Small wineries can open two off-site tasting rooms
Local governments gain new tools for overseeing short-term rentals
Thousands of acres of East Bay wilderness to be preserved
By Steven Harmon, Policy Analyst/Communications, Office of Sen. Steve Glazer
Governor Gavin Newsom has signed three long-standing proposals advanced by Senator Steve Glazer, (D-SD7), that will have a direct impact on residents of Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
“It’s very gratifying to see important legislative priorities for my district signed into law,” Senator Glazer said. “These are bills and proposals that I’ve been working on with partners, in some cases, for years. I’m thankful to Governor Newsom for ushering them across the finish line with his signature, a nice reward for all the hard work put in by key allies and friends.”
The three proposals that Gov. Newsom signed were:
Winegrowers: Offsite Tasting Rooms (SB 19)
SB 19 will allow licensed winegrowers or brandy manufacturers to operate two off-site tasting rooms under their winegrower licenses. This bill will particularly help small and family-owned wineries to operate as California continues to recover from the Pandemic.
Approximately 55 wineries are located in Senator Glazer’s district, including in Livermore, Oakley, Brentwood, Byron and Moraga.
“Small and family-owned wineries have struggled the most among wineries, because they rely heavily on visitors and direct sales,” said Senator Glazer. “With tourism taking a terrible hit from the pandemic and consequences of the wildfires, I’m glad that Governor Newsom recognized that these wineries are in need of that additional outlet to provide tastings and sales to their customers.”
Prior to the current tasting room closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many wineries viewed additional off-site tasting rooms as a significant benefit. This was even more pressing for many small wineries looking to expand business opportunities, especially those wineries that produce their wine in an agreement to use the facility and equipment of a second (usually larger) winery.
Steven Kent Mirassou, owner and winemaker of Steven Kent winery, part of the Livermore Valley Wine Country Association, said SB 19 will make a difference to the industry, but also to wine enthusiasts.
“The ability to take care of people – which is the true center of hospitality and wine – is important at all times,” Kent Mirassou said. “It is especially crucial during the pandemic when we are all striving to maintain connections with our larger circle of friends and patrons, that small wineries remain open and thriving. I am so appreciative of the hard work and perseverance that Senator Glazer and his staff have shown in helping us continue to add joy and richness to peoples’ lives.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic, tasting rooms have been required to either close or significantly alter their operations for tastings, but can continue to operate sales for curbside pickup or delivery. Tourism has become almost nonexistent and is not expected to recover for several years. As a result, the impact from COVID-19 to the wine industry is estimated to be $5.9 billon, with a $3 billion loss in tasting room sales.
In addition, the 2020 wildfires had a substantial impact on the wine industry. According to the Wine Institute, the estimate of damage from 2020 wildfires amounts to $3.7 billion, including a loss of $41 million in tasting room sales and $57.6 million in lost winery structures.
Allows Increased Fines on Short Term Rental Violations – to Rein in House Parties (SB 60)
Under SB 60, cities and counties can now impose increased penalties on short-term rental hosts who violate local property rental laws – an attempt to rein in house parties, sometimes violent, that have been occurring at short term rentals because of lax oversight of these properties. SB 60, which took effect immediately, authorizes localities to impose fines up to $5,000 for a violation of a short-term ordinance.
“These large gatherings have made some short-term rental properties the sites of underage drinking, brawls, noise complaints, and violence,” Senator Glazer said. “I’m grateful to Governor Newsom for signing this bill so that local governments have the tools to ensure the safety of those who want to continue to use short-term rentals, and of our residents who live nearby these properties.”
The legislation was sparked by a spate of violence at short-term rental properties, most notably a mass shooting in Orinda, where five people were killed. Other abuses at short-term rentals occurred in Los Angeles and other locales in Northern California, including a party at a Sunnyvale rental where a teenager was shot and killed in August after violence erupted at the gathering. (See related articles, here, here, here and here)
Smaller fines were proving to be ineffective in deterring violations. Hosts were able to charge so much rent for big houses that the fines, if they occurred, were just seen as a cost of doing business.
“Violence and destructive behavior at short term rentals has become a true public safety issue in cities throughout California, as residents of Orinda know all too well,” Orinda Mayor Amy Worth said. “I am thankful that mayors like me will now have the ability to impose fines at a level high enough to get the attention of property owners who operate short term rentals to ensure the safety of our residents. Senator Glazer has been a true champion of this issue, and we are thankful for his hard work on making this California law.”
The use of short-term rentals has skyrocketed by 105 percent over just the past three years, according to vacation rental data compiled by AirDNA. Though short-term rentals offer a way to improve tourism and earn owners some extra money, their recent proliferation has allowed bad actors to use the platform to advertise and secure homes for large parties, oftentimes in violation of local ordinances.
The Covid-19 pandemic led to an increase in people using short-term rentals to evade public health restrictions on large public gatherings. Noise complaints as a result of parties have tripled since the start of the pandemic, according to Host Compliance, which tracks legal compliance among short-term rentals for 350 cities and counties in the U.S.
In the last half of 2019, 42 people were shot inside or just outside a short-term rental property nationwide and 17 people died.
Tesla Land Preservation (Budget)
Thousands of acres of East Bay wilderness threatened by the expansion of an off-highway vehicle park will instead be preserved. (See related article)
The legislation, approved in the Governor’s recent budget bills and took effect immediately, ends plans to expand the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area into the 3,100-acre Tesla parcel in the southeast corner of Alameda County, which scientists have described as a biologically unique habitat and Native Americans have long considered to be a sensitive historical site.
That land will now become a new state park closed to motorized recreation. The state will reimburse the Off-Highway Vehicle fund for the purchase price of the land, its appreciation in value, and the money spent planning the expansion, which was opposed from the start 20 years ago by nearby residents and public agencies. That money will go toward the purchase and development of an off-road park at another location.
“Our community and region will preserve this natural and cultural treasure, leaving it pristine for future generations to enjoy,” Senator Glazer said. “Meanwhile, off-road enthusiasts will be able to keep their current park and receive funding to develop another park on land that’s more suitable to that kind of recreation. I appreciate the hard work that so many key individuals played in moving this critical environmental and cultural issue to the Governor’s desk, and, of course, for the Governor to work with all the players to sign this important agreement.”
Senator Glazer partnered with Assembly member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, the Sierra Club, Friends of Tesla Park and other environmental organizations and individuals in getting the final approval from the governor’s office. Earlier, former Assembly member Catharine Baker worked with Senator Glazer on the same issue.
Nancy Rodrigue, a leading member of the Friends of Tesla Park steering committee and Livermore resident, said she was proud that years of hard work and persistence paid off.
“A very special thank you goes to Senator Glazer and Assembly member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan for the many years of work on this special project,” Rodrigue said. “Tesla Park will now be a reserve with no motorized recreation. Instead, the future holds Tesla as a protected native landscape for hikers, history buffs, nature lovers, researchers and educators.
“Saving Tesla Park has been a long, difficult, and now a rewarding journey, and we are grateful for the tremendous work of so many for saving Tesla as a legacy for future generations,” Rodrigue continued. “We are looking forward to planning the next phase of Tesla Park as a nature and cultural preserve, providing passive recreation and education to the community of the Bay area, the San Joaquin Valley, and Northern California.”