The policy of recognize and allow
on the web at: http://sodacanyonroad.org/forum.php?p=1145
George Caloyannidis | Dec 17, 2015

[email sent to Minh Tran, Napa County Council]

From: George Caloyannidis
Sent: Thursday, December 17, 2015 12:00 PM
To: Tran, Minh
Subject:

RE: REVERIE UP 13-00027MOD

Dear Mr. Tran:

Some disturbing procedural facts have surfaced regarding the very foundation on which both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors based their approval.

If you check the record, Commissioners Phillips and Scott stated with no dissenting comments that the application was being considered as a new application without taking into account past use permit violations "as a matter of established policy". The same argument was made by all the Supervisors with the exception of Supervisor Caldwell who stated that he found the policy "disturbing" but "since the policy is what it is, we have to abide by it until we have a different one". Again all Supervisors affirmed that they were bound by "established policy". I may point out that both the applicant's attorneys invoked the same "established policy" at their Planning Commission and BoS hearings and argued that such "policy" was the basis their client had relied on in incurring substantial expenses.
Not one person from Staff to Planning Commission to the BoS questioned the existence of such official "policy".

Shortly before the final BoS hearing on December 8, 2015, I inquired with Mr. Morrison about evidence of such official policy. Following several exchanges trying to unearth a "Zucker Report" adopted by the BoS but not in its complete form anywhere to be found in the County's data base which seems to have been the basis of a policy, Mr. Morrison forwarded to me what he presented as existing policy in the form of a Compliance Policy and Procedures Manual dated 3/10/1998 (attached). Such Manual allowed the continued operation of a winery out of compliance under certain conditions which apparently the Reverie winery met.

What Mr. Morrison failed to inform me about was the fact that this policy was rescinded in its entirety by the BoS on 8/23/2005 (attached) which: "Effectively eliminated the outdated concept of a 'grace' period for code violators". Resolution No. 05-229 states that certain provisions contained in the 1998 Manual: "Are in fact a hindrance and obstacle to effective code compliance efforts, and may not further the objectives of taking appropriate actions on a case by case basis".

Two issues are of substantive importance here:

1) Both the Commission and the BoS presented their decision to the public as one in which they were bound by "existing policy" thereby having limited discretion. The fact is that this was patently false as they themselves had rescinded such a policy thereby assuming full discretion in granting after-the-fact violation permits. I may point out that Resolution No. 05-229 was signed by both chair Dillon and Supervisor Wagenknecht, and yet, both continued to argue that they were bound by a (non-existing) policy. Neither did Staff disclose to the public that such "policy" did not in fact exist. Whether the public was misled for political reasons or by mere ignorance, I refrain to speculate but the fact remains that the public was misled.

2) During the BoS hearing of December 8, 2015, I based my comment on the 1998 Manual forwarded to me by Mr. Morrison and its binding existence invoked by the Commission and the BoS. In my testimony (attached), I argued that the BoS decision was inconsistent with sections of the language in said Manual. Neither Staff not the BoS, while they had ample opportunity once again failed to point out to the public that such manual had been rescinded.

I would most appreciate your response. In the very least I expect that neither the Commission nor the BoS will at any time in the future invoke - in fact hide behind - a phantom "established policy or procedure" in legalizing use permit violations and allow continued operations by such violators. If they chose to do so, it must be made clear to the public that they accept full responsibility.

Finally, I once again want to stress the fact that no matter what the basis of legalizing use permit violations is, it is a practice which patently violates CEQA state law. In fact it is a practice which itself requires CEQA review because it encourages the systemic culture of use permit violations.

Sincerely,

George Caloyannidis

Documents
Relevant Section from Compliance Policy and Procedures Manual
BOS Recission of Compliance Policy and Procedures Manual
Caloyannidis post-hearing letter to BOS
Morrison/Tofanelli email exchange on Zucker Report
The last 25 pages of the Zucker Report (unrelated to issue)
SCR Reverie page

copyright © sodacanyonroad.org