By David Armstrong
Carmel-by-the-Sea City Council will consider on March 6 whether to endorse the Carmel Residents Association’s appeal of a planning commission decision to approve yet another wine-tasting room downtown.
The appeal, filed January 24 by the CRA Board of Directors on a strongly supportive vote by the board, reflects the results of our January members-only straw poll concerning the rapid and steady multiplication of winery-owned tasting-rooms downtown. CRA members voted No by a whopping 94-10 margin – 90.38 percent – when asked, “Carmel-by-the-Sea currently has 19 wine-tasting rooms in the village. Are you in favor of adding more?”
Presently, up to three city permits a year can be issued for new wine-tasting rooms, according to Marc Wiener, the city’s community planning and building director. All but a handful of operating and planned tasting rooms are clustered south of Ocean Avenue.
The CRA’s written appeal cost $989. The steep fee is necessary, city officials tell us, to discourage frivolous multiple appeals of assorted projects, and to cover additional staff expenses. Despite the charge – dauntingly high for a community non-profit – CRA leaders responded to members’ emphatic sentiment that “enough is enough” when it comes to wine-tasting rooms.
The application in question is from Carmel Valley’s Holman Ranch. If it gains final approval, the tasting room will be located on Seventh Avenue between San Carlos and Dolores streets.
The CRA contends that the planning commission is “ignoring city guidelines in approving another wine-tasting room south of Ocean Avenue.” Additionally, the appeal states, “… members have indicated overwhelmingly that the proliferation of wine-tasting rooms is detrimental to the safety, welfare and character of the village of Carmel-by-the-Sea.”
The city council’s consideration of the CRA’s appeal is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 6 at city hall, Monte Vista Street just south of Ocean.