January/February 2005 issue

RBDA Executive Board Election

The State of the County
Third District Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt

January 12, 2005
Ice Cream Grade at Pine Flat Road
Kicking Off the New Year: Topics for Annual Meeting

RBDA Board Election
The primary purpose of the RBDA annual meeting, held each January, is to elect members to the Executive Board. The election at the January 12 annual meeting is for three expiring Board positions. The Nominating Committee (Board member Yana Jacobs with RBDA members Paul Hostetter and David Gelphman) found three candidates for the three positions: current Board members Jodi Frediani and Alec Webster and former Board member Ted Benhari.

No further nominations were made from the floor at the November General Meeting. Per the bylaws, no further nominations are allowed at the January meeting. Here are the candidatesí statements:

Ted Benhari 

This will be my second stint on the RBDA Board. I was on the Board from 1995-2002, serving as chair the last six of those years. The RBDA has played the lead role in keeping Bonny Doon the wonderful and unique place that we love. The many determined and dedicated people who have served on the Board during the RBDAís 47 years have repeatedly fended off pressure for growth and development, which would have changed Bonny Doon forever. I am proud and happy to once again play a part in this never-ending struggle.
Alec Webster 
I have served as the RBDA Treasurer for the last two years, and hope to do so again for the upcoming term. I have lived in Bonny Doon for 21 years, and am committed to maintaining its rural attributes. I received a BA in Environmental Studies from UCSC in 2002, and have been a member of the Bonny Doon Volunteer Fire team for 20 years. Bonny Doon and the North Cast are unique and irreplaceable, and we are fortunate to live in such an area.  Vigilance and protection are needed to assure that the qualities most Bonny Dooners value so much will not be lost to excess development pressures. I will continue to work towards this purpose.
 Jodi Frediani 
I have lived in Bonny Doon for the past 34 years. I currently live on Smith Grade where Iíve 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 that frequent my neighborhood. I was a founding member of Save the 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.

State of the County 2005

Following the Board elections and other membership business, Mardi Wormhoudt will give the traditional County Supervisorís State of the County talk, then open the floor for questions. It has been several months since we have had extended time with Mardi. One of the main topics she will likely discuss is her plan to introduce a bill to the California legislature that allows the Santa Cruz City and County to restrict University of California (UC) growth (see LRDP article this issue). Bring your questions and concerns!

"Save the Mail" Committee?

Have you been receiving your neighborís mail more frequently? Does your mail come late in the evening? Or not at all? Found your lock box door standing open after mail delivery? With ever increasing numbers of complaints about the mishandling of Bonny Doon area mail delivery, the RBDA Board discussed what we could do as a community organization to help. Though perhaps not within our charter "to keep Bonny Doon rural and natural," we agreed that community organization was needed to help with this rural problem.

All County residents except Bonny Doon have a regular USPS postal carrier.  We have three rural routes that are contracted out to whoever submits the lowest bid. Contractors are not USPS employees, which means they get no days off and no backup coverage on sick days from the USPS. The current route contractor for at least two of the three Bonny Doon routes does not himself routinely deliver any of the mail; he sub-contracts out most of the work to others. 

In 2002, the RBDA Board led an effort to solve Bonny Doonís mail woes. There Mail continued from Page 1 were lengthy negotiations with USPS administrators, culminating in a Bonny Doon community meeting chaired by Cong. Anna Eshooís staff, and attended by representatives from the USPS offices in San Jose and Santa Cruz. The meeting improved mail service for awhile. The primary goal of the 2002 efforts-consistently receiving mail by 5pm via reliable vehicles seemed to be met. But the last several months have shown a steady decline in service for many residents.

In recent months, reports are that phone calls to the Customer Service Supervisor at the Santa Cruz post office who oversees the route contractors (Dorothy Timewell, 426-0767) go unreturned, despite repeated requests for a call back. About 2 months ago, an RBDA member actually reached Timewell. She turned over the phone to the contract route carrier so that the member could give feedback directly. During the conversation the contractor mentioned that the carrier could not be reached directly because she didnít come in until 1pm (which suggests an obvious solution for getting back to mail delivery by 5pm). 

It may take coordinated effort to again get our service back to acceptable standards. There will be a call at the Jan. 12 meeting for volunteers to form a committee to pursue this further. If you canít attend but want to be on the committee, contact a Board member for more information.

A Short-Range Defeat for UCSCís Long Range Development Plan

In the November/December 2004 Highlander, we alerted Bonny Dooners to the very aggressive Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) that University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) has proposed. That plan has the campus doubling its building footprints, most of which would carve out new sites in the pristine forests and meadows to the north of the present- ly-used campus. It included a connection to Empire Grade used to service both new housing and a Corporation Yard. The latter would be a place to store materials and park various machines and vehicles used in campus maintenance-not a nice feature to border Waldorf School and the Cave Gulch homes in Bonny Doon. The plan fully realizes our nightmare that the greenbelt areas around Bonny Doon might start to be developed; we had not expected it to start so soon and from an environmentally friendly University. 

The implications for maintaining the present standard of life in south Bonny Doon, and the impact on traffic on Empire Grade for all of Bonny Doon, appear most serious. A great deal has happened since that report. At the November General Meeting, Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt told us of the Countyís reaction to this LRDP; in particular, she outlined her own plan to introduce to the California legislature a bill to allow the City/County to place strictures on any UC which grows to more than 25% of the host city population, or to more than 5% of the host county population. Effectively, Mardiís proposal would force UCSC to do some dramatic mitigations in order to expand, and in some respects would stop expansion entirely. (There will be more discussion on this billís progress when we hear Mardiís State of the County talk at the RBDA Jan. 12 Annual Meeting.)

In addition to Mardiís reaction, there was a flurry of organizational meetings in early December as well. There was a town meeting of concerned citizens on December 6 which went completely unreported in the Sentinel. It was a diverse group of Santa Cruz City and County officials, neighborhood groups, and UC representatives. The goal was to organize for a coalition of many groups to start a "grass roots uprising" against any more University growth, or at least pressure the University to do it responsibly. This group will meet again on January 10, and is planning a course of action which is broad, deep, and (of necessity) slow. The next step that UCSC was planning to take was to begin the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process in which public inputs would be allowed (as opposed to the pro forma inputs accepted for the LRDP), and this would take the process well into 2005.

However, in the middle of this ponderous process, UCSC inserted what some of us described as an "end run." Acting under a special provision, they granted themselves permission to avoid the EIR process for a part of the LRDP-namely, the construction of the materials storage section of the Corporation Yard. With this Notice of Exemption (NOE), they anticipated beginning construction of the yard as early as January 2005! While seemingly a small part of the LRDP, it was really the camelís nose in the tent, because the new yard would be exactly adjacent to Empire Grade at the point where they needed a new connection for the LRDP. To move heavy materials to this yard they obviously would effectively make that connection, with all the ensuing traffic problems as a consequence. Further, it would then be trivial for them to extend that road through the yard and start making the connection to the proposed new housing farther "inland" from Empire Grade.  (That is approximately where the proposed long bridge over Cave Gulch would be built.) So by the time the real EIR rolled around, a lot of its more critical issues would be fait accompli!

This development engendered an emergency meeting on December 9 of the Cave Gulch Neighborhood Association (CGNA), a small subset of Bonny Doon residents. The energy of that meeting was quite different from the town meeting just days before. Spearheaded by Don Stevensís dynamic leadership, the group decided on the advice of environmental attorneys that UCSC was in violation of several laws by issuing the NOE. UCSC had ignored the classification of Empire Grade as a scenic road and had also bypassed environmental issues in a Biotic Assessment that they themselves had ordered from an independent agency. (The latter showed that they did intend to use the material storage yard as a part of the LRDP.) It appears that they should have filed a Negative Declaration, which would have been subject to an EIR review. So CGNA immediately notified the University that litigation was imminent if this mistake was not rectified. The RBDA Board assured CGNA that we would support their cause through a letter to the Acting Chancellor, and that Bonny Doon residents might want to privately contribute to some of the costs of the initial litigation.

For a few days nothing was resolved, as we heard separate rumors that UCSC was going ahead with their NOE, or that they would give in and file the "proper" declaration. Shortly before press time for the Highlander, Don Stevens notified us that he had received, in print, a notice that UCSC had withdrawn the NOE.

It is important that this victory, gratifying as it was, be considered just a victory in a small battle in a very big war. There are strong forces within UCSC trying to expand to accommodate more students and larger research programs. There are also internal groups there who decry the change in character of the campus. A brand new Chancellor takes over this year, and her take on the situation will be critical. If UCSC does expand, the community will seek mitigations, but it is within the realm of possibility that the expansion itself could be stopped, slowed, or delayed. The RBDA will continue to work with the CGNA and Waldorf groups on these issues and to lobby the new Chancellor with our vision of what we need from Bonny Doonís greenbelt neighbors.

Landfill Alternatives

In early September, hundreds of County residents turned out at the Mello Center in Watsonville to speak out against the Integrated Waste Management Local Task Forceís proposed landfill sites. Particularly eloquent and well-researched were several of our own Thayer Rd and Bonny Doon Rd residents, joining the voices of other Bonny Doon and County residents.  Their case against the proposed Thayer Rd dump site was well-made and clearly the result of long hours of research and preparation. Their efforts paid off: the Thayer Rd site was dropped from further consideration along with all other initially proposed sites. There does remain a slight possibility that a new list of landfill sites will be proposed at some point in the future if suitable alternatives cannot be found. For now, the Waste Management Task Force is fully focused on landfill alternatives.

On December 2, the Task Force met in the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, with one of the main agenda items a review of landfill alternatives County staff has been researching. There are two main alternatives being considered, as outlined in the meeting agenda document: "1) export out of the County for either landfill disposal or waste conversion or 2) waste conversion within Santa Cruz County. The term "waste conversion" is used generically here to include both combustion processes with energy recovery and non-combustion thermal conversion (e.g., gasification, pyrolosis, plasma arc transformation, etc.) or anaerobic or aerobic digestion." Regardless of which alternative is selected, County staff reported, "It is imperative that additional diversion [waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting] take place locally, within the County. The reason for this is that the more material diverted, the less cost for either of the two base options."

Although our County already has numerous waste diversion programs in place for nearly every type of solid waste (see www.dpw.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/recycle.DIVERSIONPROGRAMS) and has declared 1999-2009 the "Decade of Zero Waste." Diversion of 100% of our solid waste remains a goal every resident needs to help work toward. Until then, the County will continue to have some amount of solid waste that must be disposed of or converted. If you have ever been to a landfill and seen what others "fling into the pit," youíll understand that a huge hurdle is getting more residents educated and participating in diversion opportunities.

At the December RBDA General Meeting, community members had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss landfill alternatives with two key people involved with County solid waste: Patrick Mathews, Division Manager from County Department of Public Works (DPW) Solid Waste (a Task Force member) and Victor Aguiar, a Program Director at Ecology Action who created the very successful ProMax materials exchange program, a database that lets you list/find materials for reuse (www.promaxreuse.org). (Through ProMax, about 2000 tons/year of materials are diverted from landfills.)

Among the things learned:

   The largest percent of solid waste comes from two sources: organics and
paper waste (30%) and construction waste (20%).

   To address further diversion of organic waste, the County is planning to
start a "phase one" composting program in 2005, starting with organic waste
from 35-40 restaurants, with the hopes that this can be expanded to the
level of San Franciscoís standard-setting program. San Francisco provides
curbside pickup of food and green waste to over 2,200 restaurants and food
businesses and 75,000 households: (www.organicconsumers.org/organic/compost)

   To divert construction waste, the County has installed a "C and D" line-a
construction and demolition "disassembly line" that allows construction
waste to be hauled in and sorted for reuse or diversion. (At the time of the
General Meeting, this line had been installed but left idle for almost two
years, to the frustration of County DPW staff. It was announced at the
December Task Force meeting that the line was now operational.)

   Landfill bans on highly recyclable materials (e.g., metal, wood) are being
considered but are not yet implemented.    Santa Cruz County landfills
currently divert 2% more waste than Marina, the state of the art facility in
Monterey.    In 1989 a program was set up to encourage local retailers and
restaurants to reduce use of disposable packaging and/or use at least 50%
paper or recycled packaging. Powerful local restaurant interests kept this
as a voluntary rather than mandated program.

RBDA Board member Jane Cavanaugh has joined a newly formed community group with members of the Sierra Club, UCSC students, County DPW Solid Waste staff, Ecology Action staff, and Karin Grobe (a contractor for the County working on the "phase one" composting project) to continue work on increasing landfill alternatives. Contact Jane with your interest or questions (e-mail janecav[@]xilinx.com).

TM Group Converging on a Plan

The TM (Transcendental Meditation) Groupís plans to build a Retreat Center high up on Empire Grade are taking significant steps forward. Hereís the latest information we received from Tom Eklof, their local representative.

   They have drilled a successful well and have plentiful water, now undergoing the usual tests for purity. 

   The building configurations have
changed very little, with essentially the same footprint on the site.

   They hope to formally close the sale on the property sometime early in 2005. 

According to Eklof, their progress has been steady but slow. The only unexpected problem encountered was the large amount of trash still being dumped on the property, along with unauthorized vehicles and squatters.  License numbers have been taken and the Deputy Sheriffs notified of the problem. Following the close of sale on the property, they anticipate protecting the property more completely (e.g., with fences, gates, surveillance, and resident caretaker).

While they still intend to present their detailed plans to the RBDA at a future General Meeting, the best time for generalized inputs to them is now.  By the time detailed plans are presented at a General Meeting it may be hard at that point for the group to respond to broader concerns such as traffic, building density and footprint, water usage, and so forth. Contact Tom Eklof directly at 420-1165 with concerns and requests.


The Board agreed to propose a "Mail Committee" at the Jan. 12 General Meeting to see if any community members were interested in working together on this issue.


1. RBDA Business 

2. RBDA Board Election

3. Featured Program: Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt, The State of the County 2005 

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The Highlander
The Rural Bonny Doon Association Newsletter
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Bonny Doon's voice in preserving our special quality of life, The Highlander, 
is mailed free to Bonny Doon residents prior to the RBDA General Meetings, 
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 Send mail correspondence to the Highlander Editor at the above address, or by email, below.

    RBDA Executive Board 
Board Chair
Don Coyne
Vice Chair
Jodi Frediani
Alec Webster
Corresponding Secretary 
Yana Jacobs
Ben Harmon 
Recording Secretary
Robert Thornton
Highlander Editor
Jane Cavanaugh
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