The Kenwood Press
Letters to the Editor: 09/15/2020

Letters to the Editor -- September 15, 2020



Enough is Enough!

Dear Editor,

It’s been six years since VJB submitted an application to extend its hours of operation with the plan to have “pizza Fridays.” At that time, VJB was operating beyond what was evaluated and conditioned in its 2007 use permit approval, which was a tasting room and a small marketplace that sold pre-packaged food. A commercial kitchen was not allowed.

VJB’s business has boomed, but it’s operating well above and beyond what was considered regarding roadway safety, community impact and septic capacities and is beyond the terms of its permit.

There are many issues involved including: parking and traffic that has resulted from their expanded operations, pedestrian safety on Shaw Avenue, septic capacity, a right turn lane on Shaw onto Highway 12, the need for a left turn lane on Highway 12 onto Shaw, and legal issues arising from VJB’s approach of expanding its operations over the years without permission and now seeking to extricate itself from its difficulties of a proper CEQA analysis. VJB wants the County to accept its growth and unpermitted additions as “existing conditions,” rather than having the baseline analysis be conditions evaluated in 2007 when the initial use permit was approved or even the conditions in August, 2014 when the modification applications started.

The delays and tactics of VJB have allowed them unpermitted growth that the County has not stopped.

In January 25, 2017, VJB told the Sonoma Valley Citizen’s Advisory Commission (SVCAC) they had “300 to 700 visitors a day, peak season” on weekend days. After hearing VJB’s proposal to expand operations, the commission unanimously voted to disapprove the proposal, and found that VJB’s use was already excessive. This was over three years ago!

Permit Sonoma (PS) has postponed several hearing dates for VJB with the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). In the meantime VJB continues to function well beyond its use permit. The delays have not interfered with VJB’s business; they continue operating without deadlines or penalties.

You can contact the PS Planner, Blake.Hillegas@sonoma-county.org, to encourage the County to require: a) the appropriate baseline for environmental review be what VJB has been permitted to do, not what it has done without permission, b) limit the number of customers to the capacity of the septic system, c) require a left hand turn lane onto Shaw from Highway 12; d) address parking issues, and e) focus on pedestrian safety along Shaw. For further information on this issue, see www.votma.org/pub/dev/55.

It is time for the County to require VJB’s operations to be limited to permitted activity. There has been plenty of time and enough is enough!

Kathy Pons
Valley of The Moon Alliance