|Glenn J. Schreuder - Sep 30, 2016 |
Hello, like this wasn’t a completely predictable course of events!
Our “industry-leaning” local governmental bodies are gradually turning the Napa Valley into a parking lot:
The North Bay Business Journal is a great source of information regarding the economic issues the county faces which I think could be referred to as the “Napa Valley yield management equation”.
All these issues are related, you can bet they see they need more concrete…
|Mike Hackett - Sep 30, 2016 |
All minimum wage jobs for people that have to commute. The corporations have stolen our valley. This ongoing master no-plan sucks.
|Gary Margadant - Aug 31, 2016 |
The Planning Department is revamping the Conditions of Approval (COA) and the subject will return to the Planning Commission in October. First Blush was 8/3/16, second meeting scheduled for 9/7/16 but this will be pushed into October. A notice to stakeholders will be out very soon.
Funny, but the main comments have come from NVV and NVGG. Stakeholders - Architects, Engineers, planners, etc. have yet to offer feedback.
The COA, if helpful with direction to the owner and Stakeholders and should include references to County Code and other directives that help the reader interpret and act on the Conditions of their USE Permits. Especially for the employees of the Planning Dept (including enforcement): Their efficiency, clarity and time is our money and their reputation.
Ease of communication and enforcement should be the guiding goals of the new COA, something supported by the Industry Groups, see the attached letter.
The COA is in 3 parts, Winery, Non-Winery and Other. I have included the Winery portion. The other parts are available at Item 10A:
Date: Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 5:03 PM
Subject: Napa County Development Process - Standard Conditions of Approval Update for Discretionary Projects (Status Update)
From: "Gallina, Charlene"
Cc: "McDowell, John"
Hello Regular Customers of Napa County Planning, Building and Environmental Services,
On August 3, 2016, the proposed Standard Conditions of Approval Update for Discretionary Projects were presented to the Planning Commission for their recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. Based upon public testimony received, the proposed new outline for organization of Standard Conditions, and direction by the Planning Commission, staff recommended at this meeting that this item return to the Commission on September 7th. To date, staff is still working on revisions to the standard conditions and has been meeting with stakeholders to address issues associated with this revision and will not have this item ready for the September 7th meeting. To accommodate this work effort, it is likely that staff will be returning to the Planning Commission sometime in October. Once I have a designated meeting date, I will sent out notification.
If you have any question, please contact me or John McDowell.
|Jim Wilson - Jul 12, 2016 |
Dear petitioners and supporters of the Water, Forest and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative,
Hello! Thanks again to each and every one of us, our grassroots support and wisdom and strength. We can all feel good about coming this far, about the time and hard work we've poured into our effort to help provide better protections for our precious watersheds.
In the pause since we qualified our initiative some of us have been working every day getting ready for the campaign. We don't have much time, and there's plenty of opportunity for more volunteers as we look forward to success at the polls in November. Will you please join us?
Community education, letter-writing, recruiting, fund-raising, social media. You name it, we need lots of help with it. Full time or an hour - now's the time. Would you care to sign up?
There is one thing we can all do right now. Show up to our hearing in Superior Court this Friday. Bring your friends. The hearing should take an hour or so. Note: the courtroom is located in the "new" courthouse, not the historic courthouse that was damaged in the earthquake. Here's the invitation Lisa Hirayama sent to a smaller list today:
Here's a link to our website. You can make a contribution here.
and our Facebook page:
|Charlotte Williams - Jul 13, 2016 |
Shepherd Blis adds:
Following are some comments by people who were at the July 12 Board of Supervisors meeting on wineries. I am also including copies of the presentations by Marc Bommersbach for the Westside Community Association (though the excellent graphics did not copy), by Padi Selwyn for Preserve Rural Sonoma County, and a letter by Anna Ransome. These last three documents could be used as talking points for future conversations.
Thank you to everyone who sent emails, showed up, spoke before the board, and shared our plea for emails and attendance.It was very heartening to see so many of our supporters present in this overflow crowd! The wine industry was on their knees yesterday. Their presentations were so weak and Karissa left even before her name was called to speak. Wine folk behaved very differently than they did at the November 16 meeting where they were cocky, confident and arrogant!
There is still much work to do and we need to make sure to keep the pressure on as we can be assured wine interests will be working hard behind-the-scenes. Thanks again for all the time, effort, and energy. Together we are making great progress and together we will continue to work hard to preserve rural Sonoma County!
Paid Selwyn, Preserve Rural Sonoma County
It was wonderful to see and hear so many people who support rural preservation. Our statements were very strong and the supervisors heard us. I was really proud to be there.
And there is a lot of work to do. The last 10 minutes at the bitter end were revealing. Susan Gorin was the only one who seemed to want county wide regulations. The rest emphasized to Tennis, as they were trying to direct him, that they wanted flexibility on regs and wanted to look at events on a case by case basis. Gore lifted both arms up and said he didn't want to worry about every little event. Carrillo and Rabbitt were concerned about protecting the wine industry. So we will see what happens!! And send more emails concerning our positions and words of support to Susan.
Does anyone know Shirlee Zane's position?
I heard it a little different in that Board wants Countywide rules. The "Specific Plan" thing came up as an alternative to solving existing problem in troubled areas. So, I suspect we'll see both 1) amendments to Ord and 2) additions to GP a la specific plan for Sonoma and W. Dry Creek in a year or so.
I feel that Susan Gorin was the star. I was impressed, but just briefly about some of James Gore remarks. They were anti-food and wine pairings unless local food was highlighted. He back pedaled a little afterwards but felt the new thing in wineries should be multiple crops. CAFF was late and did not get a speaker card in, lost opportunity to speak more on that.
I understand that each area of concentration is different but using the same old case by case approval is only setting up more conflict and special interests. We made some progress but time will tell as we will not hear a thing until September due to the case load by PRMD whose staff was just reduced by 25%. This is crucial as the Supes asked for several studies including traffic and NO ONE SPOKE out about conducting these studies in peak traffic times. PRMD let Bella Winery redo their traffic plan in low traffic periods to get an event permit.
Also I was incredibly disturbed at the insistence that most of the wineries are small! PRMD and the wine folks really hammered on that! PRMD and the supervisors kept saying 92% could be in compliance for events. More back dating of permits like Ratna Ling? Char Vale remember had 3 wineries closest to them openly advertising non-permitted events. We need to get on the make up of the corporate people who own all these small wineries now. This is the new corporate thing to buy up small wineries with limited production so they can charge more. Less than 2 weeks ago one big group bought up 4 or 5 small wineries according to the PD. I am slammed for the rest of the day. Thanks for doing this!
Janus Matthes, Wine and Water Watch
Fred Allebach's comment on PD article
What we are seeing in the county is an internal wine industry war between estate-based, bonded wineries and urban/Plaza-based virtual wineries.
These virtual wineries and associated tasting rooms, bottling facilities and shipping facilities, in urban areas, are what is driving actual estate-based,
bonded wineries into a frenzy of event center panic, to not lose market share to the new central Plaza model.
Then we get mixed up in industry marketing obfuscation about who is a "family-owned winery", when most of them are actually big corporate. In the county
70% of production is from 12 wineries.
The reason the bonded wineries are pushing for so many more events, weddings, food pairings, concerts etc., is because the virtuals are stealing market share. The bonded wineries cry they can’t make a profit, but this is not because of excessive regulation by the government but because of good old-fashioned free market competition and an evolving economic playing field.
And then it comes on the backs of the urban and rural public to endure a bonanza of intensified competition between two conflicting models of making and
selling wine. The old model offers aristocratic countryside mystique; the new model offers a one-stop wine/ food pairing shop in cutesy pie boutique
Plazas which the virtuals have taken completely over.
This internecine wine industry competition threatens to gobble up all county public space with wine, wine, wine and more wine. Maybe the job of government is to protect citizens from this marketing cancer, rather than it feed it more.
Please act to preserve the rural character of Sonoma County, a characteristic that drew many people to settle here and that still attracts visitors from all over the world. The trend towards placing wineries and event centers on agricultural land, instead of along the major transportation arteries, will pave over our ag land and cause the commercialization of our rural areas, destroying the unique qualities of our county and clogging our country roads with traffic from events and processing.
A June 26 article in the Press Democrat pointed out the growing trend of eco-tourism in Sonoma County. Many of these tourists are bike riders and there is a conflict between this trend and the increase of wineries, winery events, tasting traffic and tanker trucks on roads that are too narrow and winding to accommodate them.
Our General Plan 2020 supports agriculture but does not encourage the commercialization of ag land, including processing, restaurant-type food service and lodging accommodations. PRMD should establish a percentage criteria for processing grapes at wineries, something which has never been done in our county but which is standard in many other locations. Allowing the processing of grapes from other counties and states does nothing to encourage our local agriculture but contributes to more and more truck traffic and road damage.
A strict and standardized policy for winery events needs to be established. Right now, many wineries are holding multiple events, which are freely advertised in local papers, but which are not allowed in their use permits. This creates an unfair advantage for those who have applied and paid for permits that allow events. The PRMD devoted a large amount of resources to getting a handle on the unpermitted vacation rentals, and yet the lack of oversight on winery events, a much greater problem, continues. PRMD should have a weekend phone number for event complaints and a way to enforce use permit violations, no matter when or where.
Action now will avoid a very big problem down the road. There are already huge impacts from the lack of policy and action on the part of our local government to control the profusion of wineries and events on ag land in Sonoma County.
Anna Ransome, Graton CA 95444
July 12, 2016
We thank the BOS for directing the PRMD to develop county-wide standards and regulations that balance the needs of the industry yet protect neighborhoods and the quality of life for residents.
We all want a healthy economy and a beautiful place to live. It is in everyone’s interest -- to preserve rural character --we can have a healthy, vibrant wine and hospitality industry without degrading our primary tourist draw. If we want to have it all – we need to develop a plan for the long term, based on solid land use and economic principles.
We are very concerned about the case by case permitting that’s led to an over concentration of event centers and tasting rooms in Sonoma Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Westside Road. We trust that through balanced planning and your leadership, we will avoid creating new areas of over concentration in the rest of the county.
• PRMD staff has developed a list of options for the Board to consider. We have studied these carefully and advocate for the following:
Event Definition and Coordination must be County-led, not voluntary, through a data based-calendaring system already developed and paid for by the county but never implemented. This would analyze and allocate events to avoid concentration on any one weekend and in any one area to avoid road safety issues and other negative impacts.
• We support the county definition that sales and promotional events are any activity other than drop-in or by appointment tasting, and criteria that can be observed and monitored – ie: are non-employees on site after 5 pm? Is there amplified sound?
Monitoring and Enforcement: Clear criteria are absolutely essential given the County policy that enforcement is complaint –driven. Neighbors and the proposed Compliance Manager need criteria to determine non-compliance. The public cannot be expected to check attendees’ business cards or determine who sponsored the disputed promotional activity. More enforcement staff is needed and should be in the next fiscal budget. Enforcement must have meaningful fines and penalties.
Minimum Site Area and Setbacks: Siting criteria are important to guide development to appropriate locations to avoid cumulative impacts. We oppose reducing the minimum standards and we support siting criteria that includes separation criteria and min. parcel size for wineries holding events, with larger min. for areas of over concentration or projects with outdoor events.
Access Roads: Public safety is of utmost importance – Event activities must have access roads with minimum pavement width to allow safe passing and emergency vehicle access. Owners must have legal easements for access to property and must have safe site distances for turning onto public roads.
Noise Setbacks: We support min. setback standards for daytime outdoor event areas and parking. (sidenote: There is an inherent conflict of interest when an applicant hires and pays a consultant to do noise and traffic studies with specific results required for their permit approval.)
Number of Facilities on any one parcel: Again we are working to address cumulative impacts and degradation of rural character. Limit one tasting room per parcel on ag land and only allow tasting rooms on parcels with at least 6 acres in vineyards and that are accessory to a winery – to ensure Agriculture is primary on the parcel.
Food service runs the risk of event centers morphing into restaurants. Like Napa, if the County permits limited pre-packaged food-wine pairing by appointment only, during tasting room hours – we recommend it be in EXCHANGE for new permits having only a few Ag promotional events with food/ meal service after 5 pm.
In other words, the vast majority of newly permitted events must end at 5 pm. Evening events have the greatest impacts, the wineries become defacto supper clubs on Ag lands - and greatly jeopardize road safety.
• We support requiring a limited number of annual event permits for Private and Cultural events –via a zoning permit.
• Outdoor amplified sound should be limited to venues on large parcels that don’t create neighborhood conflicts. Kendall Jackson is the perfect example of a great venue whose amplified music bothers no-one.
Sonoma County is at a tipping point: Now is the time to address the dis-economies of destructive competition before the impacts from over-development erode the rural charm that tourists crave - causing them to take their business to more charming and less commercial places.
Please heed the advice from wine industry expert and Silicon Valley Banker, Ron McMillan, who challenges us to come together to address the very real problems: “ I believe tourists come to wine country because it is beautiful. Once they come to the wine country, the winery itself benefits from direct sales. If the wine country gets crowded and loses its charm — whether from locals or tourists — we will be killing the goose that lays the golden egg, so the focus for these issues should be on studies to get at the root of the problem.”
Thank you to our Board and PRMD for all the effort to get this right!
Study Session On Winery Events
Presentation by Marc Bommersbach for
Westside Community Association July 12, 2016
Westside Community Associations 1
Everyone Knows Rural Character When They See It
Rural Character Rural Character – NOT!
Viewscapes encompassing open space and agrarian landscapes, low density, low intensity development, with low traffic volumes
Clear and measurable standards in the zoning code that the public and industry can rely on for visitor serving and promotional uses that:
Manage the growth of visitor serving and promotional uses and facilities Protect the rural character of Sonoma County especially in areas of concentration
like Westside Road.
Minimize the impacts to adjacent property owners
Reduce loss of ag lands to commercial type development (parking lots, hospitality entertainment and dining facilities, lodgings)
Support General Plan policies and objectives for city-centered growth.
Explosive Growth in Promotional Facilities and Uses
Over 300 % increase since 2000 - continued growth at this rate could result in 1200 wineries in 15 years.
Exceeds the assumptions in the General Plan by double --assumed 239 wineries by 2020
Over 60 applications in pipeline for tasting rooms, wineries and promotional uses and facilities
Another 88 are existing facilities unspecified for events that will apply in order to hold events
Current Growth Rate of Use Permits for Promotional Uses and Facilities is NOT Sustainable
Westside Road – Becoming a Commercial Byway
29 permitted facilities accessing Westside Road – one of the highest in the County, and
10 percent of all of the new proposed projects
Proposed problem projects:
Multiple wineries on single parcel
Conversion of existing homes on small parcels to tasting rooms
Events on parcels with no tasting room or winery High intensity projects:
multiple tasting areas and kitchens Large scale parking lots lounges and overnight accommodations.
Westside Road has become a magnet for promotional/ hospitality centers because of existing concentration of events and visitors.
Planners Must Consider All Visitor Serving and Promotional Uses in Permit Review
County considers an event any sales and promotional activity other than drop-in tasting or more restrictive by appointment tasting
Current County and industry practice spell out and analyze the full scope of promotional uses -- type, number, size, time of day, and intensity.
Eliminating broad categories of promotional uses from the definition of an event would:
thwart County’s obligation to assess impacts restrict public’s right to review such uses undermine County’s ability to monitor and enforce use permit conditions unleash explosion of unstudied high impact uses
Sales and Promotional uses have the same impacts regardless of what they are called or who is in attendance
Where Does It End – Is Yoga Agriculture?
Is any commercial activity now agriculture if it involves serving a glass of wine?
Spa treatment? Oil changes?
Competitionfor“experiences”creates pressure for more commercial-type activities.
Tasting rooms morphing into restaurants and music venues
Long duration drinking through the cocktail hour and into evening
Strike a balance for sustainable growth in promotional facilities and uses, while preserving: rural character, and peace, safety, and well-being of our neighborhoods.
Enact “best in class” zoning standards –Sonoma County has: more wineries than virtually all of the other counties combined (apart from Napa), far more at stake -- visitation is attributed its scenic beauty and rural character.
Sonoma County residents value rural character, and expect County officials to enact zoning code standards to protect it.
1. Pass the resolution proposed by the PRMD to amend the zoning code
2. Direct PRMD to develop measurable standards in the zoning code for:
parcel size, noise and scenic setbacks, minimum road width, and densities or separation criteria
3. Retain County’s definition of events and specify all visitor serving and promotional uses in permit review
4. Include standards in the zoning code, or planning area policies in the General Plan, for areas of concentration
|Bill Hocker - May 20, 2016 |
NVR 5/9/16: Angwin in the bull's-eye
Pacific Union College seems to never stop roiling the peace and serenity of the community that has settled around it. Like all educational institutions, I suppose, they need money. But they have a lot of land. Thus, much of the rural character that the college has provided for the residents of Angwin over the last century is now for sale, to be converted to something less rural. Angwin residents have battled for years over the prospect of new housing projects in their midst. Sometimes with success. Sometimes not, as in the 2012 measure U. The housing issue is scheduled come up again in the near future. But this time it's a few big homes homes and a lot of forest clear cutting for vines, on $10 million properties destined for 5 plutocrats of the world needing a wine label of their own.
NVR 10/13/12: Land war erupts in Angwin
NVR 7/3/07: Angwin group opposes PUC development plan