Planners Need to be Reasonable

The Vanni family’s experience with Santa Clara County planning
officials is prima facie evidence of serious problems in that
department. It just shouldn’t cost more than a quarter of a million
dollars and take four and a half years to get a simple business
building project approved.
The Vanni family’s experience with Santa Clara County planning officials is prima facie evidence of serious problems in that department. It just shouldn’t cost more than a quarter of a million dollars and take four and a half years to get a simple business building project approved.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened to Solis Winery’s owners, who simply wanted to build a bigger tasting room and reception facility.

The project is good for South County, good for businesses, good for tourism, good for the county.

No one is harmed, and, in fact, many people are helped if this business can grow.

Instead of shepherding the Vannis through the process, it appears the county process and staff threw up road blocks at every opportunity.

Instead of stepping in two or three years ago to get the Vannis application back on track, for some reason District One County Supervisor Don Gage seems to have been absent from helping this constituent navigate the troubled waters of the county planning department.

But Gage wasn’t the only one MIA in this case. Why weren’t the Gilroy Visitor’s Bureau and the Santa Clara Valley Winegrowers Association championing the winery’s cause?

Now, more than four years and $250,000 later, the Vannis aren’t sure any more that they have the funds, the will, or the energy to go through with the project.

“We just need to take a breath,” Valerie Vanni said after the project finally received county approval. “We feel pretty beat up and we need to go back and re-energize.”

We’re all for making sure that facilities erected in unincorporated parts of Santa Clara County meet reasonable safety and aesthetic standards.

But reading the list of issues listed in the timeline accompanying reporter Matt King’s recent article makes it clear that “reasonable” was left out of the process, at least for the Vannis.

We suggest that County Supervisors take a long, close look at the torturous trip the Vannis took through the county planning department’s processes and use it as an object lesson for all that needs to be fixed there.

When it costs businesses this much in capital and time, two precious commodities, to expand in our county, businesses and residents are being shortchanged by the government that is supposed to serve them.

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