Paul Hobbs at the Planning Commission
Bill Hocker | Oct 3, 2017
The Paul Hobbs Winery was approved 4-0 (Scott absent), the 10th new winery approved this year.
Some neighbors mentioned the lights and noises and smells of the vineyard operations next door in voicing their concerns about the potential new winery. Chair Gill along with the usual hammering she gives opponents over the 3 minute rule, felt compelled to read out the "Right to Farm" ordinance in response.
She didn't quite get into the "definition of agriculture" reference in the ordinance, which contains the new sub-sub inclusion that is at the heart of all of the community resistance to winery development (and to much of the other development happening in the county): "H2. Marketing, sales, and other accessory uses that are related, incidental and subordinate to the main agricultural processing use." ("Incidental and subordinate" applies only to square footage, not to economic or environmental impact.)
While the industry and the county have succeeded in defining tourism as agriculture in this modest phrase, few neighbors of proposed projects, who must live with the daily and nightly tourism events and traffic streams of visitors into their community, see restaurant and party activity as an agricultural process. Calling attention to the intermittent impacts of an agricultural economy that they have lived with for years without compliant is just one way to express fear about similar impacts from a tourism economy that will now be a daily occurrence. The county, ever ready to promote more tourism and the speculative interests of a few good-life entrepreneurs at the expense of the county's residents, is unwilling to see a difference.
Another Planning Commission meeting, another winery or
two added to the inventory of event centers catering to an ever increasing tourist population. The Planning Commission has currently approved 9 new wineries this year and 13 major modifications of existing wineries to expand their tourism capacity.
I began a Paul Hobbs page some time ago. Given the controversy that the developer has caused in Sonoma through his less than stellar business practices it seemed like there might be some significant pushback in bringing those practices to Napa. We'll see.
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