Guest Commentary: Field & Pond Owners Respond to Recent Article

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

by Dahvie James and Philip Watt

We are concerned that information that was published in the Winters Express on both August 18th and August 25th is drifting away from what would be considered news without bias.  While bias certainly can play a role in journalism, it is still well outside of what would be considered ordinary for the subject who is directly involved in the news to also be granted the advantage of reporting on it.

In the August 18th issue of the Winters Express on page A-6, Robin Rominger is featured as a guest columnist purportedly “reporting” on the Field & Pond project and Planning Commission hearing.  Nowhere in the paper or the column written does it indicate that she is also the primary obstructionist and most vocal antagonist to agritourism, and in particular to the Field & Pond project.  The readers should be made aware of this.

In general, the article is duplicitous because of the lack of transparency about the writer, and her direct involvement with the project. In particular, the article asserts a number of false statements, and there are also critical omissions.

One only need to read as far as the headline “Planning commissioners vote to protect Yolo County farmland”, to recognize her intent to mire the truth.

Readers should be aware that the county staff actually recommended approval of our project.  They should also be aware that only four out of the seven commissioners were present for the hearing.  One Commissioner recused himself following a publicly made allegation that he was operating an event center without proper permits.

In fact, the chair of the commission, Leroy Bertolero, who was also asked to recuse himself, due to longstanding employment history with the Romingers, also read a personal statement insisting that he still be allowed to preside over the hearing, because he felt that despite this fact, he could still remain unbiased and offer a fair vote.  Surely, these circumstances would have been of interest to your readers, and arguably would be germane to the subject matter.  Yet they were omitted.

During the hearing, two commissioners accepted the staff’s proposal to approve our application, while two did not.  However, worth noting is that there was confusion amongst the Commissioners throughout the hearing.   Listening to the audio of the meeting substantiates this; it’s available at

Proposed motions for approval were not formulated clearly, and therefore were not appropriately acted upon.  Commissioner Friedlander proposed 16 events as part of the approval for Field & Pond.  No other commissioners provided a Second to the motion.  Commissioner Bertolero later proposed 12 events as part of the approval for Field & Pond.

However, to everyone’s surprise and confusion, Commissioner Friedlander who originally put forth a proposal of 16 events did not follow-up to act on the proposal of 12.  One could hardly characterize this as “Planning commissioners vote to protect Yolo County farmland.”  Further, the stated reason for denial was about concern for safety on the road; not protection of “Yolo County farmland.”

We would also be remiss if we didn’t share how much we resent the accusation in the August 18th article that we are in some way “illegal.”  The quote shared indicated “the attempts by the applicants to pursue some agricultural uses on the small usable area are incidental to the event center and therefore illegal” simply has no basis.

 How are our “attempts” to farm “small usable area” illegal?  Further, the very basis of this statement which clearly acknowledges that our land is not prime farmland is in blatant contradiction of the very title and subject of the article, which purports that there was some sort of vote for the salvation of farmland.

Similarly, the article published August 25th also underscores the same misplaced bias.  While we appreciate the opportunity to have given input to the story, and take no issue with its content written by Justin Cox, we do find that the tile is incorrect, and completely deceptive; “Supervisors oppose  rural event center.”

As a point of fact, the Board of Supervisors has not reviewed our project yet, nor have they commented on whether they oppose or support it.  However, this title gives the impression that there is outright rejection of our project.

We have filed an appeal of the Planning Commission decision for some of the obvious aforementioned reasons.  This means that the project will go before the Board of Supervisors for consideration.

Nonetheless, again, the title is misleading, and our concern is that it really does misrepresent the facts in a way that does drive bias amongst your readers, in favor of Bruce and Robin’s very personally motivated agenda.

Dahvie James and Philip Watt are the owners of Field & Pond


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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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59 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Field & Pond Owners Respond to Recent Article”

  1. Delia .


    I wish the two of you much success in your business!♡

    Wondering what steps you have taken with all of your neighbors to make it work.

    For example my friends, who own Beekman1802, invited their community to potlucks on their property. They also invited everyone over to their place to paint their barn, then fed them. Like a pseudo old fashioned barn raising. They initiated a harvest festival in their town, and do volunteer work in their town. They contribute to the schools.

    What efforts have you made to bring your community together? Beekman 1802 also hire local artisans and local neighbors to be employed on their farm and at their mercantile in downtown Sharon Springs.

  2. Delia .

    I use that example because Josh and Brent, the owners. are a wonderful married gay couple who started a thriving business on their rural property in upstate New York. They faced some of the same challenges / opportunities that you are facing today.

    I wish you all the best.


  3. Tia Will


    Whether applicable to the current situation or not, I want to thank you for the reminder that friendly, collaborative type approaches frequently work better than oppositional ones.

    1. ryankelly

      I suggest you read the staff report including the attachments.  B&P has not been honest, has been holding events there without a permit, saying that the events are non-profit when they are charging up to $10K per weekend.  They moved a rehearsal dinner to a location behind the house in an attempt to hid the event from their neighbors.  They are responsible for their own predicament and the problems they are having.  They planned to build 10 stand-alone bungalows until the County told them that the land had a conservancy easement and they could not build on it, so now they plan to build little one room huts closer to the house.  They have planted some fruit trees and said that they have tried to reach out to cattle ranchers only when they were told that the property needed to be farmed/ranched in order to qualify as agratourism.  They booked weddings and then tried to cancel them when they were told to cease holding events there without a permit.  Instead they held the events on the sly.   They are promoting on wedding reservation websites that they can accommodate up to 1000 people.   I’d say that they have burned their bridges with the neighbors and the County.  Even the staff report recommends approval of only 12 events a year for no more than 150 people.

      1. Barack Palin

        Biddlin, the solution is obvious, the Field and Pond owners and the Romingers need to get together and watch episodes of The Fabulous Beekman Boys.

        1. Delia .

          So glad you are a fan, BP!Who  is your favorite person? I really like Maria, the sweet, humble, conservative woman who worked part time on the farm and part time at the local post office. Such a kind, gentle conservative woman. (You would probably really respect her.) I like Farmer John a lot, too. He treats all the goats very humanely.

          You might also like Brent’s  mother, a conservative Christian woman.
          Isn’t it amazing what a diverse community can accomplish when they respect each other?

  4. Delia .

    Who are you accusing of dodging, hpierce? Tia is dodging nothing.

    Go Dodger blue. Vinny, I love you.♡ (Now THAT’S an inflammatory post that should be scrubbed.)

    Peace, everyone.

    1. Biddlin

      Since the admins aren’t editing your adverts for a NY notions store: Do you have a financial or personal relationship with any of Beekman 1802’s owners, partners or employees?

      1. quielo

        Delia saw the movie “Up” and thought it was a documentary. Given the prevailing winds floating the B&B could very well take them to Upstate NY.

        It would be somewhat ironic if they dropped the building on the whatever business she is shilling for.

      2. Delia .

        They are simply my friends who live in a beautiful little DIVERSE village called Sharon Springs, where, for the most part, folks respect each other and have accomplished quite a lot in their tiny community of respectful citizens who thrive on their unique-ness. They support each other.

      3. Matt Williams

        Biddlin, only Grok and Ron are allowed to ask “financial and personal relationship” questions.  Please refrain from invading their space.

      1. Delia .

        And they donate part of those profits, Bidlin, to neighboring farms that are struggling with their mortgages. They call that sauce the mortgage lifter sauce.

        Yeah, I will use them as an example of thinking outside the box, creatively, to boost their local economy and put their neighbors to work, or help their neighbors who are already working very hard.

        I think Frankly will appreciate my example here.

      2. Tia Will

        Not intended as a dodge. I was hoping to find a clarification when I got home from work. I will happily address both.

        Starting with the present, probably not much to be done collaboratively. In my experience, once a situation has devolved into people calling each other liars, there is probably not much collaboration going to occur.

        So let’s play this back to what I think could have been done before this became a name calling feet. I will use my actual plan as an example. I have a property in Washington state. The house on it is not currently habitable and will have to be demolished and and completely rebuilt. My neighbors do not yet know this. Before I start, before I even hire an architect, my plan is to discuss my basic concept for the home with the neighbors. I would like to get an idea of what they would support, and what they would find unacceptable. Yes, there are height, size and various restrictions based on maintenance of views and number of units. I am hoping to have a “granny flat” but would not be willing to have a civic fight over it. So my first step will be to find out if any of the neighbors would have serious objections to my basic concept. Then and only then will I involve an architect and a builder.

        I know that we have the concept that it is the “right” of everyone to do what they want to with their own property. Well, what I want to do is to build a home that will fulfill my needs and meet the aesthetic preferences of the neighbors since this neighborhood is on a hill in which the rustic character, individual views and quiet are highly prized. It might be possible to get a duplex approved and I would get more in rental that way, but I would not treat my neighbors that way even though I might be able to get it approved as a few others have done in other neighborhoods.

        So what would I have suggested to the developers is that the come up with their dream business model. Before attempting to implement it, that they decide what is the maximum they would like to make, and what is the minimum that will meet their needs. I would then recommend that they invite the neighbors for a discussion of their plans. I would recommend that they address all concerns openly and honestly and that they take neighbors expressed concerns as real for them even if they do not agree. I recommend that neither side “play games” with references to what “pencils out” without saying just what that is and how they intend to achieve it or on the other side throwing up unrealistic objections in hopes the developer will just give up given enough opposition.  I know that this would take a lot of trust and good will. But I see no reason that those could not be obtained prior to taking strongly oppositional views.

        And….since some seem to care so deeply, my work hours on all Tuesdays are from 8:30 to 5:30. My deepest regrets if this inconveniences anyone. You may also note that my posts are frequently placed starting at around 4:30 to 5 am often due to a regrettable early awakening pattern.

        1. Barack Palin

          You may also note that my posts are frequently placed starting at around 4:30 to 5 am often due to a regrettable early awakening pattern.

          Same here, after 31 years of waking up at 4 a.m. working the early shift I can’t change.  Drives my wife crazy.  See you in the morning.

        2. hpierce

          Ok Tia… you admit you are a potential ‘developer’… you say that the current structure ‘has to go’… if one of the neighbors wants you to raze the property, and keep it vacant, you’d honor that?  Accept that it would be replaced in-kind only [same sq ft, same footprint]?.

      3. Tia Will


        Maybe she had to go to work. Operators are standing by…”

        Not sure if this was a play on my surgical career…..or merely incidental…..not bad if deliberate.

  5. Delia .

    Or perhaps the failing bicycle museum could do a national commercial on t.v. to promote tourism to Davis to visit th e bike museum. Then the tourists could use air b n b….;)

    1. Tia Will


      Then the tourists could use air b n b….;)”

      Or they might prefer one of the newly proposed hotels… careful what you wish for 😉

        1. Alan Miller

          And include a comment about how busy they are, because…you know…

          . . . that’s why they can’t post anymore today . . . and then they post right below, and 17 more times by midnight.

  6. ryankelly

    It is my understanding that the B&B can still operate as a B&B and it can host weddings – just not every weekend.  It is clear that the owners are upset with the Romingers, but they are very mistaken to question Robin Romingers motives.  The Romingers have made it very clear that they view these Event centers popping up in Yolo County as a threat to the relatively healthy ag industry here.  A wedding center is not “agrotourism” in any shape or form and the term is being misused here.  With event centers getting $20K+ per wedding, this is a lucrative business with ag as only a pretty backdrop.  I wonder how many we already have, including those that are operating without permits?

  7. ryankelly

    Readers should be aware that the county staff actually recommended approval of our project.

    Starting with a request for 70 events per year, the applicants dropped this to 50 events and eventually wanted to have 35 large events per year with 300 people attending.  Staff recommended approval with the severe limitation of only 12 events per year.

    People should read the staff report – Planning Commission Agenda – Field and Pond 8/11/2016 .


    1. ryankelly

      The owners are not being completely honest, which will not serve them well in this tight-knit ag community.

      Read their letters – they are using race and discrimination as the reason for their difficulties in getting their business approved.

  8. ryankelly

    After reading the entire staff report, I recommend that the Vanguard cease its coverage of this specific battle and maybe just focus on zoning and permitting issues in general.

  9. Marina Kalugin

    I made a few comments on the initial thread where the OP was whining about the circumstances.   All of my comments were scrubbed without a trace.  Interestingly, several others are now  sharing some of the information which supports my “inappropriate” postings…. I actually  was nice and didn’t do a single thing other than ask this guy to answer a few questions…….and even that was not allowed by the moderator or owner.   I am happy to see that others were able to find the answers  and their postings were allowed to stand here….

  10. Tia Will


    Ok Tia… you admit you are a potential ‘developer’…..

    I believe that you may have overlooked the part of my post that implied that both sides would be working in good faith. There is a house standing there now. If it was the neighborhood consensus that a house of similar size and dimension and style was necessary to maintain the integrity of the neighborhood then, yes, I would honor that. My suggestion is that if the “developer” who is the one proposing the change approaches the neighbors respectfully, then the neighbors are more likely to approach the developer in the same manner, namely with respect to their needs as well. Obviously this will not be successful if both side are not willing to actively pursue the “win-win” solution. I simply feel that this is more likely if a relationship of trust rather than an adversarial relationship with each side feeling that the “other” is only out for as much as they can get.

    An interesting choice of words on your part. Why should I have to “admit” that I am a potential developer. Being a “developer” is not in itself something shameful or to which one has to “admit”. We are all potential agents of change. It is only if in our desire to institute change that we choose to ignore the well being of others that our actions become something to be “hidden” or shameful.

    1. ryankelly

      Well, Tia. They didn’t do that.  They applied go a permit and immediately started holding events. When caught and told to stop, they continued and made attempts to hide their events.  They misrepresented how much money they were charging to try to take advantage of loopholes in the zoning.  They have disparaged the reputations of their neighbors and claimed racial discrimination.  How about making a recommendation of how they should proceed at the place they are at now, instead of how they should have done it in the beginning.

  11. Marina Kalugin

    what some continue to miss on this and other threads is that folks like the OP and wanna be money makers on the F&P project….

    which is no any different from any other developers – really….do not care to work in good faith..

    if they were working in “good faith” – none of this would even be happening….

    the F&P folks are quite used to getting their way and having others pay for it….  they are wealthy and they know what they are doing…..they even cry the R word when they don’t get their way…

    of course, their agenda is simple…

    .and those who continue to whisper about how the F&P are being disadvantaged…. well wake up.


  12. Marina Kalugin

    gee…now the moderator/owner have scrubbed one of my signature lines, but left the typical ones who have little clue comments stand….oh well…

    good thing I am having way more interesting things to do where I am at the moment…but I am  back on Sat for a few weeks… and plan to spend some of my evenings at some of the meetings which I have not been able to attend in recent years…..that should be fun  🙂

    1. Biddlin

      As someone who is the beneficiary of Don’s merciful indulgence, you should know that it really isn’t appropriate to discuss moderator decisions in open forum.

      “Debating Moderator Practices. An article’s comments section won’t be used to debate these guidelines or a decision of the Content Moderator. Concern about the removal of a comment should be addressed in an email to the Content Moderator.”

      “Review of Content Moderator Decisions. Concerns about Comment Moderator decisions should be addressed to the Editor of The Vanguard. A response will be provided to the complaining party. The Editor may consult the Editorial Board on these issues”

      You really ought to read them!

  13. Marina Kalugin

    actually I would agree that these same folks have more clue on this topic than some others who are also posting a lot on this thread…….although on the Chancellor topic they were on the same side…..

    and not on the side of truth and justice…

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