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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 5:29 pm | Fair 63º


Letter to the Editor: Bob Field, Joan Hartmann Opposed Charity Fundraisers at County Wineries

Two of the candidates for the Third District seat on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors are hostile to charity fundraisers at county wineries.

When the winery ordinance was first proposed, several of us were apprehensive that the regulation of Special Events would adversely affect charitable events at wineries. We drafted a resolution asking the county not to count charity events at wineries as a Special Event. We submitted this resolution to the Solvang City Council, which approved it 3-1, and the Lompoc City Council, which approved it 5-0.

When we came to the Buellton City Council, it was tentatively approved 5-0 and deferred to the next Buellton City Council meeting’s consent calendar for “minor” language edits.

Unbeknown to us, the day of the second Buellton City Council meeting the county’s CEO at that time sent a letter to the mayor of Buellton requesting no action be taken on the winery resolution because the county was conducting public hearings on the winery ordinance and our concerns would be addressed in those hearings.

When we showed up for the Buellton City Council meeting, we were surprised to see Bob Field, former Third District Supervisor Gail Marshall, John Poitras and Mark Oliver of the Valley Alliance, Donald Gallagher of Preservation of Agricultural Lands, and Joan Hartmann (who would be appointed by Supervisor Doreen Farr as the Third District’s planning commissioner). They had obviously been tipped off by someone.

After the Buellton mayor paraphrased the county CEO’s “no need to act letter,” another council member pulled the winery ordinance from the Consent Calendar to the Regular Calendar.

When the winery resolution was called, Field, Hartman and the rest of the anti-charity group all argued that the Buellton City Council should take no action because the county hearings would address charity fundraisers at wineries.

We reiterated all the charity events at wineries that had benefitted the Buellton Public Library, Buellton Senior Center, Red Cross etc. The Buellton City Council voted 3-2 to adopt the winery resolution we had proposed.

In the Lompoc Valley and the Santa Ynez Valley, there are more than 80,000 people, 52,000 of whom live in the cities of Buellton, Lompoc and Solvang. These cities’ elected city council members know how charity events at county wineries benefit their communities, and that is why they voted 11-3 to ask the county not to count charity events as Special Events for wineries.

Were we right to be apprehensive about the county planners banning charity fundraisers at wineries? Unfortunately, yes. They agreed with Field and Hartmann to ban charity fundraisers at wineries.

The pending winery ordinance prohibits charity fundraisers at Tiers A and B wineries, and counts charity events as one of the permitted Special Events at Tier C wineries. Meanwhile, those on agricultural land without a winery — such as horse and cattle ranchers, farmers, orchard growers and vineyard owners — can have as many Special Events, charity and non-charity, as they want.

A vote for Field or Hartmann is a vote to ban charity fundraisers at wineries. If either Field or Hartmann is elected, it is just a matter of time before they will attempt to ban charity fundraisers at cattle and horse ranches, farms, orchards and vineyards.

Steve Pepe
Clos Pepe Vineyards LLC, Lompoc

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