Bill Hocker | May 1, 2015
One mitigation added in the Bell Winery modification to its use permit
is a change in marketing event closing from 9:00 to 4:00pm. (although the change is not made consistantly throughout the documents). It is an excellent move and should be instituted on all use permit applications (and retroactively as well).
It doesn't solve the problems of increased traffic, additional accommodations in town, additional hospitality workers and their needs for housing and shopping centers, and all of the other infrastructure demands that will be put on the county to deal with an ever greater influx of development and people into the county. But it does mean that the residents who live in the vineyards can get a decent night's sleep. And that is not unimportant.
Nor is it a whimsical idea; Sonoma County has recently placed a 5pm curfew
on one of its event centers (and required all production to be enclosed). And the condition makes sense. If a business can't make a profit selling wine during a normal business day, should the county be obligated to prop it up after hours? And there are all of those restaurants in the municipalities that may welcome not seeing their customers drift out to the vineyards for lively banquet. But most importantly, few flash points between resident and entrepreneur are as visceral as the noise and lights that break the quiet, dark sky environment that distinguishes living in rural Napa county from the rest of the Bay Area.
It is a simple prohibition. It is unambiguous. It is easy to enforce. It will get rid of a few of the bewildering numbers in the use-permit visitation requests. It will not resolve citizen's complaints that tourism is corrupting the enjoyment and authenticity of living in a rural place, but it may help.