|Aug 21, 2014|
The dilemma that Napa County faces is the stated intention in its General Plan to preserve Napa as an agricultural economy in the face of continuous development pressure. In 1990 they made their task more difficult by defining wineries, and especially the tourist uses to which they can be put, as part to of the agricultural process, permitting, and essentially entitling, commercial development on agricultural land if the definition is met. The discretion is only over the size of the facility and the number of tourists to be accommodated. The tourist development industry has continued to press that opening in creating ever more tourist "experiences" within the winery, and in 2010 with the addition of food service to tastings and business meetings to marketing events created a potential profitability model that is threatening to turn all vineyard lands into tourist wineries. A template for the conversion of a natural resource into a tourist attraction is outlined in the 1980 Butler Report. Napa is well on its way.
On May 20th, 2014 a joint meeting was held between the Napa Board of Supervisors and the Napa Planning Commission to begin anew its periodic discussion on the future of the county. Out of that discussion the new Planning Director, David Morrison, was tasked with looking at the current state of winery development versus agricultural preservation that has been at the heart of discussion about the county's future since the creation of the historic agricultural preserve in 1968. On August 19th he proposed to the supervisors that a community forum be convened in mid-November 2014 (held in Mar 2015) to discuss the Winery Definition Ordinance, the document that establishes the relationshuip between the two, to be followed by a task force that would propose changes to the ordinance to establish development guidelines for future development. (The APAC meetings that were held as a result are documented here.)
While our effort on this site has been to get to this point, and while we will continue to press the case for change, it is time to begin considering not what is ailing but what should be prescribed. It is time to begin thinking about possible ideas to bring to a discussion regarding the future of Napa County. Modifications to the WDO may be one of these ideas but there are others.
As in the past, changes to the WDO will be mostly the result of a consensus among the major "stakeholders" of the county, the Napa County Farm Bureau, the Napa Grapegrowers, the Napa Valley Vintners and the Winegrowers of Napa Valley. But there should also be participation of the other stakeholders, the tourism industry, the development and real-estate industry, the urban and rural workforces, and of course the residents, the "citizen stakeholders" as Geoff Ellsworth calls them, that have had a significant role in pushing for this change.
I will try to use this page to propose and highlight potential solutions to help maintain the agricultural economy that is so unique here. There will probably be little objectivity in the proposals; this site represents a group of residents wishing only to enjoy the rural and agrarian life that the county currently affords.
Some ideas will be far-fetched; others may be somewhat sensible. The important thing is to get them out there for thought and discussion. You are invited to share your proposals as well. The numbers are just the order of posting and don't represent any ranking.
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Develop a Napa Wine Online portal
Mare Island is the Napa Valley!
SodaCanyonRoad TF Zone
Beckstoffer puts his money where his mouth is
End all visitation before sunset.
Stop building wineries in the AP and AW zones.
Some winery regulation suggestions
Develop more appropriate winery zoning
A few more suggestions
Quick (if not perhaps easy) changes to the WDO
Plan for a stable not an expanding economy
Separate winery and visitation use permits
Don't build Napa Pipe.
Define a "true" family winery
Specify which vineyard properties are allowed to have winery development.
Define an appropriate numerical relationship between agriculture and tourism
Use Vineyard waste as a profit center for the county.
Stop Building on Undeveloped Land
Allocate Winery Capacity based on grapes available
Increase minimum acreage for a winery
Begin a sensible winery development policy
Develop a public Napa wine market
Stop food service at wineries
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