Wine and The Power of One…To Obstruct
Representative local government is where things get done that most effect our daily lives. And yet, few
of us can name the Mayor, the County Supervisors or the city counsel representatives that we elect to care for our community. Here in Sonoma Wine Country a great number of the wineries are governed by the County, rather than by the town or city.
And while local lawmakers here tend to very sensitive to the importance of wine to the economy and lifestyle and while they tend to make good decisions concerning the operating procedures of wineries, the wheels of government and the seeds of economic prosperity can often be slowed by the act of one private party who has a bug up their ass that has no business residing there.
Take the case of Michel-Schlumberger, a winery that sits in one of the most remote and beautiful areas of Dry Creek Valley. They have long been on the outskirts of Healdsburg where they opened their remarkable facility by appointment only. They petitioned the Board of Supervisors of Sonoma County to open their tasting room on a regular basis, an act that is likely to increase the value of their property, but
in the end draw not too many additional visitors to their tasting room.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, looking at Michel-Schlumberger's petition to open their gates full time, granted the appropriate permit late last year. All was well.
Until, a non-resident, property owner who does not live in the area and does not even have a house on the property appealed the Board's decision, apparently because they think they might want to live there one day and they fear the traffic. And the process to open the tasting room at Michel-Sclumberger was put on hold. Done. That's it. Stop the presses. Don't proceed.
Now, while this episode demonstrates the "power of one", it also demonstrates how pure NIMBYism is able to stop economic development in its tracks. I can understand stopping the process if there was something of an outcry, if there were numerous neighbors who said, "Stop!".
Well, Michel-Schlumberger gets its day before the Board of Supervisors (AGAIN–remember it was already approved by the Board) on February 10 in Santa Rosa at 3 PM at 575 Administration Dr., Room 102A. The Board will hear the appeal, will hear the response and will hear public comments—AGAIN.
I get frustrated with this sort of careless, self-absorbed, power of one form of governing. I for one and going to try to be there not only to stand up for Michel-Schlumberger, but to let the Board of Supervisors know that the power of one to stop and retard economic activity needs to be better controlled.
Do you live in Sonoma County? Do you feel the same way? If so, send a quick letter to the Board of Supervisors:
Paul L. Kelley
Better yet, attend the Board meeting. Stand up and say I support Michel-Schlumberger. Stand up and say I support a rational approach to addressing Land Use and regulatory matters that does not put all the power to determine progress in one absentee landlord's hands.