Letters to the Editor
Belden Barns approval was a bad decision
I attended the public hearing on the Belden Barns proposal to build and open a commercial winery and creamery with 10 public events annually.
This project is located on Sonoma Mountain Road, a very, very tight and winding road in a rural, residential, farmland community. The Board of Supervisors voted to deny an appeal by neighbors and approve the plans, 4 to 1, Susan Gorin being the only supervisor opposed.
The purpose of this letter is to inform you of how little impact we as residents have on our elected county/district officials.
I have nothing against a wine and cheese making business. It is the commercialization of our rural/residential back roads that I oppose!
I was not surprised to see such strong support against this proposal. Residents gathered 141 signatures against, as well as had a good showing at the hearing itself, though the dates had been moved numerous times. I was impressed by the time and effort the community put into researching its facts, legal issues, public opinion towards the impact this operation would have on traffic, the potential of auto, pedestrian, cyclist accidents, the impact on groundwater use, noise, etc. Keep in mind this is a tasting room. Our roads are already dangerous. Why make them more so with drivers who have been drinking?
I moved to the Sonoma Mountain area because there was no traffic, no special events each weekend, no crowds and no wineries whose sole purpose is to maximize their brand and dollar volume. I wanted a rural lifestyle as do all my neighbors. If I hadnít, I would have moved where the other option exists.
Granting approval of the Belden business plan is completely out of the nature/scope of our community. What surprised me the most, other than ignoring all common sense issues, was the almost unanimous way in which the supervisors brushed aside the residents concerns, points-of-view, and their rights in granting yet another victory to the tax paying business. Whether it be vacation rentals or commercial businesses, etc., each time a new permit is granted, we lose more and more of the reason we choose to live in this beautiful place! Our homes and ours lives become endlessly impacted. Every time a public event license is granted by the board or PRMD, our homes are negatively effected. There will be a time where some winery, some vacation rental will be holding a special event each and every weekend of the year.
Why is it that our opinions and current way of life mean so little to these people? THIS IS OUR HOME! Shouldnít we have rights also, rather than the shame on you attitude for wasting our time, that seemingly comes from our board supervisors?
With this vote I now wonder how long it will take for those in the wings to file for their wineries and commercial enterprises in places like ours, further lessening the rural quiet countryside we all have here in Sonoma County. The board argued that this is not a commercial business. Well, what is it then? They sell to the public Ė wine, cheese and more. That makes them a commercial retailer in an area not defined or appropriate for this in any way.
My closing advise to any community that may be on our same trajectory is to stand up and organize quickly. You may have more luck then we!
Thanks to friends of Boncora
Thank you to everyone who has come in to express their condolences on Bonnie Tempestaís passing.
Bonnie and I so appreciated the community support for Boncora when we moved the bakery to Kenwood two years ago. It was always such a delight when you stopped in to say hello or pick up a batch of fresh-baked biscotti; we felt completely welcomed and included.
When I decided to come out of retirement to help my dear friend Bonnie get Boncora up and running, it was to share in her labor of love. Since Bonnieís passing, Iíve realized itís time for me to get back to my retirement.
I will miss visiting with you all on a regular basis and hope that I see you around at the post office or while Iím out walking the neighborhood or cruising around town on my bike.
Thank you again for all your support.
Elected official should stay above the fray
Over the last few election cycles Iíve seen a trend that I think is a mistake and is adding to the divisiveness in local politics: local elected officials who are not up for re-election endorsing in the open seats on their boards and city councils.
Over the last several months I have talked with former councilmembers and a former county supervisor, who agree this used to be uncommon and is taking local government on a negative path. Itís a practice of which I, as a local elected official and a former candidate, have refused to participate. Sitting members of local elected bodies should remain above the fray with the attitude that they will welcome and work with whoever wins. Human nature being what it is, if the candidate a sitting member didnít endorse wins, the relationship starts out negative.
I am especially concerned about how the County Board of Supervisors will get along after the 4th district election. The sitting supervisors are getting involved in the candidatesí campaigns at a level that appears unprecedented. Common sense, and a couple local examples, indicates constituents are not well served by such behavior. I will continue to be a voice against this practice. I invite other local elected officials to join me.