|It's in the Mail: Check it Out
Delivery problems. Lost mail. Stolen mail. Let's face it, the mail in Bonny Doon has been a mess for the last few months (years?). Want to gripe about it? Want to know what the Post Office is doing about it? Come to the January 10 RBDA meeting.
Julia Simon, Customer Service Manager for the Scotts Valley Post Office, which distributes the mail to BD, will be on hand to explain how it all works, and why sometimes it doesn't. She's a veteran of 23 years with the postal service and has served in a wide variety of positions. She was a letter carrier and distribution/window clerk for many years in various Monterey Bay locations, then served as acting postmaster in Moss Landing, San Juan Bautista, Mt. Hermon and Chualar.
In May Julia was promoted to Customer Service Manager in the main post office in Santa Cruz, where she supervised 40 city routes and 12 clerks at the East Side Branch. In October she was transferred to Scotts Valley.
Julia will talk about the numerous mail problems we've been having,
including the ongoing thefts, and what can be done about it. She'll also
address the difficulties of having our mail delivery changed from a private
contract carrier to a rural postal route staffed by a full time P.O. employee.
Neither snow, sleet nor dark of night will cancel this meeting.
Q&A: Julia Simon,
Scotts Valley Post Office customer service manager
Q. Why does Bonny Doon mail come through Scotts Valley?
Q. What is the organizational structure of the Post Office?
Q. Will Bonny Doon mail come from Davenport when the new post office
is built there?
Q. How many boxes are there on the Bonny Doon routes?
Q. Is there a set time when the mail should be delivered each day?
Q. How many recent cases of stolen mail have there been?
Q. What is your estimate of misdirected pieces of mail per 100 pieces?
Q. Who determines whether the mail will be held by a rubber band?
Q. How long has Bonny Doon had contract carriers instead of a Post Office
Q. Who determines who will be contract carriers?
For more about mailboxes and mail security, click
Crystal Vision: Roy Rydell, 1915-2000
Bonny Doon and Santa Cruz lost one of its great citizens in late October. But like all those who make indelible impressions on their communities, his legacy continues to enrich our lives.
The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH), the Pacific Garden Mall (Pacific Avenue), the Octagon Building, and the Rural Bonny Doon Association all owe a lot to Roy Rydell, who died of cancer at the age of 84.
A landscape architect, the gardens surrounding Roy’s Bonny Doon home in the old Oceanview School, central Bonny Doon's original grammar school, are a living tribute to his artistic vision. His skills will also be seen when the new MAH sculpture garden is finished.
In the mid-Fifties, when a local real estate magnate wanted to develop a mobile home park, packed on 50-foot lots, near the intersection of Pine Flat and Martin Road, Roy and a small group of Dooners spearheaded the opposition. Their fight to pass zoning laws that blocked the mobile home park's creation led to a General Plan for Bonny Doon, the county's first. It later was incorporated into the county's own General Plan. This struggle also resulted in the founding of the RBDA as a bulwark against future threats to the rural lifestyle that Dooners then and now still treasure.
Looking back at 40 years of RBDA history in October 1997, Roy said, "We really did achieve something. The community looks a lot like it did then." He and his wife, Frances, who died in 1998, will forever be owed a debt of gratitude from all of us who love Bonny Doon and Santa Cruz.
Goat Pharm Still Not Cleaned Up
Seven months after Santa Cruz Biotechnology's goats were removed under Coastal Commission order, the cleanup of the pharm’s 300 acres still hasn't been completed, according to Save Our Agricultural Land (SOAL).
In a weird incident on November 21, four 20-gallon containers of biological waste bearing Santa Cruz Biotech's name were discovered on Cal-Trans property on Coast Road, the small residential street often used by SCBI trucks to avoid dangerous turns on Highway One. The containers were removed by Santa Cruz Biotech owner John Stephenson.
SOAL is pressuring the Coastal Commission to enforce its orders for the removal of manure and any other hazardous materials at the Back Ranch Road pharm.
Water, Water, But Not Everywhere
As Santa Cruz County's and California's populations continue to grow, the competition for water grows more intense. That was the message from local well driller Dave Landino, who is also on the board of the California Groundwater Association, at the November RBDA meeting.
In Bonny Doon, Dave said, the state Dept. of Fish & Game is suing the City of Santa Cruz over the city Water Dept.'s use of Laguna Creek water. Fish & Game wants more water for fish in the creek, and claims the city is illegally using some of the water in violation of its original 1890 acquisition of water rights to Laguna Creek.
Dave also talked about a "war" brewing between the City of Santa Cruz and the Soquel Creek Water District over the aquifer that underlies the Live Oak area between 7th and 41st Avenues.
Statewide, under terms of a new agreement between California and the federal government to increase Los Angeles’ supply, there is a plan to construct six more dams and a million acre feet (roughly enough for one million households’ annual use) of underground storage. Of course, the water will come from the Sierra.
According to Dave, Bonny Doon is blessed with abundant amounts of water running through the sandstones and shales that sit on the slopes of the big granite spike that is the main geological feature of Bonny Doon (and protects us from too much shaking in earthquakes).
However, if anyone ever drills large wells on the North Coast, it could affect our wells. That was why there was so much opposition to the City of Santa Cruz's plan a few years ago to drill test wells in that area. That plan has been abandoned for the present, but could possibly be revived if the city doesn't find alternative sources.
There are also legal threats to our water, most notably stemming from a state Supreme Court ruling last August that while property owners have ultimate rights to the water under their land, it is limited to the amount for which they can substantiate a need. Beyond that, the local government is entitled to. While there seems no threat from that in the foreseeable future, the court decision could someday result in a move by the county to appropriate water from Bonny Doon.
Want Bonny Doon News? Tune to the RBDA Web Site
If you've logged on recently to the RBDA Web site (well, newsflash: you're here), www.bonnydoon.got.net, then you know that we've been keeping it refreshed with news that affects Bonny Doon soon after it breaks.
We hope to do more of that. For example, when a man implicated in burglaries in Bonny Doon broke out of jail recently, we posted an alert on the site. In this case, we worked closely with the North Coast Sheriff's Deputy, Stefan Fish. We will also be posting his monthly reports as he provides them. We also want to develop an e-mail list to alert Dooners to urgent news, like the jailbreak. That is why we ask for your e-mail addresses when you sign up for RBDA membership. Needless to say, we won't be sharing this list with anyone. If you'd like to sign up for that list, click here and send us a message now.
We also encourage you to send us e-mail about things that are on your mind, to help further a community dialog. Complete e-mail contact info is at the bottom of this page.
On the web site you can also find the most recent as well as an archive
of Highlanders going back a couple of years, and links
to other sites that have information useful to Dooners.
Danger at Cave Gulch
Empire Grade, the main entryway for many Bonny Doon residents, has had one problem after another. First it was the random, on- and off-road parking by the West Entrance to the university. Then, as the authorities took action there, the parking moved northward and created even a greater danger in the Cave Gulch area.
The winding road is a challenge. Many vehicles slow down, some precipitously, as they climb the various grades. The road accommodates a large amount of traffic, including big trucks carrying wood, dirt, stone, asphalt and gravel, and other wide cargo of various types. In places there is barely enough room to pass the cars coming from the other direction. Add in the many bicyclists, particularly those going up the steep hill, who weave a bit as they climb, and the danger increases dramatically.
During the UCSC school week cars park there randomly, often with their wheels on the narrow roadway. The drivers must make dangerous U-turns, with limited visibility, to snare a place or to return to where they came from. Some park with their cars perpendicular to the roadway, meaning they must back into fast-moving downhill traffic. The drivers then sometimes walk several abreast to the paths that lead up to the campus. The parkers often fill up the available turnouts, leaving no place for slower vehicles to turn off and prompting faster drivers to pass recklessly.
While we don't have statistics on the number of accidents there, we have numerous reports of close calls from many Dooners.
Finally, through constant urging from the RBDA and other Dooners, the problem has been officially recognized and we are told corrective action will soon be taken. Sheriff's Deputy Stefan Fish reports that the county road department is planning to install more "No Parking" signs along Cave Gulch, and the university has promised to police the area.
We hope that these actions combine to reduce the danger there before someone is killed. And we are very grateful to Deputy Fish, who is assigned to the North Coast, for his timely response to our requests.
RBDA Push Leads to Emergency Road Repairs
The opportunity to talk with Tom Bolich, the new county Public Works director, at our September RBDA meeting, has already brought a couple of benefits to Bonny Doon.
At that meeting we called his attention to a dangerous situation on Smith G rade where a spring had so undermined the road that drivers were all using just one lane. Although the county road repair budget is stretched thin, he agreed to inspect the site, and repairs were made within a couple of weeks. The RBDA also followed up on the many concerns about conditions on Felton-Empire Grade Road that were voiced by members at that meeting, and wrote to Bolich asking if some repairs, at least, could be made before the major rebuild scheduled for that main commuter route in 2002.
In mid-December we received a letter from Bolich stating that before the month was out repairs would be made at 10 locations on Felton-Empire, including backfilling washed out areas, installing an oversize drain, sealing cracks, and some patching.
In addition, he told us that 2.2 miles of Bonny Doon Road, from the coast up, will get a new coat of pavement by summer 2001.
We are very appreciative of his rapid response to our concerns. Thank you, Tom!
The Return of the Unfriendly Skies
Hear that roaring thumpa-thumpa-thumpa above your house? Don't look up! That chopper may be carrying a 3-ton log to a landing site near you.
Thanks to Superior Court Judge Robert Yonts, the county's prohibitions against logging by helicopter, as well as within 50 feet of rivers and creeks, were tossed out on December 19. Illegal, he said. They pre-empt state law.
The decision was a big win for Big Creek Lumber, which sued after it warned that it could be driven out of business if the restrictions put in over a year ago by the Board of Supervisors and the Coastal Commission were ever enforced. Which they weren't, because the state Dept. of Forestry wouldn't do it. Said the supes and the commish were usurping their powers. According to Yonts, they were right.
The trashed rules applied to lands zoned TPZ, Timber Production Zone. Yonts did let stand the county's authority over logging on parcels in other zones, like Rural Agricultural and Rural Residential. Shows how fair he can be. (For the complete text of his decision, visit the RBDA Web site.)
The logging industry let out a collective sigh of relief. They feel they've got a lot more juice at the state level. In fact, they've proved it, for years. The supes haven't decided whether to appeal.
Now it's up to Big Creek to show that it can be a good steward of the forests and the creeks. It probably can. Unfortunately, a lot of less careful outfits also work here.
There's more to this complicated ruling and its ramifications. For all the details, call the local chapter of the Sierra Club (426-4453). Suffice to say here that the salmon and other creek critters have a worried look on their faces again. So will you when you see a 6,000 pound log dangling from a helicopter over your head.
Coastal Commission Says No to Sprouting Growth
In two decisions in mid-December, the Coastal Commission drew the line on the size of buildings it will allow on the shoreline.
The commission limited the conversion of the former Odwalla Juices warehouse in Davenport into a tourist facility. The owners of the building, which was originally a packing shed for Brussels sprouts, are the ex-head of Odwalla, Greg Steltenpohl, and Fred Bailey. The building is on the south side of town, and is the only one on the ocean side of the highway.
Bailey and Steltenpohl had been trying to get their plans through the commission for the last couple of years, over opposition by some people in Davenport who objected to increasing its height and size and the construction of a parking lot on a bluff that is a popular ocean viewing spot.
Although the latest request is significantly scaled back from the original vision for the property, the Coastal Commission voted to restrict the building to its present height and footprint, even when it is converted to two stories. It also prohibited the construction of the parking lot on the bluff.
The owners were quoted in The Sentinel as accepting the restrictions, and have agreed to maintain public coastal access at the site, and install a stairway down from the bluff. Their Davenport opponents also seemed satisfied with the outcome.
The hotel will have five rooms, a day spa, a restaurant and a gift shop.
The same day, the commission limited the size of a planned house above Año Nuevo beach to 7,000 square feet, along with other measures to reduce its visibility. With the possibility of more so-called "monster houses" on the horizon (literally), the ruling sends a strong message.
The RBDA needs you—almost as much as you need it
The RBDA has been the guardian of the rural nature of Bonny Doon for over 40 years. In recent years we have expanded our role to community advocacy for such things as road repair and improved law enforcement. As you probably know, there is no organization in Bonny Doon that fills that role.
To carry on our work we need dedicated people to serve on our Executive Board. The January meeting the official annual general meeting of the RBDA during which we elect officers for staggered two-year terms.
This year, the terms of Ted Benhari, Marilyn Hummel, Dave Deamer and Ben Harmon will be expiring. Of this group, only Dave Deamer is expected not to seek reelection (he wants to devote more time to Bonny Doon School, which his child is about to enter).
If you are interested in running for our board and would like more information about it, contact either Dave Deamer (426-5601) or Frank Wylie (423-2533).
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