Supervisors approve temporary vineyard ban in Santa Monica Mountains

Los Angeles County supervisors vote to temporarily ban vineyards in northern Santa Monica Mountains area

Citing the state's ongoing drought, Los Angeles County supervisors approved a temporary ban Tuesday on new vineyards or expansions of existing plots in the northern Santa Monica Mountains area.

The supervisors last year -- over the objection of vineyard owners -- passed a development plan that would ban new vineyards in an 81-square-mile coastal area near Malibu. The new temporary ban covers a 32-square-mile area north of the coastal zone.

A handful of local vineyard owners voiced opposition to the plan.

Vintner Dan Fredman said that vineyard owners are being "singled out" and that other activities use more water.

"I realize it's difficult to get much sympathy for people who live in Malibu," he said. "But the reality is, most of the people who are working with farming, we're out there doing it ourselves."

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who represents the area where the ban will be in place, said she was concerned that since May 2014 the county's Department of Regional Planning has received 32 applications to establish vineyards in the northern Santa Monica Mountains area, which could lead to the development of 495 acres.

"No, vineyards did not cause the drought," Kuehl said. "I didn't cause the drought, either, by using too much water. But the point is: the aggregate of everybody's actions is contributing or helping."

The supervisors voted 4 to 1, with Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich dissenting, to put the ban in place through July 28 and then revisit it at a hearing. 

Follow Abby Sewell on Twitter at @sewella for more county news.

 

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