May/June 2013 issue

What’s Up at the Bonny Doon Airport?
Ed Landau, Bonny Doon Heartland

Public Use of Cemex Redwoods
Bryan Largay, Land Trust of Santa Cruz
County Conservation Director

Plans for the Cemex Limestone Quarry
JoeBen Bevirt

Wednesday, May 8,
2013, 7:30 p.m.
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room
Ice Cream Grade and Pine Flat Road

Something in the Air at Bonny Doon Airport

Bonny Doon Airport covers 28 acres adjacent to the 10,000 acres of Fall Creek State Park. It was acquired by a group called the Bonny Doon Heartland in early 2012 through a lease with option to buy agreement. The organization hopes to eventually buy the property and create a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit, to be called the Heartland Education Foundation, to run operations.

Bonny Doon Heartland is a community-based rural center promoting traditional community values, wilderness training, life-skills education, and cultural events. The group’s vision is to meet the “need for wholeness and community in a fragmented world” by focusing on educational and community-building outdoor activities.

Currently scheduled events include open garden workshops, a monthly men’s club, and an after-school adventure club and Forest Farm summer camp for children. Upcoming activities planned include full-moon gatherings, men’s “peaceful warrior” circles, fireside talks, barn dances, beekeeping, women’s circles, weekly pizzas, potlucks, story-telling, camping, farming, and more.

The airport is still active as a private airstrip and Life Flight and CalFire continue to have full access, which is vital in emergency situations.

Ed Landau of Bonny Doon Heartland (yes, the same Ed Landau who was one of the founders of the Bonny Doon Propane Co-op) will be at the May 8 RBDA meeting to explain his group’s plans and goals and answer any questions you may have.

Coast Dairies: Public Wins, County Loses at Court of Appeal

In a ruling issued On March 28, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the judgment of Superior Court Judge Volkmann, who had denied a petition made to the court protesting the Santa Cruz County's handling of the Coast Dairies property transfer to a new owner, presumptively the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) has controlled the sprawling Coast Dairies property since 1998, and spun off the 400 acres on the ocean side of Highway 1 to State Parks in 2006. It has long planned to transfer about 6,000 acres on the landward side to BLM. It apparently hasn’t yet figured out who will take over about 1,000 acres of agricultural parcels, which at one point appeared to be headed for acquisition by a non-profit entity controlled by the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau.

Though the County and TPL‘s Coast Dairies & Land corporation, which has title to the land now, can drag out the proceedings if they wish, one has to ask why the County would continue to spend taxpayer's dollars to avoid compliance with the plain language of State statutes and Coastal Act requirements, avoiding legally mandated processes which apply to the redrawing of parcel lines and the transfer of ownership. These statutes were meant to ensure that appropriate uses were chosen, and that inappropriate uses were prohibited in a way that is legally binding if and when the property is transferred to the Bureau of Land Management.

Some of these goals were fulfilled when the application for the proposed transfer went to the California Coastal Commission in April 2012, and the Commission voted to include conditions on TPL's Coastal Development Permit (CDP). Thanks to the efforts of the Wittwer and Parkin law firm it is guaranteed that activities such as fracking (steam injection to extract oil) and recreational Off-Road Vehicle riding, that BLM allows on the land they manage, will be forever prohibited on Coast Dairies. Terms and Conditions of the CDP run with the land and shall be perpetual: it is the intention of the Commission and TPL to bind all future owners and possessors of the property to the terms and conditions.

With the long awaited ruling, the non-profit group Save Our Agricultural Land (SOAL), the RBDA, and individuals from the Davenport community finally succeeded in securing an opportunity for the public to have input on the future uses of the property.

For the transfer of ownership to be completed, a subdivision approval from Santa Cruz County will be required. This requires a public process, which will include a hearing before the Planning Commission. Still to be settled are the ownership of water rights for Davenport, the future ownership of agricultural lands along Highway 1 and encroachments onto Coast Dairies property at the Cemex plant.

After joining, supporting and winning the legal battle for our right to be heard, the RBDA board encourages Dooners and Davenporters to get involved when the Trust for Public Land begins the transfer process.

Legal Battle Flows on over EIR for UCSC North Campus Water

Fighting to the last drop of water, so to speak, the UC Regents and the City of Santa Cruz have appealed to the State Supreme Court the rejection of the EIR for the application by UCSC and the City to deliver the vital fluid to the Bonny Doon portion of the campus.

The Environmental Impact Report has twice been declared inadequate by the California 6th District Court of Appeal. In order for LAFCO, the Local Agency Formation Commission, to return to considering the application, the City must get a favorable ruling from the Supremes, or, failing that, re-do the EIR. It’s unknown how long any of this might take, or even whether the Supremes will take up the request.

The appeal court judges deemed that the EIR didn’t consider enough alternatives, and their environmental impacts, to extending the city’s challenged water supply to 240 acres of the North Campus. Without City water, UCSC’s huge development—over 3 million square feet of dorms, classrooms and laboratories—will have to depend on water being found on campus (unlikely), or be vastly curtailed or abandoned.

The City and Regents are hoping the State’s top court will respond favorably to their argument that the EIR didn’t have to discuss alternatives to the full development proposal because LAFCO, which submitted comments during the EIR process, never asked them to. Nevertheless, the appeal court judges said those alternatives should have been discussed so that the LAFCO commissioners could consider them in deciding whether to approve the application in full or with modifications.

Distilling all the legal arguments, what it comes down to is whether the EIR’s creators are required by CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, to consider the environmental impact of alternatives, however sketchily, even if, for whatever reason (you can fill in the blanks) an agency hasn’t requested it to.

The Supreme Court doesn’t automatically consider every challenge to an Appeal Court opinion. The suit over the EIR was brought by Habitat and Water Caretakers (HAWC), a local citizens’ group headed by Bonny Dooner Don Stevens. He was one of the co-founders of CLUE, the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion, that filed a legal challenge to the EIR for UCSC’s Long Range Development Plan 2005-2020. That suit eventually led to the historic Comprehensive Settlement Agreement among CLUE, the RBDA, the City and County of Santa Cruz and UCSC. It required UCSC to apply to LAFCO for extension of water service to the North Campus, which it claimed it wasn’t required to do.

Sheriff Organizing Public Forums to Track Problems

Reports of reckless driving, junk dumping, suspicious activity and other dangerous or annoying or petty (but still serious) criminal activities that the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Dept. can help with will soon be able to made on free forums that the department is setting up.

There will be separate forums for Bonny Doon and each town in the San Lorenzo Valley, hosted on, according to Kim Kenney, the Community Service Officer assigned to the San Lorenzo Valley sheriff’s office. Kim, a Bonny Dooner who spoke at the January RBDA meeting, says that her department will be monitoring a “sub forum” dealing with law enforcement issues. That will allow the sheriff to become aware of and help address problems in more current and efficient manner.

Of course, it doesn’t replace 911 calls, which should be used in emergency situations.

An announcement about the forums should be made by the Sheriff’s office shortly (perhaps even before this issue of The Highlander reaches you). Watch for it in local papers or search for it on

New Landscape Law for New House Construction

In March, with little fanfare, the Board of Supervisors passed the Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance to comply with a State law that requires every city and county to adopt efficiency standards for landscaping. It applies to new home construction that plans to have 2,500 square feet or more of decorative plantings. It doesn’t apply to food-producing gardens or agricultural crops.

The problem the ordinance seeks to address is overdrawing the sustainable yield of most groundwater aquifers in the County. Data is pretty limited, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in most or all of Bonny Doon. Anecdotally, new wells in Bonny Doon are being drilled deeper as the years go by. Whether that means the aquifers or water tables are being drawn down, or that people want (and can afford) to have deeper wells to ensure greater and more reliable supplies is unknown.

New home building permit applications must file a Landscape Plan or a Water Efficient Landscape Application Checklist and Certificate. If the project is exempt, such as a second unit, landscape areas installed solely for stormwater treatment, or where the irrigation system will be removed a year or two after construction when the plants become established, you will only have to check a box denoting that fact. Otherwise, you will have to indicate that you are meeting the Maximum Water Allowance, which is calculated by a formula involving the estimated evaporation rate for your parcel, according to the County’s GIS data.

Landscape and irrigation plans that trigger the ordinance’s requirements must be inspected after installation by an independent professional, who may be a Certified Irrigation Designer, civil engineer or landscaped architect, among others. The Planning Dept. recommends that you hire that person in advance that all the irrigation control measures and devices are installed correctly.

The ordinance recommends finding alternatives to the classic American lawn, the use of Mediterranean plants, which use little water, graywater systems and other means of reducing water use.

Since water supplies are so strained in much of Santa Cruz County, this ordinance is heartily applauded. However, the need for it in Bonny Doon, much of which is water rich, is less easy to justify.

Fighting Trespassing on Cemex Redwoods Trails

Like many people, we eagerly await the opening of trails on the 8,000-acre former Cemex property at the top end of Bonny Doon. Unfortunately, some people don’t want to wait.

Cemex Redwoods, as the property has temporarily been designated since its acquisition by a consortium of conservation groups, is a fabulous gift to the public. The groups that now own it are studying the resources and opportunities it holds, seeking to balance public use with environmental protection. In August and September they plan to hold meetings to gather public input on how and where the property should be open to public access.

For years people, especially those living close to or adjacent to the property, have been hiking, biking and even motorcycling on it. Cemex apparently didn’t do a lot to prevent it. Since the conservation groups acquired it last year, they have been working hard to close public access so they can fix erosion created by the illegal use, including unauthorized cutting of trails, and create a management and use plan that will protect the property when it is opened to the public. Hopefully, it won’t be delayed for over a decade like it has on Coast Dairies. We are confident that this won’t be the case, both because the land use and legal issues are less complex, and lessons have been learned from the Trust for Public Land’s missteps.

In the meantime, the new owners have hired retired law enforcement personnel to patrol, installed gates and hidden cameras, blocked illegal trails with brush, and established relationships with neighboring landowners to reduce trespassing.

Nadia Hamey, a registered professional forester with Big Creek Lumber, which has been hired to manage the property for the present, says that she believes that there is now more control than when Cemex owned it, but that there is still too much unauthorized use.

We look forward to the property opening up for public use before too much more time has passed, and trust that a balance will be found among uses like biking, hiking and horseback riding, along, of course, with environmental protection, so that this vast resource will be treasured for years to come. In the meantime, we encourage people to be patient and respect the land and the new owners’ efforts.

[Correction: In the March edition of The Highlander, in the article regarding JoeBen Bevirt’s purchase of the Cemex limestone quarry property, we wrote that Cemex still owns 170 acres along Laguna Creek. That is incorrect. Those parcels were acquired by the conservation agencies along with the Cemex Redwoods acreage. - Editor]

Mountain Lion Project Publishes Results

UCSC Puma Project researchers, who have been tagging and tracking mountain lions in the Santa Cruz Mountains for 3 years, have published their findings in the online journal PLOS | ONE.

The research team, headed by Chris Wilmers, associate professor of environmental studies, tracked 20 pumas over 6,600-square miles of territory, chronicled human development influences the cats' physiology, behavior, ecology and conservation.
Wilmers and his team attached tags and GPS transmitters with accelerometers, (which measure movement and body position or orientation) to 37 lions, and put camera traps in key locations. Of the 37 lions, 11 died during the study, 8 of them shot while attacking domestic livestock.

We hope to have Wilmers, who spoke at the January 2009 RBDA meeting, to an upcoming meeting to discuss his team’s findings in detail.

Large House Law Revised

In April the Board of Supervisors approved a final revision of the Large Dwelling Ordinance (SCCC 13.10.325), reducing the square footage of a proposed house that triggers a public review from 7,000 to 5,000 square feet. Now, the public will be able to comment on the development of houses as large as 5,000 square feet or greater in writing and at a public hearing, and will have the right to appeal any decision all the way to the Board of Supervisors.

This and several other changes were advocated by your RBDA Board to clean up the language in what was a confusing law, and close loopholes that made it possible for property owners to skirt the law’s intentions through minor and inconsequential labeling of areas of the proposed dwelling.

We greatly appreciate the work of Rachel Dann of Supervisor Neal Coonerty’s office, and the support of Supervisor Coonerty, in pushing the revised ordinance through the Planning Dept. and the Board of Supervisors.

We felt that the former law did little to regulate the construction of boarding house-like homes to take advantage of the growth of the UCSC student population. Two such dwellings, at 7,000 square foot each, with as many as 15 or more tenants, have been built in Bonny Doon, much to the dismay of neighbors, some of whom have sold their properties and moved in consequence.

The RBDA Board has also proposed other changes, which are being studied by the Planning Dept., to give the public more input into these and other types of very large house proposals.

The change in the law does not prohibit very large homes, but it allows neighbors to have more say about what gets built nearby that impacts their own homes and welfare.

Support the RBDA by renewing your membership now: all 1-year memberships expired on January 31st.

Ideas for RBDA Meeting Topics

We are always open to suggestions for interesting programs and speakers at our bimonthly (except July) RBDA public meetings.

What are you interested in? Local flora and fauna, gardening, environmental and political issues, Bonny Doon history or geology, public safety?

What were some of your favorite speakers or presentations at past RBDA meetings?
Were there any that you would like us to repeat?

Please email us with your ideas and comments at


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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, 
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