is obvious that with the branding success of the rabbit, every vanity vintner in the county will want to put their personal artistic stink on the Napa landscape to drag in tourists.

This relates to a concern that has been brought up by the Reynolds Winery. I will probably be sending in this screed in some modified form to commissioners when the time comes. As usual not too much about the specific project, more about the trend that the project is contributing to. The area around the Soda Canyon junction is beginning to reach buildout levels

My question - is it too late to save the Silverado Trail? - is one that needs to be asked of the planning department. I would argue that the openness of the landscape along the Trail defines Napa County to the rest of the world. As the area around Soda Canyon Road shows, (and the Titus winery showed) that iconic image is becoming screened and diminished by development. And now we have billboards masquerading as art to worry about. The Trail is not on the state's list of eligible scenic highways. (Incredibly, only the most urbanized roads in the county are eligible). Has anyone at the county proposed the Trail as a scenic highway? What is necessary to get that process started? I hope that the visual importance of the Trail to the identity of the Napa Valley is discussed in the revision of the circulation element.

The art as signage issue also brought up another concern that has always bothered me. I assume that the 600' setbacks were initially put in place to protect the agricultural character of the county - buildings set in an agricultural landscape. (Any documents that you know of that explain the thinking behind the setback ordinance?) Yet houses, outbuildings, parking lots or signs (particularly billboard sized pieces of sculpture) have just as great an impact in obstructing the agricultural landscape as a winery building. Why can't the ordinance be expanded, particularly along the Trail, to exclude all urbanization within the setback? (Just as housing is now being proposed to be included in allowable building development area?)

I took up David Heitzman's request to google "Napafication'. It seems to be synonymous, whether in positive or negative articles on wine around the world, with wine regions becoming tourist traps. I think I have been very naive in thinking we can protect a place from a fate that has already occurred.

SCR March 2016 Update


Bill Hocker - Mar 28, 2016 4:50PM  Share #1212





March 2016 Update (on the latish side)

Note that upcoming events and meetings concerning development issues in the county are shown on our calendars at protectruralnapa.org and sodacanyonroad.org

Mountain Peak Winery
John McDowell, the deputy director of planning, has indicated that the final submissions have been made for their application and the county may now begin reviewing them. I was told that we might expect a 3 month review period, so I think that we can consider the clock to have started ticking. Projects have been stretching out over the last two years as residents have pushed back and the county has grappled with the pushback through the APAC process. WIth those recommendations made to the BOS ( who is proposing to eviscerate many of them ) and due diligence given to residential concerns, the planning commission and the BOS in their most recent meetings have indicated an impatience to get back on the approval bandwagon. There are currently 50 or so winery projects awaiting approval in the planning commission.

The SCR Mountain Peak page is here. The note at the top of the Mountain Peak page will be updated as further information is known.


Napa Vision 2050: 2 upcoming events
NapaVision2050 is taking on a host of issues concerning the impacts of development in the county including the upcoming Tourism Impact Forum on April 1st, their campaign over the health problems posed by the Syar mining operations, the implications of the Palmaz residential helicopter permit, the Water and Woodlands Initiative that will be on the 2016 ballot and the lack of government responsiveness to the needs of residents versus county industries.

Wed, Mar 30th
NapaVision2050 Imola-Coobsville Meeting

Kathy Felch explains the risks to the health of your family posed by the continued operation of the Syar quarry and what we can do about it. A very strong presentation was made by Stop Syar Expansion at the Syar appeal before the BOS on Mar 22nd. The essence of that presentation is here. The second day of the appeal hearing will take place on Tues, April 26th when Save Skyline Park will present their appeal. More information about the Imola-Coobsville Meeting is here

Fri, April 1st:
NapaVision2050 Economic forum-Understanding the Tourism-Based Economy

Napa Vision 2050 has assembled three experts to provide a framework to analyze the benefits and costs of a tourism-driven economy. Benefits and costs are both social and fiscal. The panel will explore the various parameters and limits of each. We hope this forum will open the dialogue, and provide the framework, to plan for sustainable growth in Napa County. It is becoming more evident that county politicians will do nothing to slow the shift from an agriculture to a tourism economy and the change will have impacts on the character of the county. We may be given a glimpse of that future here.

The Economic Forum is Friday, April 1st, 8am through the afternoon at the Napa Valley Country Club. Information and registration is here.


Mon April 4th: Walt Ranch Final Environmental Impact Report Presentation
This is the most important meeting on the 2300 acre housing subdivision that is being planned for the south slope of Atlas Peak. The county is treating it as an erosion control plan for a vineyard development, hoping not to have to asses the environmental impacts of the 110 dwelling units and 35 wineries that may be developed under current county ordinances on the site. The project involves the creation of an all weather road network and water system to 34 properties in addition to vineyard development sprinkled about the site to insure that each of those properties can be sold vineyard-ready. The Halls have already developed a similar residential subdivision in the Alexander Valley, Hall Ranch. The Hall Ranch project has provided a template for the residential development of all rural areas of the county.
The SCR Walt Ranch page is here.

County's Walt Ranch page including FEIR
Please attend the meeting if you can.
Location: BOS chambers 1195 Third Street, Suite 305, Napa (way too small a venue to contain this much controversy: arrive early)


Wed, Apr 20th. Beau Vigne Winery expansion
The planning commission will be reviewing the expansion of the Beau Vigne Winery use permit on the property just north of the Soda Canyon junction with the Trail. The proposal to increase production and visitation is modest but it once again calls attention to the vast amount of winery activity proposed and approved right around the Soda Canyon Junction. More on that here.



Ongoing Conversion of the Rector Watershed
A recent update of the county's list of applications for vineyard conversion (converting the natural landscape to vineyards) has real implications for Soda Canyon Road. Another 53 acre erosion control plan has just been submitted by Antica Winery bringing to 313 acres of new vineyards now under review by the planning department on the Rector plateau at the top of the road. In the last 20 years, the Rector reservoir watershed, which supplies water for Yountville and the Verteran's Home, has become the most heavily impacted watershed in the county by vineyard conversion. On google maps it appears that conversion might be at the saturation point, but obviously much more is being proposed, with potential water impact on the reservoir and with certain additional traffic on the road. GIven the drought, and following the issues raised by the Walt Ranch 500 acre conversion on Atlas Peak Rd above Miliken Reservoir, the county and the municipalities have become much more concerned about the affect that watershed conversion may have on the long-term availability of water. The correspondence with Planning Dir. Morrison regarding this issue is here.


Relic ABC wine license
On Feb 9th-11th residents of Soda Canyon Road and beyond attended the protest hearing regarding the granting of an alcohol license for Relic Wine Cellars, at 2400 Soda Canyon Rd, from the state Dept of Alcohol Beverage Control. On 21st the hearing judge recommended denial of all protests and the issuance of the license. An appeal to that decision is now under consideration. While this is a setback, the fight to prevent the commercialization of Soda Canyon Road will go on. The NVR coverage of the hearing is here.

Meadowrock
The former Astrale e Terra winery property at 3148 Soda Canyon Rd, just adjacent to the Antica Winery is now owned by Guarachi Family Wines. They have applied for a winemaker license from the State Alcohol Beverage Control board. Several members on the road have protested the application wishing to sin sure that the property if licensed will have the same "no tours, tastings or retail sales" restriction that the Astrale e Terra license had. The SCR Meadowrock page is here.


Diane Shepp is running for Supervisor of District 4
Soda Canyon Road's own Diane Shepp has stepped up to represent the residents of District 4 as a member of the Board of Supervisors. It is becoming more obvious that the Board, and in particular Supervisor Pedroza, after months of letting residents vent during the APAC process, are now interested in making up for lost time in the development projects that their contributors are trying to get approved. Mr. Pedroza's large contributors, the Palmaz Family, the Halls, James Syar, Chuck Wagner of Caymus all have projects that will be decided upon by the Board in the upcoming months. The recent article in the NVR on fundraising shows the massive amount of money that people with development projects in the county pipeline are spending on pro-development candidates to influence their chances.

Diane Shepp will be an advocate for the protection of the hallmark rural beauty and small-town character of the county that is increasingly under threat by development interests. Please support her campaign by donating here and by volunteering to help.
The SCR Campaign 2016 page is here


Finally
We encourage you to sign our petition opposing commercial development of our community in general and the Mountain Peak project in particular.

And we also encourage you to donate to Protect Rural Napa, however modestly, to fund the eternal effort to protect our communities from development. (You will be able to note how you wish your donation to be used.) Thank you!


Contact me if you have questions:

Bill Hocker



Soda Canyon on the cutting edge


Bill Hocker - Feb 13, 2016 7:53PM  Share #1191

NVR 2/12/16: Neighbors appeal to ABC to stop rural wine tastings

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.

SCR February 2016 Update


Bill Hocker - Feb 5, 2016 8:02PM  Share #1186




Note that upcoming events and meetings concerning development issues in the county are shown on our calendars at protectruralnapa.org and sodacanyonroad.org


Feb 9th, 10th and possibly 11th: Relic ABC wine license (next week)

Last July 16th residents of Soda Canyon Road and beyond attended the protest hearing regarding the granting of an alcohol license for Relic Wine Cellars, at 2400 Soda Canyon Rd, from the state Dept of Alcohol Beverage Control. This proved to be only the beginning. The continuation of the hearing will now take place at 10:00 am on Feb 9th, 10th and possibly the11th, 2016 at the Napa City Hall, 955 School St, Napa. The Soda Canyon Road Relic page is here. Please mark it in your calendars - a show of community support in addition to the protestants may show the ABC that we don't want Soda Canyon Road to become a commercial tourism destination.


Diane Shepp is running for Supervisor of District 4

Soda Canyon Road's own Diane Shepp has stepped up to represent the residents of District 4 as a member of the Board of Supervisors. There is a concern that the current Board and Planning Commission have been too supportive of the tourism industry at the expense of residents' quality of life, and too supportive of vineyard creation at the expense of the health of our watersheds. The recent article in the NVR on fundraising shows the massive amount of money that people with development projects in the county pipeline are spending on pro-development candidates to influence their chances. Diane Shepp will be an advocate for the protection of the hallmark rural beauty and small-town character of the county that is increasingly under threat by development interests.

Her upcoming events page is here.
February 14th: Valentine's Day Luncheon
February 18th: Meet and Greet Wine Reception
Your contribution it important! Her website is here


March 2nd: NapaVision2050 Community Meeting

NapaVision2050 is taking on a host of issues concerning the impacts of development in the county. On March 2nd they are planning a community meeting to lay out their agenda of projects including the upcoming Tourism Impact Forum in April, their campaign over the health problems posed by the Syar mining operations, the implications of the Palmaz residential helicopter permit, the Water and Woodlands Initiative that will be on the 2016 ballot and the lack of government responsiveness to the needs of residents versus county industries.

The meeting is Wednesday, March 2nd, 7-9 pm at The Little Theater (Building 1200, Rm. 1231) Napa Valley College. The agenda is here.


Reynolds Winery Expansion

The Reynolds Family Winery at 3260 Soda Canyon Rd just south of the Soda Canyon junction with the Trail seems to have placed their planned expansion on hold.


Two Wineries may be coming to Soda Canyon Road

Grassi Mark and Jami Grassi submitted a proposal to the county in July for a new winery on their property at 1060 Soda Canyon Road near the junction with the Trail. Their introductory letter was received by neighbors within the 1000' radius in mid October. The proposal is modest but the inclusion of tourism and events, however modest, will be an addition to the cumulative impacts on the road as it slowly morphs into a commercial wine tasting route.

Meadowrock The former Astrale e Terra winery property at 3148 Soda Canyon Rd, just adjacent to the Antica Winery is now owned by Guarachi Family Wines. They have applied for a winemaker license from the State Alcohol Beverage Control board. We will continue to follow their intentions here.


The Trail at Soda Canyon

The Reynolds Winery expansion and the Grassi winery are modest projects, but they shine a light on the incrementalism that is about to change the character of the junction of the Trail and of Soda Canyon Road, and to make that occasionally congested and harrowing left turn from Soda Canyon onto the Trail more congested and harrowing still. Two fairly large wineries have been approved on the Trail near the junction: the 100,000 gal, 20,000 visitor/yr Corona Winery just at the junction, and the 50,000 gal, 25,000 visitors/yr Krupp Winery to the south. In addition are the 20,000 gal, 8,800 visitor/yr Sam Jasper winery, and the 14,000 gal, 4500 vis/yr Beau Vigne winery to the north.

Taken together with Mountain Peak these projects will add another 350 trips per day or a 3% increase to the 10600 daily trips on that stretch of the Trail. Is that significant?

The development of this stretch of the Trail is also a harbinger of the future of the entire Trail, a scenic treasure that defines the image of the Napa Valley. More about this is here.


Ongoing Conversion of the Rector Watershed

A recent update of the county's list of applications for vineyard conversion (converting the natural landscape to vineyards) has real implications for Soda Canyon Road. Some 260 acres of new vineyards are under review and at least one 25 acre vineyard has already been approved on the Rector plateau at the top of the road. In the last 20 years, the Rector reservoir watershed, which supplies water for Yountville and the Verteran's Home, has become the most heavily impacted watershed in the county by vineyard conversion. On google maps it appears that conversion might be at the saturation point, but obviously much more is being proposed, with potential water impact on the reservoir and with certain additional traffic on the road. GIven the drought, and following the issues raised by the Walt Ranch 500 acre conversion on Atlas Peak Rd above Miliken Reservoir, the county and the municipalities have become much more concerned about the affect that watershed conversion may have on the long-term availability of water. The correspondence with Planning Dir. Morrison regarding this issue is here.


Mountain Peak Winery

The developer resubmitted plans to the county in April. The changes are very modest. Visitation and marketing, production capacity and cave area are essentially the same but proposed as being phased over one year.

The revised submittal letter, traffic report and drawings are linked on the Soda Canyon Road Mountain Peak page. As of Jan 2016, John McDowell, the deputy director of planning, has indicated that MPV is still submitting documents to the planning department after which time the county staff may be able to form a better idea about the time needed for their review. The note at the top of the Mountain Peak page will be updated as further information is known.


Finally

We encourage you to sign our petition opposing commercial development of our community in general and the Mountain Peak project in particular.

And we also encourage you to donate to Protect Rural Napa, however modestly, to fund the eternal effort to protect our communities from development. (You will be able to note how you wish your donation to be used.) Thank you!


Contact me if you have questions:

Bill Hocker

The Trail at Soda Canyon is drying up!


Gary Margadant - Dec 7, 2015 4:48PM  Share #1111

[email reply to Public Works Director Steve Lederer in response to information supplied about a potential groundwater deficiency in the area of Soda Canyon Road and the Silverado Trail.]

Hi Steve

Thank you for sharing, since it is of great interest to neighbors in the immediate area and beyond. This is especially interesting to those of us who would like to explore different avenues within the information and data held by the County Administration. Your review of the well activity in the Petra Drive area is very informative. It is one avenue, a basic avenue, of groundwater monitoring and research where well activity is a very telling metric.

I am confused by one aspect of your report: The LSCE 2014 report points to groundwater elevation problems in Subarea 75, yet your note refers to well and groundwater elevations problems along Petra Drive which is in Subarea 76. Is this what you mean by the creep of the cone of depression from the MST in 75 into 76? It would be helpful to find out if the Petra Drive wells are a very local subarea or directly influenced by the MST.

Can you enlighten me on the reason for the loss of 1 or the 2 monitoring wells?

And then a question: Do you think some of the wells on Petra Drive and others near by should be fitted with Patricks' new Sonic water elevation measuring devices (real time measurements) with data transmitted to your office via a WiFi connection in the area? This might improve your understanding of the dynamics in this subarea and help with education, mitigation and conservation efforts. And some of the well owners might want them for their own edification.

Please be aware that Yeoryios Apallas owns and lives on property directly across ST from the Petra Drive corner and directly behind the SC Store. He will be receiving a distribution of this note just as Norma Tofanelli, of Dunaweal Lane.

Thanks again for sharing.

--------------------------

On Mon, Dec 7, 2015 Steve Lederer wrote:

Gary,
I thought you might find this of interest. Please feel free to share.

Groundwater Concerns in the Northeastern corner of Napa Subarea

The Soda Canyon Cluster (updated)


Bill Hocker - Oct 27, 2015 4:19PM  Share #1057

Update 3/26/16: The Beau Vigne Winery Major Mod. is coming up before the Planning Commission on Apr 20th. It is a modest expansion but just one more venue contributing to the heavy commercialization of the Soda Canyon Junction. Another 6,000 g/y, another 4500 visitor slots/y. All of these projects will add up to huge traffic impacts along this stretch of the Trail.

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Another winery event center has just been proposed on Soda Canyon Road, the Grassi Family Winery. I will continue to follow it over the next few years here. It caused me to look again at my map of development projects going on in the county. Zooming around at a larger scale, I realized that there is a concentration of future projects planned for the area at the junction of Soda Canyon Road and the Silverado Trail. It is sometimes hard to see these relationships when looking at individual projects divorced from maps and over a period of time. This new project joins quite a few projects that have been approved or are under review. Is this instance just a statistical abberation? Certainly Stagecoach and Antica have a lot of grapes to haul out of the canyon and this may reflect that connection. Or not. There are lots of development projects in the works in Napa County and some are bound to cluster even in a random distribution.

It amounts to 5 new wineries and 3 major mods within a 1 km radius. Here is the list:

Corona: new 100,000 g/y winery 20,000 vis/y
Krupp Bros: new 50,000 g/y 25,000 vis/y
Grassi: new 25,000 g/y 3899 vis/y
Reynolds: mod +20,000 g/y +14,000 vis/y
Sam Jasper: new 20,000 g/y 8800 vis u/k
Kitchak: new + mod 15,000 g/y 6000/vis/y
Beau Vigne: mod +6000 g/y 4500 vis/y

About 240,000 new g/y in capacty
About 80,000 new visitation slots/year

Should we be concerned about the already dangerous left turns being made from Soda Canyon on to the Trail? Or the time spent in the queue waiting for our turn to tempt fate. Has the traffic generated by all of these projects been analyzed as part of the MPV traffic analysis which seems to focus on the traffic counts of existing traffic?



SCR Mid-April 2015 Update


Bill Hocker - Apr 20, 2015 5:01PM  Share #769




Mid-April 2015 Update

Things are happening so fast that one email blast a month is no longer enough.


The Caves Update
On April 1st the bootlegged 4th portal and ridgeline picnic areas constructed at the Caves of Soda Canyon winery were reviewed by the County Planning Commission but no decision was made. The "very minor" modification application was sent back to the planning staff although it was not clear what they would do differently. Planning Commissioners and planners were unwilling to call this an intentional deception on the part of the developer. Now a letter from the former neighbor of the property has been received by the Supervisors indicating that from the beginning the intention was to illegally build the 4th portal. We shall see how the planners and the Commissioners handle this in the next review probably at one of the May meetings.


Relic Update
In case you didn't receive Amber Manfree's email: for those of you who sent a protest letter against the granting of the Relic alcohol license last fall - you should have received a letter from the ABC (State Alcohol Beverage Control). Even if you don't wish to speak, please sign and return the form. Then let Amber or David Hallett know that you wish to have someone else speak on your behalf. No hearing on the issue has yet been announced, but we will let you know when it is.


Sat, April 25th: Earth Day in Napa
Protect Rural Napa will have a booth at Napa's Earth Day downtown.
Please come by to show support or just to have a good time.
It goes from 10:00am to 3:00pm
More Info is here

Also we need volunteers to help staff the PRN booth. If you would like to sign up for a 2 hour shift, 9:00-11:00, 11:00-1:00 or 1:00-3:00 contact Cindy Grupp


Mon, Apr 27th: APAC meeting #2
The meetings of the Agricultural Protection Advisory Committee began on Apr13th. Reports on that meeting are here. They will continue for the next 5 months or so. These meetings will change the definition of a winery and may (or may not) have an impact on the winery event centers that will be proposed on Soda Canyon Road, including Mountiain Peak, in the coming years. The meetings are an opportunity to influence the future of Soda Canyon Road and the rural way of life that currently exists in Napa County. They are public, and you are encouraged to attend.

While we hope that our negotiators continue to push for a moratorium on all new wineries in the county, the agenda topic for this meeting is the minimum parcel size to be allowed for future wineries. Currently at 10 acres, possible considerations are an increase to 40 acres on the valley floor and 160 acres in the watersheds.

The location is 2741 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, Building 2


Sun, May 31st: Soda Canyon Road Potluck Picnic

You are invited!   Please RSVP by clicking here

It's been a year since the neighborhood learned about Mountain Peak Vineyard.
What has happened since then? A lot!
Will will try to get Supervisors and Planning Commissioners there as well.

Location same as last year:
Bill Hocker and Mui Ho's place next to Mountain Peak
3460 Soda Canyon Rd (the gate is just behind the Krupp Bros-Stagecoach Rock, 500 yds down the gravel road from the mailboxes)(map)

Time: Beginning at 12 noon




Contact any of us if you have questions:
Diane Shepp
Cindy Grupp
Glenn Schreuder
Bill Hocker

Oral history of Soda Canyon Road


Bill Hocker - Apr 16, 2015 2:48PM  Share #743

Glenn Schreuder writes:

I suspect the property in question [a potential house for sale] is on the part of Old Soda Springs road that is accessible from Atlas Peak road (approx. at the 90 degree bend at the end of the Silverado CC just before you start heading up the Atlas Peak grade).
 
I seem to recall that Old Soda Springs road is a single lane road on both the Soda Canyon and the Atlas Peak side so, if that is the case and access is rather limited, for public and fire safety reasons, it might be an unsuitable location for an entertainment facility that would be open to the public.
 
 Long ago Old Soda Springs Road was a stage coach road that ran over the ridge and connected lower Soda Canyon Road and lower Atlas Peak Road.
 
At that time, there was no road up the grade of Soda Canyon as we know it today.  I’m not sure which decade the steep part of Soda Canyon Road was blasted out to made room for a single lane road, but it would have been in the 1940s or before.
 
So in the olden days if you wanted to get to General O’Sullivan’s residence at 2750 Soda Canyon (Currently Martucci) one had to go all the way up Atlas Peak Road and cross Fosse Valley an continue along Soda Canyon Road down to the O’Sullivan estate.  You would have passed by a few ranches, including the Townsend property (Antica office and pond) the MacCabe property(ies), the Russells and Shorty Summer’s place (MPV/Hocker), the residence of Colonel Cox (2920 Casey & Devery Stockon) and the Yappert farm (2882 Soda Canyon - currently Schreuder)
 
Back then a “Cord of Wood” was considered a fair medium of exchange between parties who didn’t have regular cash on hand to transact business.
 
It was not uncommon for upper Soda Canyon – Atlas Peak to see a few feet of snow in a cold winter.  Last time I saw that was 1975.  I remember because dad didn’t make me go to school that week for which I am eternally grateful.

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Amber Manfree adds:

There was also a wagon road connecting Yountville to the Pratt's property (now the Perri's and my grandmother's) which ran up from the valley, and past Debbs north of Rector canyon. Some parts have been revived - there is now a road from Silverado Trail at Rector Dam - and other parts are buried in the the brush. 

That road probably would have connected with the Atlas peak-upper Soda Canyon Road. There were homesteaders along what is now the road out to haystack at an early date, so they must have used one of these routes. 

---------------------------

Glenn Schreder adds:

Somewhere out on the Stage Coach property was a US Post Office branch. It’s too bad the original stone foundation got plowed under when Stagecoach vineyard was being developed. Had it been restored to its former glory, that could have bought some goodwill with the neighborhood and it would have been one heck of a marketing tool for the vineyard.

Last time I spent time with Glenn Salva he was asking if I could identify the original location of the old school house on the Antinori property. I could only give a general location due to all the changes from when it was a cattle ranch with a decent-sized oak forest in the middle.

Circa, late 1970’s my best friend and I used to sneak onto the Foss Valley cattle ranch to play around in the old school house in that forest and once we found a nearby honey bee hive. We spent part of the summer trying to figure out how to get the honey out safely without being stung to death. Our tools of choice for the operation were going to be a full wet-suit and mask, a cross-bow with an open-faced spinning (fishing) reel with heavy line attached to the bolt (crossbow arrow) and a big burlap sack. Our plan was to shoot the honey comb down with the bolt from the cross bow (yes a dramatic and daring approach I know) and then ‘reel’ the honey comb in and then make way to Townsend’s pond to stay submerged long enough for the bees to lose interest. Thankfully our discretion was greater than our valor and we chickened out in favor of a swim in Townsend pond and some last night frog catching.

SCR April 2015 Update


Bill Hocker - Apr 1, 2015 4:18PM  Share #741




April 2015 Update


Members and friends of the Soda Canyon Community,

This has been a significant month.

The Mar. 10th Joint BOS - Planning Commission meeting

On March 10th 2015, a year and a week after most of us found out about the Mountain Peak project on Soda Canyon Road, the county begun a process of reviewing not just the Winery Definition Ordinance (WDO) that allowed the project to be proposed, but also discussions with the cities over the trajectory of future development that threatens both the resources necessary for an agricultural economy and the quality of the rural, small-town life that is its byproduct. Bill Hocker's summary of that meeting with links to related documents is here.

Creation of APAC

The first action to come out of that meeting has been the creation of the Agricultural Protection Advisory Committee. The committee, composed of 17 members representing a wide constituency of interest groups including 2 members specifically representing community groups such as ours, will begin to review the WDO and other related ordinances. The Napa Vision 2050 organization that was formed in February to serve as an umbrella for the many community groups in the county has presented its slate of candidates to serve on the committee. An article on Vision 2050 was just published in the Register here.

Diane Shepp, of Protect Rural Napa, the group lobbying on behalf of Soda Canyon Road has been proposed as an alternate to Dan Mufson of the Watersheds Alliance for Atlas Peak, who is also the chairman of the Vision 2050 coalition.



Coming up this week (the calendar is here):

Planning Commission: Wed Apr. 1st: Napa Custom Crush (aka The Caves of Soda Canyon) Update

Planning Commission hearing Wed April 1st, 9:00 am
The Planning Commission agenda is here
Location: 2741 Napa Valley Corporate Drive

The Caves of Soda Canyon has requested a modification to their use permit to "recognize and allow" unpermitted terraces and a new portal to their caves. Also included is a request to use the terraces for tastings and events (up to 11:00pm!). The additional portal was dug straight through the ridge to access a view overlooking the Napa Valley.

The county is accepting letters of opposition at any time prior to the hearing. Contact planner Suzie Gambill at the County. Protest letters are shown in the comments on the the SCR Caves Page

The drawings are here

Other Issues on the Apr 1st. agenda

There are two other issues on the Apr. 1st agenda that are also quite meaty and worth commenting upon.

Bell Winery Use Permit Modification to allow a sixfold increase in visitation, commercial kitchen, out door wine consumption, unlimited busses, large volume wastewater system - all the necessities required to turn a normal winery into a full-food-service event center. This is another poster child for the transition from an agricultural to a tourist economy.

Water Availability Analysis (WWA): Approval of these new regulations will make the review of groundwater available for the development of projects like Mountain Peak, a much more rigorous affair.

If possible please show up for the hearing. It is always important that the county sees that the residents of Soda Canyon Road are concerned about the impacts of tourist event centers in their neighborhood.



April 19th Memorial for Volker Eisele

A memorial for the man who had more to do with protecting the agricultural character of the county than any other individual will be held at the Charles Krug Winery, Sunday, April 19, 2015 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. The invitation with RSVP is here (you will have to log in).



Upcoming Community BBQ in May

On April 19th it will be one year since our first community meeting around the potential of the Mountain Peak project. We had been hoping to have another Soda Canyon Road community BBQ on that date but it is the same day as the Volker Eisels memorial for Volker Eisele and so well are tentatively scheduling it for May. We will send out an announcement as food as possible.



Mountain Peak Update

Planner Sweveta Sharma indicated last month that the Mountain Peak project has not yet been resubmitted and that a notice to neighbors within 1000' of the project would be notified at the time of re-submission. Once submitted, it will take several months for the county to review the project at this point.



Finally

Community involvement in the last year has managed to change the climate at the county government from a concentration on increased development to a concern for the undesirable future that development is creating. Your voice matters to the future we will all share on Soda Canyon Road and in the rest of the County. Write letters, make a sign, speak or just show up at the meetings. You may also log in on the SodaCanyonRoad.org website and add comments or email them to bill and he will add them.

Bill Hocker
Diane Shepp
Glenn Schreuder

SCR March 2015 Update


Bill Hocker - Mar 1, 2015 9:48AM  Share #729




March 2015 Update

Members and friends of the Soda Canyon Community,

Several things of import are upcoming.

Wed. Mar 4th (tomorrow): Krupp Bros Winery at the Planning Commission

Late Breaking: Application withdrawn for fear of having existing visitation reduced!! Visitation drives every winery decision now. And, although Jan Krupp was submitting the application, the Krupp brothers aren't even the owners of the property any more! In any case this is a modest victory!

For those of us on Soda Canyon Road a familiar name is coming before the planning commission. Dr. Jan Krupp, former resident and still grape grower extraordinaire on the road is applying for a use permit to move his already-approved winery on the Silverado Trail just south of the Soda Canyon junction to another location on the site that encroaches on the 600' setback established for wineries on the Trail. He also appears to be asking for a doubling of the winery's visitation numbers. If you would prefer not to have yet another vineyard occupied by a building, or are opposed to even more tourists making the pilgrimage from his new winery to the vineyards at the top of Soda Canyon Road.
Krupp Bros Winery Agenda item 9B
The location is here

Tues. Mar 10th: Napa County Development Forum

The process to define what our neighborhoods will be like in the coming decades begins on March 10th with a joint Planning Commission-Board of Supervisors community forum It is the first meeting in a lengthly discussion on, essentially, the future of Napa County. It is a public forum, and every individual or group that is concerned about that future is encouraged to attend. It has just been announced that the forum will take place on Mar 10th at the Napa Valley Unified School Auditorium beginning at 9:45am

Vision 2050

The grand coalition of community groups and individuals that formed last month to work together to protect the rural and agrarian character of their communities and of the county as a whole has been named Vision 2050. The Soda Canyon community group, Protect Rural Napa, will be contributing to the Vision 2050 effort to present a unified voice for residents at the upcoming Development forum.

The Caves of Soda Canyon Update

The "very minor modification" is going to be given a public hearing before the planning commission! I will let you informed about the date. In the meantime letters may still be sent to county planner Suzie Gambill

The Caves of Soda Canyon has requested a very minor modification from the county to recognize and allow an unpermitted portal to their caves. The additional portal was dug straight through the ridge to access an also-unpermitted terrace overlooking the Napa Valley. The county is accepting letters of opposition or support through March. Contact planner Suzie Gambill at the County. Protest letters are shown in the comments on the the SCR Caves Page
The notice of intent is here
The drawings are here

Mountain Peak Update

The county planner on the project, Sheveta Sharma, indicated last month that once the project has been resubmitted it would be several months before they have completed their review. She has just indicated that it has not yet been resubmitted and that a notice to neighbors within 1000' of the project would be notified at the time of re-submission.

Finally

Community involvement in the last year has managed to change the climate at the county government from a concentration on increased development to a concern for the undesirable future that development is creating. Your voice matters to the future we will all share on Soda Canyon Road and in the rest of the County. Write letters, make a sign, speak or just show up at the meetings. You may also log in on the SodaCanyonRoad.org website and add comments or email them to me and I will add them.

Bill Hocker

SCR February 2015 Update


Bill Hocker - Feb 4, 2015 8:01PM  Share #615




February 2015 Update

Several things of import have happened in the last few of weeks.

Mountain Peak Update.

I have just received this email from Shaveta Sharma at the planning department regarding the Mountian Peak Vineyards project on Soda Canyon Road:

"As of now the application is incomplete and pending resubmittal. I have not heard from the applicant when they plan to resubmit. When they do, the CEQA document and staff report will still need to be prepared. We are months away at the earliest."

No news is good news. Projects continue to come before the Planning Commission at a snail's pace. Since community opposition began building last April there have been 4 approvals (Castellucci, Titus, LMR, Larkmead) , 2 still in continuance (Raymond, Girard) and one defeat (Yountville hill which was passed and then rescinded). Planning Director Morrison has indicated that he will still continue to bring projects forward, but the 2 approvals per month during previous years has been considerably reduced. There are currently at least 40 projects (one newspaper article indicated 80 projects) currently under review by the planning department, including Mountain Peak.

Napa County Development Forum March 10th

One of the reasons the county is slow in processing applications is that they are also preparing for an extensive review of development trends in Napa County, brought on in part by community activism this past year. On March 10th there will be a joint Planning Commission-Board of Supervisors community forum to begin a lengthly discussion on, essentially, the future of Napa County. It is a public forum, and every individual or group that is concerned about that future is encouraged to attend.

Protect Rural Napa

Representing Soda Canyon Road in those discussion will be Protect Rural Napa. Realizing the need for an organization to counter the event-center projects happening on our road, last summer a group of residents formed the Soda Canyon-Loma Vista Land Stewardship Foundation. While that organization will continue as a funding and educational organization, the new organization, Protect Rural Napa, has also been formed to promote our interests before the Planning Commission and Supervisors and as a member of a county-wide community organization.

The Grand Coalition

On Jan. 20th Protect Rural Napa joined with other community groups and individuals that have been struggling with development projects in their own backyards and have begun to realize the need to work together to protect the rural and agrarian character of their communities and of the county as a whole. Diane Shepp, the president of Protect Rural Napa will be representing the Soda Canyon contingent on the budding steering committee of that organization, modestly dubbed for the moment as the Grand Coalition to Save the Napa Valley.

While the steering committee has gone into a conclave these last two weeks to hash out policy and strategy, it is to be hoped that the organization might become the community "stakeholder", the organization that will represent residents' interests at the negotiating table along with wine and hospitality industry lobbies. Those groups will all be represented at the upcoming County Development Forum.

Relic Winery Update

Relic Winery, which was granted its use-permit in 2010, is in the process of digging its caves at its 2400 Soda Canyon Road location just above the fire station. They have also applied for an alcohol license from the State and several members on the road filed formal protest letters with their concerns. At some point a hearing will be held by the ABC (Cal State Dept of Alcoholic Beverage Control) in Napa to review the application and those who wrote letters will be allowed to speak. We will keep you informed and will encourage as many people as possible to attend the meeting when it happens.

Finally

This news story from Sonoma County came out last week: Zoning board turns down Guy Fieri's proposed winery. A winery event center was rejected because of community opposition. It is the kind of precedent we need to see happen in Napa as well.

Community involvement in the last year has managed to change the climate at the county government from a concentration on increased development to a concern for the undesirable future that development is creating. Your voice matters to the future we will all share on Soda Canyon Road and in the rest of the County. Write letters, make a sign, speak or just show up at the meetings. You may also log in on the SodaCanyonRoad.org website and add comments or email them to me and I will add them.

Bill Hocker

SCR January 2015 Update


Bill Hocker - Jan 5, 2015 8:00PM  Share #614




January 2015 Update

Members and friends of the Soda Canyon community,

First,

Volker Eisele 1937-2015

I am embarrassed to say that I didn't know the name Volker Eisele nine months ago. Yet the 20 years of rural enjoyment Mui and I have had on Soda Canyon Road owe more to him, and his political skill in fending off developers for more than 4 decades, than anything else. He would have been a major presence in the upcoming community discussions on the future of Napa for the next 40 years, and I can say that he will truly be missed. The effort to protect the county's rural, agricultural substance has just become much more difficult, and we owe it to the legacy he has given us to try that much harder. Rue Ziegler's interview of Volker Eisele for the JLD Ag Fund is here.

A memorial will be held at 10am Tues., Jan 6th. at St. Helena Catholic Church. A reception will follow from 11 to 3pm at Merryvale Vineyards



Two items are coming up on the planning commission agenda on Wednesday this week:

Syar Expansion

The commission will also hear Syar Industries request to expand its mining operation off Soscol Ave in South Napa.

The area expansion pushes the excavation pits right up against the property line with the Skyline Wilderness Park and requires the displacement of some of the trails. The impacts on the park are "potentially significant" and the Park District is definitely not pleased with the mitigations proposed. A photo of a portion of the area to be excavated, taken from the property boundry, is here. Everything in the foreground will be a 300' deep pit upon completion.

The amount of excavation each year will double under the proposal from their current production. Their request is for both area and depth increases. It's an ominous harbinger for the future of Napa County. Syar is a supplier of materials to developers, and they obviously envision a lot of development happening in the next 35 years to justify doubling their output. There is plenty to envision in Napa County even now: Napa Pipe, Watson Ranch, the widening of highway 29 to 6 lanes. All of the new projects being built in the valley and of the many traffic mitigations that they will require. And then there is the maintenance of all those existing roads as more and more traffic arrives. (including the reconstruction of the Soda Canyon grade to accommodate Mountain Peak?) A blip in their yearly output will be the 21 miles of roads on Walt Ranch. (Conveniently they can supply the engineered fill to raise the Napa Pipe Site 6' and the concrete for the new Napa jail without having to go over public roads!)

Syar should not be allowed to expand. I mean, who in this day and age, wants their wilderness areas to be turned into gravel pits? Even if there is success in curbing the urbanization of Napa county, a fantasy perhaps at this point, Syar's interest in expanding gravel mining will still be necessary for the urbanization that is happening elsewhere in Northern California, and the quarry expansion will never end. It is time for the county to put Syar on notice that an ever expanding quarry should not be a part the county's future and that they might consider using the 35 years to wind down rather than ramp up production.

Water Availibility Analysis (WAA)

The staff will present to the commission the draft of a new discretionary Water Availability Analysis to be applied to new projects coming through the County planning department. It begins to counter the formulaic approach used in the past that was sufficient for a county not terribly concerned about its future water supply. Things have changed - and not just in the weather. Active community opposition at Woolls Ranch and Walt Ranch have pushed to issue to the fore. And we now have a planning director in David Morrison who, so far, seems committed to addressing both short term and long term problems that further development pose to Napa County.

The WAA is a major step forward, particularly in the watershed areas where neighbors are becoming concerned that their life sustaining water is being sucked up to enable new vineyard and wine-tourism development. There are still questions to be asked, which is why it is important to take this opportunity to review the draft and see what your concerns might be.

The working draft of the WWA is here
The staff FAQ about the WAA is here

Finally

40 winery projects, including Mountain Peak, are still making their way through the planning department. For the county to deal with them, it will mean 1 or 2 new requests coming up at each bi-weekly planning commission meeting - forever. Being heard at the Jan. 21st meeting are Girard (30500 tourists/year) and Larkmead (24000 tourists/yr). These emails, I'm afraid, are just going to keep coming.

The Wednesday, Jan 7th, hearing will be held, beginning at 9:00am in the temporary Board of Supervisors Chambers at 2741 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, Building 2.

Bill Hocker



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