January/February 2008 issue

Panel on Proposed Changes
to the County Building Code
for Small Structures

Supervisor Neal Coonerty
Planning Director Tom Burns
Planner Glenda Hill
Environmental Consultant Betsy Herbert

RBDA Board Election

Wednesday 9 January 2008, 7:30 PM

Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room
Ice Cream Grade & Pine Flat Road

Big Changes to County’s Small Buildings Rules

In one of the most sweeping efforts ever to improve and streamline the County Building Code and the permit process, the Santa Cruz County Planning Dept. has proposed several controversial amendments regarding small-scale residential structures. The changes, which could have major impacts on the environment and population densities, were rejected by the Board of Supervisors in early December. The vote failed when several supervisors, including Neal Coonerty, expressed concerns based on community input from the RBDA, the Sierra Club, and the San Lorenzo Valley Water District. With revisions, the amendments will come back before the Board no later than Feb. 26.

To give our community a chance to ask questions and explore the pros and cons of the proposed amendments, we have put together a panel with Supervisor Coonerty, County Planning Dept. Director Tom Burns, planner Glenda Hill, and Betsy Herbert who is both the Environmental Analyst for the San Lorenzo Valley Water District and a Bonny Doon resident. We have also approached the Sierra Club to participate.

The proposals are aimed at reducing the number of unpermitted structures by streamlining the planning process and permit costs for small residential projects, including accessory structures, second dwelling units, small-scale projects in the Coastal Zone, and repairs and additions to non-conforming structures. However, the proposals could also lead to many more properties being occupied by renters rather than owners, and encourage people seeking to take advantage of the rules and enforcement laxity to have up to four rentable dwelling units on their property. This can result from the well-intentioned but dangerous change that would allow toilets in accessory units. Once this plumbing is in, it is relatively easy to make the structure a dwelling. Another amendment would remove the requirement that owners must live on the property to have a second dwelling unit.

While streamlined building code procedures and decreased regulations around second dwelling units and accessory structures like workshops and offices have potential benefits, the lack of environmental review concerns us. The Planning Dept. claims there will be no environmental impact from these changes, and therefore no Environmental Impact Report is needed for the proposed changes to the County’s zoning ordinances, when in fact there is the potential for major impacts on water quality and availability, traffic, pollution, sewer/septic capacity, and the character of our neighborhoods. The proposal as it reads now appears to be in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and to go against the Measure J growth control initiative approved by the County's voters in 1978.

If you are concerned about this legislation that could have significant long-lasting effects on Bonny Doon and other rural communities, be sure to attend the RBDA meeting Jan. 9.

Redtree Properties’ Activities Raise Concerns

After being contacted by several Bonny Doon residents who voiced concerns about Redtree Properties’ driveway construction on their 2573 Pine Flat Road property and acquisition of new easements, the RBDA Board did some research. Redtree, which began life as Santa Cruz Lumber, is one of the larger landholders in Bonny Doon with approximately 900 acres in the San Vicente Creek watershed above the town of Davenport. Most of the property is timberland and has been logged by the company over the past 10 years. 278 acres were harvested recently under a timber harvest plan submitted in 2003. In 2007 Redtree Properties submitted an Exemption to cut less than 8,000 board feet of “dead, dying and/or diseased trees” throughout their 900-acre San Vicente Creek landholding. The Exemption map shows an extensive road system which appears to connect to the recently graded new driveway off Pine Flat Road.

Earlier this year, Redtree obtained Certificates of Compliance on 11 parcels.  The Certificates are not needed in order to log the land, but were necessary to legally establish the parcels with Assessor Parcel Numbers. These would be necessary should Redtree decide to sell these individual parcels, which have been in the family ownership for nearly 100 years. Some, but not all, of the parcels are within the Coastal Zone, and some but not all are zoned TPZ (Timber Production Zone). These designations will provide certain limits to future subdivision of any parcels. Over the past two years Redtree also put the San Vicente Creek parcels into separate, individual LLCs (Limited Liability Corporations).

Two RBDA board members met with Doug Ley, a principle for Redtree Properties, to get more information on its activities and plans. Ley confirmed that two new easements had been acquired, one off of Verde Way and the other off Bonny Doon Road. Ley said no logging trucks or equipment would be allowed on those easements. He indicated that due to steepness, roughness and length of the logging road, it was unsuitable for normal vehicles to get to some of the parcels, hence the need for easier and shorter access.

The new driveway Redtree put in off Pine Flat serves four parcels created recently when they purchased the existing farmhouse property. The parcel containing the farmhouse is for sale and Ley said they intend to sell the other three parcels.

Redtree Properties owns around 8,000 acres of managed timberland in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties. However, they are more widely known as major developers, having constructed the downtown building containing Borders, the Nob Hill Shopping Center in Capitola, and have proposed a residential/commercial development on their 20-acre Delaware Ave. parcel.

Annual RBDA Board Election

Elections for three open board positions will take place at the Annual Meeting Jan. 9. Terms for Ben Harmon and Jane Cavanaugh are expiring. The third position has been open since Andre LaFleur left the board earlier this year. At the November General Meeting, four candidates were nominated, but one has since withdrawn his nomination acceptance. We are delighted to have found two excellent new candidates who have never served on the board, Jan Hilkert and Joe Christy. Ben Harmon has graciously offered to run for another term to complete work overhauling the membership database. Per our by-laws, no further nominations are allowed at the January meeting.

Any member in good standing (dues paid and current as of Dec. 10) can attend and participate in the election. Not sure if you’re current? Check with Membership Coordinator Ben Harmon, 426-4917.

As noted in the November Highlander, requests for absentee ballots must have been received by Dec. 15. Votes are tabulated before the end of the Annual Meeting, so absentee ballots must be received by the start of the meeting. Please note only official absentee ballots are accepted.

Jan Hilkert
After growing up in suburban New Jersey, I came to Santa Cruz in 1974. My husband Jeff and I met in 1980 when I worked at Lundberg Studios and he worked next door at the Davenport Mill (where he still works). We moved to Bonny Doon in 1981, bought a tiny cabin, and built a house, doing much of the work ourselves. For most of the last 28 years, I have worked for the Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center (SCCCC), a non-profit social service agency. Currently I am Administrative Manager for the nine SCCCC programs that serve individuals who have a serious mental illness. I am responsible for a $5 million budget, funding/licensing/certification proposals and reports, contract compliance, data and billing systems, and supervision of administrative and representative payee staff. I have also been a member of the SCCCC Board of Directors, Personnel Committee, IT Committee and too many ad-hoc committees to mention.

Jeff and I feel like we’ve found a small piece of paradise here in Bonny Doon, and in the spirit of giving back to this wonderful community, I have accepted the nomination to be on the RBDA Board. I would like to insure Bonny Doon retains its special rural character, that we find ways to live peacefully with our neighbors, and that we protect the air, water, flora and fauna that surround us. I believe Bonny Dooners want to live in harmony with nature, but how each one of us interprets this is bound to differ, and finding common ground is critical.

The RBDA Board is currently involved with many long-standing water and land use planning issues–growth at UCSC, Coast Dairies, the Cemex quarry, to name a few. I think I would be an asset to the RBDA Board because of my experience working with local and State officials and organizations, interpreting and implementing government regulations. If elected, my priorities would be to delve deeper into these issues, to advocate with local officials, to keep Bonny Doon residents informed of issues that might affect them and encourage them to be involved. There is much to learn, and I’d like to carry on the tradition of the dedicated Board members who have served before.

Joe Christy
I grew up in a small town in Connecticut, but was born with jeans [sic] for California life. I fell in love with the Santa Cruz mountains when I came to UC Berkeley for gradual [sic] school in the late 70s. After hiking up and down the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, and Rockies, and through the canyonlands of the Southwest, I earned a PhD in Mathematics and academé took me away. I returned in the early 90s when my wife became a professor at UCSC, and on April Fool's Day 2000, having left my research/administration position in Berkeley for Silicon Valley, we realized our dream of owning a house in Bonny Doon.

The small town community, quiet calm, and natural beauty make Bonny Doon my version of paradise. When my daughter came home from Bonny Doon Elementary and sang us the anthem, Bonny Doon, My Country Home, I knew I could never leave. Recently, through the experience of building a cottage on our property for my mother, I've had an education in the paradoxical process and politics of planning and development in unincorporated Santa Cruz County. Now I feel the civic duty to affect that process and to contribute to maintaining the qualities that make Bonny Doon such an idyllic community.

I was flattered when [Nominating Committee member] Don Coyne asked me if I would consider running for the RBDA Board. In the seven years I've lived here, I've enjoyed learning about Bonny Doon through the RBDA meetings and the Highlander. I've come to understand the effort required to preserve Bonny Doon and to appreciate the people who have risen to the challenge and the organization that they've created. I hope that my heritage of New England town meetings, my lifetime of striving to learn how to live in harmony with the land, and my mathematician's habit of trying to simply look, without the filter of received wisdom, upon the world as it is will make me qualified to serve on the RBDA Board and wisely steward the countryside, the community, and the Association.

Ben Harmon
I have had the fortune to serve on the RBDA Board for several years now and would like to serve one additional term to complete work I have been doing to overhaul the RBDA membership database so that future Membership Coordinators will find the job easier to manage. I continue to be encouraged and inspired by the active, caring involvement on the part of my peers on the Board as well as the members of the RBDA. I first became active with County politics when I spent three years fighting the biotech goat farm located near our home. This led to my being approached by the RBDA to be their representative to the North Coast Beaches Advisory Committee, where I worked for several years together with representatives from a number of other organizations to make recommendations to the County Supervisors regarding preservation, safety, access and development of North Coast beaches. I am an active surfer, hiker, and environmentalist, and I look forward to continuing to serve Bonny Doon, helping in whatever way I can to keep it rural and natural.

Proposal to Change Membership Expiration Dates

Currently, RBDA memberships become valid 30 days after the date dues are received and thereafter expire on the same date. This system has been in place for several years, but it has proven to be both confusing and inefficient. Per our Bylaws, the RBDA Executive Board announced at the November General meeting that it plans to put a proposal up for membership vote at the Jan. 9 Annual Meeting to have all memberships expire on Jan. 31, regardless of when they were established during the previous year. Multi-year memberships would expire on January 31 of the appropriate year. The expiration date for existing members would be rounded to the nearest January 31, starting in 2009 to allow a transition period. The existing rules requiring periods of membership before being a valid Board nominee or being able to vote at the Annual Meeting would not be affected. The date of January 31 was chosen to ensure that any member joining at any time of the year (provided it is at least 30 days before the January Annual Meeting) will have full rights at the next election meeting.

There are a number of benefits to this alternative:

•    It would be much easier for members to know when their memberships were due, since the due date would be the same every year and would be shared by all members.

•    Every November and January Highlander would have a big reminder notice on the front page. This would be much more effective and efficient than sending out individual reminders to every member and would greatly reduce expenses and labor for the Board.

•    Membership would stay relatively static over the course of the year, only increasing as the year progresses. This would provide the Board with a much better idea of where the membership stands.

•    And last, but definitely not least, this removes the possibility of memberships lapsing in the fall, just before people want to vote or run for the Board.

We look forward to discussing this with you all on Jan. 9.

UCSC Lawsuit in Mediation

Mediation ordered by Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick is underway in an effort to avoid lengthy and costly appeals of his decision that UCSC’s Environmental Impact Report for its Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) was inadequate by the standards of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The City and County of Santa Cruz and the community group CLUE (Coalition for Limiting University Expansion) have had two meetings so far with officials of UCSC and the UC Regents, and a third is scheduled for Jan. 14. Under discussion are the principal areas of water supply, housing and traffic impacts cited by Judge Burdick as problematic in the LRDP EIR. Additional talk revolves around the process for how the Regents allocate growth to the various campuses, and UCSC’s willingness to acknowledge the authority of LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission) regarding the expansion of City water and sewer service to the Upper Campus in Bonny Doon.

In the meantime, student opposition to the LRDP has accelerated as protesters remain roosted in redwoods slated to be cut to build the now-stalled Biomedical Sciences facility, and a series of forums to discuss the LRDP are ongoing.

County to Redo Cemex Quarry Expansion DEIR

After receiving many significant objections to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the 16-acre Cemex limestone quarry expansion, the County has directed the report's writers to redo it and circulate it again. This could take many months. Objections to the DEIR mostly focused on the expansion’s effect on Liddell Spring, source of up to 10% of the City of Santa Cruz’s water supply, increased noise and dust from expanded quarry operations, impacts on neighbors’ wells and springs, and degradation of the habitat of threatened animals like the dusky-footed wood rat and the red-legged frog.

Frans Lanting to Donate Proceeds of photo sale

World renowned nature photographer and Bonny Doon resident Frans Lanting and his wife Chris Eckstrom attended the RBDA 50th Anniversary Celebration and surprised RBDA members with a generous gift offer.
The Frans Lanting Gallery will donate all proceeds to the RBDA from the sale of the first print purchased by an RBDA member. If you have never seen his work, check out www.lanting.com or, better yet, visit his gallery at 207 McPherson, Suite D, in Santa Cruz. The gallery hours are M-F, 10am-5pm.

If you buy a print, be sure to identify yourself as a member of the RBDA.

The RBDA thanks you in advance for supporting both the RBDA and this local artist.

Nov. 14 Declared ‘RBDA Day’

Supervisor Neal Coonerty attended the RBDA 50th Anniversary Celebration and surprised us with a framed, official proclamation from the County Board of Supervisors declaring Nov. 14, the date of our celebration, RBDA Day.

CHP Responds to Motorcycle Petition

Capt. Christina Manriquez, California Highway Patrol Commander for the Santa Cruz area, responded to our letter and petitions requesting solutions to motorcycle traffic and noise violations. The agency does assign patrols in response to traffic complaints and requested that we provide specific times, streets and/or intersections about which we are most concerned. The RBDA board has followed up with the requested information.

RBDA Executive Board Actions  December 3, 2007
1. Approved minutes of Oct. 3 2007 Executive Board meeting.
2. Approved sending a letter of concern to the Board of Supervisors regarding the proposed changes in the County’s small building structures ordinance.
3. Voted to poll the members at the Annual Meeting on what types of emails they deem appropriate from the Executive Board.

RBDA Annual Meeting  January 9, 2008 Agenda
1. RBDA Business
2. Membership Vote on Changing Date of Membership Expiration
3. Executive Board Election
4. Featured Program: Panel Discussion on Proposed Sweeping Changes to Building Code Rules for Small Structures

Support Our Sponsors

Frans Lanting Gallery
Limited Edition Fine Prints, Books, Calendars
by Wildlife & Nature Photographer
Frans Lanting
207 McPherson St., Suite D, Santa Cruz
429-1331, www.lanting.com

Boyce-Abel Associates & Land Planning
Facilitating & Mediating for Families with Land
& Other Real Property Transfers
1003 Smith Grade, Bonny Doon CA 95060

Become One of Our Sponsors

Sponsorships: $100 a year (6 issues).
Send check and text to:
RBDA, 102 Sunlit Lane
Bonny Doon CA 95060

The Highlander
The Rural Bonny Doon Association Newsletter
102 Sunlit Lane • Bonny Doon, CA 95060

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, which are usually held on second Wednesdays of 
January, March, May, July, September and November.
We encourage you to participate. 

 Send mail correspondence to the Highlander Editor at the above address, 
or by email, below.

RBDA Executive Board
Board Chair
Ted Benhari
Vice Chair

Tom Hearn
Corresponding Secretary 
Yana Jacobs
Ben Harmon 
Recording Secretary
Jodi Frediani
Highlander Editor
Jane Cavanaugh 
Contact the RBDA Board in one email

The Bonny Doon Planning District
Bonny Doon Planning District map

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.

Please support the RBDA!
Dues payments count for a full year from date received.
Dues mostly go for printing and mailing The Highlander,
your voice for keeping Bonny Doon rural and natural.
Those who make additional contributions qualify as:

CONTRIBUTORS ($ 25+ dues)
SUSTAINERS ($50+ dues), or
PATRONS ($ 100+ dues)

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