Bill Hocker | May 26, 2021
An email from the community organization Preserve Rural Sonoma County
encourages residents to attend the virtual Sonoma County Planning Commission hearing on a proposed Winery Events Ordinance
The Planning Commisssion June 3, 2021 Agenda
The packet of documents relating to the ordinance
Without digging too much into the weeds of the ordinance, it does at first glance bear a resemblance to the process that Napa went through with APAC
and the Tree Protection ordinance
. Both of those processes were initiated by citizen concern, in Napa's case over the proliferation of wineries and of woodland conversion to vineyards respectively. Both ended up being little more than a further codification of the current development trajectory with no provisions that might bend the curve. In fact, the outcome of APAC resulted in a process to legitimize the illegal behavior wineries had been engaging in, a fast-track winery ordinance and an ordinance to allow custom crush vintners to offer tastings in their homes.
The ability of developers, with money and consultants and close government ties, to channel citizen concern into non-threatening or even enabeling legislation has been a very dispiriting aspect of the fight waged over the last 8 years.
The Winery Event Ordinance in Sonoma seems from the outside to be the result of a similar fight. The setback, noise or other provisions of the code will be mitigated into insignificance by developers' consultants. The import of the legislation is that it codifies the pattern of development already taking place that citizens had initially hoped to restrict, allowing government to be able to say that they have given serious consideration to address citizens' concerns. The tourism development destroying the peaceful character of Sonoma's rural communities can now continue.