Afterthoughts on the Remand Hearing at the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

Even though the Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted 3 to 2 to uphold the use permit of Mountain Peak Winery, there is some good news. Supervisors Diane Dillion and Belia Ramos acknowledged the BOS made a mistake in permitting Mountain Peak Winery in 2017. “There are very few moments in time where you get a redo, where you get to admit you made a mistake,” Supervisor Ramos stated. “Given the severity of what happened in 2017, I simply do not want on my conscience to have to rely on helicopters to save any of you from your roadway.”

However, the other three supervisors did not see the situation this way. After an hour and a half of neighbor declarations of their evacuations during the fires of October 8 and 9, 2017, Alfredo Pedroza, Ryan Gregory, and Brad Wagenknecht voted to keep the use permit in place, albeit with a minor modification of no visitors on Red Flag Days. 

Remember these supervisors when it’s time to vote.

Soda Canyon residents, your supervisor Pedroza has sold you out for wine industry interests– or the county’s increasing addiction over these last 20 years to development fees. (See architect and developer George Caloyannidis’ LTE).  Even after listening to your numerous harrowing accounts of evacuations, often cut off because of the 3-minute limit, Pedroza, Gregory, and Wagenknecht decided to ignore your plight. In the event of a wildfire, this project not only puts Soda Canyon residents’ lives at risk but those of visitors, winery and vineyard workers, and first responders as well.

Napa County is bracing for what could well be the worst fire season yet.  In a recent Press Democrat article, Sonoma County Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls stated, “What we’ve learned is that we’re one wind event away from a catastrophic fire, so every year has the potential to be a devastating year. But as we come into fire season 2021, we’re near or above record conditions for our energy release component” – meaning, we are at historical lows in terms of the dryness of living and dead vegetation.

It’s not over. And the final vote by the BOS is July 13, 2021. If the vote remains 3 to 2, the case then returns to the courts. 

Quote of the Year:

“I look at this and see people having to come to the Planning Commission and come to the BOS and say, this is what will happen. …Their prediction came true. This is what happened. This is not whether the project contributes to fire safety. The argument got turned on its head. [The argument is] Is this a safe place to put this activity? That is what these declarations to me are speaking to. Just because people survived by being in a vineyard and were helicoptered out does not mean we should count on that as a solution.”
–Supervisor Dillon, closing comments, May 18, 2021.