Below is a list of FAQs that should help to clarify what the county is working on for wineries.
1. Question: Is the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors forcing wineries to discontinue their music series?
Answer: No. Not a single music event has been shut down by the county. A couple of wineries when informed of complaints and who didn’t have permits asked to continue their summer concerts to a specific date, and the county agreed.
2. Question: Did the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors vote to ban wineries from having events with more than 99 people?
Answer: No. Nothing has been banned. Wineries are required to have permits to insure bathroom, fire, parking, etc. regulations are met for the safety of the public.
3. Question: Did the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors vote to limit the number of events wineries can have to 12 per year?
4. Question: Did the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors vote to limit type of music wineries are allowed to play to “background music?”
5. Question: Did the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors implement a stricter noise ordinance for wineries only?
Answer: No. The noise ordinance is not being changed at all.
6. Question: Did a petition signed by neighbors of wineries force stricter rules to be enforced?
Answer: No. No stricter rules are being proposed or enforced. Public petitions are informational for policy makers and staff. They have no bearing on code enforcement.
7. Question: Is the County creating new burdensome and expensive regulations that could cost no less than $80,000?
Answer: No. In fact many permit costs are being reduced. Previous rules required wineries to pay a Use Permit starting at $14,732 that is valid for several years. The new proposals will drop most of those costs to $2,133 and to $0 in several instances.
8. Question: Is the County creating stricter noise ordinances for wineries than for other businesses?
Answer: No. In fact, no changes to the noise ordinance have been proposed as part of this process. Wineries are required to follow the same guidelines as everyone else.
9. Question: Does the County allow public events not at wineries to take place without a Use Permit?
Answer: No. In order to protect the public and meet laws for emergency vehicle access, food safety, bathrooms, etc., permits are required.
10. Question: Are all wineries in the County currently following health, safety and noise laws?
Answer: No. During the process of updating County laws to improve agri-tourism for wineries, it was discovered that some wineries were operating without permits, which is being addressed.
11. Question: Are the laws that are being proposed more restrictive than existing laws?
Answer: No. They are all less restrictive.
12. Question: If the new laws are passed by the Board of Supervisors, will music events continue at my favorite winery?
Answer: That depends on if your favorite winery decides to continue them or not. Just like your favorite restaurant, businesses in California are required to meet basic health and safety regulations to insure that the food you eat and the building you are in are safe and sanitary.
13. Question: Why are these changes being proposed now?
Answer: In 2011, many local wineries asked Santa Clara County to relax the existing rules governing them in order to help make their business easier. 14 changes were recommended by a group of winery owners and other interested parties (the Winery Working Group) over the course of a year during 14 public meetings. 12 of the changes were agreed upon as doable and 2 are currently being discussed (small events and amplified music). All of the revised rules are improvements to existing laws and make it easier and less expensive for winery businesses.
14. Question: Where can I get more information and read the facts for myself?
Answer: All proposed changes are open to the public and can be viewed online at:
-Santa Clara County District 1 Supervisor Mike Wasserman
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