Who Are We?

Concerned Citizens for Responsible Land Use (CCRLU) is an ad hoc group of private citizens opposed to the building of a major wine production facility in a residential area on a site that is too small and not zoned for such use.

    Best Family Winery Update

June 13, 2010

Information from Board of Supervisors Meeting held on
June 8, 2010

On June 8, 2010 The Board of Supervisors voted to approve the controversial Best Family investors LLC Winery project. With this vote, they approved 2 General Plan amendments, a zoning change, a special use permit and much more. They also performed the tidy trick of avoiding an Environmental Impact Review (EIR).

It fell on deaf ears when the public railed against a one-minute limit on public comment and the other restrictions placed on public comments. It fell on deaf ears when the people submitted conflicting expert opinion that should have put the breaks on this project or at least require an EIR.

We believe the Board of Supervisors violated the Brown Act, if not, they certainly violated the Heart and Spirit of the Brown Act. We are seeking counsel on this to determine how we will proceed.
“The People Do Not Yield Their Sovereignty To The Agencies Which Serve Them”

We believe the Board of Supervisors violated CEQA law. Unless the Board has an epiphany the only way to correct this is to file a lawsuit.

CEQA law states that it is not just the right but the responsibility, the duty, the obligation of every California citizen to protect our environment, to take seriously public participation: not just to complain, not just to criticize after decisions are made, but to participate and assist decision-makers by providing testimony.

The actions of this Board will affect all of Sonoma County. A precedent has been set. This is a planning/land use/zoning issue with environmental impacts on water, sewage, traffic, and greenhouse gas emissions.

To move forward with a legal challenge to force an EIR will be long and expensive.
We need your support, your suggestions, and your participation.
Can you help?
Please e-mail us: info.crlu@gmail.com


May 29, 2010

We’ve been submitting new information and reports that should give pause to the Board of Supervisors and force them to require an Environmental Impact Report.

We scrubbed the Public File at PRMD and located a very interesting report:

The California Regional Water Quality Control Board, North Coast Region, a division of the California EPA, prepared an 8 page report dated March 1, 2010 and submitted it to Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD). It includes copies of correspondence dating back to December 2006.

Here is a direct quote from the report…. “The Regional Water Board does not believe that the Mitigated Negative Declaration provides adequate analysis and mitigation of potential impacts to water quality. Without further analysis and mitigation, we do not consider the MND to be sufficient as an environmental analysis.” This report discusses serious concerns and lack of mitigation regarding the existing wetlands on the project site and the proposal to “take” the wetland for a winery facility.

This report has never been addressed at a Public Hearing. This report does not appear on The Best Family Investors LLC Winery web page even though they have posted many other reports.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors took a straw vote on March 2, 2010 to approve this project. Is this how the County protects the people? Is this how the County protects our environment? The Board of Supervisors must put the brakes on this project! Will the county continue to ignore the California Environmental Protection Agency? Will the county continue to ignore us?
If we can’t count on our elected Supervisors to speak for us then we must be sure to speak for ourselves! It is not only our right, it is our responsibility to hold them accountable. Please write, call, or e-mail the Board of Supervisors. Urge them to vote NO on this project. An EIR is required if this project is to continue. We Must Demand It!

Please attend the BOS meeting on Tuesday June 8, 2010 at 2:10 p.m. We Must Be Heard!
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors 575 Administration Drive, Room 100 A Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Information from Public Hearing held on March 2, 2010

On March 2nd the Board of Supervisors cast a straw vote to approve the Best Family Investors LLC winery project. It was due to come before The Board again on April 20th as a consent item for the official vote but it has been postponed, removed from the consent calendar and placed on the agenda for further discussion!

The straw vote was disappointing to say the least. The 2020 General Plan and Zoning laws were tossed aside. The Board of Supervisors voted to approve 2 amendments to the General Plan as well as change the zoning just so this project could be approved.

They pounded the proverbial SQUARE PEG through the ROUND HOLE. Many people voiced their opinion against this project. The Board of Supervisors chose to overlook the many environmental concerns raised at the hearing. Significant questions remain unanswered.

This action could affect all of Sonoma County! A precedent will be set! Rural Residential areas throughout the county will be susceptible to this type of encroachment on their neighborhoods.

The People spoke, but unfortunately their concerns were dismissed or not addressed. We want to move forward. We are exploring our options and seeking advice from legal counsel. We still need your help and support. We will have an informative meeting soon. Stay tuned to our blog for the meeting time, date and location.

We ask that you keep this issue alive….. twitter, go on facebook and post, e-mail your friends, call your relatives, spread the word. Please bookmark our site post a comment, e-mail us, and keep abreast of the issues. We will post new information as we have it.

We appreciate your continued encouragement and support!

Thank you!

What is The Proposed Project?

What Does The Project Require?

Why We Oppose The Project

Other Concerns

What Is Happening Now?

What You Can Do

What Is The Proposed Project?

The Best Family Investors, LLC proposes to build a major wine production facility on the corner of Hwy 116 and Occidental Road just north of Sebastopol. This site is currently an apple orchard in a long standing established residential neighborhood. The project will include:

  • Production Building 33,000 sq. ft., 46 feet high, (4 Stories) 240 ft in length and 140 ft in width, covering 3/4 of an acre
  • 24/7 Bottling/Production during harvest
  • Production of 26,500 cases annually
  • 17 Events per year with outdoor music and up to 150 guests per event from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Wine Tasting Room 5,000 sq ft. 35 ft. high (3.5 Stories)
  • Retail Sales

All of this will be on just 7.61 ares. The County zoning requirement is a minimum of 10 acres.

back to top

What Does The Project Require?

  • 2 NEW Amendments to The General Plan
  • Rezoning From Residential to Diverse Agriculture
  • Special Use Permit and New Policy For General Plan Land Use

back to top

Why We Oppose The Project

  • The project is inconsistent with the newly revised and updated General Plan
  • It will be less than 100 ft. from neighboring properties
  • It infringes on the State Highway 116 Scenic Corridor
  • The site will need to be rezoned from Residential to Diverse Agriculture, which will create an island of DA zoning Bordering only residential parcels
  • It will undermine the existing Rural Residential Land Use and Zoning ordinance
  • This project would grant a small group of investors the right to establish a commercial enterprise in the middle of a residential area

back to top

Other Concerns

Water: The area is supported entirely by private residential wells. The impact this project will have on the water supply and quality, along with the potential for contamination from spraying and pomace are serious concerns.

Traffic: The applicant has stated: “Traffic on Highway 116 makes the site undesirable for future residential development.”

Jim Olmstead, Project Planner

If current traffic conditions at the proposed site cannot accommodate 2 homes and 2 granny units, how can it accommodate over 100 guests daily?

  • The project will cause an increase in traffic at one of the busiest intersections in West County
  • The project is located on the Joe Rodota Trail. There are safety concerns for cyclists and pedestrians
  • The project will not include a turning lane for west bound traffic to gain entrance to the site off Occidental Road. Vehicles must cross east bound traffic to enter
  • The Entrance/Exit is only 300 ft. from the Intersection of 116 and Occidental Rd.
  • Intersection has an above average accident rating from Cal Trans

Noise: The addition of a production facility, wine tasting room and outdoor events will have a significant noise impact on this residential neighborhood. There will be no significant noise buffer for those homes situated 100 ft. from the facility.

back to top

What You Can Do

  • Sign the petition here. Sonoma County zoning laws and the General Plan are being challenged. Neighborhoods beyond this immediate one will be impacted. This issue concerns ALL Sonoma County residents.
  • Write All our Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Demand an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors 575  Administration Drive, Room 100 A  Santa Rosa, CA 95403

  • Bookmark this blog to keep up to date on our progress. You can add your comments below.

What Others Are Saying

“The 1979 West Sebastopol Study was a very important document leading to the first land use controls in the West County. One of the basic and underlying principals was to end strip commercial zoning along the Scenic Highway 116. The plan flatly states: “5) Commercial Needs e) Commercial development along Highway 116 and other major roads will not be contemplated.” (p.88). The Best Family LLC wine factory proposal is one big erosion of over thirty (30) years of good land use policy. It would be the first commercial proposal allowed along HWY 116 by General Plan amendment, the first rezoning, the first violation of the Scenic Highway trust, and the first statement that long held planning documents are up for grabs by influential interest. We deserve better.”

Ernie Carpenter, Former 5th District Supervisor for Sonoma County (1981-1997)

“Unfortunately, the investigations on water supplies and GHG emissions for the proposed Best Family Winery’s Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration failed to adequately evaluate the likely impacts to groundwater in a time of drought, and pretend that no GHG standards can be applied. A targeted EIR dealing with these deficiencies is required.”

Jane E. Nielson, Ph.D, Retired USG Geologist

back to top


28 Responses to “About CCRLU”

  1. Laurie Mason Says:

    Well done, this is great. I signed the petition. It was easy.

  2. jeff kahn Says:

    Bravo, Kerry and Dia. This looks excellent.

  3. Yvonne Carson Says:

    Nice job, I signed the petition. Will spread the news.

  4. Paul Berg Says:

    Wrong place, too big, stupid idea….

  5. c4rlu Says:

    Mark Your Calendars, Show your Support and Plan to Attend!!

    The Board of Supervisor will vote on the Best Family Winery proposal March 2, 2010 at 2:10 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Chambers.

  6. lily Says:

    You are So right, Paul Berg.
    They’re trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

  7. Eileen M. Says:

    What is the great need to amend the General Plan?
    Who and how many will benefit from rezoning?
    Why is it necessary to create special use permits?
    Of what value is it to encroach upon the Scenic Corridor along Highway 116?

    All this for another winery to benefit whom? I just don’t see how the benefit$ to a few out weigh the detriment to so many.

    I believe there will be a significant impact on our ground water supply, greenhouse gas emissions, noise, smell, traffic, and light pollution.

    Our Supervisors must take the next step to protect the public and to protect the environment. An Environmental Impact Report must be performed.

    There’s nothing to loose and everything to gain by doing the E.I.R.

  8. rusty Says:

    yea. that’s right. we demand an EIR!

  9. David Kenly Says:

    Interesting that PRMD, and by extrapolation the Board of Supervisors, will even consider allowing a variance the the General Plan when so many potential grievances are made. Unfortunately, the permitting contract is between the applicant and the county, leaving oppositions (potential and real) to fend for themselves, often against qualitative AND NOT QUANTITATIVE assertions that concerns have been mitigated. As such, the only reasonable decisions the Superviosrs can follow if indeed they are serving their constituency, is to require full CEQA process with an EIR. Anything less would be disingenuous!

  10. Allison Says:

    How did this project get this far? Was someone asleep at the switch? 2 more similar projects are planned along 116. Is anyone paying attention? Enough is enough!

  11. Yvonne Carson Says:

    we need everyone to find a way to appear at the meeting March 2nd. or write a letter to them.
    Only way this can be delayed or stopped is with the majority to oppose it and be noticed, if we are quiet about it they will do what ever they want.

  12. Kerry Says:

    The hearing is coming soon! Everyone should be writing letters to Efren, the other board members and PRMD. Write or email it doesn’t matter. Let’s just do it!!! The project reference # for correspondence is PLP08-0029. Even if you wrote before, write another letter! All comments that are to be included in the Board of Supervisors packets must be at the PRMD office by noon on Feb. 16th!!! Any questions email: info.crlu@gmail.com. Thanks.

  13. c4rlu Says:

    Yvonne you are so right!!! Start calling, spread word. Remind your neighbors and friends. We will offer transportation to anyone who needs a ride! We all need to show up and voice our opposition and protect our neighborhood rights and homes!! We need to show the Board and the County that this project does not fit here, it is too big and too intrusive. A bottling factory does not belong in a residential neighborhood! Lets tell them loud and clear, NO!!!
    Plan on attending the Board of Superviors meeting March 2nd at 2:10 pm. Email info.crlu@gmail.com and let us know if you are planning on attending. Thanks for your support.

  14. Kerry Says:

    Thanks to everyone for the signing the petition and adding your comments. Hope you can come to the Supervisors meeting March 2nd to speak directly to the Supervisors and let them know how you feel!! It will be great if we pack the house and show them that this Winery and Production Plant do not belong here in a residential neighborhood or along the Joe Rodota Trail. The production building itself with be only 4 feet smaller in height than the O’Reilly building on 116 and Mill Station. Imagine that building in our scenic corridor and neighborhood!!!
    It plain and simple does not belong!!!

  15. Eileen Says:

    It just doesn’t make sense to amend the General Plan to make this project fit here. Why not change the project so it complies with the General Plan. Let’s use some common sense.

  16. Rusty Says:

    It’s not right, it’s just plain wrong. I’ll be at the Public Hearing on Masrch 2nd to tell them so.

  17. thomas Says:

    This is the type of project that gives developers a bad name and increases the growing animosity that many people of Sonoma County have toward the wine industry.

  18. c4rlu Says:

    Please attend the Public Hearing! Bring your friends and neighbors!
    March 2nd at 2:10 p.m.
    Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
    575 Administration Drive
    Santa Rosa


  19. Crystal Says:

    We have enough wine mono-crops in Sonoma County, we do not need any more. This is precious land that could be used to grow food rather than producing an excessive elitist beverage that most of the world can’t afford. Many of the beautiful orchards around Sonoma County have been ripped up to put in vineyards, destroying habitat along with it. We should be focused on producing Food not wine! It is this kind of selfish, backwards thinking that has led to so much of the suffering in the world. Unfortunately I know one cannot make as much profit from growing food as growing grapes for wine but there has to be a time when we say enough is enough. There very well may be a day when we see food shortages in this country as preposterous as that mat seem to some. Maybe we can have the foresight to understand that we should be focused on higher goals like feeding people rather than making MORE wine.


  20. c. l. Says:

    Isn’t there ANOTHER hearing coming in April?

    The “straw vote” probably isn’t final?

    • c4rlu Says:

      The straw vote is not the official vote. This project will be back on the consent calendar again on April 20. The supervisors will make the official vote at that time.

  21. Yvonne Carson Says:

    My concern with this all is…. The “winery” has no regard for current rules and has no problem with changing them to fit what they want.. who says they will follow any of the promises they are making after its all done. The well off and privledged seem to never know what the word NO means.

  22. Rusty Says:

    Oh Yvonne! I agree. I think this project is full of promises that will be broken and unenforceable.

  23. Larysa Says:

    Please watch this video and let me know if you see any similarities:
    “Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining”


    During the last two decades, mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia has destroyed or severely damaged more than a million acres of forest and buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams. Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining, a video report produced by Yale Environment 360 in collaboration with MediaStorm, focuses on the environmental and social impacts of this practice and examines the long-term effects on the region’s forests and waterways.

    At a time when the Obama administration is reviewing mining permit applications throughout West Virginia and three other states, this video offers a first-hand look at mountaintop removal and what is at stake for Appalachia’s environment and its people.

  24. Larysa Says:


    The Myth of the Family Winery: Global Corporations Behind California Wine

    Executive Summary

    Despite the industry-promoted image of mom-and-pop wineries in California, nearly all of the leading wine producers in the state are multinational corporations with offices worldwide. Moreover, wine is just merely one aspect of these global operations, having become integrated into massive product portfolios along with spirits and beer brands. Hiding behind a narrative of local, family-owned wineries, the global corporations that own California wine are steadily working to deregulate alcohol in every state through: 1) diminishing the three-tier alcohol system in the U.S.; 2) consolidating distribution to a single entity per state; 3) undue influence on the political process that includes undermining efforts to increase alcohol taxes and fees at the state and federal levels.

    For example, as Governor Schwarzenegger’s nickel-a-drink increase on alcohol excise taxes in California was removed from the final 2009-2010 budget, wine corporations and trade organizations funded 72 percent of alcohol-related contributions to “Budget Reform Now,” the California PAC supporting the final budget proposal and related propositions.

    This report details how California wine is an illusion because:
    • Six of the seven producers that own 82 percent of U.S. wine are global corporations.
    • Six of the ten top wine producers also own spirits and beer brands.
    • The Wine Institute, despite its tag line of the “Voice of California Wine,” is controlled by executives from Diageo, Constellation Brands, Foster’s, and Brown-Forman, multinational conglomerates all based outside of California and with product portfolios that also include major spirits and beer brands.

  25. Eileen M. Says:

    Earlier this week The Board of Supervisors had planned to cast a perfunctory vote to approve this project. Guess what?! The item was pulled from the consent calendar and rescheduled for further discussion on June 1st at 2:30. I wonder why…..
    Let me see…… could it be that the 3 oz magic toilet is nothing but an illusion?……
    …..Or maybe it was the half baked plan to use contaminated cistern water in the production facility….. or maybe it had something to do with nighttime noise standards being exceeded during the crush when grape trucks are permitted to make deliveries any time they feel like it……
    At this point I can only guess. No matter. Hope to see you at the Board of Supervisors meeting on June 1st !

  26. c4rlu Says:

    POSTPONED AGAIN! June 8, 2010 2:10 p.m.
    Board of Supervisors
    575 Administration Drive
    Santa Rosa, Ca.

    More details to follow.

  27. Rusty Says:

    This BoS has violated our trust and the Investors group has a green light to violate our environment and our neighborhood.
    I’m fed up with the whole bunch of them. I’m ready to pounce and I have my claws out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s