Posted on December 13, 2013 By Mina

Sebastopol winemaker Paul Hobbs fires back against vineyard lawsuit


Hobbs this week filed a motion to dismiss the suit brought last month by the Watertrough Road Children’s Alliance, company spokesman Christopher O’Gorman said.

The group has said children at nearby schools could be exposed to pesticides from the vineyard and called for a more thorough review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

But Hobbs contends the fears are unfounded and the suit will invalidate the county’s vineyard conversion ordinance, which sets standards for protecting water, soil and air quality.

Such a change “stands to do more environmental harm than good,” O’Gorman said in a press release.

“It would erase environmental guidelines that have ensured responsible vineyard creation and management for more than a decade,” O’Gorman said. “No one wants to open the floodgates to irresponsible developers.”

Hobbs cited several grounds for dismissal, including the failure of an identical challenge to another project in 2011. In that case, a judge ruled the issuance of grading permits was ministerial, not discretionary, and therefore not subject to state environmental review, the motion said.