November 2018 Update
Bill Hocker | Nov 16, 20182018 Soda Canyon Road Picnic in May
After the October 2017 Atlas Fire, the 5th annual Soda Canyon Road Picnic in May 2018 took on a more somber tone following the fire's damage and/or complete destruction to 134 of the 163 homes on Soda Canyon Road. It was still very gratifying and healing to have such a strong turnout considering how many residents of our community have been displaced. While we know it will be a long time before our community rebuilds and is able to enjoy its once wooded splendor, we are honored and humbled to be part of such an incredible and resolute community.
In the photo, neighbor Anthony Arger expresses our community's thanks to a few of the many heroic first responders to the fire, including CHP helicopter pilots and firefighters who joined us at the picnic. (click to enlarge)
Dec 4, 2018: District 4 Town Hall Meeting
District 4 Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza will hold his 3rd Town Hall Meeting to present his concerns of the year past and going forward and to respond to questions from his constituents. The flier for the event is here.
When: Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 5:30pm
Where: Vichy Elementary School3261 Vichy Ave, Napa
A recap of last year's Town Hall with Supervisor Pedroza is here.
Jan 11, 2019: Mountain Peak Winery goes to Court
Save the date! Friday, January 11, 2019
The lawsuit filed by Soda Canyon residents against the County for its abuse of discretion in approving the Mountain Peak project is set for a hearing on Jan 11, 2019 starting at 8:30am in Dept. I of the Napa County Courthouse. A schedule has been established for the submission of documents and the Soda Canyon Group, Petitioner in the lawsuit, has already submitted their opening briefs.
The lawsuit asks that the County conduct a full Environmental Impact Report on the project, as required under California law, rather than relying on the staff's negative declaration of less-than-significant environmental impacts when the Board of Supervisors approved the 100,000 gal/yr, 15,000 visitors/yr winery 6 miles up a dead-end mountain road.
The documents are here:
Soda Canyon residents are funding the legal fight against Mountain Peak and the Napa County Board of Supervisors. It is an expensive endeavor, but one that is worth the fight to protect not only the rural character and public safety and welfare of our community, but also all similar rural communities across the Napa Valley. Mountain Peak is the county's poster child for potential future development throughout Napa's most remote and rural regions, making this legal battle especially important to the future of Napa Valley.
Please consider assisting these Soda Canyon residents by donating to PRN and clicking here
Why is the Mountain Peak case important to the entire county?
The lawsuit comes at an interesting and important time for the County's future. After the contentious Measure C vote, the fires that reemphasized the dangers of remote locations, the conflict that is not abating between residents and the wine industry over the intrusion of "event centers" into their rural neighborhoods, and the new emphasis in reducing vehicle miles traveled
in development projects, the Board of Supervisors have begun to look at the potential impacts of "remote" winery projects with a more critical eye. (The issue of Remote Wineries
was an important aspect of opposition to Mountain Peak.)
The NVR articles on the two recent BOS meetings held earlier this fall are here:
The remote winery discussion, now expanding into a discussion over the "compatibility" of a winery with its location, is outlined in this recent report
by Planning Director Morrison to the Board. Supervisors Dillon and Wagenknecht both had significant comments
on the issue. In one meeting, Supervisor Dillon used Mountain Peak as an example of problems with the winery approval process. The effort to define winery compatibility may go on for several months with numerous hearings and will be archived on sodacanyonroad.org here
The contentiousness of winery proposals before the planning commission and the Board of Supervisors has shown no signs of letting up. In a sign that attitudes are changing at the county, two winery projects have recently been denied by the planning commission - more than have been denied in the previous decade at least. Both were opposed by the communities in which they are located:
And there are projects still in the pipeline already receiving pushback from residents:
In addition to the consideration of a winery compatibility ordinance, and following the divided concerns in the county over Measure C, the County Board of Supervisors, has called for a new process to seek consensus on the future of the county. It will continue an effort already begun but interrupted last year, to chart long term development goals and strategies through the development of a Napa Strategic Plan (The process will be archived here.
Since 2010 in the County as a whole, over 140 new wineries and winery expansions have been approved
adding over 5 million gallons of winemaking capacity, more than 1.8 million visitor slots, more than 1 million sf of building area, hundreds of new employees, and perhaps 100's of thousands of vehicle trips on Napa's roads each year, all approved under negative declarations, as Mountain Peak was, indicating that such increases will cause less-than-significant environmental impacts to life in Napa County. Many residents, stuck in traffic or losing a favorite wooded hillside or favorite local shop, or unable to find an affordable place to live, know that the impacts of tourism expansion are NOT less-than-significant. Winery development is the leading edge of that expansion and the case for a more thorough assessment of the environmental impacts of this type of project is more than warranted.
The Mountain Peak project is at the forefront of this type of commercial development in an incompatible location, and the legal proceedings will serve as a bellwether (for better or worse) for future winery development in Napa's remote and rural areas. We must continue the fight and sincerely hope you will join us in this effort.
Donate to PRN to Help Fund the Fight!
Soda Canyon residents are funding this fight to show that the Supervisors clearly abused their discretion when they approved the Mountain Peak project. As noted above, even the Supervisors are beginning to question their logic.
It is unfortunate that residents have to spend vast amounts of money to encourage the County to protect the rural character of our own community. But, as elsewhere, money is speech in Napa County, and developers have a lot of money. Every project approved by the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors was shown by its developer's consultants to have a "less than significant" impact on the future of the county. And yet the traffic comes. And the affordable housing goes. The vineyards and hillsides are littered with ever more building projects. And residents are asked to pay for bond measures for the upgrading of infrastructure necessitated, and the additional development must eventually be subsidized by us all.
Please consider donating to Protect Rural Napa to help fund this critical and precedent-setting lawsuit by clicking here.
You can also send a check to:
Protect Rural Napa
P.O. Box 2385
Yountville, CA 94599
Thank You for your support and let us know if you have any questions.