Tasting rooms by the hour
EDITOR: OMG – breaking news – June 30, 2017 – another tasting room on the Plaza – the Hooker House (“Hooker House Procures Tasting Room Tenant,” June 30)! I really wish this was “fake news” since our little town/city has been over run by tasting rooms. Sonoma is quickly losing its quaintness and will soon break the Guinness Book of World Records for being the host of the most tasting rooms within city limits. Is this really what we want for Sonoma? I believe this issue needs to be addressed and rectified (as Healdsburg has done) by our city leaders now – not tomorrow, not next week or next month but now! Enough already.
Editor’s note: Thanks for writing Audrey. I think many would agree that there is a healthy allotment of tasting rooms on the Plaza – and your prediction that Sonoma will soon enter the Guinness Book of World Records for its pinot plethora piqued our interest. While the Guinness folk don’t seem to have tabulated a record for tasting rooms within a city limit, they have named the town with the single most abundant cellar: the Milestii Mici winemaking plant in Moldova apparently boasts more than 1.5 million bottles stored underground in excavated lime mines. Perhaps they’ll open a Milestii Merlot tasting room on a corner of the Plaza one day. – J.W.
Council should approve hotel EIR
EDITOR: The review process for development projects mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is detailed, rigorous and complex. It is intended to give local policy makers a clear picture of a project’s potential impacts, and the ways those impacts can be mitigated, so they can render a fully informed judgment on behalf of the community at large. Unfortunately, CEQA also invites abuse by opponents who seek to kill projects not on their merits, but by filing interminable challenges to the environmental review so the process never reaches its intended conclusion.
The proponents of the Hotel Project Sonoma have devoted the time and resources over several years to seek out and incorporate community input and to produce an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that gives us all a detailed view of the project’s effects. When legitimate issues were raised, they have gone back and funded the necessary additions to ensure their review was complete and correct. Both the letter and the spirit of the CEQA process have been satisfied and it is time to move forward with a decision on the actual project. However, as one might predict, the opponents of the hotel have invented a new reason to extend the environmental review… affordable housing.
There is no question that the lack of affordable housing in our community and the Bay Area at large is approaching a crisis point. It affects workers, employers, seniors and our children who hope to build lives in this wonderful community where they were raised. The causes are complex and the solutions will require commitment and creativity from the entire community. What is also clear is that this latest challenge to the hotel project’s EIR is not a legitimate attempt to address or solve that crisis.
EIRs are mandated to study project alternatives that would have fewer impacts than the one proposed. As it turns out, data shows that the inclusion of housing at this West Napa location would have a greater impact on traffic, water and parking. One of the distinct advantages of a hotel on this site is the opportunity for visitors to tour the Plaza and surrounding attractions on foot, rather than contributing to the existing traffic congestion.