Wednesday, March 14, 7:30 p.m.
Bonny Doon School
for Bonny Doon's Future
Living in Bonny Doon is wonderful. But you do have to make some sacrifices. One of those sacrifices is giving up the convenience of nearby stores and movies and restaurants, so that Bonny Doon can remain the "rural and natural" place we love.
Of course, Bonny Doon isn't as rural or natural as it was in 1957 when the Rural Bonny Doon Association was started. The population has grown manifold. But it still isn't like the San Lorenzo Valley, or even Aptos. And the RBDA is largely responsible for that.
Today we are at a critical juncture for the RBDA. On March 14, there will be an election to the RBDA board that will determine the direction of our organization for the next few years.
Majority of Board to Be Elected
There are four seats on the board that will be up for election at that meeting, a majority of the board. Three of the board incumbents, Ted Benhari, Marilyn Hummel, and Ben Harmon are running again, while Dave Deamer is not. There are four other declared candidates: Chris Gordon, Jac Idleman, Pat Pfremmer and Virginia Lee Roberts. (See the following pages for the candidates’ campaign statements.)
Serious Differences about Commercial Development
If you have read the stories in the Sentinel, or been involved with the Bonny Doon grapevine, you know that there are serious differences among the candidates regarding commercial development in Bonny Doon.
The present RBDA board has been true to the organization's mission and history of trying to keep Bonny Doon rural and natural (see story page 4). Almost always unanimously, it has opposed commercial development that would have a negative impact on Bonny Doon. We don't believe that the values that people seek in living in Bonny Doon should be destroyed to benefit a single individual, a small group of investors, or even a large business.
That said, we also recognize that growth is inevitable, and certain projects may be good for Bonny Doon while having little impact on the quality of life in our community. The current board has carefully examined many proposed projects, and given the community an opportunity to learn about them, by inviting the developers to an RBDA meeting. That included such projects as the potential expansion of the RMC (formerly Lonestar) quarry, the Santa Cruz Biotechnology goat pharm, and the Redwood Meadows Ranch Winery.
We have also encouraged and expanded the opportunities for our members, and others in the Bonny Doon community, to communicate with the executive board, at our public meetings, or via our web site, e-mail, telephone and traditional mail.
So when a group of Bonny Dooners who have made little or no attempt to talk to us, who don't attend our meetings, who don't seem to understand the RBDA's mission, and who have the support of commercial developers (as interviews they gave to the Sentinel made clear), suddenly tried to take over the RBDA, we wondered, "What is their real, unstated agenda?"
RBDA's Role Expanded
Over the last few years, the RBDA board has also expanded its role in matters that affect us all, like improved and safer roads, having the sheriff assign a deputy to the North Coast, and alerting people to the mail thefts.
Most recently, when the county supervisors were considering an ordinance to meter water wells, we brought Bruce Laclergue, the ordinance's author, to our public meeting to inform Bonny Dooners about its details. Let's be clear about this: Even though the now abandoned legislation would not have applied to Bonny Doon, this ordinance was not supported by the RBDA board.
We need to quash another rumor that we have heard circulating. The RBDA board has never become involved in any individual's construction project, even if it was built without permits or in violation of county codes. We don't believe that is the role of the RBDA.
Growth Must Be Managed
We are concerned with commercial or multi-home developments that have a measurable impact on Bonny Doon. And whether we approve of such projects or not, we are firmly committed to the principle that they should be open to public and county scrutiny by going through the permit process.
We recognize that Bonny Doon will continue to grow, but we believe that it should be slow and managed so we don't lose the unique qualities of our mountain Eden, and impact our roads and water resources beyond what they are capable of supporting.
If you agree with these values, you need to come to
the March 14 meeting,
Here, in alphabetical order and in their own words, are the statements by the seven announced candidates for the four seats up for election at the March 14 meeting.
Ted Benhari - RBDA Chair, Highlander Editor
Mine are evident in the RBDA's accomplishments in my six years on the board.
If it's a small project that will only affect a neighbor or two, the RBDA should not get involved. And despite the rumors, I've never seen that happen. But if the potential impact is large, if public safety or the environment is endangered, then the RBDA must get involved.
I don't believe the county should issue a discretionary commercial development permit if it reduces the value of neighboring properties.
I also value communication. I edit the Highlander, and helped create our web site. I also supported publishing the board's phone numbers and e-mail addresses, making it easy to reach us.
If you support these values, re-elect me March 14.
Chris Gordon is a resident of Bonny Doon, and has lived in the Santa Cruz area for over eight years. He works as a geologist, having received a geology degree from UC Santa Cruz in 1995.
He is concerned with the changing landscape of Bonny Doon, as more and more people move to the area, and the availability of land in Santa Cruz County becomes a limited resource. As a native Californian, his past experience in similar formerly rural areas of California has shown him that unchecked development of a rural environment cannot be reversed. One of his objectives is to encourage that the inevitable new development projects in Bonny Doon be carried out with a sensitivity towards preserving the natural setting and rural atmosphere.
He would like to see education made available to enhance the availability
of environmentally friendly practices such as gardening with native plants,
the use of "gray water" recycling systems, and the use of solar or wind
energy. Chris is involved with the local Resource Conservation District.
In the past, he was active in the American Ocean's Campaign in Southern
California, and was acting President of the Student Environmental Activists
Club at Santa Monica City College.
Ben Harmon - RBDA Recording Secretary
I have lived on Coast Road for eight years. In addition to enjoying the tremendous beauty of our corner of the world, I have also spent considerable time helping to protect it. I spent three years working together with fellow residents to successfully halt the toxic runoff from Santa Cruz Biotechnology. I am now in my fourth year as the RBDA's representative to the North Coast Beaches Advisory Committee, helping to preserve the beauty of our beaches and the safety of our residents.
I have been a board member since October 2000, having taken the place
of Bill Hornaday.
My personal motivation is perfectly expressed in the RBDA bylaws, which
state: "The principal objectives of the Association are to keep Bonny Doon
rural and natural." I am certain that the vast majority of Bonny Doon residents
share this vision and, if elected, I will help keep the RBDA focused on
it. I believe that the key to making the RBDA effective is through outreach
and education aimed at achieving broad community involvement.
Marilyn Hummel - RBDA Vice Chair
The challenge to Bonny Doon and the RBDA is to keep our community "Rural and Natural" in the face of a growth trend pushing us toward suburbia. The most recent survey (1990) found that there were 348 vacant parcels in Bonny Doon. Some are unbuildable, but there is still the possibility of much additional growth.
To absorb that growth and still maintain a quiet, rural place, I think that we need to limit developments that bring traffic, noise, and lights. That has been the philosophy of the present members of the RBDA board. The meetings of the association have always been open to all - members or not. If I am reelected, I will make a special effort to invite Bonny Doon residents who may differ with our philosophy or our emphasis. We can learn from each other, even if we do not always agree. I have lived in Bonny Doon for many years and have followed closely the land use issues here and elsewhere in the county.
I ask for your vote on March 14.
The RBDA has been a community organization since the early 50’s and laid the foundation for keeping Bonny Doon natural and beautiful. Who could be more interested in keeping it that way than the people who have settled here? I believe the RBDA needs to be more responsive, in a positive way, to the residents of Bonny Doon. All are not going to agree, but all should be heard. I have been a volunteer in Bonny Doon for over 30 years. I am Jac Idleman, a candidate for a seat on the Executive Committee of the RBDA.
Bonny Doon is a wonderful community, one that makes us all proud. For me, being a part of the community means getting involved, volunteering. I have served as your County Law Librarian for the past 20 years. In that capacity, I have successfully worked with a variety of people on a daily basis. Here are some of the qualities that I will bring to our RBDA board:
I would greatly appreciate your vote. Thank you.
Virginia Lee Roberts
As a long-time resident of Bonny Doon, I would like to offer my perspective to the RBDA. I first lived in Bonny Doon in 1971 while a student at UCSC, and fell in love with it. In 1982, I came back to Bonny Doon and bought a home when it was time to raise my family. I served on the Bonny Doon school board from 1990-94, and was part of the dynamic team that got the bond measure passed and the new school built.
Professionally, I have been a freelance writer for 20 years and currently work in UCSC’s Psychology Dept. From 1994-96, I was an editor at the Good Times, and have always seen Bonny Doon within the greater context of Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay.
Growth has always been a delicate issue for the Bonny Doon community and the present is no exception. Personally, I believe that growth is a necessary part of life, but must be accompanied by vision, intelligence and discretion. I am open to those who want to enhance the quality of our life here, and remain wary of those whose motives reflect their own self-interest. I've been asked to run for the RBDA in the past, but the time wasn't right. Now the time has come.
How the Election Will Be Conducted
There are distinct differences among the candidates at the upcoming March 14 election, which seems like it will be the most contentious we have had in years. Therefore, we have made special arrangements to ensure that the meeting and voting is conducted fairly.
Marian Taylor, who has experience in moderating League of Women Voters candidate forums, will run the panel discussion and the question and answer session for the candidates. Every candidate will be given three minutes to state their position and qualifications, and a limited time to answer members’ written questions. We will have index cards available for you to write on.
Bring a pen, to write your questions and cast your vote. Printed ballots will be issued to all members. If your membership is not current, come prepared to stand in line. To save time at the meeting, it would be better if you send in your membership fee and form as soon as possible. The vote tallying will be overseen by our membership coordinator, Fred Bryck, with observers representing the candidates to ensure a fair and accurate ballot count.
We also recommend that you carpool because of the limited parking at
the school. We have arranged for all parking areas to be open - the upper
lot, the lower lot and behind the school - but it may not be sufficient,
considering the amount of interest in the election.
Why the January Meeting Was Canceled
The election for the RBDA board was supposed to take place at the January 10 RBDA meeting, which was canceled because of the storm and the illness of the main speaker, Julia Simon of the Scotts Valley Post Office. (See her letter, below, which puts to rest a rumor that she really wasn't ill that day.) That night, according to the Sentinel, a couple of dozen Bonny Dooners (many of whom have not been members of the RBDA for many years, if ever) came intent on joining the RBDA for the purpose of voting out the incumbents. Several days later, Pat Pfremmer and Stephanie Jessen presented a petition to the RBDA (accompanied by about 25 more new membership applications), demanding a special meeting be called to conduct the board election.
The RBDA board declined to hold a special meeting for three reasons:
1. The board had already informed people by a public notice posted at the school the night of the canceled January meeting, by e-mail to over 100 members, and by a postcard that was already about to be mailed to the rest of the members, that the election would be held March 14.
2. The RBDA bylaws defer to Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised, for rules regarding the conduct of meetings. Quoting from Roberts, "The reason for special meetings is to deal with important matters that may arise between regular meetings and that urgently require action by the society before the next regular meeting." The board election certainly didn't qualify as requiring urgent action. No significant issue was in front of the board that had to be decided before the next regular meeting, scheduled for March 14.
3. The petition was a couple of signatures short of the required
10% of the membership roles at the time it was submitted. The 25 new applicants
weren't members at the time they signed the petition, so their signatures
Would You Want to Live Here?
Imagine what Bonny Doon might be like today if not for the RBDA and others who have fought to preserve our North Coast. There could be:
remain "rural and natural." For example, the expansion of the limestone quarry by RMC Pacific Materials (formerly Lonestar) onto residential properties it owns could bring mining to within 25 feet of Smith Grade, Since the quarry is within a few years of running out of limestone, the expansion attempt is almost a certainty.
When RMC drilled test holes there three years ago, quick action by the RBDA board in gathering over 300 signatures in a petition showed RMC how opposed the community is to that expansion.
Think about that and the potential for other large developments here as as you listen to the board candidates on March 14.
Julia Simon's Illness: the True Story
Shortly after the January 10 RBDA meeting was canceled, a rumor began circulating that Julia Simon, the featured speaker, had not really taken sick and could have appeared that evening. The following note from Julia to RBDA board member Frank Wylie explains how that rumor arose:
"Frank, I wanted to clear up the misunderstanding about why I couldn't make it to the meeting last month. I was very ill with the flu and while I was at the doctor my daughter was at my home. She answered the phone and not knowing I was at the doctor she looked on my calendar and said that I was at my hair appt. (which I had canceled and she didn't know!)."Julia, customer service manager of the Scotts Valley branch of the US Post Office, has been invited to speak at the May RBDA meeting.
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