Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt
RBDA Board Elections
Wednesday, January 8, 2003, 7:30 p.m.
Multi-Purpose Room, Bonny Doon School
|North Coast Farmers Scrooged by Coast Dairies
Members of the Coast Dairies Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) found a letter from Coast Dairies & Land Co. (CDLC) among the Christmas cards that arrived in December. Instead of seasonal greetings it contained bad news for the tenant farmers who lease land on that North Coast property. In the letter, CDLC president Reed Holderman announced that:
- CDLC will not continue to seek creek diversion permits.The action was in response to the scrutiny from regulatory agencies that we reported in July. For decades, farmers have used water diverted from streams to holding ponds, then pumped from the ponds onto the fields. After touring the property in July 2001 and examining the infrastructure that supplies water to various fields, state and federal officials warned CDLC of problems with water rights and the design of diversion structures. Concern was also expressed that sufficient water levels need to be maintained year-round for the health of steelhead and coho fish in North Coast streams. However, CDLC did not commence the permitting process, which would have been well underway by the time the property is conveyed to the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and State Parks this fall. The regulatory agencies offered to help transitional owners Trust for Public Land (TPL) with the water rights process, allowing the farmers on the North Coast to draw water during peak winter flows and to co-exist with the fish. While other entities could still seek to obtain the necessary rights and permits, it is a long, expensive process with an uncertain outcome.
Hydrologic studies and water distribution plans will need to be generated prior to applications for water rights. In the meantime, hundreds of acres of farmland will be out of production. Will the current farmers be able to maintain their leases without water?
The CDLC letter said that farmers would be offered reduced rent and encouraged to convert irrigated agricultural lands to dry farming, which offers little profit. So it remains to be seen how CDLC will manage the fallowed land. Hopefully, efforts will be made to rebuild the soil, control non-native invasive plants and restore some areas to native coastal prairie. In the name of resource protection, TPL has backed off its commitment to preserve agricultural use of the property. We hope they will stick to their commitment to attach land use restrictions sought by CAG members. TPL intends to complete the management plan before the transfer of ownership planned for this fall.
However, they no longer intend to complete the EIR. This means the plan's environmental review would be carried out by State Parks and BLM. A much different plan could emerge after that process. BLM officials in Sacramento have indicated their willingness to accept the property with some restrictions. These are still being negotiated and will have to be approved by officials in Washington, D.C., where the current administration has favored the interests of mining, logging and oil exploration over environmental protection.
A revised management plan and a meeting of the long dormant CAG are expected soon.
Stormy Times for Bonny Doon and County Budgets
We've already been pounded by nasty weather, now, what effects will the loss of the County utility tax and the ravaged state budget have on us? Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt, fresh from her hard fought victory in the supervisor's race, will address these questions and any others you may have at the January 8 RBDA meeting.
Mardi will be starting her third term representing the 3rd District. Thanks in part to her efforts, a lot of the North Coast's beaches and benchlands have been preserved for posterity, but there are still many unresolved management issues on the table that will affect Bonny Dooners. Also pending are the expansion of RMC Pacific Materials’ cement plant and quarry, the widening of Highway 1, the poor state of many of our roads, the City of Santa Cruz's increasing need for water, affordable housing and other issues. During her previous terms, we have been privileged to have Mardi available at our RBDA meetings to hear our concerns. Since she is the featured speaker this meeting, it will be an opportunity to get into a more in-depth discussion of the issues that you care about.
This is also the annual General Meeting, so we will also be electing RBDA officers. There are 4 seats open. Chairman Ted Benhari, Vice Chair Marilyn Hummel and Treasurer Chris Gordon are leaving the board, while Membership Coordinator Ben Harmon is running for re-election. The other nominees are Alec Webster, Jodi Frediani and Helen Larkin. All 4 are running unopposed. Nominations are held at the November RBDA meeting.
Board Bids 3 Members Farewell
In January, Marilyn Hummel, Chris Gordon and Ted Benhari will leave the board and all have made valuable contributions. Chris Gordon has brought our bookkeeping into the computer age, and in collaboration with Membership Coordinator Ben Harmon, has greatly improved our record keeping and financial management.
We've also been honored by the membership of Marilyn Hummel, whose many years of steadfast environmental activism have contributed so much to Bonny Doon. Her knowledge of County government and her political insights have given valuable guidance to the Executive Board's deliberations. Ted has kept the goals of the RBDA clearly in view while leading the board, running the meetings, improving this publication and attending to the mundane details of managing the organization. During his tenure he also had the extra task of overseeing the procedure to make much needed modifications to our bylaws, a legacy that will benefit the organization for years to come. He leaves us with these remarks showing why he will be sorely missed by those remaining on the board:
So Long, But Not Good-bye
For the past 7 years, the last 4 as chairman, I've had the opportunity to serve you on the RBDA Board. I am grateful for the overwhelming support that you've given me, and thankful for the chance to give something back to Bonny Doon, my home for 28 years now. There is no better place to live. For almost 46 years the RBDA has worked to preserve the unique character and environment of Bonny Doon. I shudder to think what it would be like if the RBD A hadn't participated, at times taking the lead, in fighting off the kind of development that would have ruined our beautiful North Coast, from large housing projects to resorts.
In the years that I've been on the board, a lot has been accomplished, like thwarting the Santa Cruz Biotech goat pharm, the RV Park at Wilder Ranch, and the City of Santa Cruz's plans for coastal wells. I don't for a moment take credit for these victories, although I played a part. None of them could have been accomplished without the efforts of many people, people who were willing to donate their time, talent, energy and resources, to study the issues, organize support, attend meetings, lobby politicians and bureaucrats, build coalitions and generate publicity. That is what it takes to battle development, and it often plays out over many years' patience and tenacity is a necessity.
No one exemplifies that kind of consistent effort better than Marilyn Hummel, who is also leaving the board. Marilyn is my hero. Even when the RBDA itself was against her, as when she was trying to preserve what has become the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, Marilyn (with her husband, Don) stood fast and prevailed (eventually winning the RBDA's support). For over 30 years, including several stints on the board, Marilyn has worked tirelessly to save the treasures of Bonny Doon and the North Coast. For me, the most valuable part of serving on the board has been getting to know the people of Bonny Doon, and in particular my fellow board members. Like Marilyn, they are people who really care about our community, and they are smart and determined and yes, even fun to be around. I will genuinely miss serving with them, particularly this past year's board. Though I'm leaving the Board, I will still participate in the RBDA by continuing to prepare The Highlander for printing. I’d like to think of my departure as a sabbatical, and I hope to serve on the board again one day. In the meantime, I urge you all to participate in the RBDA in whatever capacity you can. It is an organization that has meant everything to Bonny Doon, and serving on its board is one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done. Try it yourself, you'll like it.
Ted Benhari, RBDA Chairman
RBDA Board Nominees’ Statements
By press time, only nominees Alec Webster and Jodi Frediani had submitted statements.
I have lived in Bonny Doon since 1984, being employed for the last 15 years in the Physics Department at UCSC. I have served on the Bonny Doon Fire Team for the last 17 years. This year I completed an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies at UCSC.
While moving here was mostly chance, it didn't take long to realize that Bonny Doon is unique, both in its people and its physical environment. As an RBDA Board member, I will strive to maintain Bonny Doon's rural character and bountiful resources. I am committed to keeping Bonny Doon a wonderful community in which to live.
I ask for your support.
I have lived in Bonny Doon for the past 34 years. I currently live on
Smith Grade where I've been since 1970. I fell in love with this area long
ago and the love continues. I am a hiker and horse owner and thoroughly
enjoy the coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and various raptors who frequent
my neighborhood. I was a founding member of Save Gray Whale Parklands,
Friends of the North Coast and Save Our Agricultural Land. I have been
active in forest and watershed protection for the past 20 years and continue
to do so as Executive Director of Citizens for Responsible Forest Management
(CRFM). As a member of the RBDA Board, I will do my best to continue
to keep Bonny Doon rural.
Summary of Actions of RBDA
Executive Board Meeting Dec. 3, 2002
Red-Tagged Horse Facility Approved
On November 13 the County's Planning Commission approved Amie and Jim Beauregard’s application for a commercial equestrian facility, Vigne Farms, to board and train no more than 50 horses. This establishment, on the 79-acre Soper-Wheeler property off Bonny Doon Road, was built in July and August 2000, without permits. It was red-tagged, but has since been in operation under court-ordered restrictions, with a limit of 25 horses. The facility currently includes an 11,020 square foot horse barn to hold 30 horses, a 5,280 sq. ft. pipe paddock for 20 horses, a 22,500 square foot covered arena and a 13,068 square foot dressage arena, 3 corrals, a hay barn and a wash station. New construction will add permanent sanitary facilities and a septic system, a manure storage bunker, and an agricultural caretaker's quarters.
While the Commissioners did allow the facility, they imposed conditions that could have implications for horse establishments throughout the County. For instance, all manure produced must be composted on site. Quarterly reports will document the amount of manure produced, stored and later removed from the facility; the weekly temperature of the compost pile; and the final destination of the composted manure. The manure management plan is to include measures to control flies, other insects and rodents, using environmentally sensitive methods and integrated pest management techniques. Plans must also be submitted for pasture management, and for drainage, grading and erosion control. The County's Dept. of Public Works must approve a plan to retain run-off, and the Environmental Health Dept. too must give the project its approval.
Monitoring at the site is intended to be stringent. An independent professional will test water quality after each storm event (2 inches of rain or more within a 24-hour period) that provides adequate samples. The Beauregards must submit self-monitoring reports every 3 months, including dated photographs from specified points, to record conditions in manure management areas, pastures, buildings, high -se areas, horse wash station, trails and roads and drainage facilities. These reports will be reviewed by Planning Dept. staff, with review time charged to the Beauregards at cost, and then twice a year forwarded to the Planning Commission. If problems are detected, remedial measures may be required.
The adjacent neighborhood is protected by a variety of conditions. To preserve the Bonny Doon Road scenic corridor, lighting must be low-level and shielded, and horse trailers and recreational vehicles are to be parked out of sight from the road. In addition, landscaping must be installed, to screen structures and lights from the adjacent viewshed. To mitigate the facility's traffic impact, no more than 41 vehicles may park on the site at one time, special clinics are permitted once a week only, and horse shows are prohibited. Amplification (to assist a teacher communicating with a mounted student) is limited to 40 watts. Horses may not access trails leading from the property.
Finally, only the 25 horses already permitted can be boarded at Vigne Farms until the proposed facilities have been built.
Eco Reserve Planning Proceeds
Have you ever written a long, carefully crafted letter, and then wondered what happened? The RBDA, and quite a few community members, worked hard on their comments about the Draft Management Plan for the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve (BDER), sent them off to the California Dept. of Fish and Game (F&G) in October, and haven't heard anything since.
So the RBDA Board got curious and called. According to Jeannine DeWald, BDER Manager, she's still waiting for a response to the Draft Management Plan from the U. S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. When she receives that, she'll go through the comments. Some, she says, will have been covered, others "may require changes to the Plan." Then she'll send the Plan to Sacramento, where ultimately the Department Director will sign off. It's possible, but Jeannine wouldn't want to be held to this, that people who've commented may be informed when the Final Plan is complete. There will be no further opportunities for public input or review.
When asked whether a signed Plan then has a budget assigned, Jeannine laughed: at this point, she commented, they're wondering whether "we'll be able to put gas in our trucks."
Christina Fabula, our regional contact person with F&G in Yountville, adds that at least Jeannine’s boss in Monterey, Terry Palmisano, the Regional Director, and she herself will review Jeannine’s completed Plan, together with comments received. Ms. Fabula took our number, and says she'll call when a Plan is finalized.
Reserves (and other areas) with active community involvement, the ‘squeaky wheels’, do get more attention within F&G, comments Ms. Fabula. People who submitted comments might note that the Draft Plan's cover sheet has phone numbers.
Supremes Take on 2nd Unit Suit
With the support of the public-interest law firm Pacific Legal Foundation, the suit to overturn the county's 2nd unit ordinance has made its way to the state's Supreme Court.
County residents Steven Travis and Stanley and Sonya Sokolow, legal amateurs, have been fighting to strip the ordinance of its requirement that 2nd units be rented out, at below market rents, to people who qualify for so-called affordable housing, or to immediate relatives of the owners. Travis and the Sokolows want property owners to be able to rent the units at whatever rate they can charge, to anyone they want. Without regard to neighbors’ interests, available water or septic issues, the ordinance doubled the zoning densities in the county.
Of course, the basic reason the ordinance was passed was to create "affordable" housing, not just to give property owners a chance to grab some extra income.
The Supreme Court, however, won't be considering any of that, but only
whether the statute of limitations imposed by the Board of Supervisors
for protesting the ordinance was constitutional. Travis and the Sokolows
filed their suit after the time limit had passed. If the Supremes agree,
their arguments against the ordinance itself will still have to be heard
at a lower court level.
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|RBDA Executive Board (in transition)
The Bonny Doon Planning District
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