Guest Commentary

‘Neighbor’ plan could solve winery issues

2013-01-23T00:00:00Z ‘Neighbor’ plan could solve winery issuesLee Rosenberg / Guest Commentary Santa Maria Times
January 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The time has come to correct inaccurate, inflammatory and unfounded reports about the so-called “controversy” over Santa Barbara County’s winery ordinance.

First of all, it is not a controversy. It is a process through which the Planning & Development Department has been forced to go by the Board of Supervisors, and one supervisor in particular. This process will cost the county (taxpayers) well over $175,000.

The current ordinance tries unsuccessfully to address impacts: noise, traffic, parking, lighting and dust. Unfortunately, the current ordinance dances around those concerns by using numbers related to frequency, attendees, acreage, etc. The five impact concerns might be legitimate if you live close to a winery facility. Nonetheless, over the past three years, there have only been 11 complaints.

The 3rd District supervisor tells us, “The winery ordinance issue affects the whole county, but most of all the Santa Ynez Valley. I was hearing about the increasing divisiveness, or polarization, as individual winery projects were coming through. Or there were zoning violations for activities that might end up being OK with revision.”

What divisiveness? What polarization? What zoning violations? Eleven complaints have been recorded by the county over three years. Three were found not to be violations. Two venues had no wineries. One was about an ag tour. Two were about construction issues. One was about a sign. One was about food service. One was about a “commercial” event. This is data supplied by the county.

Now, the cattlemen and others have come forward with a common-sense “Good Neighbor” special events ordinance that is under consideration by P&D and the Planning Commission. Simply stated, the contents of this ordinance, although directed to the non-winery special events issue, would solve the winery problem with simple, objective standards for all five of the potential complaint areas. A great part of this Good Neighbor ordinance can easily be incorporated into the current winery ordinance. If done, it will answer the primary concerns of neighbors and citizens.

A petition, circulated throughout the county by the Central County Coalition, asked potential signers if they supported wineries, tasting rooms and wine marketing strategies. There are more than 1,200 signers. Ninety percent of them are not connected to the wine industry. Residents of Santa Barbara County seem to support wineries.

In the face of this support, planners are publicly contending that there are a large number of folks who don’t attend meetings on the ordinance revisions because they are intimidated and don’t like to come to meetings, despite the fact that the county is spending a fortune on outreach meetings for their benefit. A demand under the Freedom of Information Act has been put to the county asking for proof of their statements.

If the Good Neighbor Special Events Ordinance is adopted for wineries, the other outreach issues of tasting rooms, food and structure will be solved. There will be no need for the next two hearings on neighborhood compatibility and structure.

The county should save this cost and devote it to adoption of the Good Neighbor special events ordinance, which you can see at: www.centralcountycoalition.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/White-Paper-SB-County-Proposed-Special-Events-Ordinance.pdf

Lee Rosenberg is a Solvang resident.

Copyright 2015 Santa Maria Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. jfharper
    Report Abuse
    jfharper - February 21, 2013 11:41 am
    I am a neighbor of a vineyard. Regarding the lights issue, this is what we moved away from the city for, but now vineyards are bringing lots of lights that we have to look at at night and take away the better view of the stars.

    The noise and traffic are a problem. If you don't think so Lee, how about you take the laborer traffic and welcome that traffic right next to your house. Then have your wife or daughter exit your house and ask them if they feel comfortable with laborers looking at them.

    The whole deal is bringing someone into the neighborhood that nobody knows anything about. Case in point, would be Lee, if you answered me these questions:
    1. Exactly where is your wife right now?
    2. Exactly where is your daughter (if you have one) right now?

    You would feel uncomfortable telling me exactly. You may tell me generally for the case of your readers, but exactly is a different story.

    Reason is, is you don't know me or trust me. Same thing with laborers or visitors to the vineyard that is near a neighbor. Our concerns are the visual presence to our loved-ones of someone we don't know or trust. That is the issue. Start with thinking of others instead of your pocketbook and that is what will 'Solve' the winery issue.

    Some suggestions are, keep the traffic as far away from the neighbors as possible. The laborers tend to hang around longer then they need to...put that hanging around far away from the neighbor or right next the vineyard owner house. I know you have a policy to put traffic next to the neighbors with the "start closest to the neighbors" policy...this is backwards and results in laborers hanging around the fence line right next to the neighbors house...an uncomfortable situation for the neighbor.

    This is what is being talked about amongst neighbors...not what you wrote about. You would so better by not spinning the news.

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