Idyllic Bed and Breakfast Becomes the Subject of a Bitter Land Use Dispute

Dahvie James sitting in the living room at Field and Pond
Dahvie James sitting in the living room at Field and Pond

Dahvie James sits on a chair in the living room of the main building in the Field & Pond bed and breakfast.  The 100-year-old building is decorated in period-specific decor.  Isolated from other residents, quiet and tranquil nestled against the eastern edge of the coast range just north of Winters, it is difficult to imagine that this facility has been the subject of a bitter land use dispute that has gone through the County Planning Commission and will now go to the Board of Supervisors.

The process began in January of 2014, Mr. James tells the Vanguard, when the property was allowed eight annual events and the county was welcoming of agritourism.  Now, more than two years later, what Mr. James believes should have cost $2700 in administrative fees has resulted in more than $60,000 in costs for the planning staff to process the application, with a rejection at the County Planning Commission which now is leading the project to get decided by the County Board of Supervisors.

Dahvie Jones, a graduate of UC Davis, and his husband Dr. Phil Watts, an Australian who practices as a veterinarian in the Bay Area, came upon Yolo County as a vet and marketer, not as developers.

They found the spot where Field & Pond would be and saw a need in the county for agritourism.  But, while the county was receptive at first, their neighbors became increasingly oppositional and, in their mind, hostile to the bed and breakfast and, in particular, its desire to have 20 wedding events a year.

A back room in the main building
A back room in the main building

Mr. James describes that they were told by the county that this was a welcomed activity.  Under the General Plan, the zoning was changed from AI to Ag Extensive, as the property is not on prime ag land.  That means that if the property is over 40 acres, it automatically comes with by-right entitlement for eight events.

He told the Vanguard, “The present code allows for an unlimited number of events that are non-paid or not for profit. It also allows for an unlimited engagement in vacation renting. In theory, with the existing code, anyone could run a lodging facility with unlimited events.”

“We have tried to go through the county’s legal process for getting a use permit to conduct these activities, which ensures that we not only have met all county legal codes, but also that the county gets the benefit of business tax dollars over the longer term,” he said.

“Before we purchased the property, we met with County Planning as part of our due diligence, to determine whether we could operate our intended business at that location,” he explained.

Main bedroom
Main bedroom

County staff advised them that: “1) our property was just rezoned to ‘Ag Extensive’ because it was not prime farm land, and it would lend itself to a more ag-commercial use, 2) this rezoning would give the property a basis of entitlement for 8 events, Bed & Breakfast and Farm-Stay operations, 3) a minor Use permit would afford it (Unlimited) ‘Events’, as well as a larger Bed & Breakfast room capacity, and 4) our project proposal, which was very similar to Park Winters, would likely be a great fit for the area, based on the County’s General Plan which ‘encourages agritourism.’”

When they initially talked to their neighbors, it seemed like things were going well.  And then suddenly, Mr. James says, “The wheels came off.”

The pond in Field and Pond
The pond in Field & Pond

Dahvie James told the Vanguard, “Since we have started this process in applying for our Use Permit, we have endured constant harassment characterized as ‘drive-bys’ of our home throughout all hours of the night, trespassing, public slander, and even direct sabotage of our business operations; these people have run off contractors who were working with us, they’ve even talked with our clients.”

While his neighbors, primarily the prominent Rominger family, Bruce and Robyn Rominger, have couched their concerns in land use issues such as protection of agricultural land as well as safety and access concerns, Mr. James believes that they have other motivations.

In a letter, he writes, “Since the submission of our Use Permit application, our opponents, including Robyn, Bruce and Patty Rominger, have made a deliberate and concerted effort to convolute facts regarding our application scope and event operations. Further, as one of the most blatant examples, they have continually and publicly made all sorts of declarations about our intentions, integrity, capabilities, family, and even lineage; and in most cases, they’ve attempted to criminalize and shame us for actions that they themselves have taken, and have openly approved of with other properties in the area.”

The outdoor event area which was setting up for a Sunday Wedding
The outdoor event area which was setting up for a Sunday Wedding
The barn or covered event portion
The barn or covered event portion

The Perspective of the Neighbors

For neighbors down the road, long-time farmers Bruce and Robyn Rominger see Field & Pond as a threat to their farming operation with issues of road safety, environmental concerns and other issues foremost on their mind.

“Field & Pond will interfere with our farming operation,” Robyn Rominger told the Vanguard.

They cited the findings of the County Planning Commission which listened to a lot of testimony before denying the application.  The hearing, on August 11 in Woodland, saw the commission vote 3 to 1 to deny the use permit for the proposed event center and B&B.

From their perspective, safety considerations are a crucial part of their objection.  They argue that the road goes down to a single-lane with sharp, blind turns.  Bruce Rominger told the Vanguard, “We move a lot of equipment on it.”  These include farming equipment and cattle trucks.  “You end up with an event center with a lot of people coming here for the first time.  They’re not familiar with the road.  They are not necessarily familiar with driving in agricultural areas and it becomes a hazard.”

There have been two fatalities on the unlit, uneven road in the last 12 years. They are particularly concerned with drinking late at night after weddings have ended.  Bruce Rominger said, “You get an unfamiliar driver, especially after he’s been drinking…”

Robyn Rominger noted that there is a fire danger here with limited access in and out of the property.  If they have a party with hundreds of people and a fire breaks out – she fears panic and road congestion.

Fire is not a theoretical concern.  Three times in last few years, a nearby housing development has been evacuated due to fire.  There have been at least two major fires at Berryessa and the road has been used by emergency vehicles as a staging area.

In an attempt to deal with this anticipated problem, the owners of Field & Pond have proposed using a shuttle bus to take wedding parties with over 150 attendees in and out – in theory, avoiding this problem for some events.  But, for the Romingers, that’s insufficient.

Bruce Rominger responded that the shuttle bus idea has been brought up a lot in these discussions.  “The reality is that it doesn’t work very well and other event centers that we’ve talked to said they’ve tried that,” he said.  “One of them just gave up because you can’t force people to use the shuttle.”  Instead, he said, “people will just go straight to the site.  They don’t want to be tied to the bus’s schedule.” He also noted that the size of the bus, which they described as “Greyhound bus size” would make it difficult for tomato trucks to pass by.

Joe Rominger said that when he does tomato harvest, he has 700 acres to harvest and that makes for several hundred truck trips during harvest times.

The owners of Field & Pond suggested that they might be able to schedule their events when the harvest is not occurring.  Bruce Rominger responded, “There are issues like that that can be partially mitigated, but you’re going to end up with no parties in July, August, September and October.”  He noted that planting and harvesting occur March through November.  “No practical mitigation measures have been brought forward by either side nor the county.”

Zoning regulations are designed to prevent land-use problems, they said, and non-agricultural uses in the county’s rural areas need to be compatible with agriculture.

“A compatible use must be incidental to the commercial production of agricultural commodities, not the other way around as is the case with this project,” said John Gamper, California Farm Bureau Federation director of taxation and land use. “The primary use of this project is essentially an outdoor party venue that will be operated from approximately noon to midnight during the busiest times of the year for nearby agricultural operations. The attempts by the applicants to pursue some agricultural uses on the small usable area are incidental to the event center and therefore illegal.”

While they laid out concerns about non-compatible agricultural activities and the need to preserve local farmland, they said many of their concerns are site specific and that other rural event centers in the county–like Park Winters, which has multiple access points–were less concerning.  They noted that Field & Pond–unlike other rural event centers in the county–has only one substandard access road with one way in and one way out, creating traffic hazards and health and safety risks in case of fire.

Bill Chapman, who owns the cattle ranch at the end of County Road 29, said, “If I want to open a bar and event center within the City of Davis, to be located in a second-story building to serve 150-plus attendees, how many fire exits will be required by code? Why would rural event centers be exempt?”

They also pointed to concerns about 500-foot spray buffers.  The Field & Pond site does not have enough space for 500-foot-wide pesticide spray buffers that protect their guests. The only place for spray buffers is on the adjacent farmer’s property, and that would be a negative impact on agriculture because the farmer could not protect his crops, resulting in lower yields. The manager of the walnut orchard across the road testified at the planning commission hearing that 25 percent of his walnut crop is at risk because of the spray issue, which is a considerable loss.

Dahvie James’ Response to the Neighbors

Dahvie James questions how Field & Pond will interfere with the farming operations of his neighbors, who are a whole mile away.  He told the Vanguard, “All events are held on weekends; predominantly Saturdays, during the hours of 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., in where there are typically no farming operations occurring on the road.”

The road to the east
The road to the east

He claims, “Since hosting events in 2016, all events have used shuttles without exception, in order to bring guests to and from the venue.  This has resulted in less than 35 cars, even for the largest wedding, but it typically results in ~20 cars, which would include vendor vehicles.”

“We have acknowledged the Rominger concerns about ‘potential interferences’ with their farming operations,” he explained.  “However, our position is that like any cooperative business environment in where there is a mutual interest in the betterment of the total community, the businesses should be able to come together, communicate and devise ways to avoid disruptions to the respective operations, so that there is a collective win.”

Dahvie James also disputes the impassibility of the roads, noting that the point at which the road transitions toward a single lane is past the point of the Rominger’s farming operations.

He disputes the notion that “urban drivers will be prone to drive unsafely in an unfamiliar rural area.”  He instead argues that “our evidence and observation would suggest the complete opposite.  When drivers are ‘coming here for the first time,’ they will be inclined to drive even more slowly and safely, simply because they don’t know where they are going.”

Nevertheless, they say that “we have used shuttles without fail, for every 2016 event.  This is not something that we necessarily have to mandate either.  Our clients generally prefer the option of shuttles, so that their guests can enjoy themselves to the fullest, and avoid factors such as driving under the influence, getting lost, or even feeling a need to leave the celebration early.”

Dahvie James also disagrees with the neighbors’ assessment of the need for multiple access points.  He told the Vanguard, “The concern about multiple access points is only one shared by the Romingers, not law enforcement or fire officials.”

Instead, he believes there is little different between this operation and Park Winters.  He said that “the reality is that there is very little difference between the nature of our operations, and benefits to the community, and Park Winters.   We actually represent a much smaller footprint in terms of events and lodging.  We are more isolated from neighbors.  We are also not building new structures.  We are much further away from intensive farming operations.”

He adds, “Like Park Winters, we are responsible for directly funneling a great deal of business and commerce to downtown restaurants and lodging.”

Is there a peaceful resolution to this ongoing dispute?  Mr. James said that he hopes to find a solution that accommodates his neighbors’ concerns, but allows his events to continue.  For the Romingers, they simply believe this is the wrong location for a large-scale wedding event center.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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112 thoughts on “Idyllic Bed and Breakfast Becomes the Subject of a Bitter Land Use Dispute”

    1. Tia Will

      I agree with quielo on the merits of this article. Both sides presented without an overdo emphasis on equality for both sides in presentation. No clearly hyperbolic statements of imminent doom from either side ( which you know how much I love). Well presented.

    2. Matt Williams

      I agree with quielo and Tia about the quality of the article.

      The nature of the issue really doesn’t have the potential for “crisis” since its impact is not community-wide (like the City’s bleak fiscal situation) but rather limited to a dispute between two parcel owners. However, like many disputes that have to be resolved through the community governance structures (Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors), some of the arguments have been couched in worst-case scenario language, and a bias toward confrontation rather than collaboration.

      One thing that the article doesn’t point out is that the Planning Commission consists of seven members, and the vote was 3-1.  That appears to indicate that three members of the Planning Commission recused themselves.

        1. Matt Williams

          It may not be curious, because some of the Planning Commissioners are farmers who may have direct business dealings with the Romingers, which would cause their recusing themselves.  I personally know of at least one Planning Commissioner who is in that situation.

          Bottom-line, it may not be curious, but it is noteworthy.  It is probably an indicator of the recusal process working as it was intended to work.

      1. hpierce

        Last I heard, a 3-1 vote, on a board with seven members, is a “failure vote”… recusals or not.

        Thus if the motion was to approve, the motion failed.  That may or may not be considered a ‘denial’.  If the motion was to deny, that motion also would fail.

        If I have this right, nothing changed, and no “prejudice” as to as subsequent re-submittal or revised submittal.

        Recusals due to ‘having done business’ are inappropriate, unless the action presently under consideration may reasonably stand to gain/lose financial benefit to the board member. Not enough facts present to judge.

        1. hpierce

          Clearly, if the approval would ‘create’ what amounts to an “easement” on adjacent properties (spray buffer), that would be well beyond the commission’s authority… and would be actionable by the adjacent owners under the Fifth Amendment (and common law).

        2. Matt Williams

          hpierce, under the provisions of Roberts Rules of Order you would be incorrect.  Under the provisions of Rosenberg’s Rules of Order you might be correct, but you might not.  Rosenberg is ambiguous with regard to abstentions.

          Under Roberts, first you have a quorum call, and if there are 4 members present and 3 members absent then a quorum is established.  With 4 members present, a majority vote of 3 ayes is needed to pass an item.  When a member recuses himself/herself from the item, Roberts treats it as an absence.

          Abstentions are a bit more dicey.  Rosenberg isn’t explicit about how to handle them, nor are any of the City’s Commission/Committee/Council materials explicit.

          Based on some rather extensive conversations with Kelly Stachowicz the City realizes that it needs to upgrade its materials to eliminate the ambiguity, but for the moment, if the three non-votes were abstentions, then you would be right.  If they were absences, then you would be wrong.  The way the City handles recusals is to have the recusing member leave the room, which necessitates a quorum call.  If a quorum still exists the meeting proceeds with the diminished number of participants and a majority vote requires one more than 50%.

          If a member does not leave the room, participates in the discussion, and then abstains, the vote will be reflected as x-x-1.  A vote (like the Planning Commission’s) of a 7-member body with 3 recusals is shown as 3-1.  A vote of a 7-member body with 3 abstentions is shown as 3-1-3.  The former vote passes, because it has 3 yesses out of 4 present members.  The latter vote fails, because it has 3 yesses out of 7 present members.

           

           

  1. South of Davis

    It looks like the people in Winters are just like the people in Davis and don’t want “strangers” paying to spend the night in their town.

    1. Barack Palin

      Ha, maybe the neighbors are concerned about strangers and their second hand cigar and maryjuana smoke and the drinking on the barn patio so close to their orchards?

        1. Barack Palin

          Funny, I was just thinking how nice that David managed to write a whole objective article on this problem and managed to leave out the usual racist and homophobic insinuations that are typical of his writings.

          Then you post.

        2. hpierce

          Re:  Hyatt… only if you accept Rudyard Kipling’s definition of ‘black’…

          And, if you mean ‘gay’ as happy (or otherwise), don’t know, don’t care…

        3. South of Davis

          DP wrote:

          > or maybe a gay black man?  just saying

          It is sad that some people assume that almost all white people are racist (just like it is sad that some white people really are racist).

          I was proud of David for writing such a fair and well balanced article without any hints that the racism may be the real reason they don’t “unlimited” events at the property.

          P.S. This may come as a shock to BP but white neighbors have actually complained about events at B&Bs (including AirBNBs) owned by straight white people…

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Appreciate your comment. There were definitely some finger-pointing on both sides, after listening to each side, it seemed best to focus on the land use issues.

        4. Barack Palin

          P.S. This may come as a shock to BP but white neighbors have actually complained about events at B&Bs (including AirBNBs) owned by straight white people…

          I don’t get your comment SOD.  You actually made my point, why would that shock me?  It might shock others on here though.

        5. South of Davis

          BP wrote:

          > I don’t get your comment SOD.  You actually

          > made my point, why would that shock me?

          I meant to write DP (not BP)…

          I know that you are aware that most complaints about B&Bs in America are from straight white people complaining about B&Bs owned by other straight white people.  DP on the other hand seems to think that white people in America are racist and will only complain about a B&B owned by a person of color (and that cops only shoot black people)…

        6. Alan Miller

          Funny, I was just thinking how nice that David managed to write a whole objective article on this problem and managed to leave out the usual racist and homophobic insinuations that are typical of his writings.  Then you post.

          Killing me, BP.  I had the exact same reaction to both the article and the DP post.

  2. Biddlin

    The situation there has the potential for real violence, I fear. The two gentlemen have been bushwhacked by their neighbors for whatever reasons. How far will the neighbors go, should the BnB get approval, in spite of their lies and harassment?

  3. Tia Will

    With our steadily worsening situation with regard to drought exacerbated fires, this is the main concern that I would have about this venture. I am wondering what the local and regional fire fighters and police have had to say about these issues.

    “The concern about multiple access points is only one shared by the Romingers, not law enforcement or fire officials.”

    I saw only this quote directly addressing the issue. It would be nice to hear their direct input on the concern.

    our position is that like any cooperative business environment in where there is a mutual interest in the betterment of the total community, the businesses should be able to come together, communicate and devise ways to avoid disruptions to the respective operations, so that there is a collective win.” 

    I could not agree with this statement more. However, it is contingent  on the existence of a truly cooperative business environment. What I think that we see too often is a ” won’t pencil out for me” and “must not disrupt me at all” philosophy rather than a “what will work best for us all philosophy”. It would appear that Davis is far from alone in this problem of lack of collaboration.

      1. Tia Will

        This is not about wild land fire risks…”

        Perhaps not, but that makes the assumption that since the issue was raised, you have inside knowledge, preferably from speaking with the involved individuals that supports this assertion. I would be interested to hear what you know.

        1. Frankly

          Great Tia – make up another manufactured “concern” for which you know little about.  If the public officials don’t have a problem then there is no problem. Because the public officials are full restrictions and requirements.

        1. Tia Will

          Biddlin

          I guess some folks do need a weatherman, to know which way the wind blows.”

          Probably about the same number as make “asses” of themselves by making assumptions.

      2. South of Davis

        hpierce wrote:

        > This is not about wild land fire risks…

        I learned to water ski at Berryessa in the 60’s and I can’t think of a single year when there was not a grass fire somewhere around the lake cased by a cigarette tossed in the grass.  I’m wondering if hpierce can’t imagine why someone that lives and farms in an area with dry grass and days on end of 100 degree summer heat would not want a bus full of people drinking and smoking in the area when they are sleeping?

        1. hpierce

          And, using that logic, why would the farmers use ag equipment or drive cars or trucks?  Farmers don’t smoke? Farmers don’t drink?

          Specious argument.

          Almost all fires in the area in recent years have involved car crashes or arson.

  4. SODA

    My reaction was ‘where was all the discussion and concern before the venue was built’? It appears that new structures were built on the land after it was approved for this use by the extension of Ag zoning….it seems unfair to now object to the use, etc. In that, Davis isn’t the same: we loudly object IN the planning stage also!

    1. Tia Will

      SODA

      I agree. And I believe that the earlier in the planning phase that possible objections are heard and listened to with care rather than blown off, the less likely are prolonged negotiations, tortuous and sometimes suboptimal mitigations, and/or lawsuits. I realize that neighbors have not customarily been consulted prior to designing a project, however, in view of all the opposition that we see to many types of development, I truly wonder if a better approach might not be to obtain some kind of consensus before investing large amounts of money towards a project.

    2. Matt Williams

      Good question SODA.  It is worth noting that if the geography of this situation were relocated to the area of the County south of I-80 and East of the Yolo Causeway (including El Macero and Willowbank), before the County Planning Department could accept the project application, the County’s South Davis General Plan Advisory Committee (SDGPAC) would have to hold one or more public hearings to solicit neighbor input after hearing an applicant presentation on the project.  The five SDCAC members would gather the citizen and applicant input together and forward that input to the Planning Department and Planning Commission.

      The applicant and the neighbors both benefit from this kind of early interaction and feedback. The County has established nine of these General Plan Advisory Committees (see LINK).  Some work better than others, but the general feeling is that they have improved communication about projects.

      I was chair of the SDGPAC when a proposal for eleven homes south of Montgomery Blvd. was proposed under the auspices of the County’s Ag Clustered Housing Ordinance, and SDGPAC held a series of public hearings that were very well attended by the neighbors across Montgomery Blvd.  The meetings involved County Planning Department staff and were attended by at least two Planning Commissioners. 

      SDGPAC also conducted extensive discussions on the Zoning Code update that was mandated by State law once the County’s General Plan Update was adopted by the Supervisors on November 10, 2009.

  5. PhillipColeman

    A handsome innkeeper with an engaging smile, numerous pictures of a building and surroundings that are beyond alluring, and this column normally would be characterized as a not-so-subtle ad for a newly formed business venture. I looked at these pictures and thought, “Where’s the phone number where I can make an immediate booking?”

    Then the other shoe falls, a zoning dispute with a familiar and hollow ring to the opposition rhetoric.

    Potential is such an all-encompassing word. With only moderate powers of creative imagination one can create a “potential” scenario of just about anything, and tag it to emotion-laden words like “safety,” “traffic,” “noise,” “character,” “historical preservation,” “ambiance,” and a few dozen others. Borrowing from the butterfly-effect, were somebody to turn a single spade of soil on a piece of undisturbed land there is the potential that this simple act could cause an 8.4 earthquake.

    The Rominger family are historical icons in Yolo County. They have done many positive things for the betterment of the area around us. Normally, this is one dispute where the Rominger’s would cash in innumerable markers with the county government and easily preserve their cherished status quo. This time, however, they have a powerful adversary, a guy who can check several discrimination boxes, is charming, very articulate, and knows how to play the game. This is an instance where many Yolo officials, elected and appointed, are soon going to wish they had earlier exercised one of their potential options: Why didn’t I become an seaside artist in Carmel?

    This is going to be fun to watch.

    1. quielo

      Maybe they could suggest an alternate use as a BLM protest training center? After classes the students could block traffic in Winters as an extern project or go door-to-door practicing recruitment? It’s always good to give options…

  6. ryankelly

    I believe that Winters farmers are very concerned about businesses such as Park Winters and other event locations crowding out agriculture activities in the area.  I’ve never been to Park Winters, but I hear the starting fee for a wedding is in the range of $15,000.  This is a lucrative business and I can see more sites being reverted to non-ag use to capture this market.   This is not the same as a farm or vineyard renting their tastingroom or barn for a wedding.  An event business wants to use the ag backdrop, but forgets about ag related activities – spraying, tractors, trucks, dust, noise, smells, etc.

    Just as I wouldn’t like someone from Winters weighing in on Davis planning issues, I think that Davis residents should not get involved in their planning issues.

    1. South of Davis

      Ryan wrote:

      > I’ve never been to Park Winters, but I hear the starting fee for

      > a wedding is in the range of $15,000.  This is a lucrative business

      > and I can see more sites being reverted to non-ag use to capture

      > this market.

      I just found this on the site below”

      “The average wedding cost at Park Winters is estimated at between $25,370 and $26,422 for a ceremony & reception for 100 guests.”

      Maybe the Covell Village partners will think about rebuilding the barn to open a Davis “ag land” wedding venue…
      http://www.wedding-spot.com/venue/116/Park-Winters/

  7. Don Shor

    I expect that the issue of spray buffers would lead to conflicts almost immediately. Spraying is done when pest numbers reach a certain threshold and the weather permits, not based on the convenience of neighbors. Orchards may be sprayed at sunrise, late evening, or even in the middle of the night. The odor of the pesticide drifts (which means the pesticide drifts). There is no scheduling solution to this problem.

    1. Matt Williams

      I agree Don.  The spraying concerns was the one that resonated most powerfully for me.  That seems to be an area where collaboration between the parties should be productive.

      1. Don Shor

        You can’t collaborate about spraying. You spray when the pest reaches an economic threshold, and you don’t spray when the wind is blowing much. So your timing is not dictated by your neighbor’s concerns. Walnut orchards are sprayed to kill weeds, prevent weeds, prevent disease, manage codling moth, manage walnut husk fly. Some of those pests require multiple applications during the spring and summer. Spray rigs are sending a fog of pesticide up into the air to the height of the trees, and from there it drifts according to the wind speed and direction. Some of those materials have distinctive odors. And the notion that agricultural operations don’t occur on weekends is very quaint.

        1. Matt Williams

          I respectfully disagree Don, and I believe the Yolo County Right to Farm Ordinance you have posted elsewhere in this thread shows the way to that collaboration.  Bottom-line, the farmers have to spray when they have to spray, and the B&B owners agree that under the provisions of the Ordinance they will not oppose that necessary spraying.

          Bill Chapman’s comments about the 500 foot spray buffer appears to assume that the B&B owners are going to attempt to block the farmers’ spraying.  In the article there is no indication through either direct quotes of the B&B owners’ words (or indirect conclusions drawn by David in writing the article) that an attempt to block is likely to happen.

        2. quielo

          Matt,

           

          What happens when a guest at an event decides that the spraying caused an asthma attack or birth defects in the child they were carrying while attending an event?

        3. Adam Smith

          I think the spray buffers are a big  issue for farmers, but I’m missing why the farmers are facing a different issue now.   The article states that no new structures have been constructed, so there must have been a residence at this location already.  If so, then the spray buffer is already an issue around the residence.  The spray buffer is in effect at all times, day or night, 7 days a week.

        4. Matt Williams

          quielo, that is an interesting question.  My suspicion (which could be 100% wrong) is that the B&B has very conspicuous and copious noticing of the Right To Farm privileges of their neighbors, which have been reviewed by the B&B’s insurance carrier.  If such an event did occur, the person with the asthma attack would have to document their damages and submit a claim to the B&B.  Then there would be lengthy discussions about what the actual cause of the asthma attack was . . . could it have been naturally occurring pollen?

        5. Tia Will

          Frankly

          Great Tia – make up another manufactured “concern” for which you know little about.  If the public officials don’t have a problem then there is no problem. Because the public officials are full restrictions and requirements.”

          You can do better than this in taking pot shots at me. First, I didn’t make it up as the risk was clearly stated in the article. Also, I clearly pointed out that I was interested in the expressed opinions of the officials which were not clearly delineated. You are actually agreeing with what I said about the value of the public officials opinions.

          If you insist on sparring, please at least put up an argument rather than merely pointing out what I have already said.

        6. Tia Will

          Don

          I think that I understand the immediacy of the need for spraying and the weather contingency, so please do not take this as obstinacy but as a genuine question. I am unclear why there could not be some room for at least a little flexibility. Let’s say that the Rominger’s have a narrow window of time for spraying. Would there be any reason that they could not contact Mr. James to inform him of the need, ask if he has an event planned and if so perhaps schedule their timing so as to minimize any effect. Say spray at night instead of morning of the event as one example ? I realize that this would not be perfect, but as an individual who has frequently had to make adjustments in clinic timing and juggling surgeries due to superseding emergencies, I also know that modifications to usual practice are frequently feasible if one is willing to think outside the usual box. Another question with regard to this…..how much lead time does a farmer usually have between realization of need to spray to actual spraying ?

          1. Don Shor

            I’ve never grown grapes, so some of this is based on assumptions on my part.
            The window is narrower for diseases than it is for insects and mites. When it’s inoculation weather, you spray as soon as possible.
            Wind speed is a major factor as to when spraying can happen, but especially with herbicides.
            You need an individual with proper training or certification to apply some materials. Night spraying certainly happens around me, but I’d think it would be harder to schedule.
            With some materials, especially certain pre-emergents that are common in orchards, the odor is strong and lingers for a number of hours after application.
            There’s more, but that gives you some idea of the contingencies and complications.

  8. Mark West

    More than a dozen years ago, when Bruce Rominger’s late brother Charlie and I started our business, the first place we looked at locating our winery was out on this same road next to the Rominger’s vineyard. It was in many respects an ideal location for the production side of the business and would have been a wonderful place to work. In the end, though, our reasons for not putting the winery there were nearly identical to the concerns expressed by Bruce and Robyn about their neighbor’s operation. It is, in my opinion, an inappropriate and unsafe location to bring large numbers of people. If you have ever driven the road, particularly at night, I expect you would have no difficulty understanding why.

    1. Frankly

      You might need to recuse yourself from this trial given your obvious historical relationships.

      That is not to discount the point you make here.

      Except the counter point that:

      1. Shuttles will be used for the primary traffic.

      2. The traffic is on the weekend.

      3. There are B & Bs all around the river area where people are driving on narrow levee roads.

      4. Big farm equipment maneuvers these roads… so cars should have no problem.

      I attended an event at Windmill Farms outside of Woodland and had to drive on a lot of narrow and curvy farm roads.  Guess what… that is what driving in rural areas requires.

      Go to the Napa Valley and the Shenandoah Valley and there are several wineries that are only accessed by narrow and even steep gravel roads.

      1. Mark West

        I no longer have a business relationship with the Romingers and am not taking sides in this disagreement. I am simply pointing out that their reasoning in opposition has been consistent over the years (including for their own business operations) and is not something that is convenient to the current situation.

        For years the Rominger Brothers farmed the land surrounding Park Winters, and as far as I know, they still do. In my experience, they were very supportive of that operation, which has much better access for visitors.

      2. Frankly

        Thanks for the Google Earth link Don.  I was just looking at that too.

        My first observation is that this is at the end of the road for farming.  It is the beginning of the hills leading to the start of the range separating Lake Berryessa.

        Looking at the two rural home sites east of the subject property, my guess is that this has less to do with real concerns about impact to farming operations, and more to do with the residents of these other rural home sites not wanting the traffic.

        1. Adam Smith

          To your point, Frankly, Bruce Rominger’s home is located on this  Road 29,  along with one of the Mariani Brothers from Winters and Barbara Dieter, former Yolo County deputy district attorney      No doubt, for years the neighbors have enjoyed a very rural lifestyle with very little traffic other than farm related vehicles.

          I’ve linked an article from the Daily Democrat regarding a March 2016  Yolo County  Board of Supervisors meeting and this issue.    Note the difference in opinion about the subject between the farming interests in this area and those from Clarksburg, where agritourism has been present for years.    As has been pointed out regarding the  Hyatt House proposal,  sometimes the fear of change is a more significant issue than the impact of the change itself.

          http://www.dailydemocrat.com/business/20160309/supervisors-vote-against-bed-and-breakfast-moratorium

           

      3. South of Davis

        Frankly wrote:

        > Go to the Napa Valley and the Shenandoah Valley

        > and there are several wineries that are only accessed

        > by narrow and even steep gravel roads.

        I don’t know much about the Shenandoah Valley, but I don’t think a B&B that is allowed to host weddings has opened since the late 60’s in Napa due to the Ag Preserve (see below).  As a little kid we would sometimes take the long way to Berryessa through Napa so we could stop at Beauileu so my dad could taste wine for free (and then pay the $4 to get a single bottle of “special occasion wine”).  I remember my Dad talking about “that c__ky Italian guy” Bob Mondavi and how he was trying to get $5/bottle for the wine from his brand new winery (25% more than Beaulieu that had been in Napa since the turn of the century)…

        http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/oral-histories-tell-the-story-of-the-ag-preserve/article_fe2341e4-60fb-11e1-adf5-001871e3ce6c.html

        1. Frankly

          http://www.7×7.com/host-your-next-party-at-these-five-wineries-1781449006.html

          Here is a winery located in the Shenandoah Valley that hosts concerts.

          http://www.helwigwinery.com/Concerts

          By the way… for those of you that like wine and have not visited this wine area, you are missing out.   It reminds me of some of the Napa Valley 40 years ago.  And there are really great wines being produced.

          We take our visiting friends there under protest that we are not taking them to the Napa Valley and later they thank us profusely and ask us why we don’t go up there every weekend.

        2. South of Davis

          Frankly links to an article that says that Freemark Abbey winery north of St. Helena hosts weddings.  I don’t know if they hosted many weddings in the 1880’s when the winery first opened on the site, but they have hosted weddings since the 1930’s when it sold to a group of Real Estate guys and was hosting weddings in the 70’s when owner Charles Carpy sent a bottle of his ’72 Freemark Abbey Chardonnay to the legendary ’76 “Paris Tasting”.  I know that many have tried, but I’m pretty sure that the Napa Ag preserve has pretty much eliminated the chance of anyone (of any race) from opening a B&B that hosts weddings in a rural ag are of Napa county (so farmers trying to stop B&B’s hosting weddings in ag areas is not something new in Northern California)…

           

      4. Mark West

        Frankly: “Except the counter point that:

        1. Shuttles will be used for the primary traffic.

        Except they won’t. People choose to drive even when a shuttle is available. That is the experience of the other event centers in the area.

        2. The traffic is on the weekend.

        Nearly every bit of flat ground located between the site and I505 on both sides of Road 29 that is not planted to trees, is used for growing tomatoes. Tomato operations run 24/7 so it doesn’t matter if the traffic is primarily on weekends, especially around harvest time.

        4. Big farm equipment maneuvers these roads… so cars should have no problem.

        Big farm equipment can maneuver these roads (along with large flocks of sheep) but do so very slowly, unlike most city people in their cars. The issue is not about being able to drive the roads, it is doing so safely, both for the people in the cars and for those living nearby.

        3. There are B & Bs all around the river area where people are driving on narrow levee roads.

        This is not just a B&B, it is an event center. I doubt there would be opposition if this were simply a B&B, as it is the large events that create the problems, just as it would have been with the winery.

         

        1. Frankly

          By the way… many of the B&Bs in an around the area of Cortland, etc. are also hosting weddings and other large events.  And they are doing so around all the tree farming operations.

          Please concede this point.

        2. Mark West

          Frankly: “So, apparently you are making a general case that a winery or brewery or distillery should not be allowed to locate anywhere there is farming.”

          No, not in the slightest, and I am befuddled how (or why) you might jump to that conclusion. I am saying that this location, in my opinion, is inappropriate for any operation that brings large numbers of people to the site on a regular basis. It simply does not have appropriate or sufficient access. Could it be improved? Perhaps, but at a significant cost that I doubt the event center owners could justify.

          Charlie and I did not reject the site out of concerns about our operations interfering with the farming, we rejected it because our expected events and the resulting traffic were inappropriate for the location and an unreasonable imposition on our neighbors.

        3. Frankly

          Ok Mark – thanks for the clarification.  For you it appears to come down to your opinion that the road is not safe enough to support traffic to and from a venue… even one that is already sanctioned and zoned for, and have been, ag-related (for centuries).

          I will make the trip at some point and report back my observation.  Since I have not driven that road before I certainly cannot argue against your concerns.

  9. Frankly

    With all due respect to the farmers opposing this, they are idiots.  They should embrace this type of business as being compatible with agriculture.

    Here is something for them to chew on.  In Yolo County most 40 acre and above parcels are pre-approved for a winery, brewery or distillery that includes a tasting room.  We are talking already zoned for this use.

    Talk about traffic!

    [moderator] Please stop calling people idiots.

    1. Frankly

      Should not have used the word “idiots”.

      I am just so damn frustrated with so many people opposing things that would add value to the area.  Nobody is neighborly.  Everyone is selfish.

      What aren’t the neighbors offering to help make this work?

  10. Biddlin

    “Since we have started this process in applying for our Use Permit, we have endured constant harassment characterized as ‘drive-bys’ of our home throughout all hours of the night, trespassing, public slander, and even direct sabotage of our business operations; these people have run off contractors who were working with us, they’ve even talked with our clients.”

    This is disturbing. It describes the first steps in a process that frequently results in violence.

    1. South of Davis

      Biddlin wrote:

      > This is disturbing. It describes the first steps in

      > a process that frequently results in violence.

      Do they know who is doing the “drive-bys”?

      Like Frankly I like wine and when I’m off the beaten path I like to stop by small wineries and often do multiple “drive-bys” of rural homesites trying to find the actual winery.

      Earlier this month I was at a friend’s cabin at the end of a road on the west shore of Tahoe.  While we were on the deck multiple people did “drive-bys” getting to the end of the road and turning around.

      P.S. My friend is not planning to host weddings at his cabin…

  11. Don Shor

    Yolo County Right to Farm ordinance:

    This property is located within one mile of a farm or ranch land designated on the current county-level GIS “Important Farmland Map,” issued by the California Department of Conservation, Division of Land Resource Protection. Accordingly, the property may be subject to inconveniences or discomforts resulting from agricultural operations that are a normal and necessary aspect of living in a community with a strong rural character and a healthy agricultural sector. Customary agricultural practices in farm operations may include, but are not limited to, noise, odors, dust, light, insects, the operation of pumps and machinery, the storage and disposal of manure, bee pollination, and the ground or aerial application of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. These agricultural practices may occur at any time during the 24-hour day. Individual sensitivities to those practices can vary from person to person. You may wish to consider the impacts of such agricultural practices before you complete your purchase. Please be advised that you may be barred from obtaining legal remedies against agricultural practices conducted in a manner consistent with proper and accepted customs and standards pursuant to Section 3482.5 of the Civil Code or any pertinent local ordinance.

  12. Misanthrop

    Why didn’t the neighbors buy the property if they wanted to control what happens there? Did they not know it was for sale? They don’t own it but they want to control it. Maybe they should offer the owners a price they can’t refuse instead of trying to control things the old fashioned way.

    I appreciate what Mark West is saying but the other side of the story is that somebody else with a different business model had a similar idea and went forward where Mark West and Charlie Rominger declined. Obviously reasonable people in both cases considering slightly different business risks. If the neighbors were sincere they would ask to widen the road since that is what everyone agrees is an issue. Fire is easily managed, the owners can keep a safe zone of bare soil for guests in an emergency and the Romingers must know this since they have been managing land there for generations.

    The events are already happening, up to eight a year, this is about one additional date a month on average. But it obviously is really about who and what is going on there.

  13. Frankly

    Bill Chapman, who owns the cattle ranch at the end of County Road 29, said, “If I want to open a bar and event center within the City of Davis, to be located in a second-story building to serve 150-plus attendees, how many fire exits will be required by code? Why would rural event centers be exempt?”

    With all due respect to Mr. Chapman, if he every has a party or large family gathering at his property, he would be in violation of the same “code” requirement.

    This is just more NIMBY throwing stuff against the wall to see if it will stick.

    1. South of Davis

      Frankly wrote:

      > if he every has a party or large family gathering at his

      > property, he would be in violation of the same

      > “code” requirement.

      When was the last time you had a “large family gathering” with 150 people at your house?

      1. Frankly

        If I had a property the size of the Chapmans, I could come close… in fact, yes I would probably end up hosting events that large.

        So is the magic number 150?  What about 100?  75?

        Can you concede the point?

  14. Adam Smith

    Instead, he believes there is little different between this operation and Park Winters.  He said that “the reality is that there is very little difference between the nature of our operations, and benefits to the community, and Park Winters.   We actually represent a much smaller footprint in terms of events and lodging.  We are more isolated from neighbors.  We are also not building new structures.  We are much further away from intensive farming operations.”

    This statement is not going to help the proponent.    Park Winters is exactly what the farmers are worried about.  It started as a rural wedding venue, and has now expanded into other events and a restaurant that is open daily.    The farmers in the area didn’t fight it in the beginning because it was going to host limited events.  Now, they regret not being more aggressive with Park Winters.

    1. Frankly

      That is an interesting point.

      Here is my assessment of the larger issue.

      Having lived here since 1974, I remember driving on the country roads in and around the Dixon, Winters, Davis and Woodland rectangle… also out to the delta where I worked on a farm and ranch for a time.

      Back then if I got a flat or had a car problem, I might not see another car for hours.  I remember being able to put my brights on and getting all the way into town before someone flashed me to turn them off.

      Not any more.

      The area has changed… especially anything within reasonable driving distance from I-80.

      Winters has grown as an entertainment location.  Its city leaders are eager to see it do more.

      The area in general has grown… much of it is the spill over from the growth of the Bay Area, but it is a place where people what to live and work.

      This is going to require that local ag business learn how to adapt and adopt to this increase in humanity.

      At some point people need to just accept reality.

       

        1. Alan Miller

          So it’s the suburbs of Norton, that explains everything.  The Norton City Council is known for its wacky zoning policies and outright discrimination against everyone.

  15. Barack Palin

    Prediction, in my opinion either the owners of the wedding site and/or the Vanguard will at some point turn this into a racist and homophobic issue.

    Stay tuned……….

  16. Barack Palin

    The road looks like there could be ample spots where turnouts could be installed to take care of any conflict of traffic interfering with farm vehicles.  As far as the spraying issue maybe the farmers could give the B&B Saturdays free of any spraying.  My daughter’s wedding was held in a barn on a ranch in Newcastle.  They held weddings Friday night, Saturdays and Sundays so I don’t know if this site would be open to just having weddings on Saturdays.  But at least it would show they’re willing to compromise if the farmers could also give a little too.

  17. Tia Will

    Frankly

    Great Tia – make up another manufactured “concern” for which you know little about.  If the public officials don’t have a problem then there is no problem. Because the public officials are full restrictions and requirements.”

    You can do better than this in taking pot shots at me. First, I didn’t make it up as the risk was clearly stated in the article. Also, I clearly pointed out that I was interested in the expressed opinions of the officials which were not clearly delineated. You are actually agreeing with what I said about the value of the public officials opinions.

    If you insist on sparring, please at least put up an argument rather than merely pointing out what I have already said.

    1. Frankly

      I’m trying to put an end to another red herring in opposition.  The local fire code would cover the issue of wild fire evacuation, so it does not need to be repeated by anyone else as some new concern.   Don’t give legs to these red herrings because they will walk around and stink up the conversation.

  18. Tia Will

    Another observation about this situation.

    A number of years ago I was fortunate enough to be invited to a social/political event which occurred on the Rominger property which is truly lovely. There were probably about 50 to 75 people in attendance and wine and beer were served. Some of the parking was at a significant distance from where the event took place and we all walked.

    I cannot help but feel that it may not be the roads, or the fire hazard, or the size of the group or alcohol consumption but rather the anticipated number of events that may be the true concern based on the apparent lack of safety concern at their own event. Since I am not familiar with the area, please anyone who is aware of any further safety issues that might pertain to the wedding venue as opposed to the Rominger property please feel free to set me straight.

    1. Mark West

      The place you likely went for the party was Richard Rominger’s home, which is near the corner of CR29 and CR89. You likely parked and walked along the dirt access road leading to their house, which only sees farm traffic.

      The venue in question is in the hills to the west, roughly 2 miles further up CR 29. Between roads 89 and 88, CR29 is wide and straight and designed for heavy traffic. West of 88, it narrows and becomes essentially a rough, winding, low volume access road for the half dozen or so residences further to the west. Visibility along this section is not the best, some of the residences are situated close to the road and people, farm animals and native fauna are frequently present on or near the roadway. Not an issue during the day if you are sober, slow down and pay attention. A different issue after dark following a party.

  19. Delia .

    Hi Marina,

    Hope you slept well I hear your words for sure.

    I have another opinion. This b and b couple reminds me of 2 friends back east . I don’t think they’d mind if I mention them. One was a Manhattan ad exec, the other an M.D. They started Beekman 1802 and I once called them privileged white men. We are friends. I learned they are humble and do charitable work but they never brag. So perhaps these 2 gentlemen in Winters also do charitable work but maybe they just don’t brag?

    I don’t know!But I understand your point about others who may suffer real life and death problems here in the U.S.

    Hey, did you notice Ajay Dev’s court date is close to the date for national wrongfully convicted awareness?

    Peace.

  20. Alan Miller

    David,

    This is an excellently laid out article.  Gives both sides, well written, lays out the concerns without a heavy-handed commentary.  Whatever you did to write this article, that approach works.

      1. Alan Miller

        avoid the 2 big elephants in the room

        I find you can make a stronger point by letting people know there are elephants, and let them decide if they are pink or not.  Often, I agree with the commentary to an extent, but when it is presented as fact when there isn’t certainty, I focus on the implication instead of story and lean more towards rejecting the implication.  I am much more likely to consider that the elephant may be pink if someone doesn’t beat me over the head with it in the story itself.

  21. Marina Kalugin

    I see all of my posts are gone…I guess some thought my viewpoint was inappropriate..yet it was on topic and I was asking questions of the fellows who were posting….this opinion piece..

    as soon as I retire, we will be starting an anti-censorship site…kinda like the DV… but no ads, no censorship,  and all can share to their hearts content.

    all the stuff deleted so far from the last few weeks will get it started…should be way more fun..

    and way more “educational”.. trust me   🙂

  22. Marina Kalugin

    nice,,,  but I don’t plan to spend much time on it…anyone will be able to post freely…it will not be for the faint of heart nor pc crowd.    🙂

    and, I don’t have a boat..will be getting my plane soon though   🙂  don’t really need a boat ….

     

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