Placer County Considering Amending Winery Ordinance

Wine regulations can get complicated. Federal and state regulations must be followed, but one must also be aware that mandatory local ordinances can vary from county to county and city to city, adding further hurdles to the success of winemakers and wineries. Localized winery ordinances often regulate the size of tasting rooms, the number of events allowed, and other activities. One such ordinance affecting wineries that host events in Placer County is causing a stir. As it currently exists, Placer County’s Ordinance 17.56.330 of the Planning and Zoning ordinances, adopted in 2008, is designed to “provide for the orderly development of wineries… encourage the economic development of the local agricultural industry, provide for the sampling and sales of value-added products, and protect the agricultural character and long-term agricultural production of agricultural lands.”  It includes provisions that keep special events and crowds to a minimum. All wineries are required to have a permit for up to six promotional events per year. Promotional events are limited to those that are related to producing wine at the facility, i.e. barrel tastings or relase parties of the host winery’s wines. Recently, the Placer County Vintner’s Association has expressed concern that the ordinance is too restrictive, and has requested from the Planning Commission changes that would allow more leeway in holding larger and more…

Sledding is Not Child’s Play Anymore: Public Agencies Balance the Risk of Litigation, Murphy Campbell a Sacramento law firm

Sledding is Not Child’s Play Anymore: Public Agencies Balance the Risk of Litigation

The fear of litigation is causing some public agencies to prohibit activities which were once considered a normal part of childhood play. On January 7, 2015, the City Council in Dubuque, Iowa voted to ban sledding in almost all of its 50 parks. Other cities in the country have taken similar action, including: Des Moines, Iowa; Lincoln, Nebraska; Columbia City, Indiana; and various locations in New Jersey. While such actions are directly associated with child safety, often the biggest motivator for imposing such restrictions is fear of legal liability. For example, in Omaha, Nebraska, the family of a five year old was awarded $2.4 million dollars as a result of a sledding accident involving their child. In Boone, Iowa, a sledder was awarded $12 million dollars, and in Sioux City, Iowa, a sledder who crashed into a stop sign was awarded $2.8 million dollars. Those jury awards are noticed by other public agencies and their insurers. One study estimated that 20,000 children are injured per year in the USA, although most injuries are relatively minor. Avoiding litigation also has prompted various public agencies to modify playgrounds. In some areas, swing sets have been removed, such as in Cabell County, West Virginia, where a school district was confronted with two different lawsuits from the same parent…