Solar Energy In Your Home
RBDA Meeting, Wednesday, May 10,
|Shining Some Light on Solar Energy
Blessed with long periods of almost uninterrupted sunlight, Bonny Doon is well-suited to using solar energy for heating homes and water, and for electricity.
Michael Arenson, director of Rising Sun Energy Center in Santa Cruz, has been a solar energy educator and advocate for many years. At the May 10 RBDA meeting, he will discuss the benefits of using this renewable, unlimited energy source, including economic considerations and the latest developments in photovoltaics, radiant heating and solar water systems.
Photovoltaic gear, in particular, has been improving rapidly. There are systems available now for everything from outdoor lighting to irrigation pumps to powering modern homes. In fact, several Bonny Doon homeowners are already "off-the-grid," using solar generated electricity with little sacrifice in the way of the modern appliances, information and entertainment systems that are so much a part of contemporary life, even far out in the country.
Moreover, state funds are available to help buy solar electric equipment, and excess energy that is generated can be fed back into PG&Eís system for credit. This is an excellent opportunity to get all your questions about solar energy use answered by an expert. Arenson has been involved with solar energy for nearly 25 years, has taught at Cabrillo Collegeís solar energy program since the mid-1980s, and has gotten awards for programs he has developed for Santa Cruz schools. He also is involved with equipment sales for the largest solar energy firm in Santa Cruz, so he is thoroughly familiar with what is commercially available and its cost.
We look forward to learning about more about this rapidly evolving, environmentally friendly technology, and hope to see you there.
Moon Rocks Protection Only a Small Step
The state Dept. of Fish and Game, which is in charge of the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, has begun to step up protection of this fragile resource, but budget limitations seem to be the chief impediment to an all-out effort to keep trespassers out of areas closed to the public, like the sandstone formations known as the "Moon Rocks."
Fish and Game says there is not enough money in their budget for the level of enforcement required to keep out mountain bikers, late night revelers, dog walkers and others who are not supposed to be in the reserve. After all, it is not a park. It is an ecological community that has few duplicates, and is home to several endangered or threatened plant and animal species. Bonny Doon and the North Coast are blessed with thousands of acres of state parks much more suited to biking, hiking and other recreational pursuits. The reserve is meant to be more of an educational nature walk than a place to hike.
Speaking of parks and budgets, doesnít it seem a little premature for our governor to propose drastically cutting state park admission fees when there still is so little money available for adequate monitoring and enforcement in parks like Gray Whale/Wilder?
Tickets Penned for Empire Grade Parkers
Driving past UCSCís west entrance on Empire Grade is safer now that there no longer are 35 or so cars parked haphazardly along and off the road, and there is reduced foot traffic across the heavily traveled intersection. Prodded by the RBDA and others, in March the county added signs to prohibit parking both on and off Empire Grade opposite the entrance, and the CHP and sheriff stepped up their ticketing operations.
But there are still problems. First, the enforcement by the gate seems to be only in the morning and the illegal parkers now gather later in the day. Second, there seem to be more cars parked along Cave Gulch, often dangerously close to the roadway. With all the large gravel and logging trucks, cars and bicyclists that use the winding road, the possibilities for accidents are strong. Itís obvious that more signs and enforcement are needed. We hope the sheriff and CHP will step up to improve safety.
Plover Lovers Wanted
The North Coast beaches are home to the snowy plover, a shore bird which
nests in the sand. They are very vulnerable to dogs and careless strollers,
and their numbers have dwindled to the point that they are now on the federal
threatened species list.
Please watch for the staked out areas around the nests, (as well as for unmarked nests) when you are down on Scott, Waddell, Laguna and the "mile-designated" beaches, and make sure your dogs donít get into them. If you want to help protect the plovers, call Michael Scheele at the county parks department, 454-7932, for information.
Here Comes the Sheriff
According to Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt, there may soon be a deputy assigned to the North Coast and Bonny Doon on a regular basis.
Ms. Wormhoudt says the Sheriffís Department is currently trying to hire
more staff. Once the roster is filled out, Sheriff Mark Tracy plans to
base a deputy in Davenport whose beat would include the beaches and Bonny
Doon. As some of you may recall, Sgt. Tony Jack was at the July RBDA
meeting seeking community support for a locally based deputy, and apparently
heís gotten it. Hopefully it will reduce response time to crimes and contribute
to greater traffic safety.
The Planning Commissionís long-delayed consideration of the application for the Redwood Meadows Ranch Winery may finally take place next month. The latest delay was due to the reassignment of the complex project to a new planning coordinator. (The previous coordinator took a job with the city planning department.)
If you want to comment on the proposal, watch our web site for an announcement of the hearing date.
The proposed winery is located in the gated development to the west of Bonny Doon Road just north of Smith Grade. The RBDA board has recommended that the size of the winery be scaled back, and that the request to rent it out for private social events be denied. We have not opposed the creation of a tasting room or the use of the winery for events directly related to promoting the wineryís products, like dinners for wine distributors.
Continuing their pressure on Santa Cruz Biotechnology Inc. to clean up their act, the Board of Supervisors has set a hearing for Tuesday, May 23, to review SCBIís plans to control the pollution running off its North Coast goat pharm.
After listening to pleas from downhill neighbors along Coast Road, who fear for their and their childrenís safety when the coliform bacteria-laden slop washes through their backyards, the supervisors on March 7 ordered the Planning Dept. to issue a notice of violations, and gave SCBI until May 1 to submit a plan for containing the nasty soup.
They also set a deadline of October 1 for the plan to be implemented. Hopefully, it will be, before the next rainy season sets in. Tests of the runoff during the big early April storm again showed dangerously high coliform levels. The runoff not only endangers the Coast Road neighborhood, but a well that is the water supply for several of SCBIís Back Ranch Road neighbors. If the well becomes contaminated, it could make their properties worthless.
SCBI is caught in a dilemma of its own making. The best method to contain the runoff is to contain the goat manure in concrete bunkers, but the supervisors have specifically ruled out that solution because they donít want any permanent structures built until SCBIís Master Plan is approved. The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) necessary for that approval is just in its early stages (more on that below).
If SCBI had followed the normal and legal course of applying for permits before moving 1,600 goats onto the property and installing fences, barns and other infrastructure, it would not now be in the situation it finds itself in. (SCBI wants to eventually keep 5,000 goats on the 300 acres of land it controls on lower Back Ranch Road, which runs from Smith Grade to Highway 1.) Irate environmentalists, farmers and neighbors eventually forced the county to enforce its own laws. The result was a compromise, a series of red-tag violation notices, and a new ordinance that allowed the biotech company to keep its animal research operation on commercial agricultural land. The supervisors also limited the amount of goats to about 1,700, pending approval of the Master Plan for the operation required by the new law.
Regarding the EIR, on June 5 the supervisors are scheduled to select a consultant to conduct the study. On March 15 the Planning Dept. had a "scoping" hearing, to get public input on the issues which should be addressed by the EIR. A wide range of experts and members of the public with many different interests showed up, and brought up several issues. They included the fact that there are hundreds of exploratory oil wells that were drilled there about 70 years ago, which could serve as direct pipelines for manure laden runoff to channel directly into the water table. The RBDA and others also asked that SCBI be directed to draw up a reclamation plan so that the steel and concrete foundations for the structures would be removed if SCBI abandons the land, so that it can return to agricultural use.
The May 23 hearing could well determine the safety of SCBIís neighbors over the coming year. We hope it will be well attended.
Court Belts 2nd Unit Suit
The provisions of the countyís "second unit" ordinance that control rents and require them to be occupied only by close family members, or people who qualify for "affordable housing," were upheld recently by Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Robert Yonts.
Two county property owners had claimed in a suit that the ordinances violated various state laws.
Without the restrictions, there would be little justification for allowing second units on properties zoned for single family dwellings. The ordinance is aimed at easing the local housing crunch for families of moderate means, and at the same time legalizing (i.e., place on the tax roles) the many illegal homes scattered around the county.
We Want Your Pictures
Since weíre now printing rather than photocopying the Highlander (the quality is better and itís 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 (weíre not planning to) weíll negotiate a fair deal with the photographer first.
Friends of Bonny Doon?
Members of three local households recently sent out a newsletter under the name Friends of Bonny Doon. If they choose to protect the special nature of Bonny Doon we shall support them. If they choose to follow the pattern of their newsletter, we will probably take opposite positions. For 42 years the RBDA has been firmly committed to protecting the beauty, the quiet, and the underdeveloped nature of our community. Are they truly Friends of Bonny Doon, or Friends of Business Development?
RBDA Representatives to 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.
Coast Dairies and Land Management Plan Advisory Group: Betsy Herbert
We greatly appreciate the work our knowledgeable representatives do, and the chance to have input into these important groups.
Bonny Doon's voice in preserving our special quality of life, The Highlander,
Send mail correspondence to the Highlander Editor at the above
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