Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt
RBDA Board Elections
RBDA Bylaws Revision
Wednesday, Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m.
Multi-Purpose Room, Bonny Doon School
|Supervisor Candidates Night
There is a heated race for supervisor in our district this year, as City Councilman Mark Primack and former Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Schmidt seek to unseat incumbent Mardi Wormhoudt.
At the Jan. 9 RBDA meeting, you’ll have a chance to hear and question all three candidates. The election is March 5.
The race also has a local twist, as Bonny Dooner Pat Pfremmer announced her candidacy, then, citing health problems, withdrew and threw her support to Primack.
Because of space restrictions, we will briefly try here to differentiate among the candidates. More detailed position statements from the 3 will be available on the RBDA web site.
Mardi Wormhoudt, a former City Councilwoman and mayor, has represented us for 7 years. A frequent attendee at RBDA meetings, protection of the North Coast has been one of her major focuses. She began her career as a community activist working on women’s health care and education. As mayor after the 1989 earthquake, she forged a consensus between neighborhood activists and the business community as downtown was rebuilt. She has been a strong supporter of funding social services and affordable housing and protecting agriculture and open space.
Architect Mark Primack was elected last January to the City Council. He served for 11 years on the city Zoning Board, fighting harmful development and championing neighborhood preservation. He is actively involved in solving the housing crisis and reforming the county planning process that has been so frequently criticized. He too was involved in rebuilding downtown, serving on Vision Santa Cruz. He has been a supporter of the Green Belt and historic preservation, and backs community policing.
Michael Schmidt retired from a long career in financial services to become the CEO of the Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce in October 1997. He stepped down recently to run for the Board of Supervisors. Schmidt has a broad platform, including bringing down housing costs, increasing the water supply, relieving the traffic gridlock, balancing growth and infrastructure development, improving the plight of the homeless, fighting teen drug abuse, increasing the number of local jobs, more open government, and protecting the coastal environment.
Bylaws Changes Set for Vote
At the January 9 RBDA meeting, members will have an opportunity to make sweeping changes to the organization’s bylaws, changes which we believe will significantly improve the way the RBDA functions.
The changes largely increase the ability of the RBDA Executive Board to conduct RBDA business and lead the effort to try to keep Bonny Doon rural. On the other hand, there are strong provisions to require greater communication by the Executive Board with the members about what the board is doing, and to give the members an opportunity to comment.
The Executive Board supports the proposed bylaws as presented at the November RBDA meeting, with a few minor changes, mostly to make it explicitly clear that the Executive Board as a whole bears ultimate responsibility for the administration of the organization. Copies of the proposed bylaws with these changes will be available on the RBDA website a few days before the meeting, and at the January 9 meeting.
The proposed bylaws are a product of many hours of work by the Bylaws Committee, which was composed of members with various viewpoints. The committee brought years of legal, parliamentary, and on-the-board experience to their task.
Now it is up to the members to come out and vote, not only to validate the exc ellent work of the Bylaws Committee but also to affirm that democracy and freedom of association still matter to Dooners. As an additional enticement, refreshments will be served.
RBDA membership increased greatly at the last election. To comply with the existing bylaws, a quorum consisting of roughly 110 members must be present to vote in the new bylaws. Come to the January 9 meeting and vote. Your opinion about how the RBDA can most effectively serve your interests does matter.
Rural lifestyles often include horses. One need not look far to find a Bonny Doon property that features a barn out behind the house. But not everyone has room for a pasture and riding arena because even large parcels in the area may have little level land. Bonny Doon’s hilly terrain means that dozens of properties have horses confined to the level portions of a property, the same areas where we site our homes. Sometimes this congestion leads to negative impacts on adjacent properties and nearby streams that may be a neighbors only source of water.
Recognizing this widespread problem, the Council of Bay Area Resource Conservation Districts has published an informational brochure called the Horse Owners Guide to Water Quality Protection, which begins:
"Conservation practices that protect water quality at horse facilities add to a horse property’s value, promote horse health, build good relations between neighbors, and discourage further regulation. While horses contribute only a small fraction of the total pollutants entering local waterways, horse owners and facility managers bear the responsibility to minimize water pollution through:
1. Facility design and sitingImplementation of conservation practices does not need to be costly. Often a slight change in operations will achieve the desired result."
The brochure goes on to explain what horse owners need to know about water quality and managing their horse property. It ends with, "Both State and Federal laws set standards for handling of animal waste to provide protection of surface and underground water resources. Currently, regulatory and enforcement agencies encourage owners and managers of animal feeding or confinement operations, as well as individual horse owners, to follow a program of ‘voluntary compliance’ to achieve these clean water standards without more formal regulatory action.
"Voluntary compliance means voluntarily undertaking the necessary and appropriate management practices to minimize the release of pollutants into local waters without the necessity of obtaining site-specific waste discharge requirements. Horse owners and facility managers should evaluate the effectiveness of their existing erosion control, stormwater management, and waste management practices to minimize transport of pollutants. Voluntary compliance allows the horse community the opportunity to demonstrate responsible stewardship of natural resources while avoiding stricter enforcement of regulations. Voluntary compliance does not mean that water quality concerns can be ignored. Horse owners can eliminate the need for any further regulation by taking responsibility to manage horse waste, limit erosion, control stormwater runoff and protect aquatic habitat."
The local office of the Resource Conservation District has copies of the brochure as well as other free informational material. Their office is located at 820 Bay Ave., Capitola, 95010. Their number is 464-2950. They are a non-regulatory agency and you can have an on-site visit for free advice. Contact Rich Casale at 475-1967.
Coast Dairies Planning Process Continues
The Trust for Public Land, the interim owner of the 7,000 acres Coast Dairies & Land property, presented its "Opportunities and Constraints Analysis" (OCA) in November, and held a meeting for the Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) on Dec. 1 to discuss and explain this important document. The OCA follows up on the "Existing Conditions Report" and represents the "what we can do with it" phase of the process. It is a well-designed effort to delineate a planning framework for a property with diverse and complex management needs. Resource management and planning policies from State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management are incorporated, since the recommendations will in fact become the basis for the final plan, once various alternatives have been considered.
CAG members scrutinized language describing logging policies because it has not remained consistent since the original Vision Statement drafted by the steering committee. Reassuring them was the wording of "Goals and Standards," that says redwoods shall be protected from commercial harvest and managed "for the health of the forest as a natural reserve rather than a timber production forest."
We would like to see TPL provide similar assurances that quarrying won’t be expanded. CAG members are concerned about provisions of the 1872 Mining Act which might allow new mining claims to be filed on portions of the property that are conveyed to the Bureau of Land Management. It is not clear whether County and Coastal Zone ordinances that prohibit certain land uses would have to be honored by federal law.
A case about the Coastal Commission’s right to regulate quarrying in Monterey County was appealed all the way to the federal Supreme Court by Granite Rock, but its ruling did not address the land use issues underlying the appeal.
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RMC Quarry Expansion Blasted
The County’s Environmental Coordinator has reviewed RMC Pacific Materials’ application to expand mining activities by 17.5 acres in its limestone quarry below Smith Grade, covered under an existing permit, and to revise its reclamation plan.
Her determination: "I find the proposed project may have a significant effect on the environment, and an Environmental Impact Report is required." Since preparing an EIR is a long and costly process, with no guarantee that its outcome will be favorable to quarry expansion, and since we hear that RMC (formerly known as Lonestar) is concerned about running out of limestone to manufacture Portland cement at its Davenport plant, we may expect the company to appeal to the County Planning Commission.
Concern for the City of Santa Cruz’s water supply is a paramount factor in the determination. The Environmental Review Initial Study notes, "Liddell Spring, located immediately down slope of the quarry’s southern boundary...is the City’s least turbid water source, and is significantly more important than the 10% of supply implies because it is used when other sources are taken off-line during periods of high runoff and turbidity, and is a consistent producer during droughts when surface sources are severely diminished."
Bill Kocher, Water Director, City of Santa Cruz, wrote in March 1998), "...the City has no clear cut recourse open should the spring be damaged to the point where it is no longer usable or treatment costs become prohibitively expensive. The supply of water to the City of Santa Cruz is imminently (sic) more important than any damages which could be collected...".
Despite efforts to track it, the underground water flow to Liddell Spring has not been found. It is also unknown what geologic features ("cracks, faults, fractures, caves and solution cavities... sinkholes, large voids" are mentioned as characteristic of the area) would be disturbed by expanded mining, and experts disagree about the implications of what information exists. In sum, the expansion’s potential effect on the aquifer–both water quality and quantity-is sufficiently great and sufficiently unclear to be extremely worrisome.
Expanding the existing 80-acre quarry pit by 17.5 acres, by working the benches outward, would both widen the mined area and allow the pit floor to be deepened by about 15 feet. Removal of this ‘overburden,’ which can filter recharge water (turbidity is known to increase during rainfall) is, therefore, a serious concern.
Blasting has been associated with increased turbidity in Liddell Spring; blasts in the lowest benches and closest to the spring were most highly correlated. Since areas even closer to the spring have not yet been mined, and the quarry’s potential full depth has not been reached, there is a possibility that further blasting "might result in a significant impact on water quality" the county study states. Furthermore, a landslide above Liddell Spring has contributed to turbidity in the past, and could be reactivated by future blasting.
While the City of Santa Cruz’s drinking water supply is of vital importance, other environmental concerns are associated with the project. For example, water is currently diverted for mining operations. Although quarry expansion may not result in more water use, it will prolong the period when this water will not flow on its natural course into Liddell Creek, a habitat for steelhead and red-legged frogs. The study comments, "It is important to note that the current level of use may be creating impacts that rise to the level of ‘take’ of a Federally protected species."
The previous Mining Reclamation Plan proposed reestablishing sensitive plant species. Now it seems that the soil has been so disturbed and its chemistry so changed that, as the study notes, the Revised Plan "proposes to eliminate replacement of these sensitive habitats. This is considered to be a significant impact for which no mitigation has been identified." Then too, the revised Reclamation Plan does not address two quarry ponds, built within a channel of Liddell Creek. They must be maintained or removed to avoid sending sediment into this sensitive habitat.
Finally, the proposed expansion plan conflicts with both the County’s General Plan, which requires protecting "quality and quantity of water...to meet the needs of County residents..."; and the County Mining Ordinance, which states, "significant surface and groundwater resources including springs and aquifers shall not be adversely affected as a result of the proposed mining operation."
Money in the Pipeline
The City of Santa Cruz expects to spend between $16- and $20-million on a project was originally intended to rehabilitate the Bonny Doon diversion dams and dilapidated pipelines that supply raw water to the city’s treatment facilities.
However, the City’s Integrated Water Planning process is considering increased capacity and other upgrades to the North Coast System as one potential strategy to address the City’s water supply shortfall. Also under consideration is a plan to supply North Coast farmers with reclaimed water in exchange for their groundwater from agricultural wells. A desalination plant is also being considered. As the City prepares to hand Carollo Engineers a $2-million preliminary engineering contract, we can only hope the money buys better advice than the coastal brackish wells study of a few years ago.
RBDA Board Elections
Election of officers to the RBDA Executive Board take place at the RBDA annual meeting each January. This year there are three officers’ terms up for election: Miriam Beames, Marty Demare and Frank Wylie.
Frank, who also chaired the Bylaws Committee, has announced that he
won’t seek re-election.
The wild pig problem is just growing worse, with the onset of the rainy season supplying them with more food and softer ground to root up. The state Dept. of Fish & Game has the ability to declare a county a wild pig eradication zone, which makes the rules for trapping and hunting the pigs a lot easier, and also restricts people from introducing them onto their land for the purpose of hunting, which apparently was the source of many of the boars in the Monterey Bay Area.
Fish & Game is reluctant to do so, not believing, according to statements made at the November RBDA meeting by the department’s Jeanine DeWald, that the problem is a major one. Many Bonny Dooners would dispute that. To put some pressure on Fish & Game to declare Santa Cruz County an eradication zone, there will be petitions available at the Jan. 9 RBDA meeting. We encourage members to circulate them and return them at the March 13 RBDA meeting for presentation to Fish & Game. Petitions are available at the RBDA website for you to download, click here.
Mailboxes in Bonny Doon?
At his suggestion, the RBDA Board has sent Donald Cattivera, Santa Cruz
Postmaster, a letter outlining concerns about mail security and delivery
in Bonny Doon. So far, Mr. Cattivera has made a verbal offer to install
a couple of collection boxes in our area. We hope that, with his
helpful cooperation, we may be able to work toward other improvements to
our service. We’ll keep you posted. (click
here to read the letter)
Bonny Doon's voice in preserving our special quality of life, The Highlander,
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The Bonny Doon Planning District
If you live in or own property within this district, roughly from Empire Grade to the ocean and from San Vicente Creek to the City of Santa Cruz border, you are eligible to be an RBDA member.
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