Ramona Sentinel
November 16, 2011
By Karen Brainard

The legal challenge to San Diego County’s Tiered Winery Zoning Ordinance continues as Coast Law Group on behalf of San Diego Citizenry Group filed its brief on Monday afternoon, appealing Judge Timothy Taylor’s April 15 ruling in favor of the ordinance.

Monday, Nov. 14, marked the last day of a 15-day grace period for Coast Law Group to file the brief, according to James O’Day, San Diego senior deputy county counsel. The original filing deadline for the brief was Oct. 27.

San Diego Citizenry Group is appealing Taylor’s decision to deny the citizenry group’s California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) challenge to the County Board of Supervisors’ approval of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the winery ordinance amendment project, according to O’Day.

The county counsel said the citizenry group is also appealing Taylor’s determination that it must pay $16,433.67, the cost to the county to prepare the Administrative Record for the case.

Chris Polychron of Coast Law Group on behalf of the citizenry group filed the appeal on June 10 with the Superior Court of California. It was received on June 22 by the California Appellate Court.

O’Day said he had spoken to Polychron as the Oct. 27 deadline approached and has been working on an appeal. The county, he said, will have 30 days to file a responding brief with a 30-day grace period. Coast Law Group will have a shorter timeline to file the reply and then the appellate court will schedule an oral argument, he said.

“I don’t anticipate this will be a quick turnaround,” said O’Day, adding that it could take months.

On Aug. 4, 2010, the county supervisors unanimously approved the tiered winery zoning ordinance and General Plan amendment that would allow boutique wineries by right to open tasting rooms on land with A70 or A72 agricultural zoning. Since the ordinance was approved, many boutique wineries in Ramona have opened tasting rooms and patios.