Help Westside Community Association oppose 4603 Westside Road, PLP14-0031
UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED — ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
High Accident Incidence at curve north of 4603 Westside*: 11 accidents, one fatality, since 1994
— with TWO since project denial! (See Road Safety Concerns and Speeding Report below)
Enough is Enough: Six new tasting rooms are under construction near the animal shelter
bringing Westside Area to 33 approved tasting rooms.
Subject: Westside Community Association Comments for 4603 Westside Road, PLP14-0031.
July 8, 2019
To: Honorable Board of Supervisors
Subject: 4603 Westside Road – Uphold BZA Unanimous Decision to Deny PLP14-0061
The Westside Community Association (WCA) respectfully requests that you uphold and affirm the Board of Zoning Adjustments’ decision to deny a discretionary use permit for tasting rooms, hospitality uses, 37 event days and a winery located at 4603 Westside Road – per July 6, 2017 Resolution for PLP14-0061.
The WCA requests the County make its obligation to protect public safety a priority. Since the BZA’s July 2017 decision, changes to the project do not materially alter the findings that the project would be incompatible with the neighborhood and result in traffic and public safety hazards. And, the BZA found that the establishment, maintenance or operation of the winery at this location, under the circumstances of this particular case, would be detrimental to the health and safety of persons residing or working in the neighborhood and detrimental to the general welfare of the area. (Mandatory Finding of Significance)
General Plan Inconsistency and Mandatory Finding of Significance: The proposed project meets all three factors for a denial based on GP Policy AR-6f, and cannot meet the mandatory findings of significance. In addition to joint road access conflicts, and incompatibility with the neighborhood, the development will draw water from the same aquifer and is located within the zone of influence of an adjacent property’s residential well.
1. Traffic/Public Safety – Joint Road Use Conflicts: Findings were largely based on the project’s location between two sharp curves, and its proximity to a curve – where the hillside, not merely vegetation in a riparian zone – restricts the sight distance and thus, cannot be effectively mitigated. In June 2017, BZA members toured the site and took their own measurements and determined there were significant traffic/public safety impacts given the circumstances of this particular location.
The curve just north of the project entrance is one of the most dangerous curves on Westside Road – since 1994, this section of road has had 11 accidents. The staff report identified 7 accidents (1 fatality, 2 head-on) near this curve up to 2015; and in the past two years, there have been several more speeding-related accidents, with two occurring after the 2017 BZA decision. In several of these accidents vehicles could not successfully negotiate the sharp curve, crossed into the opposite lane and then ran off the road, resulting in risks to on-coming vehicles and damage to guard rails. Excessive speed, distractions from slow moving vehicles and bicycles, and inadequate sight distance were all factors in the BZA’s findings that the Project’s location relative to this curve created a road safety hazard.
County’s own findings regarding the roadway geometry and the BZA’s conclusions from the hearing indicate that curve is so dangerous and sight distance so constrained that mitigations will not be effective.
Safety Hazard Ineffective Mitigations – Detrimental to Rural Character: The BZA Resolution states, “This Project’s establishment of the 30th permitted winery with operational traffic, tasting room traffic and event traffic, on a portion of Westside Road with existing traffic constraints, in concert with existing and proposed Westside Road winery traffic, will result in a traffic and public safety hazard.”
The Applicant’s proposed mitigation to create additional sight distance at the curve to the north of the project intersection requires the Dept of Transportation to constantly remove vegetation in a riparian zone at taxpayer’s expense. The updated traffic report found that only 330 feet of sight distance could be achieved, not the required 390 feet per standards in the “Guidelines for Traffic Impact Studies” May 2016 – 390 feet is the standard to uphold to prevent traffic safety hazards.
And, observations made when the BZA members toured and measured sight distance were that the hillside, not just the vegetation, blocked a driver’s ability to see around the curve. By anyone’s definition, the mitigations proposed are detrimental to rural character as they require cutting back a hillside and ongoing removal of riparian vegetation, and paving an escape lane with warning signs.
2. Well Impact: General Plan Policy AR-6f is quite clear that a project could be denied if:
“… the uses would draw water from the same aquifer and be located within the zone of influence of area wells.” – this is the standard to be upheld. Per the request of the impacted neighbor, Applicant’s consultant prepared a report dated May 31, 2017 which states the Project’s wells are indeed located within the zone of influence and in fact would result in a drawdown of the neighbor’s well. Given the Applicant’s well system is shared among two wineries with large hospitality facilities and a vineyard, the mere finding that there is expected drawdown “within the influence zone” of a neighbor’s well is significant, especially given climate change drought cycles.
The fact that project will adversely impact the neighbors well, the questionable circumstances that could result from approving two wineries projects on adjacent non-conforming parcels by the same developer, and the BZA findings of neighborhood incompatibility, are clear reasons so uphold the BZA findings
3. Neighborhood Incompatibility: The BZA found that substantial written and oral evidence was introduced at the public hearing demonstrating that the intensity of development on the Project Site is out of character with existing development in the neighborhood and immediate area.
Sub-divided Parcels below 40-acre minimum and applications for 2 wineries: The developer was able to convert a 46 acre conforming parcel (LIA 40) into two non-compliant parcels through a certificate of compliance, obtained a Use Permit for 4605 (MacRostie) on a the 20 acre parcel, and is now seeking to add a winery on the new 26-acre vineyard parcel, with hospitality uses and 37 event days.
If condoned, such actions risk doubling the intensity of visitors serving and winery processing on ag lands, which is particularly significant as Westside is an Area of Concentration.
Given the finding of facts regarding this development, and constraints on the Project Site, riparian corridor and adjacent section of roadway, the BZA acted properly in unanimously voting to deny this use permit. The WCA respectfully requests the Board affirm the decision.
Sincerely, Westside Community Association Board
CC: Letter with more detailed analyses of the MND and comments are in the letter submitted to County Staff and previous WCA letters, incorporated by reference.