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House Family Vineyards

House Family Operations Update

The City of Saratoga granted House Family a Temporary Compliance Permit (TCP) in August, and a few days later an individual appealed that grant to the Saratoga City Council. On October 5, thanks to the overwhelming support of our community, City Council Members Kookie Fitzsimmons, Rishi Kumar and Mary-Lynn Bernard voted to reject that appeal. That allowed us to resume tastings at the Izumi Point tasting area. We are grateful and thank everyone of you who wrote emails and/or called into the City Council Meeting to speak on our behalf. But on November 9, our public tastings were suspended by the city again.

Q. Why are House Family wine tastings suspended again?

It’s complicated. Our temporary operating permit required city planning to judge our Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application to be complete by October 17. Our latest CUP application, (74 pages plus 15 sheets of engineering drawings) was again judged to be incomplete for lack of certain detail information. We are working diligently with city planning to satisfy all their requirements for this information.

Q. When will House Family reopen?

We be allowed to reopen once the Saratoga City Planning department deems our CUP application to be “complete”. We will resubmit our CUP application as soon we can fully understand city plannings requests and, together with our professional advisors, submit that information. 

Q. What is a CUP?

A CUP is a Conditional Use Permit. HFV’s CUP will dictate the conditions under which we may conduct public facing operations including wine tastings. 

Q. What is a TCP?

A TCP is a Temporary Compliance Plan.  A TCP is a plan under which a business may operate while it is working toward a CUP.

Q. Why is the CUP taking so long?

The CUP application process is extremely detailed. The city municipal code is enormous and complex. Our CUP application covers the proposed construction of a wine cave, the tasting deck, the tasting operations, fire access, tree protection, parking and more - and must be approved by the City of Saratoga.

Q. Who appealed the TCP granted to HFV by the City of Saratoga Planning?

Nancy Lietzke, who lives in Mount Eden Valley to our southwest, appealed HFV’s TCP, with the support of “Preserve Saratoga”, a small registered political lobbying group.

Q. Who is Preserve Saratoga?

According to their website Preserve Saratoga is “a group of volunteer Saratogans with acommon goal: to preserve Saratoga as a low density, semi-rural, open hillsides and scenic respite from the surrounding noise, traffic and high-density developments.”

Q. Isn’t House Family “a low density, semi-rural, open hillsides and scenic respite from the surrounding noise, traffic and high-density developments”.

Yes, that is exactly who we are.

Q. Why does Preserve Saratoga oppose House Family?

Nancy Lietzke, who appealed our TCP, said that she opposes HFV because she does not believe that commercial businesses such as wineries should operate in the Hillside Residential (HR) zone. 

Q. Are wineries allowed in the HR zone?

Yes, Saratoga City code specifically allows wineries to operate in the HR zone with theissuance of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), which specifies the conditions under whichthe business will operate. (Reference - Saratoga Muni Code 15-13.040 (h)).Our neighbor, Cooper Garrod Winery, operates a winery in the HR zone and has a CUP which allows them to operate seven days a week. 

Q. Who is supporting HFV?

Over 4,000 people have signed our petition of support. Within 12 days of a recent newspaperarticle saying that our winery may be closed, over 800 emails of support were sent to theSaratoga City Council Members. More than 500 Saratoga residents support House Family. Infact, there are more supporters than opponents in any size circle drawn around our site. The great majority of our community supports the grant of a CUP to House Family. Only a few members of Preserve Saratoga oppose.

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