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No New Vineyards Allowed For Now in Santa Monica Mountains

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There will be no new vineyards allowed for a little while in a 32-square-mile section of the northern Santa Monica Mountains, and existing vineyards won't be allowed to expand. These vines are on lockdown, thanks to a ban instated this week by the LA County Board of Supervisors, says the Associated Press. The ban is, of course, a result of the epic drought that's been affecting the whole state for years now but has recently prompted mandatory water cutbacks.

County Supe Sheila Kuehl says that the roughly month-and-a-half-long ban is just a short-term stop to buy time for city planners to "review water issues as they relate to vineyards." She tells the LA Times that, since May 2014, the LA County Department of Regional Planning has gotten 32 applications from would-be vintners seeking to start growing grapes in the northern part of the mountains, "which could lead to the development of 495 acres."

Vintners say they're being "singled out" unfairly, as if everyone in California weren't being forced to cut back. One tells Los Angeles magazine that it seems like vintners are being wrongly targeted, and that "grape growing is not harder on the environment than other forms of agriculture" when it's done carefully. He suggests that if there's going to be a ban, it should apply to all new agricultural businesses (which are notoriously thirsty), not just vineyards. New vineyards were already banned last year on 81 square miles to the south of the area now under discussion.

The prohibition is only temporary and will be up for discussion at a public hearing at the end of July.
· Los Angeles County bans new vineyards due to drought [AP]
· Supervisors approve temporary vineyard ban in Santa Monica Mountains [LAT]
· A Winemaker Responds to L.A. County's Ban on New Vineyards [LA Mag]
· New Plan Would Keep Santa Monica Mountains Mansion Free [Curbed LA]