SodaCanyonRoad | SCR March 2016 Update

SCR March 2016 Update

Bill Hocker | Mar 28, 2016 on: Soda Canyon Road

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 and

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.

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 Sheep is running for Supervisor of District 4
Soda Canyon Road's own Diane Sheep 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

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