SodaCanyonRoad | Napa Custom Crush Protest #3

Napa Custom Crush Protest #3

Bill Hocker | Feb 26, 2015 on: The Caves at Soda Canyon

Ms. Gambill,

I am writing to protest the granting of an approval to recognize and allow construction done illegally on the Napa Custom Crush site on Soda Canyon Road.

I would like to suggest that there is nothing very minor about illegally drilling a hole from one side of a ridge to the other especially given the fact that the ridge now graced by the portal is protected under the viewshed ordinance and is perhaps the most iconic piece of rugged ridge line in the Napa Valley (now unfortunately scarred by several home sites). And the fact that the bootlegging was done solely to enhance the tourist experience makes this modification, given the sensitivity that we now feel toward tourism encroachment into our communities, as minor as a lightning bolt.

Unfortunately this project should not have been permitted in the first place. It is a site completely unsuited for winery operations, far up a rural dead end road, far up a steep and winding access driveway on a property too rocky to support vines. It was strictly built to provide a tourist venue in a remote part of the county. The negative impacts of tourism encroachment into areas that are solely residential and agricultural are substantial and have not been given adequate environmental review by the county.

The fact also that this project has been a noise problem to its neighbors for the last year as it continues to run its operations with a generator only adds to the animosity felt by the community toward a government that too often appears to coddle the tourism industry at the expense of residents. This applicant has not been honest with the county, has not been a good neighbor and should not be rewarded for misdeeds with the granting of this modification.

The modification calls into the question not only the actions of the applicant but of a contractor willing to commit a breach of his permit and of the engineer that must have reviewed it. I would hope that the county requires the project to be returned to the condition as approved in 2006 plus further restrictions in the marketing plan to compensate for the illegal construction. And I would also hope that the county places sanctions on the contractor and engineers that were complicit in the violation. The denial of this request and the sanctions are needed to serve as an example that it should not be easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission from the government of Napa County.

Bill Hocker
3460 Soda Canyon Road
Napa, CA 94558