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First Peek at Updated Winery Rules

Vintners, Concerned Neighbors Offer Early Reactions; Meetings August 29 and September 17


Wednesday, August 21, 2013
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Though final decisions are more than a year away, Santa Barbara’s wine country got its first peek at new rules for building wineries and tasting rooms, as the County of Santa Barbara’s planning department unveiled proposed changes to the existing ordinance and announced upcoming meetings to get feedback on August 29 and September 17. Winemakers quickly complained that the meeting dates amid the upcoming harvest season are horribly inconvenient (so the county is now rescheduling the second workshop to be after harvest). Otherwise, initial reactions from vintners and concerned neighbors who worry about impacts like traffic, noise, and drunk driving are a mix of praise and criticism for what’s been put on the table.

“Overall, I commend the Long Range Planning folks for their hard work and taking into consideration our concerns as well as future needs,” said Michael Larner, whose application for a winery in Ballard Canyon was one of the projects that triggered the county’s review of the existing rules. “But unfortunately some of their proposals not only miss the mark, they are impractical and create overly restrictive parameters to navigate. There is little doubt that the wine industry will not gain anything from these proposed changes except a bad hangover.” Specifically, he finds the 50-person tasting room limit and 7 p.m. end time for events to be arbitrary and, while welcoming the allowance of food service for some wineries, wonders why the county would then require events to be catered by outside vendors. He and others are also worried about the definitions of “winery visitor,” and wonder whether private birthday parties that other residents can have without penalties may be construed as special events.

Larner’s up-canyon neighbor Cerene St. John, who worries about how the industry’s growth affects the community, believes that the initial ideas show that the county understands the issues raised. But she was “disappointed” that the proposed changes do not include overlay districts to “prevent additional wine tasting and special events on rural roads that are inappropriate for such uses such as Ballard Canyon and Chalk Hill roads.”

The planning department expects the review of these concepts, subsequent environmental review, and further discussion to continue through fall of 2014 before any changes are adopted. Click here for more details.

Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

Wineries don't control law enforcement. It isn't their job. They do monitor the goings-on in their own tasting rooms and are quick to act should anyone appear or act inebriated to the point of notice.

I cannot understand the often negative reactions displayed by some members of the general population who see a vital valley industry as troublemakers or nuisances.

Arbitrary rules are just the worst. Manufactured hoops built and enacted for no other valid reason than to build them and make people jump through. With so many other things often plaguing our valley in the sun (speeding, non-compliance in the use of daytime vehicle headlights when traveling on the 154 & 246, theft, & drunken driving), our wineries do a very good job at coloring within the lines that others love to blur.

We can certainly all get along and make it work to everyone's advantage. Whiners must knock it off and those making rules for rules-sake need to stop waxing so Napoleonic.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 5:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Were 50-50 as per agreement on this one Draxor.
"Arbitrary rules are just the worst. Manufactured hoops built and enacted for no other valid reason than to build them and make people jump through."

I totally agree with this well-written statement.

The problem is one does not have to be *legally^ impaired in order to be unfit to drive. My dad was almost killed by a guy who'd had a couple of drinks and was running a 0.069 BAC. There's one example.

The problem is that wineries and the alcohol industry *does* generate a lot of money for those directly involved in those businesses, and with the many alcoholics (even though they deny that their dependency on alcohol is a problem) around and the need to fit in with the sophisticated Yuppie image, there is a big demand for this. The Big Lie is that somehow the community-at-large benefits when in fact all it means is more impaired drivers on the road. As far as I'm concerned, people can drink their hearts (as well as their livers) content, so I'm not trying to stop the sale or consumption of alcohol, but I have a huge problem when someone's insatiable need to spend lots of $$$ in order to get buzzed/drunk and look cool (when they could spend much less and simply go to the store for a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home) affects the safety of others.

What makes this more distasteful (pun unintended) are those in the sunny valley who are all for the alcohol industry taking over while ensuring that no medical marijuana shops go up anywhere there.

With all the people I've known and known of who have been hit by drunk/buzzed drivers, and the fact that I've never known of anyone being hit by a stoned driver, (although I don't think one should drive while high) it makes the overall picture seem ridiculous.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 6:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Whiners must knock it off and those making rules for rules-sake need to stop waxing so Napoleonic.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 5:33 p.m.

Winers or whiners?

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 9:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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