Everyone Angry at Proposed Santa Barbara County Winery Rules

on 09/07/14 at 9:10 am

Wine

santaynez2Santa Barbara County Vintners and Some Neighbors Unhappy About Planning Process for Opposing Reasons

It’s been nearly two years since the County of Santa Barbara started revising the rules for building new wineries on unincorporated county land, as was initially directed by a unanimous decision of the Board of Supervisors. But despite many meetings, tons of public comment, and lots of adjustments to the draft ordinance, vintners and those of their neighbors who worry about the industry’s growth seem unhappier than ever.

Vintners, who have now formed their own political action committee, believe the new rules will amount to business-stifling overregulation whereas concerned residents of certain pockets of the Santa Ynez Valley feel that their woes won’t be resolved by the planning department’s ongoing efforts. Such complaints will again come to a head at a hearing next Wednesday, July 16, at 6 p.m., inside St. Mark’s of the Valley Church in Los Olivos, where county planners will be accepting comment on what to study as part of the environmental report on the ordinance.

“We were blindsided,” said Ross Rankin, owner of Imagine Wine and president of the new PAC, Winegrowers of Santa Barbara County, which was incorporated almost one year ago. “There was no discussion with us prior to the proposed winery ordinance revision, and during the process, it has become extraordinarily clear that this is not to our benefit and was not intended to be in the first place.” Rankin, who would not divulge the members or funds raised by the PAC, citing fear of reprisal, said that the group’s immediate goal is to get the ordinance tabled.

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