ūüď£Breaking News: Water Audit California Takes on Bremer Case

Bremer Family Winery Appeal revolves around these alleged violations. The Planning Commission approved them all. 

(a) an approximate 2,200 square foot agricultural storage building and associated water tank, unpermitted and built within stream setback without conservations regs exception.

(b) an approximate 800 square foot pad and associated walls attached to the winery,¬†unpermitted and built within stream setback without conservations regs exception…‚Ķ.and more violations below….all approved.¬†

ūüď£Breaking News: Water Audit California Takes on Bremer Case

Eyes on Napa – June 26, 2020
Breaking News:
Water Audit California Takes on Contentious Bremer Case  

Included here is an extraordinary letter that went to the Napa County Planning Commission, staff, county counsel, and the State Department of Fish and Wildlife on June 23, 2020, from Water Audit California.  It raises a number of issues regarding the processing of the Bremer matter that should be of concern to all of us. We feel compelled to share it with you.

We are impressed by the letter’s careful, studious meticulousness, and its documentation of the processes and history of the application. At the very least, this letter exposes errors, inadequate attention to important details, and missteps in the application process. At the more worrisome end of the spectrum, the document describes side-stepping of the regulations, laws, and codes that we as residents and stakeholders¬†entrust our county elected and appointed officials and staff to follow, respect, and adhere. We expect fair operation of our county government. The facts set forth in this document describe anything but that.

Though it is lengthy, it is approachable and very much worth taking the time to read. The supporting documents are hyperlinked. We believe this is important information to bring to our readers. Let us know what you think.

From the letter:
“Water Audit California (Water Audit) is an advocate for the public trust.
Water Audit has two concerns herein: (1) the preservation of the Napa County stream setback provision, and (2) the application of proper policies and practices considering environmental matters.

Water Audit believes that riparian ways should be seen as sacred ground, an essential foundation of the community‚Äôs environmental health. The following comments relate solely to our assessment of fact and law, with no distortion or filter caused by identities, status or personalities. We assume that these Applicants will be treated no better or no worse than any other before this Commission.”

A critical point: 
“Whatever the Commission‚Äôs decision, this matter will be precedent-setting in respect to Napa Valley riparian encroachment. To approve this Application would oblige the Commission to provide the same indulgence to all subsequent malefactors who ignore the law until caught and prosecuted. Such precedence would render the conservation regulations irrelevant, and the process of enforcing the law into an endless game of whack-a-mole, with a foregone conclusion of futility. As any parent knows, one should not reward bad behavior lest it becomes a habit. The law demands that the infringements be removed, and there is no good reason for the Applicants to not be held to the law.”

Read the Water Audit letter in its entirety here. 

For a refresher on the Bremer case,
explore the documents below:
Archived Background Documents
For appeal documents, click here.
For the video of the hearing, click here. The appeal begins at 1:23. Board of Supervisor deliberations being at 3:15.
For more on the history of the Bremer Family Winery and settlement arrangements with Napa County on code violations, click here.

Bremer Family Winery Appeal revolves around these alleged violations. The Planning Commission approved them all. 

(a) an approximate 2,200 square foot agricultural storage building and associated water tank, unpermitted and built within stream setback without conservations regs exception.

(b) an approximate 800 square foot pad and associated walls attached to the winery, unpermitted and built within stream setback without conservations regs exception.

(c) an approximate 150 square foot ground floor/story addition and second floor/story deck to the farmhouse/office building, permitted by county but built within stream setback without conservations regs exception.

(d) an approximate 100 square foot freestanding restroom, permitted by county but built within stream setback without conservations regs exception.

(e) approximately 1,210 lineal feet of rock walls, existing, but unpermitted and built within stream setback without conservations regs exception.  

(f) two pedestrian bridges over a blue-line stream, existing but unpermitted and built within stream setback without conservations regs exception.

What is the Public Trust Doctrine?
“The¬†public trust doctrine¬†requires the sovereign, or state, to hold in¬†trust¬†designated resources for the benefit of the people. Traditionally, the¬†public trust applied¬†to commerce and fishing in navigable waters, but its uses were expanded in¬†California¬†in 1971 to include fish, wildlife, habitat and recreation.”

Water Education Foundation.

What’s Next?As promised, we do our best to bring you in-depth reporting on local issues that matter. This case and this letter in particular has the feel of something pivotal, and perhaps will be a turning point for Napa County in land use decision making. Perhaps it will lead to better communication between the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission. Our greatest hope is that it will bring to light the necessity and importance of the public trust doctrine. Please follow this closely with us, as we continue into the meetings and decisions ahead, and we report back to you.
– Patricia and Debby
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
 Arundhati Roy, War Talk
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