North Bay Business Journal

Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 6:00 am

Share your thoughts: Downtown Santa Rosa wine-tasting rooms?

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    NBBJ Pulse Poll

    Should Santa Rosa encourage wine-tasting rooms downtown?

    • Yes (68%, 69 votes)
    • No (22%, 22 votes)
    • Don't know (10%, 10 votes)

    Total voters: 102
    Polling period: September 12, 2012 @ 12:05 am – September 18, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

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    This NBBJ Pulse Poll ends Sept. 18. View all polls.

    Contribute your thoughts on this topic in the Comments section below.

    The Santa Rosa City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday to begin a process that could make it easier for wineries and breweries to set up shop in the city’s core districts, as well as easing the route for expansion at current and future sites and clearing the way for certain developments elsewhere in the city.

    The proposed changes will create new land use classifications that define the categories of winery, tasting room and brewery and reduce regulatory barriers to winery land use throughout the city, particularly in districts that include downtown Santa Rosa, Railroad Square and a proposed commuter rail station west of Coddingtown.

    The current zoning code requires that stand-alone tasting rooms undergo the same permitting process as liquor and convenience stores. City staff noted strong public interest in modifying the code and easing those regulations, citing staff findings that wineries and breweries are a growing industry and “an untapped opportunity for the local economy.”

    The proposed changes, which will now be recast as an official measure and presented to the council at a later date, are the result of an economic development effort that began in 2011. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the recommended changes in July.

    In addition to easing the requirements for stand-alone tasting rooms, the changes also modify rules related to wine production. While wineries are currently allowed in areas zoned for “industrial” use, the changes would allow production in districts that include the city’s downtown.

    “Boutique” wineries — those producing less than 10,000 cases a year — will be allowed in the central districts with a minor use permit. Larger “production” wineries will be allowed with a major use permit, with city staff citing the desire to allow successful, smaller wineries to grow over time.

    The proposed changes also describe similar zoning changes for breweries, describing a “brewery-brew pub” designation of no more than 15,000 barrels per year and a production brewery designation that exceeds that amount.

    The regulations would also ease permitting for adding a tasting room or expanding a brewery to include a restaurant.

    In a majority vote, the city council also directed staff to finalize an ordinance that would allow large grocery stores as a permitted use within existing buildings in a U.S. Department of Agriculture-identified “food desert” in southeast Santa Rosa, an area bounded by Highway 12 to the north, Highway 101 to the west, Petaluma Hill Road to the east and Mountain View Avenue to the south. Nearly 8,000 people live in the area.

    The final amendment involved an 8.16 acre property on Yolanda Ave., from residential medium density and light industry to retail and business services. The amendment will remove a 2.7-acre parcel designated for medium-density housing, but allow higher density at other sites that will result in a net gain in medium-density housing units.

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    1. September 12, 2012, 3:53 pm

      by Mary

      I want a town that reflects the needs of tthe people who live in this town. We want to put apartments down town yet there is no plan for infrastructure there. I’m not so certain that you know what you want

    2. September 12, 2012, 5:08 pm

      by Richard Mayer

      We are in the heart of the wine industry and many people from a multitude of places visit. We need to take advantage of this and encourage tasting rooms which will cause people to spend money in other downtown places, restaurants, local businesses, etc. Beer brewers are also great, look at Russian River Brewery when the line is down the sidewalk with people to catch the release of special brews.

    3. September 12, 2012, 7:36 pm

      by C.M.Davis

      Sure will make it easier for the ‘down and outers’ to get a free buzz.

    4. September 13, 2012, 12:14 pm

      by David Mendez

      No parking meters…..parking meters keeps me away!

    5. September 14, 2012, 12:57 pm

      by Marie Obrien

      Well we definitely need some changes in the downtown area. Santa Rosa is way bigger than Petaluma & Windsor; yet they seem to have quite a nicer downtown area, businesses & atmosphere, than we do. Hummm. Something wrong with this picture.

    6. September 15, 2012, 8:11 am

      by John

      What Santa Rosa needs is more free parking and fewer places to get drunk.

    7. September 17, 2012, 12:42 pm

      by Ancient Oak Cellars

      We at Ancient Oak Cellars are so very excited to be a part of the changes happening in downtown Santa Rosa. We think it will be a great benefit to many local businesses in the area.

      Just to address a few concerns: 1) we will not be offering free tastings, so “down and outers” will not be getting a free buzz from us; 2) we are offering parking vouchers for use in any of the parking garages, so no need to use the meters. There are two garages within a few blocks (one on 5th and the other on 3rd & D), and we’ll give customers a free hour of parking.

      We look forward to seeing you at the Ancient Oak Cellars tasting room soon!

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