New Winery Rules Progressing

County Issues Tentative Schedule for Controversial Ordinance Update

After a couple months of silence, the controversial process of updating Santa Barbara County’s winery ordinance made a tiny peep on August 1, when county planners — who have been working on developing new language and ideas based on a series of often contentious meetings held earlier this year and last — released an expected schedule of the steps to come.

First up is the release of draft concepts, expected to occur as soon as this month, followed by a couple public workshops to receive feedback. Then comes a traffic study that will be conducted through the fall and winter, and more environmental reviews and public commenting into next summer. Hearings before the planning commission and board of supervisors won’t be until the fall of 2014 at the earliest, with final adoption being sometime in 2015.

Watching this process intently is Morgen McLaughlin, who started her job as executive director of the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association in April. “The industry is working on communicating what it is to be an economically sustainable winery,” said McLaughlin, who said that the association is in the final stages of surveying its members. “I am optimistic for this process.”

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