Napa County Adopts Use Permit Streamlining Ordinance

On February 4, 2020 the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt the Small Winery Protection and Use Permit Streamlining Ordinance (Ordinance No. 1455).  It will become effective 30 days after the date of its passage – Thursday March 5, 2020 (unless the ordinance is challenged).  As a result, certain minor modifications may be approved by the zoning administrator without the need for a hearing in front of the full County Planning Commission, and smaller, non-controversial changes will be processed administratively.  Further, holders of existing small winery exemptions will be able to convert to winery use permits through a streamlined process.

Among the requests that are subject to the new “minor” modification provision include:

  • Increases in number of employees up to a total of 10 or by up to 10 percent, whichever is greater
  • Any increase in number of employees, tours and tastings, or deliveries such that the total number of vehicle trips for all such uses on the property does not exceed 40 Average Daily Trips (ADT), or 20 daily round trips
  • Increases in wine production up to a maximum of 30,000 gallons annually, or an increase of 10 percent over the existing approved amount
  • Increases in marketing events up to a total of 11 per year
  • Any changes in days of operation provided there is no increase in visitation
  • Any changes in aggregate building footprints (including caves) to a maximum of 10,000 square feet or 25 percent of the total footprint, whichever is greater where there is no cumulative increase in paved or impervious ground surface area beyond 25 percent of the subject parcel or 15 acres, whichever is less; and/or
  • Addition of a new high-risk commercial kitchen where there is an existing medium- or low-risk kitchen on the property

The ordinance provides that “such minor modifications will not trigger application of the Napa County Road and Street Standards unless the total ADT from all uses exceeds forty (40) ADT or the inspection authority determines that improvements are required to comply with the State Fire Code, State Responsibility Area Fire Safe Regulations, or adopted left-turn lane warrants required for all projects.”

The ordinance also eliminates the previous “very minor” modification category for winery use permits and replaces it with an administrative approval category.  Changes that can be made administratively include:

  • Any interior remodel or changes to structures, provided the accessory-to-production ratio remains consistent with the [40 percent limit in County code]
  • Additions of outdoor shade structures over areas previously approved for winery use not exceeding a cumulative total of 2,500 square feet in floor area, provided the accessory-to-production ratio remains consistent with the [40 percent limit]
  • Additions of charging stations for electric vehicles;
  • Additions of systems to process, distribute, and/or store recycled water;
  • Additions of enclosures for trash receptacles;
  • Additions of covers over previously approved crush pads;
  • Changes or additions to plumbing, diverters, drains or other mechanisms for storm water control, consistent with [the Stormwater Management and Discharge Control code provisions]
  • Changes to or additions of permanent tanks within previously approved winery development areas, provided no increase in production is allowed;
  • Additions of bicycle facilities, including but not limited to bicycle racks;
  • Use of a temporary trailer during construction occurring on the property, consistent with the [existing requirements for temporary trailers]
  • Change in the occupancy of a winery cave, permitted pursuant to [Napa County Building] Code and the California Building Code, provided the cave use remains consistent with the [40 percent accessory/production limit] and the change does not include an increase in visitation or marketing;
  • Installation of water system improvements or connection to municipal water service, consistent with any required approval by any local water agency and/or the Local Agency Formation Commission, and provided there is no increase in water use or groundwater demand;
  • Installation of waste water improvements or changes from off-site disposal to on-site treatment or disposal, subject to the requirements of [the Water, Sewers, and Public Services code] and any applicable state laws or regulations, provided there is no increase in waste water generation or treatment capacity;
  • A change to hours of operation between the hours of 9:00 am and 6:00 pm;
  • Removal of existing conditions of approval regarding custom crush facilities;
  • An extension of use permit expiration time, subject to the limitations set forth in [county code on automatic expiration of use permits];
  • Designation of the location of on-site wine consumption, consistent with Section 23358 of the Business and Professions Code [AB 2004 (“Evans”) consumption], within the existing winery development area, provided the location is not within five hundred (500) feet from the nearest off-site residence and there is no increase in visitation or marketing;
  • Change in the number of parking spaces or the alignment of internal roads and driveways, provided there is no cumulative increase in paved or impervious ground surface area beyond twenty-five percent of the subject parcel or fifteen acres, whichever is less;
  • Additions of landscaping or modifications to existing landscaping, consistent with [the Water Conservation Regulations for Landscape Design], provided there is no increase in groundwater use;
  • Expansions or improvements to permitted food service facilities, or additions of low- or medium-risk kitchens where food service (i.e., catering) has been previously approved, provided there is no increase in visitation or marketing; and
  • Increases or changes in building square footage by no more than ten (10) percent, not to exceed 2,500 square feet.

The ordinance can be viewed in its entirety here. For more information about this topic please contact Sara Douglass.

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