Lawsuit by Malibu Wineries Challenges Ban on New Vineyards

A coalition of winemakers claims that the county ignored CEQA requirements in instituting a blanket ban on new vineyards in the Santa Monica Mountains.

June 18, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Vineyard, Napa Valley, California

Brocken Inaglory / California Vineyard

A lawsuit filed by a coalition of Malibu winemakers challenges a May 4 decision by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that "prohibits new vineyards in the Santa Monica Mountains and doesn't clarify whether wineries can expand existing vineyards." Elina Shatkin reports for LAist that "[t]he plaintiffs are asking the courts to set aside the ordinance behind the ban and set up public hearings."

"For Malibu vintners, this is a long-running battle. In 2015, they unsuccessfully fought a decision by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to revise the California Coastal Commission's Land Use Plan for the area. This time around, vintners are complaining that the original draft of the ordinance maintained 2015's regulations, which allowed them to expand their vineyards and plant new ones if they secured a conditional use permit. The final version of the ordinance forbids the former and is silent on the latter."

The lawsuit calls the ban "arbitrary and capricious" and argues that the county should conduct a full California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review before implementing the new ordinance.

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