Winery ordinance doesn’t address road maintenance

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Under Placer County’s proposed winery ordinance, wineries would not have to bear any increased maintenance costs based on increased traffic. Most private road maintenance agreements (and Civil Code 845) do not assess private road maintenance costs according to the amount of traffic, but instead assess private road residents according to their proportion of linear footage used. Every private road resident who pays for maintenance of their private road is indeed exposed to liability lawsuits if/when anyone is injured on that road. That little pothole, bump, blind corner, whatever, can be construed as “contributory negligence.” (Ask a homeowner whose cracked or buckled public sidewalk in front of their house causes someone to trip or be injured; there is plenty of legal precedence as to landowner liability.) Neither the sheriff nor CHP enforces any vehicle code violations on private roads, except DUI — and then only if caught. They may cite for drunk driving, but it’s after the fact, or after someone calls in a complaint. The drunk driver is usually gone by the time the cops arrive. We’re left to pick up the repair bill for our broken fence or other property damage unless we catch the perpetrator ourselves. The wineries and the county have openly admitted what this ordinance is all about: “Regulatory Relief.” In this case, it’s relief from almost every Placer County winery operating in violation of their permits and/or asking for extensions to comply, after years of violation, non-compliance, and, in one blatant case, a “revocation.” Yet the county’s response, instead of enforcement of the good ordinances already on the books, is to pardon the scofflaws by passing a “get-out-of-jail-free” ordinance that grandfathers them in, thereby putting excessive burdens on unsuspecting private road residents. What’s wrong with this picture? Call and ask your supervisor to explain. Jim Cather Loomis