SodaCanyonRoad | Sonoma County Winery Event Ordinance Petition

Sonoma County Winery Event Ordinance Petition
Bill Hocker | Aug 7, 2018 on: Sonoma County

Update 8/7/18
Press Democrat 8/6/18: Petition calls on Sonoma County to stop new winery permits until events ordinance is passed.

An example for Napa? Since the wine industry, in their No-on-C campaign, came out against the development of event centers in the watersheds that are "destroying our viewshed and hillsides; and increasing traffic on our already congested rural roads and Highway 29" (a view shared by Measure C supporters) and since industry stalwart Dario Sattui's vehement plea that "We need to stop all building in the ag areas", perhaps a consensus exists to do just that.

Preserve Rural Sonoma County is petitioning the county government to define and enact a Winery Event Ordinance that it promised its citizens in 2016 based perhaps on this report. Without seeing the final ordinance, it is difficult to know if it will be crafted to limit such events or simply give them legal authority to happen. If the Napa Winery Definition Ordnance is any example, the dominant commercial interests will draft and eventually modify such an ordinance to their liking making challenges to such events more difficult. The devil is in the details. Residents need to be a forceful presence in the drafting of the legislation.

The Petition is here

Sonoma County's General Plan relating to tourism activities seems light years ahead of Napa's in recognizing that the impacts of wine tourism are "detrimental to the primary use of the land for the production of food, fiber and plant materials". This enlightened approach to tourism may however only reflect the fact that the plan has not been revised since 1989, and that the age of enlightenment will pass with the next update.

Policy AR-6f: Local concentrations of visitor serving and recreational uses, and agricultural support uses as defined in Goal AR-5, even if related to surrounding agricultural activities, are detrimental to the primary use of the land for the production of food, fiber and plant materials and may constitute grounds for denial of such uses. In determining whether or not the approval of such uses would constitute a detrimental concentration of such uses, consider all the following factors:

(1) Whether the above uses would result in joint road access conflicts, or in traffic levels that exceed the Circulation and Transit Element’s objectives for level of service on a site specific and cumulative basis.

(2) Whether the above uses would draw water from the same aquifer and be located within the zone of influence of area wells.

(3) Whether the above uses would be detrimental to the rural character of the area.

Unfortunately, as the petition shows, even this clear-eyed policy has not been enough to prevent an explosion of event centers in the intervening years.