|Mar 17, 2015|
I just reread the original post and realize that it requires an epilog. As you can discover by reading all that has gone on below, the optimism experienced at the beginning of the APAC process was a bit naive. The process was, in fact, a platform around which the development interests that compose the "wine" industry, while diluting the protection of the vineyards, has been able to further solidify its interests in the county. My take on the final recommendations is here.
APAC has issued it final report to be passed on to the Planning Commission and then to the Board of Supervisors. We'll see what happens.
Final Report Agricultural Protection Advisory Committee (APAC) Recommendations to the Planning Commission
Original post 3/17/15
On Mar 17th 2015, the Napa County Planning Director asked for a BOS resolution to establish an Agritectural Protection Advisory Committee, no doubt from here on to be known as A-PAC. Its purpose is to advise the planning commission on possible changes to be made to the Winery Definition Ordinance and the General Plan. It was a step unimaginable a year and a week ago when the residents of Soda Canyon Road found out a major tourism-oriented winery being proposed on their road. (I would call it an event-center, but I don't think that the expression had yet been coined.) The resolution follows on the joint BOS-PC meeting held on Mar 10th in which Director Morrison at the request of the Supervisors laid out several proposals.
APAC is the ad hoc committee proposed in that meeting to be composed of 17 members from various county constituencies. It is charged with looking at what changes can be made in the General Plan, county ordinances and interpretive guidance to the planning commission, to insure the long term sustainability of a dominant agricultural economy that benefits from but is not consumed by a tourism economy. Specifically they were tasked to look at the following regarding wineries:
no vineyard loss
separate AP and AW standards
temporary event ordinance
The WDO was created in 1990 and modified only once, in 2010. In each case it attempted to define and regulate trends in tourism and wine production and marketing already taking place. The biggest impact was the 1990 creation of a 75% napa-sourced grape requirement for all new wineries, insuring a continued local market for napa grapes and a definition of the Napa brand. Beyond that, provisions of the WDO have codified the incorporation of tourism uses that might generate profits at the winery in addition to the sale of wine.
One corrective WDO change now being discussed, to cut down on the number of new wineries being proposed, is the increase of the minimum acreage necessary to build a winery. It is currently 10 acres (meaning about 4500 parcels in the county) and 40 acres has been frequently been talked about as a new minimum (about 2000 parcels). It is certainly a welcome proposal. The agricultural economy will definitely transfer to a tourism economy at a slower rate under this proposal. But it is not enough to stop the trend and some people, I think are beginning to recognize that.
Some very interesting comments were made by Supervisors at the Mar 10th meeting: The first was interjected by Supervisor Luce between two of the studies being presented. He began his remarks recalling his role on the planning commission at the time the 1990 WDO was formulated and recounting its original intent: to boost the capacity and increase the amount of napa grapes processed in county. He compared the original intent to foster more capacity and compared it to the reverse situation now where there is more capacity than grapes available. And then he said:
He indicated that he didn't have an answer to the question but, frankly, in posing the question he let his feelings be known. He had expressed the same question at the May 20th 2014 joint meeting, with the desire for more numbers from Dir Morrison to provide guidance. The numbers are in and, I think, the question has become rhetorical. As if that were not strong enough, he made the identical points at the end of the meeting. A cessation of winery development in the ag preserve was definitely being put on the table. It is a proposal that definitely needs to be discussed by APAC.
Supervisor Dillon also had some remarks at the end seeming to chide the planning commissioners for not exercising more of the discretion granted to them under the WDO and mentioning the Draft EIR done before the 1990 WDO which gave examples of mitigations that might be applied as guidance in current projects. Those documents are here. It is a good sign that they are beginning to discuss original intentions and their relationship to the situation we find today.
Dir. Morrison's NFB presentation: APAC and what it all means to Napa County
APAC Final Report
The County's APAC Agendas and Minutes page
#10 (8/24/15) agenda/docs
#9 (8/11/15) agenda/docs
#8 (7/27/15) agenda/docs
#7 (7/13/15) agenda/docs
Proposal Z (compliance)
#6 (6/22/15) agenda/docs
#5 (6/8/15) minutes
#5 (6/8/15) agenda/docs
#4 (5/26/15) Minutes
#4 (5/26/15) agenda/docs
7/1/15 Visitation Matrix analysis
3/4/15 Visitation Matrix analysis
The County's first APAC page
The 17 members and 17 alternates selected from among 50 applicants are here
APAC creation resolution
A summary of the Mar 10th meeting is here
NVR 3/2/16: Supervisors hone proposed winery rules
NVR 1/6/16: Supervisors set rough outlines for winery rule changes
KGO News 12/8/15: Napa Wineries upset over proposal to regulate growth
NVR 10/8/15: Planning Commission punts winery size to supervisors
WineSearcher 8/16/15: Winemakers Unplug Napa's Anti-Growth Matrix
NVR on #10: Ag protection committee proposes countywide growth summit
NVR on #9: Vintners fear scope of suggested winery matrix
NVR on #8: Committee supports compliance checks of all wineries
NVR on #7: Ag committee considers toughening winery rule compliance
NVR on #6: Ag committee accepts 'Proposal X
NVR editorial board: Identifying the problem
NVR on #5: Ag protection committee scrutinizes winery accessory uses
NVR on #4: Parcel size for new wineries stymies committee
NVR on #3: Committee cool to 40-acre winery parcel minimum
NVR on #2: Ag protection committee looks at winery parcel size
NVR on #1: Ag-protection committee faces ambitious agenda
NVR pre: Ag protection committee to plunge into knotty issues
[Much of the discussion leading up to the creation of the APAC, including the Mar. 10th 2015 joint Planning Commisson/BOS meeting, is documented on the WDO page here]
The county had these buttons as freebies at the Planning Department, leftovers, I suppose, from 2008 rather than a promise (or an omen) of things to come.
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