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Wine ordinance fails to pass by Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors

Another drawn out battle in the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, as they continued a second hearing on a potential new ordinance for wine producers that would have regulated the creation of wine tasting rooms and even limited the amount of people who were allowed to attend events at vineyards throughout the county.

Out of the 60 people who stepped up to the podium, only five spoke out in favor of the ordinance – arguing the influx of visitors to local vineyards would cause negative effects to the neighborhoods nearby and that these lands that are designated for agricultural use, should be treated more like a residential area now that homes have been built there.

“We have one of the highest accident rates on Ballard Canyon Road and by of course adding more wine tasting traffic and wine tasting room on Ballard Canyon Road would really be quite dramatic,” says Angela Slater who lives near a vineyard.

The local wine producers argue however, that having events and wine tasting rooms are imperative to help them introduce their products to local customers.

“If farming is going to be sustainable, we’ve got to be able to have the ability to sell directly to the general public. We also understand there are neighborhood concerns and we’re looking forward to bridging those challenges,” explains Morgen McLaughlin, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Vinters Association.

While the board ultimately decided to take no action on the ordinance, Supervisor Peter Adam, a fifth generation farmer himself, hopes that these discussions will eventually lead to the county broadening what exactly agriculture is defined as.

“[The definition] would give people in agriculture a better way to stay alive because it’s a very competitive business – it’s a business that can be profitable if managed properly and not over burdened by regulations I think we suffer too many of,” Adam tells us.

The only way that this ordinance could come back is if one of the Board of Supervisors decided to put it back on the agenda, but Supervisor Adam tells us it’s very unlikely that will happen in the immediate future.

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