January/February 2016 issue

Opening San Vicente Redwoods and Coast Dairies
Bryan Largay, Santa Cruz Land Trust
Sky Murphy, BLM

Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room,
Pine Flat Road & Ice Cream Grade

Opening San Vicente Redwoods and Coast Dairies

The public has been waiting for 18 years, sometimes not so patiently, for opportunities to hike, bike and ride horses on Coast Dairies, and, for a much shorter time, on San Vicente Redwoods.

To answer our questions about plans for those lands, we will have two speakers, at our Jan. 13 Annual Meeting: Bryan Largay, Conservation Director of the Santa Cruz County Land Trust, who is in charge of the public access plan for the 8,500–acre San Vicente property; and Sky Murphy, an Environmental Protection Specialist with the Bureau of Land Management’s Hollister Field Office, which manages the 5,800-acre Coast Dairies.

The first public trail (current plans call for controlled access once or twice a month)and parking lot on Coast Dairies is under construction in the property’s southwest corner. People are concerned there has been insufficient study of the terrain it transverses. That area and the rest of Coast Dairies underwent an environmental study in 2001 not intended to be particularly detailed, and it wasn’t.

Meanwhile, plans about how to open San Vicente Redwoods have been undergoing changes, and Bryan will present the latest thinking about trails, timing and access.

Public use of both these properties will impact traffic, parking, fire safety and law enforcement in Bonny Doon, so we look forward to getting our questions answered and, just as importantly, letting the agencies which control these two huge preserved properties know our concerns about overuse and other issues.

North Coast Rail Trail to Roll Out

At a cost of $2 million a mile, the 5-mile rail trail from Wilder Ranch State Park to a parking lot near Panther and Yellow Bank beaches will provide bikers and hikers with a path from Santa Cruz’s western boundary to Coast Dairies, near where BLM is building the first public trail, with a parking lot on the pasture north of and above Laguna Road.

The project, which should be done in 2018, will make it a lot safer for people to access the North Coast beaches and Coast Dairies, though people will have to cross Hwy. 1.

Funding will come from a $5 million federal grant, $950,000 from the state’s Coastal Conservancy Agency, and much of the rest - $3 million - from the Land Trust of Santa Cruz, which is conducting a fundraising drive. More here.

Other sections of the planned 32-mile rail trail along the County’s coast are either under construction or planned to be soon, including one in Watsonville and Santa Cruz. Although some portions will run along city streets, such as West Cliff Drive, the North Coast section will largely follow the rail line. There will be an 8-foot wide paved path alongside the tracks, which one day may carry a regular train, and 18 miles of paved and unpaved spur trails.

The Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission, which owns the rail line, is planning to put a half-cent sales tax measure on the 2016 ballot to fund the rail trail, highway improvements, other road, bike and pedestrian improvement projects and public transit. The tax would be collected for 30 years. After losing a ballot measure to fund Hwy. 1 widening in 2004, the RTC is hoping that this time there will be enough support for each of the projects that the measure will get the required 2/3 vote.

Coast Dairies: Will Supervisors Live Up to Their Word?

Earlier this year the Board of Supervisors voted to support the designation of the 5,800-acre Coast Dairies property as a National Monument, if certain conditions were included in the Congressional Act or Presidential Proclamation creating the monument. Several of those conditions are not in the Congressional bills introduced earlier this year by Sen. Barbara Boxer and Cong. Anna Eshoo. Those bills are stalled in committee and are practically assured of being buried by the Republican majority.

However, the language in the bills is typically followed in any Presidential Proclamation creating national monuments under the National Antiquities Act.

If the Supervisors (and the Santa Cruz City Council, which passed a similar measure) don’t have their conditions met, the RBDA Board thinks they are duty- and honor-bound to withdraw their support of monument status.

Specifically, the bills do not meet the following conditions:
    •    That a management plan, specific to that property, be finalized within three years of the monument designation; and public access limited until the Bureau of Land Management, which owns Coast Dairies, completes the plan, and secures long-term funding to assure adequate management.
    •    That the plan be specific to Coast Dairies. (The bills attach Coast Dairies to the California Coastal National Monument, a marine area not even contiguous to Coast Dairies, which is inland of Highway 1.)
    •    That Coast Dairies be subject to the National Environmental Policy Act and go through a California Coastal Act consistency process.
    •    That stewardship, access, traffic and safety concerns be comprehensively addressed prior to intensive public use.
    •    That local fire and rescue services are not overburdened, that watersheds and natural resources are sustainably managed, and traffic hazards and impacts to adjacent private properties are intentionally addressed.
    •    That a plan coordinating federal, state and local emergency and law enforcement services be developed and a fee for emergency services on the property negotiated.
The Wilderness Society earlier this year issued a report on how underfunded are National Conservation Lands, which includes national monuments. Congressional  Republicans have blocked increases in funding to keep up with inflation over the last few years. All those protected lands share a budget of only $66 million, which comes to only a bit more than $2 per acre! So much for the Coast Dairies monument campaign’s claim that national monument status will bring more money and protection for Coast Dairies! We have pointed out many times, and the campaign has admitted, that the property is already completely protected from development, and that the only benefit of monument status, and to them, the meaning of additional protection, is “more money.”

In a related development, on Dec. 12 the Supervisors voted to go forward with creating a plan, funded by Sempervirens Fund, to recommend new uses for the shuttered Davenport cement plant, in concert with the plant’s owner, Cemex. Presumably this would include using part of it as a gateway to Coast Dairies and Sempervirens’ 8,500-acre San Vicente Redwoods property, whose southwestern border abuts Coast Dairies just a couple of hundred yards from Cement Plant Road.

Interim Commercial Cannabis Law Passed

With passage of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) in the fall, the State set up a system to try to gain control of the growing industry in California, estimated to have over $3 billion in sales. It gave local governments until March 31 to write their own rules controlling commercial cultivation, manufacture and sale if they don’t want to defer to the State rules.
We submitted to the County detailed recommendations for regulation to reduce the environmental, safety and quality of life impact of commercial grows in rural communities like Bonny Doon.

On Dec. 15 the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for final passage of Ordinance 7.128, an interim regulation to meet the deadline and meant to be modified in the coming months, which adds to and modifies the current ordinance, 7.126. Although written by the County Counsel’s office, much of it came out of and was approved by the Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4), whose mandate has now been extended through June and given a goal of March 31 to recommend changes and additions to 7.128.

The new ordinance keeps several parts of 7.126 in place, like the ban on commercial cultivation on properties zoned Rural Residential and on properties under 5 acres zoned Rural Agricultural. It sets up a licensing system for smaller grows. It doesn’t deal with distribution and sales, or larger farms. Supervisor Ryan Coonerty called it “a small step forward in regulating,” and noted its shortcomings in protecting neighborhoods and medical pot users. He said medical marijuana cultivation, production and sales have to be treated and regulated like every other legal industry so that the general public, youth, patients, neighborhoods and the environment are protected.

A disturbing aspect of the new ordinance is that it continues to provide special protections for District 2, despite several supervisors telling RBDA Board members that they believe regulations should be uniform across the county.

As the C4 continues meeting it will have to tackle harder issues like how to keep odors from becoming a nuisance to neighbors; defining a neighborhood; the differing interests of the many small growers vs. industrial scale farming; outdoor vs. indoor cultivation, which can contain odors and protects crops from rodents without the use of poison and uses less water, but is more energy intensive; whether more than one resident medical card holder will be allowed to grow on a particular parcel; and whether, where and how collective grows will be allowed.

There is a lot more to be said about this issue and we will continue following it in the Highlander and here on our website.

Castle House Suit Goes to Court

Should someone be allowed to use their private home in a residential neighborhood to host weddings and similar public assembly events for profit, despite the adverse impacts of traffic, noise, and associated annoyances? That’s the core issue that will be contested in Santa Cruz Superior Court on Jan. 28 [Editor’s Note: post-publication the date has been changed to Feb. 4.] by a group of neighbors, represented by land use attorney Bill Parkin, who want to overturn the granting of a permit to the Castle House at 4286 Bonny Doon Road.

The permit was approved by the Zoning Administrator, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, under an absurd interpretation of the Home Occupation ordinance, and the Coastal Commission refused to assert any jurisdiction. However, the Supervisors voted to stop issuing such permits under the aegis of that ordinance.

The RBDA Board has continually pointed out the illogic and even illegality of the Castle House permit approval, which conflicts with the well-defined and established home occupancy code. While we didn’t keep the permit from being granted, our stance led to provisions in the sweeping changes in county land use regulations (now undergoing an environmental review process) that ban commercial events on residential properties in the Coastal Zone and on properties under 8 acres. And, as part of those proposed changes, the Home Occupation ordinance has been rewritten it so that it can never again be used to permit event venues in residences.

RBDA Board Election

At the January RBDA meeting members vote for new Executive Board officers. Three terms expire, and one appointment made by the board to an open seat has to be confirmed by the members.

Three nominations were made at the November RBDA meeting: David Rubin, who was appointed to the board last year to fill out an open term that expires in January; Betsy Firebaugh, who was elected last January for one year to fill an unexpired term; and Ryan Beauregard. In addition, the members must approve the appointment of Clay Peters, whom the board chose earlier this year to fill an empty seat.

In the intervening time, Ryan notified the board that while he was looking forward to serving the community, he realized that the growing success of his Beauregard Vineyards business requires a lot more attention and travel and that it would be difficult to find the time to devote to RBDA issues that he feels they deserve.

That means that there will be one open seat that will have to be filled by appointment by the board until the January 2017 annual meeting. With the many significant issues on the table—the opening to the public of Coast Dairies and San Vicente Redwoods, the burgeoning growth of the cannabis cultivation industry, the significant changes proposed in land use regulations—this coming year will be a pivotal one for Bonny Doon. If you care about our community and its future, talk to us about serving on the board. Call one of the board officers at the phone numbers or write to us at board@rbda.us.

Betsy Firebaugh

I have lived in Bonny Doon for over 15 years, in Santa Cruz County since 1986, and grew up in Monterey during the 70s. Bonny Doon is a unique and special community because of the close connection we have with nature. I love the fact that on any given day the only sounds you might hear are the wind through the trees or a hawk calling down the valley.

I have seen too many lovely small rural communities in this area become overrun with housing developments, tourist buses, conference centers, shopping centers and traffic. It happens slowly, and before you fully realize it. I have long admired the proactive work the RBDA does to keep the community informed, and advocates for our continued quality of life. We must continue to actively work on ensuring that Bonny Doon stays rural, working within the community, with elected officials. I am honored to continue serving on the RBDA board.

Clay E. Peters

I am new to the Board, am a native of Santa Cruz, live in Bonny Doon, and have owned property here for over a half-century.  I 100% support keeping Bonny Doon Rural and Natural, and coincidentally, this phrase has constituted the core dedication of my entire life’s relationship to public lands management and our care of the planet.

I have spent my total career and professional life working for, in and with our national park system and preserving our outdoor environment.  Twelve years of that was in the House of Representatives, where I was hired by and worked for Cong. John P. Saylor, the father of the Wilderness Act of 1964.

I believe I have written more policy into federal law for the national park system than anyone, including the mandate that carrying capacity constitutes the central management concept for three federal land management systems: national parks, wild and scenic rivers, and trails.  I am currently passionately advocating the adoption of the carrying capacity concept for the entire planet, although it might be too late (ask me)!

I have helped establish many new units of our national park and wilderness preservation systems; helped write the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act; co-conceived and served on a Presidential Commission on Americans Outdoors and authored its central recommendation; served as Executive Director of a national coalition of the country’s principal environmental organizations to recommend hundreds of environmental policy recommendations to the President; created the “Preserve” nomenclature (there are now 17 within the national park system); and located the wilderness boundary line on the walls of Yosemite Valley.

I love and cherish Bonny Doon!

David Rubin

I moved to Bonny Doon 16 years ago with my wife Michelle. I am a geologist who has worked on sedimentology problems for 40 years, first at the US Geological Survey and now at UCSC.  My two current projects are interpreting the geology of Mars viewed by the rover Curiosity, and advising the Interior Dept.’s Bureau of Reclamation about how to operate Glen Canyon Dam to restore sand bars in Grand Canyon. In the late 70s, I and a USGS colleague led a marine geology survey offshore of Humboldt Bay, where we discovered an active earthquake fault.  As a result, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission permanently closed the nuclear power plant nearby.

Because of my professional experience, I am particularly concerned about environmental issues in Bonny Doon, such as the heavy use of water and toxic chemicals in commercial cannabis growing, and their impact on local wildlife and fish in creeks that drain Bonny Doon. I have a wildlife camera in my meadow, and I would be glad to share my movies of the coyotes, bobcats, skunks, and foxes that pass through every few days.  My other recreational activities include hiking, welding and other metal-working projects.

Proposed Bylaws Changes

As we explained in the November Highlander and at the Nov. 11 RBDA meeting, incorporation of the RBDA requires us to add a few paragraphs to our Bylaws. While the language changed nothing about the way the RBDA and its Executive Board function, it is required by the State of California to be included in a corporation’s Bylaws. The additional language, in bold type, below, will be added if approved by the membership at the January Annual Meeting. (The current bylaws are
 (A California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation)


A. The name of this corporation is RURAL BONNY DOON ASSOCIATION  (“Association”).
B.  The geographical area covered by this organization is the Bonny Doon Planning Area of Santa Cruz County as of December 19, 1994.
In addition, this corporation is formed for the purposes of performing all things incidental to, or appropriate in, the achievement of the foregoing specific and primary purposes. However, the corporation shall not, except to an insubstantial degree, engage in any activities or exercise any powers that are not in furtherance of its primary purposes.

This corporation shall hold and may exercise all such powers as may be conferred upon a nonprofit corporation by the laws of the State of California and as may be necessary or expedient for the administration of the affairs and attainment of the purposes of the corporation. In no event shall the corporation engage in activities that are not permitted to be carried on by a corporation exempt under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The initial principal office of the corporation shall be located in the County of Santa Cruz, State of California. The Executive Board may from time to time change the location of the principal office from one location to another within said county.

Read the current bylaws here.

  Robin Petrie
Davenport, January 2, 2016, awaiting the rains

Are you an RBDA Member? Join the conversation, get news updates on the Facebook page exclusively for RBDA members: RBDA, Rural Bonny Doon Association

Support the RBDA - Renew Your Membership: all 1-year memberships expire on January 31st.

Your continued support enables the RBDA Board to work on issues critical to Bonny Doon, to hold meetings to educate and get feedback regarding those issues, and to publish The Highlander newsletter.

Some people may not understand that receiving The Highlander in the mail doesn’t mean you are a current RBDA member. To reach the whole community we mail The Highlander to all mailboxes in Bonny Doon.

So unless you joined for multiple years, all 1-year RBDA memberships will expire on Jan. 31, 2016. To continue to support the RBDA, we need you to renew now for the 2016 year. Details are here.

Dues and donations go mainly to printing and mailing The Highlander, and rent and insurance for the public meetings at the school.

Ideas for RBDA Meeting Topics

We are always open to suggestions for interesting programs and speakers at our bimonthly (except July) RBDA public meetings.

What are you interested in? Local flora and fauna, gardening, environmental and political issues, Bonny Doon history or geology, public safety?

What were some of your favorite speakers or presentations at past RBDA meetings?
Were there any that you would like us to repeat?

Please email us with your ideas and comments at board@rbda.us.


Support Our Sponsors!

Frans Lanting Gallery
Wildlife & Nature Photography
500 Chestnut St., Suite 200 Santa Cruz
831-429-1331 www.lanting.com

The Flower Ladies
Flower Arrangements for Weddings & Special Occasions
831-423-0261 www.theflowerladies.com

Northcoast Berry Farms
340 Woodpecker Ridge
Bonny Doon CA 95060 831-426-3733

McHenry Vineyard
Estate Pinot Noir
Bonny Doon CA 95060
www.mchenryvineyard.com   530-756-3202

Heidi E. Hart, President, CEO
California Dreaming Real Estate
Local / Non-Corporate
myagentheidi@gmail.com   831-247-9410

Become One of Our Sponsors
Sponsorships: $100 a year
Send check and text to:
P.O. Box 551, Felton CA 95018

The Highlander
The Rural Bonny Doon Association Newsletter
Box 551 • Felton, CA 95018

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.

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!

Annual dues are used primarily for printing and mailing The Highlander,
your voice for keeping Bonny Doon rural and natural.

Click here for details!

Those who make additional contributions qualify as:

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

Coast Dairies, photo by Ted Benhari 

Back to the RBDA homepage

To the Highlander index