May/June 2009 issue

Santa Cruz Open Space District

Terry Corwin, Land Trust Of Santa Cruz County
Maureen McCarty, Rachel Goodman, legislative assistants

Update On Bonny Doon Fire District

Bonny Doon Fire Team
Friends Of Bonny Doon Fire

RBDA General Meeting
Wednesday May 13, 2009, 7:30 PM

Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room
Ice Cream Grade & Pine Flat Road

Santa Cruz Open Space District - Better Approach to Land Protection

In the past three years the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County has dramatically increased its conservation activities in our County. Since 2005 the Land Trust has protected more than 1,700 acres of land, including prime farmland in the Pajaro Valley, wetlands around Watsonville, and almost 200 acres in the Sandhills between Scotts Valley and Felton. To accomplish this, the Land Trust has raised more than $26 million, most of it from foundation and government grants.

At the May 13 RBDA meeting, Terry Corwin, the Land Trust's Executive Director during this period, will talk about the Land Trust's newest effort: creating an Open Space District in Santa Cruz County. Similar districts in San Mateo and Monterey County have been spectacularly successful. In April the State Senate passed SB211, a bill that will allow the County Board of Supervisors to place on the ballot a measure creating and funding such a district. Corwin will talk about what this district could do and why the Land Trust feels it is needed for the permanent and long-term protection of our County’s most scenic and ecologically and recreationally important areas.

The bill is authored by our two Sacramento representatives, Sen. Joe Simitian and Assy. Bill Monning. Joining Corwin at the May 13 meeting will be Maureen McCarty of Simitian's office and Monning assistant Rachel Goodman. The bill has been endorsed by both the Board of Supervisors and the Santa Cruz City Council.

Note: Due to the speakers’ schedules, this will be the first item on the agenda.

Cal Fire Comes to Bonny Doon

By the time you read this, providing all goes smoothly, Cal Fire will have moved an engine and staff from Felton to Bonny Doon in time for the new fire season, which is anticipated to start June 1. Our new Cal Fire community members will add substantially to the proven services already provided by the Bonny Doon Fire and Rescue Volunteers.

While Cal Fire and the Bonny Doon Volunteers have worked together for a long time, the two groups will be (or are) now co-located at the McDermott Fire Station at the corner of Felton Empire and Empire Grade, in an everyday relationship. Says Cal Fire’s Battalion Chief Ian Larkin, “This enhanced interaction will provide additional opportunities for training, equipment and facility maintenance, as well as increased fire prevention and protection. We are here as professionals and people to provide the highest level of service to the people of Bonny Doon. We work with the volunteers to create the best possible response for the community.”

Chief Larkin says the Cal Fire staffers welcome visits from Dooners to meet our new neighbors and check out our expanded fire department. They also welcome phone calls, and are eager to hear our questions and concerns: their number is 426-3131. “We are part of the community, we are your servants,” he says.

Here are specifics about the new Cal Fire arrangements. To be clear, these are in addition to the Bonny Doon Volunteers' existing station, staff and equipment:

Cal Fire Staff: A goal in making assignments is that Cal Fire personnel will stay in Bonny Doon and become vested in the area.

Cal Fire refers to non-fire season (wet season months) as their ‘Amador’ period. During this time, Santa Cruz County contracts with Cal Fire for services. In the new agreement, approved by the Board of Supervisors, the level of service has been increased from four to five engines with a minimum of two person staffing at all times. This number is likely increase to four person staffing during fire season. The additional engine will reside at McDermott Station. Currently the two supervising Battalion Chiefs will be Ian Larkin and Eric Johnson. Some of the other staff include Fire Captains Sean Murray and Jake Hess. Chief Larkin and both Captains are long time residents of Santa Cruz County.

Cal Fire management told us that Bonny Doon “is a must-cover station.” In the event of a major incident, the engine would be staffed by either the Bonny Doon Fire Team or Cal Fire personnel and all costs would be covered by Cal Fire.

The County says it has funds to cover the Bonny Doon facility for the next few years.

Housing: The existing 3-bedroom, 2- bath house has been extensively upgraded and repaired, with funding from Santa Cruz County and a donation of concrete from Las Animas, so it can comfortably sleep six, and each firefighter has a locker for personal gear. Some of the work was done by men with special skills from the Ben Lomond Camp.

Training: Both Chief Larkin and Captain Hess have worked as trainers for Cal Fire, and say they are eager to offer their services. As Chief Larkin comments, “The greater interaction between the two groups will provide hands-on training [for volunteers] on a daily basis.” He adds, “We are looking at ways to streamline getting volunteers through their basic training.”

Non-Fire Emergencies: ‘All-Risk’ fire protection includes all emergencies. While Cal Fire is known for fighting wildland and structure fires, they also respond to vehicle accidents, medical aids, hazardous materials calls, cliff rescues, etc. The EMS standard for San Mateo/Santa Cruz firefighters is Emergency Medical Technician, and all engines have medical equipment, including defibrillators. While some firefighters choose independently to be trained as paramedics, Santa Cruz County does not provide this training, nor will it accredit staffers who have been trained. ALS/Paramedic services to Santa Cruz County are provided by American Medical Response (AMR).

Other Activities: When not on calls, firefighters stay busy: they must keep up their firefighting training and exercise for professional fitness; they maintain their station and equipment; they perform inspections in the community for ‘defensible space’ and offer information for homes’ fire safety (though they cannot enter a house); they inspect businesses and conduct school programs. Among the staffers’ daily chores are grocery shopping and preparing meals for the group.

Dispatching: When someone in Bonny Doon dials 911, the Netcom operator who receives the call immediately transfers all but CHP calls to Felton Emergency Command Center. The dispatcher, listening in on the dialogue between the caller and the Netcom operator, simultaneously types the information into Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD). Cal Fire then dispatches the appropriate resources via radio and alpha pagers. This new process should reduce response time, says Larkin.

Chain of Command: Battalion chiefs are responsible for the Bonny Doon area, including the Cal Fire station and all personnel, both Cal Fire and volunteers. In the absence of battalion chiefs, Cal Fire captains are liaisons with volunteers.

Bottom Line: There are two sources of money for the new station, State and County. State funds are given directly to Cal Fire for services to the State during fire season, and for maintaining Cal Fire apparatus. The County contracts with Cal Fire to provide services to the unincorporated areas of the County (CSA 48) during the winter months, and also funds Cal Fire for specific purposes, for example, for structural costs and new equipment. While we, as taxpayers, are the source of all these monies, relocating the Felton engine to Bonny Doon should not increase our CSA 48 taxes for now. If in the future more funds are needed for CSA 48, and several County officials believe that it certainly will need them, it will require a vote of the taxpayers. Such an increase was voted down in 2007.

Update on the Quest for a BD Fire District

There have been a lot of rumors and unanswered questions regarding the ongoing campaign to form a Bonny Doon Fire District. At the RBDA May 13 meeting representatives from Bonny Doon Fire and Rescue and the Friends of Bonny Doon Fire will give a brief presentation and then be available for a short period of Q&A.

Training in Emergency Response
 After last year's Martin Fire, there were many suggestions to better prepare the community for the next one. One of the best was to offer Dooners the opportunity to take part in the federally funded Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training ( CERT members can give critical support to first responders, and provide immediate assistance to victims. CERT members can also assist with non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of the community.

When an emergency of the scale of the Martin Fire (or heaven forbid, worse) arises, first responders are likely to be overwhelmed, and many of us want to step in to offer assistance. CERT training aims to: 1. Present citizens with the facts about what emergency services may be available following a major disaster. 2. Inform people about their responsibility for preparing for and mitigating disasters. 3. Teach needed lifesaving skills with emphasis on decision making, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number, and 4. Organize teams so that they can offer immediate help to victims until professional services arrive.

The course takes place in weekly 2 1/2 hour sessions over 7 weeks, and covers preparedness, fire suppression, medical assessment and first aid, search and rescue, and the psychology of disasters.

Steph Marr of the Bonny Doon Volunteer Fire Team is a certified CERT trainer. Where the idea has foundered is the lack of a coordinator, someone to serve as a single point of contact for the community, to do the legwork of advertising, recruiting, and acquiring a training location and the equipment needed for Steph to be able to actually provide the training.

If you are willing to take on this critical task for our community, please come to our May 13 meeting where Steph will say a few words about CERT.

Crime Wave Washing Over Bonny Doon?

As we mentioned at the March General Meeting, Bonny Doon has had a wave of thefts from vehicles, starting in February. Judging by the community grapevine, it continues apace. The unfortunate thing is that the Sheriff's Dept. isn't getting reports, according to Sgt. William Gazza.

Granted, without regular patrols in Bonny Doon, deputies can be too slow to arrive to stop petty crimes such as those, once underway. However, unless we report crimes and suspicious activity, the Sheriff's Dept. can't justify sending patrols here. In addition to the regular 911 number for emergencies, there is a non-emergency number, 471-1121, for reporting incidents that have recently occurred. The response won't be immediate, but a deputy will come as soon as time allows. If the Sheriff's Dept. becomes as aware of Bonny Doon's crime wave as we are, they will start patrolling Bonny Doon again.

Sgt. Gazza was also concerned that people may be deterred from making reports by the potential loss of anonymity; he says that the non-emergency number doesn't have caller ID. In terms of the laws governing crime scene investigations, it is a big help to the department if you do give your name and address, which can still be kept out of the written report records if you choose and only given to the investigating officer.

Let's continue to look out for suspicious activities in our neighborhoods and share the information with our neighbors for the obvious reasons. Let's also keep the Sheriff's Dept. informed so that they can send patrols to Bonny Doon to deter thieves.

We Appreciate All Your Support

Your humble RBDA Board was overwhelmed and extremely grateful for the outpouring of support we received in response to our plea in the March Highlander for membership renewals and contributions. As we have said before, well over 90% of our nearly $4,000 annual expenses goes for the Highlander printing and mailing (about $2,500 for 6 issues), almost $700 for the liability insurance required by the school for our meetings, and about $250 for renting the schools’s Multi-Purpose Room. The rest is miscellaneous: membership reminders printing and mailing and other small expenses. We now have enough money in the bank to see us through well into 2010. In addition, our membership roster is higher than it has been since 2001.

We certainly appreciate that this is a very difficult time economically for many people, so your generous response was even more meaningful for us.

We would especially like to thank those people who made contributions above and beyond their membership dues. In addition to those named below there were many others who perhaps were unable to respond by our deadline to our request for permission to print their names, or who may have donated close to the deadline. If you are agreeable to us acknowledging your donation in the Highlander but haven’t yet informed us, please let us know by emailing the board.

Thank you!

Andy & Nancy Andreasen

Meg Burley & Kevin Jarvis

Georgia Clarke

Dave Deamer

Bob Goodenough

Scott & Bonnie Milrod

Michael & Joaquin Nagle, in memory of Antoinette Nagle

Phyllis Norris

Eric Ornas & Jennifer Joslin

Tom & Fran Scully

Victoria Slama


Because of a change in work schedules, the RBDA board has realigned offices. Ted Benhari and Tom Hearn have exchanged roles, Tom becoming Treasurer and Ted the Highlander Editor. In addition, Miriam Beames and Marty Demare have also traded places, with Miriam now the Recording Secretary and Marty the Corresponding Secretary.



In perhaps a sign of the times, the US Postal Service has decided to begin enforcing an obscure rule in order to reduce costs. Apparently they have a rule that they won’t deliver mail to a box that has an address without a dwelling, which described the 102 Sunlit Lane address we used for the last several years. The justification is that they pay contract carriers based on the number of mailboxes on their routes. We were told by the route manager at the Santa Cruz Post Office that we had some time to decide on a new address, but without informing us they suddenly stopped delivering mail addressed to 102 Sunlit. We apologize for the confusion and inconvenience incurred by several people whose mail was returned.

In response we had to rent a box at the Felton Post Office, which will also add to the USPS revenues. Several years ago, before we were offered the use of the Sunlit Lane address, the RBDA rented a box in Davenport.

Our new address is P.O. Box 551, Felton CA 95018. Mail addressed to the Sunlit Lane address (hopefully) will be forwarded through March 2010.


Why, the RBDA Board was recently asked, have Highlander articles been unsigned for about 15 years?

Here's how the process works. Often there are matters of ongoing interest that the Board is following, or a Board member brings in new information. The Board decides which topics should be covered in the Highlander and, in general, the member with the most background or interest does research, talks to people, and writes a draft. Then the draft is posted on our email for the other members' comments and editing; the article isn't final until both the Chair and Highlander Editor agree that it's ready. By that point, almost always there's consensus among the Board officers.

Underlying our procedure and the Highlander's anonymity is our belief that we work together and stand together as a group: one person may have articulated a position, but we've all had a chance to think about it, contribute to it and criticize it, and most of the time we do. The result is that what is printed reflects the Board's collective understanding. We like to think that, whether or not you agree with us, we've done enough work that it's at least worth your time to notice what we say.

A footnote: if a non-board member writes an article, his/her name is on it.


RBDA 5/13/09 Meeting

1. Featured Program: Santa Cruz Open Space District

2. Update on Bonny Doon Fire District, Q & A


RBDA Board 4/1/09 Actions

1. Re-assigned board positions. Unanimous.

2 Agreed to give the Fire Team time at May 13 meeting to answer questions about their quest for a Bonny Doon Fire District. Unanimous.

3. Voted to look into complaints that State Parks Rangers’ vehicle patrols of Laguna Beach may be negatively affecting the snowy plover and other beach wildlife. Unanimous.

4. Decided to explore new fundraising methods to augment member dues and donations. Unanimous.  

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The Highlander
The Rural Bonny Doon Association Newsletter
Box 551 • Felton, CA 95018

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 
Board Chair
Joe Christy
Vice Chair
Jan Hilkert 
Ted Benhari 
Corresponding Secretary 
Miriam Beames
Ben Harmon 
Recording Secretary
Marty Demare 
Highlander Editor
Tom Hearn
Contact the RBDA Board in one email

The Bonny Doon Planning District
Bonny Doon Planning District map

If you live in or own property within this district, roughly from Empire Grade to the ocean and from San Vicente Creek to the City of Santa Cruz border, you are eligible to be an RBDA member.

Please support the RBDA!
Dues payments count for a full year from date received.
Dues mostly go for printing and mailing The Highlander,
your voice for keeping Bonny Doon rural and natural.
Those who make additional contributions qualify as:

CONTRIBUTORS ($ 25 + dues)
SUSTAINERS ($50 + dues), or
PATRONS ($ 100 + dues)

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