March/April 2000 issue
The Reign of Terroir

Randall Grahm
Bonny Doon Vineyards Winemaker
The Secrets of Santa Cruz Viticulture
RBDA Meeting, Wednesday, March 8, 7:30 p.m.
Multi-Purpose Room, Bonny Doon School

The Rhone Ranger and the Reign of Terroir

World renowned winemaker Randall Grahm, whose fermentations have both delighted and consternated the mondo vino, will be at the March 8 RBDA meeting. The man nicknamed "The Rhone Ranger" for his grenache panache will unmask the secrets behind the excellence of Bonny Doon and Santa Cruz Mountain grapes. And, if he is so inclined, his schmooz de booze (a vulgar and shameless stretch, certo, but what pressure from the comparison to Randall’s own multilingually erudite newsletter) will also include anything else that crosses his complex and comic mind.

Bonny Doon vintages grace the wine lists in fine restaurants throughout the world. With his outrageous Ralph Steadman labels, iconoclastic noms de vins  (Cardinal Zin, Big House Red) and inventive blends, Randall is the eno-fant terrible of the wine world.
His local vines fatally pierced by blight, Randall does most of his bottling in a Santa Cruz warehouse, with only a small operation here in BD (to the annoyance of some of his neighbors). We know that his appearance may be un poco controversial, but it so RBDA, ne c’est pas? "When I speak at winemaking events, people often tell me they are amazed at my candor," wrote Señor Grahm in his fall 99 circular.

There will be much to talk about.

Vino, vido, vici? It will be your decision.

A Second House on Every Plot?

As we were going to press, Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Robert Yonts was about to issue a verdict that could make it easier for virtually all rural property owners to build a second house if they wish.  The verdict, in a suit brought by a Boulder Creek man, Steven Travis, and a Santa Cruz couple, the Sokolows, could knock out the county’s Second Unit Ordinance provisions that control rents and require that second units be occupied only by close family members or people who qualify for "affordable housing."

The ordinance was passed by the county a couple of years ago in response to several issues: the paucity of moderately priced housing, the state’s pressure on Santa Cruz to take more of California’s burgeoning population, and the county’s desire to legalize the myriad illegal dwellings and turn them into tax revenue.

The plaintiffs argued in court that state laws preclude the county’s controlling rent and occupancy of the second units. If Yonts agrees, the county is almost sure to appeal.
This ordinance is disastrous enough even with the restrictions, since it potentially doubles the housing density in the unincorporated areas (except Live Oak) without regard to traffic, water and privacy and other quality of life issues. Ironically, if the plaintiffs win, it could lead to the county’s modifying the ordinance in a way that greatly restricts the number of second units that could be built.

What Is a Good Lumbering Operation?

Good lumbering operations allow continuing sustainable growth of the forests.  Those who care about redwoods take the extra care and pay the required expenses for Scientific Certified Systems (SCS) to monitor the operations from beginning to end. They start by inspecting the forest before the cutting, then make random inspections as they follow the logs to and through the mill, until they are sold as boards or timbers. They keep detailed records from start to finish.
Those who want to protect the forests can help by asking their contractor/bidder to specify ‘certified’ when they buy lumber for a job.  Certified lumber normally runs three to five percent more, but is surely worth it in quality and in ensuring the future.  The certified lumber process is endorsed by numerous organizations, including: Sierra International, World Wildlife Fund, National Resource Defense Council and Greenpeace. However, it is not a guarantee that none of the wood comes from "old growth" trees, which is a definition more complicated than we have space for here. If this is a concern to you (we think it should be), ask that question specifically of your supplier.  Few people want to cut down a redwood, but many like to have a redwood deck. But there are options. 

First, let’s note that redwood has gone up 45% in the last year and is costlier than ever. At the same time, much of it is sapwood, which has a far shorter life span than center-cut redwood. It runs about $1.16 per linear foot for a 2x6" piece of rough redwood, or $1.70 for "con heart," which is really red.

One option that looks promising and has the endorsement of carpenters is called Nexwood. It’s made of recycled plastic and wood fibers so it’s lighter yet stronger than wood, and it lasts longer (it carries a 20-year guarantee). 

It is worked with normal carpentry tools and needs no maintenance except occasional cleaning. It’s available at San Lorenzo Lumber and elsewhere for about $1.65 per linear foot. Trex is a similar alternative.

Big Creek Offers Log Site Tour

To help RBDA members learn to recognize a properly logged area, Big Creek Lumber has agreed to provide a tour on an upcoming Saturday. 

If you are interested, call Highlander Editor Frank Wylie at 423-2533, or fax him at 429-9829. Tell him your preferred date, name and phone number.

Motorcyclists Tearing Up Gray Whale

When the trails turn to mud in Gray Whale, part of Wilder Ranch State Park, it brings out the motorcyclists who like their thrills dirty. Such riding does, of course, cause serious erosion in the park and also on some adjoining private land.

The understaffed rangers can’t protect the park from damage by careless visitors. The value of an unguarded park is greatly diminished, and careless damage cannot always be undone. We urge RBDA members to take an active personal part in pressing for adequate ranger protection in the several parks and reserves in our area. Write your assembly person, state senator and governor to request their support in protecting Gray Whale and the others for the future. And of course, if you see motorcyclists riding in the park, try to get a license number and report them to the State Parks Dept.

SCBI’s Foul ‘Soup’ on Supes’ Agenda 

With the runoff from the Santa Cruz Biotech goat pharm on Back Ranch Road exceeding the legal limits for coliform bacteria by a factor of 12 when tested during recent rainfalls, the Board of Supervisors may be ready to take some stern measures.
Spurred on by downhill neighbors who have complained about the dangerous slop flowing through their back yards, the supes have put the subject on their Tuesday, March 7 agenda, at 9 a.m. We strongly encourage everyone who is concerned about water pollution (some of the runoff heads into Majors Creek and other waterways, and of course, into the ocean) to attend this meeting and urge the supes to force SCBI to finally do something meaningful to prevent it.

Dues Raised by $5
Long overdue because of years of rising costs to print and mail the 
Highlander, the RBDA membership voted unanimously at the January meeting to 
raise dues by $5. A yearly membership for an individual goes from $10 to $15, 
and from $15 to $20 for two members living in the same household.

Support Our Sponsors

Hutton Sherer Advertising Marketing Design
Full-service award-winning marketing and advertising services.
2851-C Research Park Drive, Soquel                                               479-0123

Santa Cruz Waldorf School
K-8 independent school providing arts-integrated curriculum.
2190 Empire Grade                                                                         425-0519

Sponsorships are $66 a year, (6 issues).  Send a check and text to: 
RBDA, 102 Sunlit Lane, Bonny Doon, CA 95060.

More "Oops" from PG&E

As time goes by, it’s becoming clearer that PG&E’s squashing manzanitas in its recent Bonny Doon line clearing was not just a rare accident. Reports have recently surfaced in locales like Boulder Creek, Watsonville, Carmel and Pacifica of vegetation getting the short end of the stick from our omnipresent power distributor.
* Upset at the removal of 1,100 trees in Carmel along Hwy. 1, the Monterey Board of Supervisors denied PG&E permission to cut 39 more trees and directed the county planning department to develop a permitting plan for future tree removals.
* In Pacifica, PG&E sliced off the tops of two 90-year old palm trees last month even after it accepted $10,000 raised by the city and residents to move a power pole the trees’ fronds were rubbing. The trees, which can live 300 years, probably won’t survive. "Miscommunication," said the PG&E spokesman.
* And here’s a quote from a note we recently received from a McGivern Way Dooner: "Our once beautiful tree lined drive is now an eyesore, leaving some homes that were previously totally hidden or partially now exposed. They [PG&E’s contractors] left the cut trees behind scattered about the sides of the road in such large lengths many home owners didn’t/don’t have the equipment heavy enough for removal, so most of the fallen trees lie where they were left two years ago." 

All this points up the need for greater public oversight over the utility’s line clearing policies, and perhaps more stringent guidelines, at least in populated areas. And also the need for PG&E to gain greater internal control over what its many minions are doing.

We’re still waiting to learn where PG&E plans to cut next, which may either be along the lines south from last year’s Robles/Molina area in the general vicinity of Bonny Doon Road, or beyond that in the Coastal Zone down to Davenport. It will be required to get Coastal Commission permits and there will be a lot more government regulation of the cutting.  Meanwhile, negotiations are continuing with PG&E as part of the lawsuit brought by several Dooners last year to force changes in its line maintenance practices. Thanks to the more than two dozen RBDA members who supported this suit with financial contributions. There are still ongoing costs from this suit and more contributions are welcome. Send them to the RBDA at 102 Sunlit Lane, Bonny Doon CA 95060, with "for the PG&E lawsuit" marked on the check.

Wylie Joins RBDA Board

Frank Wylie, who has lived on Smith Grade for many years, was elected to the RBDA executive board at the Jan. General Meeting. Retired from a distinguished career spent in public relations, he is taking over as Highlander Editor starting with this issue.

Ted Benhari retains his post as chair, Marilyn Hummel is now vice chair, Dave Deamer remains as treasurer, Bill Hornaday becomes recording secretary, Miriam Beames, who was re-elected to a 2-year term, is corresponding secretary, and Fred Bryck, also re-elected for 2 years, continues as membership coordinator.

Our sincere appreciation goes to Val Haley, who declined to re-run because of other commitments, including serving as Eco Reserve docent coordinator. Val has promised to continue actively advising the board on botanical and environmental issues. We’ll miss her, but we’ll still have access to her expertise.

Preserve the Reserve

The RBDA board has asked the state Fish & Game Department to close the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve to the public until a management plan has been approved and personnel are appointed to monitor and protect it.  We know this may upset some people who waited many years for the opportunity to visit this incredible terrain, but even before public access is formally permitted, it is clear that the unique plant and animal species there are being endangered by unwitting or just plain dumb people.  People are already using it as a dog exercise area, riding mountain bikes on it, throwing beer fests there, and otherwise trashing it.  Without adequate supervision, there is danger that this great treasure, which so many worked so hard to preserve, will be ruined.

UCSC’s Parking Problems Are Ours, Too

North and south of UCSC’s west entrance on Empire Grade, overflow parking has created some real dangers. Despite the "No Parking at Any Time" signs, there are up to 35 cars parked, on the shoulder and in the bike lane. Besides people who ignore the Heller Drive stop sign, we now have people running suddenly across Empire Grade.

Northward, along Cave Gulch, parked cars nudge off the road wherever they can, while the County refuses to extend the parking signs, and the existing parking prohibitions are seldom enforced.
If you have been forced into a dangerous situation by an illegally parked car, complain to the CHP at 455-1826.

We Want Your Pictures

Since we’re now printing rather than photocopying the Highlander (the quality is better and it’s even a little cheaper, though it takes longer), we can print decent renditions of photos.
We invite you to send us your shots of the life and the landscape of Bonny Doon. We will publish some in the Highlander and on our Web site, space permitting. Please send photos (preferably no larger than 4x6s) to the attention of Bill Hornaday c/o RBDA, 102 Sunlit Lane, BD 95060.  If you want the photos returned please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. All photos submitted become the property of the RBDA, though if we ever make any money from any of them (we’re not planning to) we’ll negotiate a fair deal with the photographer first. 

Help with Quarry Petition Data Input

To communicate quickly any news regarding RMC Pacific Materials’ (formerly Lonestar) attempts to expand their limestone quarry operations, we want to put together a database of the hundreds of people who signed our protest petitions last year.

If you can do computer data input (typing, basically), please contact our membership coordinator, Fred Bryck, at 425-5476.

RBDA Participation in Advisory Groups
Helping to shape the preservation and future of Bonny Doon and the North Coast, the RBDA has representatives who sit on various advisory committees.  They are: Coast Dairies and Land Management Plan Advisory Group, Betsy Herbert; North Coast Beaches Advisory Committee, Ben Harmon; and Gray Whale Park Advisory Committee, Ed Grumbine.

We greatly appreciate the work our knowledgeable representatives do, and the chance to have input into these important groups.

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
Chair: Ted Benhari  426-5053    | email here |
Vice Chair: Marilyn Hummel 426-3352    | email here |
Recording Secretary: Bill Hornaday 421-0167    | email here |
Corresponding Secretary: Miriam Beames 423-6275    | email here |
Treasurer: David Deamer 426-5601    | email here |
Membership: Fred Bryck 425-5476    | email here |
Highlander Editor: Frank Wylie  423-2533    | email here |

Contact the RBDA Board in one email

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