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Draft Winery Ordinance Has Local Non-Profits Worried

Public comment for Santa Barbara County Draft Winery Ordinance Ends May 2nd

LOMPOC, Calif. - Some non-profit organizations in Santa Barbara County may face financial trouble if a county Draft Winery Ordinance is adopted. That ordinance would, among other things, limit the number of events allowed at wineries each year, forcing non-profits to go elsewhere for fundraisers.

"Limiting their ability to sponsor us and support us and do business in the Lompoc Valley or Santa Barbara County is a disservice," said Linual White, member of a local non-profit.

White is a member of the Turducken Dinner Group, a non-profit that raises money for the Lompoc, Vandenberg Village, and Buellton libraries.

"We've raised $190,000 since our inception, and that wouldn't be possible without our partnership with the wine industry," said White.

White says the non-profit has held fundraisers at many local wineries, but that soon could end if the county Draft Winery Ordinance is adopted.

The draft ordinance contains a variety of rules and regulations for wineries in the county. One is of particular concern for the city of Lompoc. It would limit the number of private events at some wineries, and at others it could ban them outright.

Local winery owners say they will have to be choosy when it comes to which events they  allow, and will have to decide if hosting a non-profit fundraiser is even worth it.

"That's an economic decision and impact and you have to decide whether you can afford to be that generous and have it counted against you," said Steve Pepe, owner of Clos Pepe Vineyards.

Lompoc Mayor John Linn, along with the rest of city council, opposes the ordinance. The city submitted a resolution to the county suggesting some changes. Linn says complaints of noise and traffic generated from winery events comes almost exclusively from the eastern Santa Ynez Valley area, and the ordinance should only limit events in that region.

"I think if they want to make an ordinance to solve a problem then they should use an overlay ordinance for the limited area where the problem exists, rather than an ordinance that covers the entire county," said Linn.
Local non-profit leaders are waiting for the county to make a final decision.

"If the wine industry is penalized for being good neighbors and supporting the non-profit activities in the Lompoc Valley, it would virtually put us out of business," said White.

The public comment period for the ordinance closes May 2nd. This will go to the County Planning Commission before it ultimately goes to the Board of Supervisors.

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