SodaCanyonRoad | SCR February 2015 Update

SCR February 2015 Update

Bill Hocker | Feb 4, 2015 on: Soda Canyon Road

February 2015 Update

Several things of import have happened in the last few of weeks.

Mountain Peak Update.

I have just received this email from Shaveta Sharma at the planning department regarding the Mountian Peak Vineyards project on Soda Canyon Road:

"As of now the application is incomplete and pending resubmittal. I have not heard from the applicant when they plan to resubmit. When they do, the CEQA document and staff report will still need to be prepared. We are months away at the earliest."

No news is good news. Projects continue to come before the Planning Commission at a snail's pace. Since community opposition began building last April there have been 4 approvals (Castellucci, Titus, LMR, Larkmead) , 2 still in continuance (Raymond, Girard) and one defeat (Yountville hill which was passed and then rescinded). Planning Director Morrison has indicated that he will still continue to bring projects forward, but the 2 approvals per month during previous years has been considerably reduced. There are currently at least 40 projects (one newspaper article indicated 80 projects) currently under review by the planning department, including Mountain Peak.

Napa County Development Forum March 10th

One of the reasons the county is slow in processing applications is that they are also preparing for an extensive review of development trends in Napa County, brought on in part by community activism this past year. On March 10th there will be a joint Planning Commission-Board of Supervisors community forum to begin a lengthly discussion on, essentially, the future of Napa County. It is a public forum, and every individual or group that is concerned about that future is encouraged to attend.

Protect Rural Napa

Representing Soda Canyon Road in those discussion will be Protect Rural Napa. Realizing the need for an organization to counter the event-center projects happening on our road, last summer a group of residents formed the Soda Canyon-Loma Vista Land Stewardship Foundation. While that organization will continue as a funding and educational organization, the new organization, Protect Rural Napa, has also been formed to promote our interests before the Planning Commission and Supervisors and as a member of a county-wide community organization.

The Grand Coalition

On Jan. 20th Protect Rural Napa joined with other community groups and individuals that have been struggling with development projects in their own backyards and have begun to realize the need to work together to protect the rural and agrarian character of their communities and of the county as a whole. Diane Shepp, the president of Protect Rural Napa will be representing the Soda Canyon contingent on the budding steering committee of that organization, modestly dubbed for the moment as the Grand Coalition to Save the Napa Valley.

While the steering committee has gone into a conclave these last two weeks to hash out policy and strategy, it is to be hoped that the organization might become the community "stakeholder", the organization that will represent residents' interests at the negotiating table along with wine and hospitality industry lobbies. Those groups will all be represented at the upcoming County Development Forum.

Relic Winery Update

Relic Winery, which was granted its use-permit in 2010, is in the process of digging its caves at its 2400 Soda Canyon Road location just above the fire station. They have also applied for an alcohol license from the State and several members on the road filed formal protest letters with their concerns. At some point a hearing will be held by the ABC (Cal State Dept of Alcoholic Beverage Control) in Napa to review the application and those who wrote letters will be allowed to speak. We will keep you informed and will encourage as many people as possible to attend the meeting when it happens.


This news story from Sonoma County came out last week: Zoning board turns down Guy Fieri's proposed winery. A winery event center was rejected because of community opposition. It is the kind of precedent we need to see happen in Napa as well.

Community involvement in the last year has managed to change the climate at the county government from a concentration on increased development to a concern for the undesirable future that development is creating. Your voice matters to the future we will all share on Soda Canyon Road and in the rest of the County. Write letters, make a sign, speak or just show up at the meetings. You may also log in on the website and add comments or email them to me and I will add them.

Bill Hocker