County investigating possible water ordinance violators
September 25, 2013
San Luis Obispo County code enforcement staffers are investigating a dozen reports of people violating a temporary water ordinance that prohibits the planting of new vineyards in the Paso Robles groundwater basin area under most circumstances.
On Aug. 27, the Board of Supervisors adopted the urgency ordinance that prohibits new development and the planting of crops in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin area unless proposed projects save as much water as they use. For example, if a property owner converts a golf course into a vineyard, which would use substantially less water, the conversion and new planting would not violate the ordinance.
Shortly after the ordinance went into effect, residents began turning in their neighbors for allegedly planting vineyards in the dark of night. The complaints have resulted in 12 investigations.
The new ordinance says that new vines had to be planted by Aug. 17 unless the property owner had a contract in place to purchase the vines, which could cause an economic hardship if broken.
If county staffers determine a property owner violated the ordinance, it is likely the farmer would be ordered to remove the crops.
Upon expiration of the 45-day ordinance, the supervisors can extend it for two years.