SodaCanyonRoad | April 27th KQED event center Forum

April 27th KQED event center Forum
Bill Hocker | Apr 27, 2016 on: Sonoma County

For those of us in Napa, the KQED forum on Apr 27th with Michael Krasny on Winery and development in Sonoma County was not about Sonoma county. It was a crystalized recapture of all of the issues that Napa county been dealing with over the last couple of years (as well as other Ca wine regions).

Sonomans have always looked toward Napa as cautionary tale, and Michael Krasny brought up the term "Napavisation" (more often referred to as "Napafication") in defining our neighbor's fear of the spreading desease. I was a bit pleased when Judith Olney, representing Preserve Rural Sonoma County, noted that the Sonoma tourism industry had no doubt gained from the loss of rural character and authenticity in Napa (as has Oregon). She did a great job of defending a right to farm that doesn't include a right to party.

So what was learned from the forum? Well, first that the wine industry doesn't care a fig about the impacts of tourism on residents. Corey Beck of Coppola Winery pimped the tourism indusdustry's DTC dogma about tourism's necessity for the survival of the wine industry. This is Coppola Wines with bottles in every supermarket and Costco on earth! Tourism isn't necessary to support their wine business, but it is of course the essence of their entertainment business.

And Debra Dommen of Constellation Brands made the corporate attitude clear in a tweet during the forum: "the problem is not the increase of agricultural facilities on ag lands, problem is the increase in rural residents on ag lands." If we could just eliminate those pesky residents. (see Gary Margadant's comment below)

And then Napa planning commissioner Jeri Gill adds a tweet: 'When neighbors say "too much growth" it usually means "whoever comes after me. But not me." ' A bit rich given her APAC stance exempting existing wineries from new winery regulations. When developers or their spokespersons say "too much NIMBY self-interest" it always means "get out of the way of our self-interest." So much for a balanced weighing of the issues before her on the planning commission.

The program, airing issues to the greater Bay Area that have been the focus of much community debate and news over the last two years, seems to have drawn little attention from the local press. The Press Democrat had a pre-program notice but no post-program article. The Register has had no mention of it either before or after. Interesting.

Melissa Kennedy - Apr 28, 2016 2:40PM

Additionally enclosed are the Press Democrat's articles "Sonoma County Forms
Advisory Panel For Crafting Winery Regulations
" (Sonoma's APAC) and "Sonoma State Survey Finds Wide Support For North Coast Wine Industry."

Finally, enclosed is a copy of the Sonoma State University Preliminary Report
"Survey on Community Perceptions of Wine Business."

Gary Margadant - Apr 28, 2016 2:05PM

I had a conversation with Sean Scully about population changes in Napa County after I read the following tweet:

Debra Dommen just tweeted this at the KQDE Sonoma State Forum program on winery tourism.

#kqedssu the problem is not the increase of agricultural facilities on ag lands, problem is the increase in rural residents on ag lands.

Sean was really interested, and having census data at hand, ran the numbers.
His analysis is here

Results: 1980-2010
Unincorporated area -13.55% Decrease
Upvalley towns 22.57% Increase

How very interesting. The problem ain't the people, its the facilities.

A google search on Dommen then led me to this article, from some time ago.

Deborah has since complained about Ag 4 Youth (currently using 2 acres on NVHA land) when a rumour went around that they might raise chickens on Ag Land and Sell the Eggs - She immediately complained to John McDowell, to whom she has complained endlessly about NVHA and Ag4Youth.

Sadly she forgot to mention that she tried to help her children raise chickens in her back yard, Napa City, and was unable to tell the difference between a rooster and a hen. She had one of each, one in violation of city ordinance.

Those pesky residents!