Let’s see how this works: You are driving down the Silverado Trail. A CHP officer pulls you over and says to you, “You have been driving at 75 mph in a 55-mph zone with an illegal radar detector, with your front door windows tinted too dark to comply with the law, and your modified exhaust pipes too loud, but you are such a special person that I can make all this go away if you just sign this form admitting to all of that.
And for your honesty and exemplary cooperation, from now on, 75 mph will be your personally permitted speed, which will allow you to whiz by all of those idiots who drive at the posted speed. I am just trying to be fair. How does that work for you?”
Well, I can tell you, it isn’t going to happen. Break the law on any of these issues, and you will be ticketed and fined.
But, you are in Napa County. And while these violations of vehicle codes might cause you to be ticketed and fined, if you own a winery, you don’t have to worry if you have violated your winery permit issued by the county. We don’t have any penalties for violating your use permit, if you will just file for an amendment requesting that these violations be overlooked and approved.
Believe it or not, you can even request expanded use of your violated winery permit, and, in most cases, receive approval. In essence, you can be rewarded for breaking the law in Napa County. They call it “Coming into compliance.”
What it really means is that they just need to revise your permit so that you can be seen as complying with all of the violations of your current permit.
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Our Napa County Supervisors are responding to the outcry of our citizens as to the effect of expanded tourism and event centers in the county. They were hoping that this 17-member APAC (Agricultural Protection Advisory Committee) they created could formulate a consensus that would allow them to walk the tightrope of cutting back on this runaway tourist invasion, while at the same time not offending those who are profiting from the sale of our personal lives for the sake of allowing activities beyond the agricultural necessity of growing grapes and the making of wine at our wineries. But it didn’t happen.
While our Supervisors await the recommendations of their APAC committee, there is a very simple act they can take immediately. There can be no application for approval of these use permit violations for several years, and that suitable penalties be enacted to thwart this rampant disregard for the law.
Supervisors Chairwoman Dillon, and Supervisors Luce, Pedroza, Wagenknecht, and Caldwell, is this not something you can do immediately to control the blatant violation of our ordinances? We certainly hope so.