Napa: Proposed Small Winery Protections and Use Permit Streamlining Ordinance

Proposed Small Winery Protections and Use Permit Streamlining Ordinance: when circumventing environmental considerations, what is the cumulative impact?

On Wednesday, December 18, 2019, 9 a.m.,  the Napa Planning Commission will be conducting a public hearing for what we believe is a revised proposed ordinance to streamline the application process for small winery expansions, an ordinance which will bypass CEQA review for categorical exemptions.  A recommendation will then be made to the Board of Supervisors for the adoption of the proposed ordinance. A draft ordinance was first presented to the Planning Commission on October 15, 2019.

Under this ordinance, the zoning administrator would be given new authority to:

  • grant use permits after a public hearing to wineries that were authorized under the former small winery exemption.
  • approve “certain” minor modifications without a public hearing or public comment.
  • authorize the Director of Planning, Building and Environmental Services to approve certain use permit modifications through the issuance of a ministerial administrative permit.

Napa Vision 2050 is concerned about making these categorical modifications ministerial. Production and visitation increases will be granted without environmental review. The cumulative impact could be enormous. As of the publication of this newsletter, details of the revised proposed ordinance are vague.

A consequence of making these small winery permits and “minor modifications” ministerial is that public input is bypassed in decisions that intensify the use of our agricultural lands. 

When the agenda is available you can click here to get a copy of the proposed ordinance. Please read it carefully and send your written comment about the adequacy of the categorical exemptions. Direct comments to David Morrison, Napa County Planning, Building and Environmental Services Department, 1196 Third Street, Suite 210, Napa, CA, or e-mail Director David Morrison Also consider making verbal comment at the hearing.

Click here to read the county’s public notice of the upcoming hearing. Click here for Board Agenda Letter of October 15, 2019. Click here for the draft ordinance that came before the Planning Commission on October 15, 2019. Click here for public comment and letters from the October 2019 hearing.