|Jun 19, 2015|
Planning Dir. Morrison indicated at the Feb. 6, 2019 Planning Commission meeting that review of winery application marketing plans and facilities will be much more closely scrutinized in future to insure compliance with conservation regulations and the 2010 WDO limitations. This follows three high profile code compliance busts: The Prisoner Winery for selling chachka, B Cellars for operating as a restaurant, and, hard to ignore, the Del Dottos for covering Yountmill Road in a foot of mud.
These are un-subtle reminders that the deadline for wineries to submit applications to rectify their use permits with non-compliant conditions of their operations is March 29, 2019.
Napa County Code Compliance Program FAQ
The BOS had their final meeting on the Resolution on Code Compliance created in response to Recommendation 4 of the APAC, approving the Resolution 4-0 with Sup. Wagenknecht absent. There was significant community pushback.
NVR 12/4/18: Napa County's winery scofflaw crackdown has backers and critics
Video of 12/4/18 BOS meeting
Revised Code Compliance Resolution
Following the tumult of the Watershed Initiative, Measure C, which narrowly lost but showed that a substantial portion of the electorate still concerned about development issues in the county, the Supervisors have again taken up issues still unresolved from the 2015 APAC hearings. The need for a winery compliance program was one of the few APAC recommendations the Supes agreed to take on and after some initial discussion 3 years ago, have now asked the Planning Department to draft a specific resolution which would lead to an enforcement process if approved.
The Draft Resolution on Winery Compliance is here
NVR 11/20/18: County wants March deadline for Napa winery scofflaws
Resident George Caloyannidis, who has led the community interest on winery compliance from the beginning, has provided his own comments on the Resolution.
The County has produced a Code Compliance Policy and Procedures Manual and a system for annual reporting of winery compliance. It was presented to the Supervisors at their 1/25/17 meeting.
Initial post 6/19/15
The transition in the wine industry from the individual vintners that built Napa's reputation beginning in the 60's, to the corporations and vanity vintners now, whose interests are to cash in on or bask in that reputation, has begun to diminish the respect and support that residents have traditionally had for the industry. New wineries proposed solely for brand exploitation through tourism, now beginning to crop up in everyone's backyard, are encouraging a much more hostile look at the use-permit compliance of existing wineries and the variances and exceptions awarded to new winery projects. Though unrelated, they have both become enforcement touchstones for those that feel the wine industry, no longer concerned about the agrarian ideals upon which the industry was founded and that residents have long voted to support, has operated with impunity for too long.
In the last few months several projects have come up before the planning commission that have brought enforcement issues to the fore. I confess that I have been reluctant to see this as a major part of the policy issues that need to be changed in the County. My reasoning was that even if projects were to abide by every use permit condition and remain beyond the setbacks they are still a part of the urbanizing trend that is the real problem. Being more rigorous in enforcement in dealing with a few cases might sap the energy needed to change the ordinances being enforced.
But it is probably not just a few cases. There have been 2 winery audits of use-permit compliance in recent years, in 2012, and in 2013 (item 10B). The 2012 audit found 7 of 20 out of compliance. The 3013 audit found 8 of 20 wineries going beyond the limits of their use-permits. If one extrapolates the 35-40% number over the entire 450 some wineries in the county it is not an insignificant issue. While the issue of compliance often revolves around visitation issues, it has also raised the issues of grape sourcing and of un-permitted additions. Three projects bought the issues to the fore: The proposed Girard winery raised the issue of the same owner's Clos Pegas open advertising and promotion of un-permitted weddings there. The Caves of Soda Canyon request to "recognize and allow" an un-permitted cave portal ( crucial perhaps to their business model), and the Reverie Winery which, in addition to recognizing and allowing un-permitted construction and substantial visitation, raises the issue of permit modifications done solely to benefit a sale price.
Until recently, concern about winery compliance has been played down by the planning department as being difficult and costly to enforce with its enforcement efforts stretched just to cover non-winery health and safety violations. But the concern from citizens has been unrelenting and now the Napa County Grand Jury has weighed in on the side of more enforcement. Also, Beckstoffer Vineyards has joined the chorus with an April 2015 legal brief on the subject of compliance sent to he Board of Supervisors (triggered no doubt over his backyard brawl with mega-scofflaw and good-life entertainer Jean-Claude Boiset of Raymond Vineyards) followed by this legal brief in Dec 2015.
The application for new use permits is also bringing variances to the fore. These variances are principally granted to allow encroachment into mandated setbacks from roads. The 1990 WDO establish winery setbacks from roads in an effort to maintain the visual character of the landscape as agricultural - a winery set in a landscape rather than a winery blocking the view of the landscape. The setbacks were substantial: 600' for the main arteries of the valley floor and 300' from any other road or private drive in the county. This concern has played out in the the case of the individual winery applications and more generally in the debate over the 10 acre minimum parcel size taking place at the APAC meetings. A 600' setback on a 10 acre parcel can have unintended impacts in building placement. Strict adherence to setbacks may mean a winery can't be built on a 10 acre parcel. Some might see that as a good reason not to allow construction. Others might see it as a "taking", denying potential profitability of the land, just as the Ag Preserve and other county zoning ordinances do.
The gigantic Yountville Hill project, while principally about visitation, viewshed and traffic, raised the issue of setback encroachment. But it was the tiny Melka Winery project that became the poster child for the variance issue. In perhaps the only true victory in our efforts to date, the Krupp Bros. Winery proposal to move their as yet unbuilt winery well into the setback was shelved.
Compliance Issues have become an important part of the APAC meetings happening in the summer of 2015 and I have included links to the two meetings that concern compliance below.
SCR Reverie page
SCR Caves of Soda Canyon page
SCR Raymond Page
Napa County Code Compliance Program
Coalition Napa Valley white paper with compliance comments
12/3/18: Chatten-Brown and Carstens LLP letter
11/13/18: Code Compliance Program Resolution
1/30/17: County Code Compliance Policy and Procedures Manual
12/17/15: Caloyannidis letter to County Council Minh Tran
12/16/15: Beckstoffer SMW letter on Raymond to BOS
8/18/15: Tofanelli SMW letter on Clos Pegase and Griard
4/29/15: Beckstoffer Abbott & Kindermann letter on Compliance to BOS
George Caloyannidis: Comment on Reverie Winery use permit modification
George Caloyannidis: Napa County Grand Jury 2014-2015 - Addendum to the Complaint
Agenda Letter for 2nd BOS compliance workshop
Documents for BOS Compliance workshop #2: item 9B
Compliance Workshop #2 Powerpoint (with grape crush data)
The video of the first BOS compliance workshop
2015 2014-15 Grand Jury Report on Wineries
APAC #8 Report
County's response to the Grand Jury Report
APAC #7 Report
2013 County Winery Audit Visitation Results
2012 County Winery Audit Visitation Results
2005 Resolution 05-229 Rescinding County Code Compliance Manual
NVR 10/17/19: Napa County grants Bremer winery exceptions for footbridges, storage barn
NVR 4/23/19: Napa County's Bremer winery sues local law firm, alleging negligence
winebusiness.com 4/23/19: Napa Valley Winery Sues Law Firm
NVR 3/7/19: Castello di Amorosa cited for code violations
NVR 2/12/19: Napa County, Bremer Family Winery reach lawsuit settlement
NVR 2/4/19: Napa County hits B Cellars with code notice over food service
NVR 1/25/19: Napa County says vineyard mudslide blocked road due to code violation
NVR 1/10/19: Napa County hits The Prisoner winery with code violation notice
NVR 12/30/18: No. 3 Story of 2018: Napa County growth wars raged
NVR12/27/18: Napa County takes vacation rental to court
NVR 12/24/18: Trial date for Napa County suit against Bremery winery pushed back
NVR 12/19/18: Napa Supervisors surprised by deluge of comments on family farm woes and winery rules
NVR 11/20/18: County wants March deadline for Napa winery scofflaws
George Caloyannidis LTE 11/15/17: Forgiveness for winery violators: The ladder of travesty
George Caloyannidis LTE 10/5/17: Register editorial on winery compliance missed the big picture
NVR Editorial Board: 9/30/17: Our view: An end to uncertainty
NVR 9/13/17: Napa supervisors agree on new winery rule-breaker policies
Thomas Gans LTE 9/6/17: Crackdown? What crackdown?
NVR 8/29/17: Napa County considers clampdown on rule-breakers, including wineries
NVR 8/3/17: Napa County decides to take Upvalley winery to court
NBBJ 5/22/17: Napa County wineries face more permit scrutiny
Williams LTE 4/18/17: Playing by the same rules
NVR 4/25/17: Napa County supervisors want to get a handle on winery code compliance
NVR 4/10/17: Behrens winery cleans up codes violations, wins expansions
NVR 1/30/17: Napa County hones how it deals with rule breakers
Loberg LTE 1/8/17: Develop code of ethics for wine industry
Kennedy LTE 7/13/16: We didn't turn Blakeley in to the county, the sheriffs did
NVR 7/13/16: Construction to pursue its own ballot measure
NVR 1/22/16: Wineries plead exceptions cases before Planning Commission
Caloyannidis LTE 1/13/16: Is our county government unethical?
NVR 1/14/16: County sues Calistoga winery
Yeoryios Apallas LTE: Retroactive approvals of unlawful behavior?
NVR 5/28/15: Grand jury wants more winery audits
Christine Tittle LTE: Break the law, get a reward
Kelly Wheaton LTE: County needs to audit wineries more often
NVR 3/4/15: County may toughen code enforcement
NVR 8/6/14: Winery audit finds almost half didn't comply with use permits in 2013
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