Livermore City Council Considering Wine Country Infrastructure Poll | Culture

LIVERMORE – Livermore City Council on Monday discussed two things that its supporters say could help the booming Livermore Valley wine industry – the creation of an Assessment District to raise money to market the products from the region and a proposal for the extension of sewer lines in agricultural areas in the south.

In its early days, the sewer line extension in the South Livermore Valley will require an initiative that voters in Livermore will have to approve in the November 2022 ballot. City Council Tuesday, with a 4-0 vote (absent Gina Bonnano, council member), asked city staff to start drafting the wording of the ballot measure “to protect water quality and agriculture in the South Livermore Valley”.

In a previous interview with The Independent, former Tri-Valley Conservancy (TVC) executive director Laura Mercier explained that current wineries use septic systems, but to encourage wineries to grow or come into region, this form of wastewater management is not an option. .

“Right now, residential development in the county can use septic systems,” she said. “New wineries wouldn’t be allowed to use septic systems because a winery’s waste is more intense – it’s blacker than residential (waste) because you don’t shower, you don’t shower. laundry – it’s really black. This can pollute the water table, which is why the quality of the water table water flowing under our region is cause for concern. One way to protect it is to not allow septic systems for other commercial wineries. “

State regulations prohibiting additional septic treatments in rural areas due to concerns about groundwater contamination prevent new wineries from entering or existing wineries from expanding their services. Stakeholders in the region have called for expanding what they believe will ensure the future economic vitality of the wine and hotel industries.

The council vote further authorized $ 212,502 for Rincon Consultants to prepare an additional environmental impact report for the project and to pay the project consultants.

Livermore Planning Director Steve Stewart told the council that city employees and consultants are already looking at the technical and financial aspects to expand sewer service in the southern Livermore Valley, such as the pipeline adjustments and improvements to existing infrastructure, including the city’s water treatment plant. Stewart said city employees would return to council in May with wording for the proposed measure.

The proponents believe that the project to connect winegrowers and landowners to sewer lines will improve water quality by removing nitrates that leak from their septic tanks into groundwater and solve other water problems. water quality.

“This extension would ensure that agriculture grown in our valley will continue to be financially viable and encourage future planted areas, which is necessary to meet a South Livermore Valley Area Plan (SLVAP) goal of 5,000 acres of land. cultivated agriculture, ”TVC current executive director Laura Antrim and board chairman David Kent wrote in a letter to the board.

“In addition, it would provide the necessary infrastructure to improve the business development of wine regions to include mid-sized wineries, restaurants and a wine resort,” they wrote.

Two members of the public have expressed concerns over whether the city’s sewage treatment plant and existing sewer lines have the capacity to handle the potential increase in wastewater flow.

“I ask that this issue be specifically addressed in the (environmental impact report),” said resident Jean King.

Speaker Donna Cabanne further called for the formation of an evaluation district, ensuring that payment for the project would come entirely from users outside the urban growth limit for the life of the project.

Livermore resident James Folta said he supports the preparation of a voting measure to help Livermore Valley wineries and related businesses succeed.

Wine Heritage District Approved

In another action, the board approved with a 4-0 vote a scaled-down version of a Livermore Valley Wine Heritage District (WHD) that no longer includes the wineries of Danville, Dublin, Pleasanton and San Ramon. The district, which will collect 2% of direct sales of California wine to consumers to promote wineries in the Livermore Valley Historic American Wine Zone (LVAVA), has been reconfigured by the Livermore Wine Growers Association (LWGA) to appease wine growers from ‘other cities that did not want to be included.

William Westover Smyth, owner of Westover Winery in Castro Valley, who raised opposition to the WHD at the Livermore board meeting on November 8, said he was happy that Livermore wineries had excluded wineries other regions.

In an interview with The Independent, Smyth later said – especially given inflation and high taxes in Alameda County – that it was not fair to add an additional 2% charge for the customer, which will appear as a line on their invoice. This, he added, would make wineries even less accessible to the public. He added that he left the LVWGA five years ago because it had become “too bloated” with overhead costs, which came with an increase in membership fees.

“The only reason they’re doing this is because (LVWGA) has grown too big and too inefficient,” Smyth said. “A lot of the wineries said we should go back to the old way … government and force the wineries into this thing, that maybe we should have gotten rid of the people and come back to what it was.

LVWGA chairman Steve Mirassou said the region’s wine industry had “existential financial challenges” and the WHD would create funding “for the kind of marketing this region deserves,” allowing it to “describe effectively to customers what we actually do here and how good our wines are here.

“I am excited about the future of the Livermore Valley cultivation area and the wineries included in the evaluation district,” said Mirassou.

City code for home businesses changed

The council also approved changes to its codes for residents who run businesses from their homes. The changes will allow a limited number of clients to visit their homes for hairstyling and beauty services, manicures, personal exercises and training, as well as bicycle and small appliance repairs.

New rules allow a business to have no more than three customers at a time from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The city will continue to ban adult businesses, medical clinics and small engine repairs in residential areas. Other businesses banned in the new code will include gun dealers and gunsmiths, as well as personal services, including massages, tattoos, body piercings and vehicle repairs.

About Genevieve Swain

Genevieve Swain

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