Coast Dairies: What Next?
Now that the gorgeous Coast Dairies & Land property has been placed in public trust, who will decide how it will be used?
The planning process to decide that will be outlined at the January RBDA meeting by Ann Cole of the Trust for Public Land (TPL), the San Francisco organization which has charge of the 7,500-acre property stretched along the Pacific for five miles between Laguna and Scott creeks, and climbing inland to the hills of Bonny Doon.
Also at the meeting will be renowned nature and travel photographer Frank Balthis, a Bonny Doon resident. He will present slides he has made at Coast Dairies and other sites, many of them local. His work has been published by National Geographic, the Sierra Club and the Wildlife Federation. In case anyone isn't already aware of it, it will make clear the breathtaking beauty of the Coast Dairies property, which includes beaches, farms, ranches and forests.
Coast Dairies was purchased mostly with money from the Packard Foundation, helped out by state funds and other private donations. The likelihood is that the parts of it now used for agriculture and perhaps timber will continue as before, and that the residential parcels near Davenport will continue unchanged. There are also parts that are leased to RMC Lonestar, and the RBDA is very interested in whether those leases will continue, and under what terms.
One of the bigger questions is when and where public access will be permitted (of course the beaches are already open), and under what limitations. This is the RBDA's general membership meeting, so it will also feature the annual election of officers to the RBDA board. Be sure to renew your membership so you can vote.
For further information on CD&L, click here.
What's Lonestar Up to?
The mysteries surrounding the RMC Lonestar quarry/cement plant are growing.
First we had the mystery sound, which may no longer be a mystery. Read
on to find out more.
With the pace of quarrying apparently increasing, it seems that RMC has only a couple of years or so of limestone left without the applied-for expansion. Getting the permit could take 18 months or more, since the county may require an Environmental Impact Report under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), because, among other things, the expansion could affect the groundwater that supplies the City of Santa Cruz’s Liddell Spring intake. Does it seem RMC is cutting things a little close? Why? We intend to find out.
Meanwhile, the RBDA is marshaling its forces to draw a line in the woods,
so to speak, against the quarry’s expansion into residential zones. We
have collected over 320 Dooners’ signatures on our anti-quarry expansion
petitions, and plan to turn them in soon to the county supervisors. If
you still have petitions, mail them to us as soon as possible, at 102 Sunlit
Lane, SC 95060.
In other RMC news, the company was refused a permit exemption to drill
exploratory mining holes on its property surrounding Reggiardo Creek and
in the 1,000 foot buffer zone east of the quarry. To drill them, RMC will
have to go through the permit process. The county told RMC it used up its
exemption limit when it drilled exploratory holes on its Smith Grade residential
properties last fall. We still don’t know if RMC found mineable limestone
The Mystery Solved? You Be the Judge
Ok, here is what you’ve been waiting for: the revelation of the cause of the mystery sound, the strange hum that drives Dooners crazy. RMC Plant Engineer Bill Snell says recorders at three sites in Bonny Doon registered the hum at 190 Hz, the same frequency as the noise from one of the large fans at the cement plant. The fan was installed in 1991, and had a new muffler put on in 1993. Snell says a new muffler that could eliminate the sound has been ordered and will be installed in February. Let us and RMC know after that if you detect any difference.
Logging: Big Creek Wants to Play by Its Own Rules
After agreeing to negotiated changes in the way logging will be done in Santa Cruz County, Big Creek Lumber has decided to go back on its word and try to block the changes in court.
Turning its participation in the Timber Tactical Advisory Committee (TTAC) into a joke, our biggest local lumber company filed a Superior Court suit last month to change rules the county wants adopted to protect streams and drinking water, preserve fisheries and reduce the impact of logging on nearby homes.
Some background: The county formed the TTAC last year to try to balance the conflicting interests of the timber industry, private individuals who want to sell their trees to loggers, ecologists and homeowners. The committee was made up of equal numbers of loggers and community members. After lengthy meetings, the TTAC agreed on some issues but was at loggerheads on others. In direct negotiations with San Lorenzo Valley Supervisor Jeff Almquist, Mark Morganthaler of the community group and Mike Jani, Big Creek’s forester, agreed on a rules package to submit to the state Board of Forestry, which has to approve any rules changes.
Despite this agreement, Mike Jani argued against the rules package at the Board of Forestry hearings. In November the forestry board approved only some of the minor rules, and rejected the important ones. What is particularly dismaying in all this is that Big Creek has a reputation as the most responsible logging company working in Santa Cruz County. In recent years there has been a tremendous increase in logging by out-of-county companies, who have turned to new sources after buzzing through Mendocino and Humboldt forests. They are much less interested than Big Creek in protecting the local environment. But Big Creek’s suit could keep the door wide open for them to continue in their disregard for both the environment and local residents.
Skip ahead to the present.
The Board of Supervisors, hopeful that Gov. Gray Davis’s new Democratic
administration will alter the makeup of the industry-leaning Board of Forestry,
will be resubmitting its requests for changes in the rules regulating timber
Owners of Special Use (SU) and residential or agricultural zoned property would have to apply for rezoning to be able to log it. Big Creek may also try to undermine this effort. It was a suit against San Mateo’s effort to control where logging may be done that originally established that county’s do have that right. That came out of an Appeals Court ruling that the California Supreme Court declined to review. The logging industry is threatening to try to test that decision again, holding that only the state Supreme Court can establish that right. The supes plan to wait to vote on the new zoning ordinance until May 25, 1999, to see what the Coastal Commission has to say about the changes. Of particular note to Bonny Dooners, the new ordinance, as currently written, requires all new private driveways and permanent logging roads to be paved or rocked to prevent stream sedimentation. Studies have shown baserock runoff is the main cause of silt in our watercourses. The proposed change calls for gravel or baserock on slopes under 10%, oil and screen on slopes of 10- to 15%, and asphalt on slopes over 15%.
Critical RBDA Board Elections
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Whatever Happened to the Eco Reserve Plan & the Gray Whale Advisory Committee?
For more than a year, we’ve been expecting to see state Fish and Game’s management plan for the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve. Before the Martin Road property can be opened for hiking or horseback riding, the public must be given 30 days to review it. Fish and Game’s Jeannine DeWald says it will be ready in another month or so.
We’ll believe it when we see it.
The main purpose of the reserve is to protect the rare species and unusual topography. The plan must be scrutinized to see just how well it does that.
Also, when will state Parks Department’s district supervisor, Dave Vincent, ever schedule a meeting of the committee that is supposed to advise him on uses for the 2,300 acre Gray Whale Ranch, now part of Wilder Ranch State Park. Parts of it have been open to the public for almost a year. Assemblyman Fred Keeley pushed for this committee to ensure that ecological and recreational interests are balanced. Vincent wrote up some by-laws, invited people (including the RBDA) to serve, scheduled and then cancelled an initial meeting several months ago. Right now, the committee exists only on paper.
The Problem with Goats
Problems continue at the Santa Cruz Biotech Inc. (SCBI) goat pharm: high nitrate and coliform counts from manure runoff and unauthorized water use from Laguna Creek.
Meanwhile, Coast Road neighbors are fearful that SCBI may be the secretive buyer of the Lorenzi Ranch on the ocean side of Highway 1, the site of choke and sprout fields and the failing abalone farm. As of this writing, the county was still awaiting additional info on SCBI’s Master Plan. Another development: SCBI must conform to a new county ordinance requiring the goats be treated as lab, not farm animals (as the RBDA and others have insisted all along). This should result in more humane treatment when their blood is removed and sold for the human antibodies it contains.
In Memoriam: Bob Sturtevant and Tony Landino
This year we’ve lost several distinguished Bonny Doon senior citizens. Now we sadly add the names of Bob Sturtevant, who for many years worked to keep Bonny Doon rural and safe as a member of the boards of both the Fire Team and RBDA; and Tony Landino, patriarch of the Back Ranch Road well-drilling family. Our condolences to their families.