May/June 2001 issue
   The Mails of Bonny Doon
Julia Simon, U.S. Post Office

Coast Dairies Update
Betsy Herbert
RBDA Representative to the CD&L Advisory Group

Wednesday, May 9, 7:30 p.m.
Multi-Purpose Room
Bonny Doon School
The Post & The Coast

As we wrote in January when the Post Office’s Julia Simon was scheduled to speak, mail delivery in Bonny Doon has been fraught with problems: late mail, lost mail, stolen mail. Have there been improvements since then? It seems so, but it’s still far from perfect.

At the May 9 RBDA meeting, we’ll finally have a chance to talk to the Post Office about it.
We’ll also get an update on the status of the Coast Dairies & Land management plan (see below).
Until recently, featured speaker Julia Simon was the customer service manager for the Scotts Valley Post Office, which distributes the mail to BD. She is now working out of the Santa Cruz Post Office again. She’s a 23-year veteran of the postal service, having served in a wide variety of positions: letter carrier and distribution/window clerk and then acting postmaster in various Monterey Bay locations, customer service manager at the Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley post offices.

Julia will talk about the difficulties the postal service has in hiring competent carriers and the ongoing thefts and delivery problems, listen to your gripes and answer your questions.

Coast Dairies Update

About 3 years ago Save the Redwoods League bought the former Coast Dairies & Land property. Interim ownership was turned over to the Trust for Public Land (TPL). Likely final owners will be the Federal Bureau of Land Management and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

To start the process of creating a management plan for the 7,000 acres that span the North Coast from Laguna to Scott creeks, and from the ocean to Bonny Doon, TPL formed a Community Advisory Group. Betsy Herbert, the RBDA’s representative on it, says that it has been divided over a number of issues.  Coast Dairies embraces existing farms and ranches, some of the City of Santa Cruz’s water supply, and RMC Pacific Materials’ quarry operations, and it is home to some endangered plants and animals. Surfers, hikers, mountain bikers, timber companies and picnickers would like to make these beaches, forests, and upland meadows their habitat, too.

The challenge is balancing many different interests. Betsy will give a status report, and get your feedback to take back to the group.

Board Incumbents Reelected

A record turnout of over 400 people at the March 14 RBDA board election meeting resulted in re-election of the three incumbents, Ted Benhari, Marilyn Hummel and Ben Harmon, and Chris Gordon.

At the meeting dozens of people joined the RBDA or renewed their membership, swelling the rolls of our 44-year old organization to a record 558.  The election campaign, which stretched out for 3 months because of the postponement of the January 10 annual meeting, was one of the most contentious in our history. At stake was control of the executive board, since the majority of the seats (4) were up for election. The challengers and the incumbents’ slates, and their supporters, took their cases to the press, with several articles in the Sentinel and many letters to its editor.  In order to ensure a fair and open election, the board recruited supporters of each slate to hand out ballots to members and count the votes, under the supervision of Membership Coordinator Fred Bryck. An experienced moderator, Marian Taylor of the League of Women Voters, conducted the candidates’ panel and question and answer session.

The final results were Ben Harmon and Marilyn Hummel, each 275 votes; Ted Benhari, 272 votes; Chris Gordon, 266; Pat Pfremmer, 144; Virginia Lee Roberts, 123; Jac Idleman, 117; and Rich Conley, 110.

RBDA Members’ Eligibility Questioned

The four board candidates who failed to win election at the March 14 meeting have asked the RBDA Executive Board for permission to verify whether any people who weren’t entitled to RBDA membership voted in the election.

RBDA membership is limited to Bonny Doon residents or property owners. If, almost inconceivably, 125 of the voters in the recent board election were found ineligible for RBDA membership, (the difference between the lowest winner’s and highest loser’s vote total), the election would have to be conducted again.

The board is considering how best to resolve their concern. In keeping with Roberts Rules of Order, a special task force may be created to address it.  The matter will be discussed at the May 9 RBDA meeting.

You Had Questions, We’ll Try to Find Answers

There was time for only some of the questions submitted to the candidates at the March 14 general meeting. As space permits we will address them in the Highlander. In addition, we encourage you submit any additional questions you may have. Address them to the Highlander Editor at the postal or email address below. In that way, we may share a broader understanding.

Q. Do you believe in the "camel’s nose under the tent" theory that once commercial or extensive development starts that it tends to accelerate? 
A. Yes. Each step becomes precedent for the next, easing the way to increased development.

Q. If the Executive Board was notified before the March 14 election meeting that there would be a nomination from the floor, why wasn’t this announced at the beginning of the meeting? 
A. The agenda called for officers’ reports and then Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt. When we reached the election portion of the agenda, the expected floor nomination was mentioned. Other nominations from the floor were invited. It should be noted that a flyer with the nominee’s name (Rich Conley) was handed out at the front door as people filed in for the meeting.

New Board Elects Officers, Replaces Fred Bryck

The Executive Board elected its new officers for 2001 at its April 9 meeting, and also accepted the resignation of Fred Bryck, who has been membership coordinator for the past 6 years and a board officer for over 7.  Ted Benhari was re-elected chairman, Marilyn Hummel vice-chairman, and Miriam Beames corresponding secretary. Frank Wylie is now the recording secretary, and Ben Harmon is the new membership coordinator. Newly elected board member Chris Gordon is the new treasurer.

Fred and wife Joan are moving to the Portland, Oregon area, to be closer to 2 of their sons and grandchildren. During the last 3 months, when membership in the RBDA swelled from about 200 to an all-time high of 558, Fred displayed his diligence and dedication in the many hours it took to create and maintain the records, with, as always, Joan’s invaluable assistance. We also are grateful for their work during the hectic March 14 election meeting, when they had to register dozens of new and renewing members, and also oversee the election process. The RBDA and Bonny Doon are losing a valuable asset, but we wish them the best in their new home.

In accordance with our bylaws, the Executive Board has nominated a replacement for the few months left on Fred’s term: Marty Demare, a former board member, and named him Highlander Editor. At the May 9 meeting this nomination will be submitted to the membership. Nominations also will be accepted from the floor.

Marty served on the Executive Board from 1997-1999, and started the RBDA web site. A Coast Road resident, he was active in the successful effort to protect his neighborhood from the coliform laden Santa Cruz Biotechnology goat pharm runoff, and was a founding member of Save Our Agricultural Land (SOAL).

Limits Continued on Equestrian Center Operations 

At a hearing on March 16, Superior Court Judge Robert Yonts maintained the status quo on the restrictions he imposed in December on Vigne Farms, the Bonny Doon Road equestrian center built without permits.  The judge said no more than 25 horses can be boarded there until the red-tagged operation is fully approved by the county. He refused owners Jim Beauregard and Amie Van Dine’s request to let them expand to the full capacity of 50 horses, and Assistant County Counsel Marie Costa’s request that replacements not be allowed if any of the present 25 horses leave.  Judge Yonts did agree to Ms. Costa’s request to make Vigne Farms change its web site, to let people know it is not officially open and can only take requests for some future date when it will be open. No rates are to be mentioned.

At the hearing Judge Yonts received a petition with about 30 names on it asking that Vigne Farms be closed until it receives its occupancy certificates, which could take a year or more. As of the hearing date, the Planning Dept. was still asking for more information before it accepted the permit application as complete and processing could begin.  Judge Yonts said he didn’t want to reward Vigne Farms for opening without permits, but didn’t want to hurt them too badly by closing them down entirely. The owners claim they are losing money each month because of the 25-horse restriction.

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The Cell Sell

When Sprint PCS applied to install cell phone towers along Hwy. 1, there was little notice until view shed issues were examined by North Coast residents.  The county had no ordinance to regulate the installation of the towers and antennae. 

There are already many antennae throughout the county. Some are well hidden, some are obtrusively sited and some are disguised. Disguise was proposed for the 3 new towers on the North Coast, but in response to concerns about view shed degradation, the Board of Supervisors ordered planners to draft an ordinance to govern cell tower siting and installation, and authorized money for a technical consultant.

Planning staff did not hire the consultant even though they are notoriously understaffed. Instead, the draft ordinance authorizes the planning director the option to get technical advice and make a decision on each application behind closed doors.

Two meetings to solicit input on the draft ordinance were dominated by industry representatives, who attended to insure that no encumbering restrictions were included. When locals could get a word in, they were able to get plenty of feed back from industry reps, but no independent technical advice was available.

A map showing the location of existing antennae was of little use because some service providers did not furnish information to the county. Concerned residents had hoped to get language included that would create co-location incentives to avoid the proliferation of separate antenna sites. (Sharing the same antenna is not technically feasible).

The draft ordinance will be presented to the supes on Tuesday, May 8.  Most of us are increasingly dependent on telecommunications, but large areas of Bonny Doon and the North Coast have poor quality phone service and no access to cable. Expanding cell and  PCS coverage on the coast may benefit some residents but the local market is not very lucrative.  One cell company rep explained that if the county imposes too many difficult or expensive conditions, the companies simply won’t provide  the service.  Since it will primarily benefit travelers on Hwy. 1, we wonder if more visual clutter in the coastal view shed is really justified?

Please let us know how you feel about this issue.

Spread Community News?

A member recently asked the RBDA board if it would be willing to inform (via e-mail) our membership of a charity event staged by a Bonny Doon non-profit (501©(3) organization. As this is not part of the direct RBDA mission, we would like the membership to discuss the issue and specify their preferences. 

Pro: Some consider it a convenience and an extra RBDA service to provide such information. Because news would be brief and limited to Bonny Doon non-profits, there would be a low volume of such news. 

Con: Some members are "strict constructionists" of the RBDA’s role and believe that it is solely charged with maintaining the beauty and serenity of Bonny Doon, and should not take on additional tasks. They suggest that RBDA stick to its knitting and focus 100% of its effort on protecting the Bonny Doon environment and quality of life.

How could such information be distributed? 

1. Distribute the news to members who request it via our e-mail list. 
2. Post the material on the regular RBDA website. 
3. Post it on a special website. 
4. Briefly mention the upcoming event in the Highlander. 
5. Provide the information in whatever singular medium is preferred only to those who request it. 
6. Don’t provide this community service at all.
We hope that the membership will consider the matter thoughtfully and let the Board have the advantage of your thinking at the May 9 meeting.

Board Considering Committees on Bylaws, Roads

In response to concerns that surfaced during the recent, historic board election, the Executive Board is considering the appointment of a committee to study our bylaws and possibly make recommendations for changes.  The RBDA bylaws are sketchy on certain important topics, and leave many items to Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised 1990 Edition, 9th Edition. The bylaws may only be changed by a two-thirds vote of our members, at either an annual meeting (normally the January RBDA public meeting) or one specially called for that purpose.

The board is also considering appointing a committee to deal with the deteriorating road situation in Bonny Doon. It would be charged with lobbying the county to make more timely and extensive improvements and maintenance and correcting safety issues, and recommending better approaches to vegetation removal.

If you are interested in participating on these important committees, contact board chairman Ted Benhari, 426-5053, or by e-mail at

Mending a Fence

During the RBDA meeting the night of March 14 someone’s vehicle damaged part of a wooden board fence that divides the Bonny Doon School property from the neighboring house on Ice Cream Grade. The RBDA will be paying the fence’s owner $200 for repairs. If you parked along that driveway and remember bumping into the fence, our treasury would appreciate a donation. Just mail it to RBDA, 102 Sunlit Lane, Bonny Doon CA 95060. Thank you.

It’s Sir Frans Now

Bonny Doon has what may be its first nobility since the Spanish ruled California. Noted wildlife photographer Frans Lanting was inducted as a Knight in the Royal Order of the Golden Ark by His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in a ceremony at the Soestdijk Palace on March 30.  Prince Bernhard cited Frans for "his contribution to raise awareness for the beauty of nature and the necessity to protect it; [and] for his continuous effort to extend nature photography beyond its traditional boundaries, which time and again succeeds in amazing people about the wonders of our world." Frans, the first photographer to be honored with this award, has been active in nature conservation for more than 20 years. His work has received numerous honors. It regularly appears in National Geographic, GEO, and Audubon, and in many books.

Our most sincere congratulations to Sir Frans, who also has actively worked to preserve our local environment, for this much deserved recognition.

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: Frank Wylie 423-2533    | email here |
Corresponding Secretary: Miriam Beames 423-6275    | email here |
Highlander Editor: Marty Demare 457-1190    | email here |
Membership: Ben Harmon 459-7752    | email here |
Treasurer:  Chris Gordon  469-4498    | email here |

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