Winery issues don’t need more committees

Kicking the can down the road again… “It is troubling, however, that after over five years of pushing the county to complete these standards, which were required as part of the 2008 General Plan, it is now considering the formation of another committee. Work has already been done by county officials during the Winery Working Group discussions of 2015. And, in 2016 the planners held workshops, study sessions with supervisors and developed various policy options.” 

Winery issues don’t need more committees 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Winery issues don’t need more committees 

Editor,

As a resident of the Westside Area, identified by the county as an area of tasting room concentration, I am concerned by the suggestion in your February 2nd article, that local citizen advisory committees may be tasked to develop guidelines for winery entertainment and hospitality services in rural areas.

Thankfully, Supervisor Gore, along with Supervisors Gorin and Zane who are also concerned about such concentrations, recognizes that we should not have rural roads turning into “strip malls” of tasting rooms. The county must address the cumulative impacts to road safety, rural character and quality of life from this over concentration, particularly on Westside Road where millions of dollars of bicycle tourism are also at risk.

Forming a citizen committee is not a silver bullet to solve these land use issues. Legally it is the county’s job to develop and approve ordinances, standards, and regulations. Since 2014, the public, industry and other groups have provided input for such standards, just as they have for the county’s deliberations on other regulations. Formulation of standards, however, is complex involving traffic, noise, legal and other technical analyses that are best left to professional planning staff. Most community representatives lack the time and expertise to conduct such an effort.

Once the county implements guidelines, it will be easier for the public, planning staff and commissioners, or even advisory committees to evaluate such projects against the standards.

Supervisor Rabbitt rightfully acknowledged the public’s concern that things need to move faster. It is troubling, however, that after over five years of pushing the county to complete these standards, which were required as part of the 2008 General Plan, it is now considering the formation of another committee. Work has already been done by county officials during the Winery Working Group discussions of 2015. And, in 2016 the planners held workshops, study sessions with supervisors and developed various policy options. 

Before the county creates another layer of bureaucracy with more committees, the staff should finish its work, hold hearings to gather input from stakeholders, and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.

Marc Bommersbach

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