July/August 2001 issue
   Coast Dairies: 
What Is, What Could Be

How the Postal Service Works, and Doesn't

Pinus Cellularis: Endangered Species on the Coast
Coast Dairies: What Is, What Could Be

In distant San Francisco offices, a process has been going on that will one day have a sizable effect on our lives in Bonny Doon. Despite some funding hiccups, planning for the Coast Dairies and Land property has been proceeding through the first stage: the Existing Conditions Report. It might be called "here what we've got to work with," a simplistic phrase that belies the enormously complex task of planning for the huge property.

 This work is being carried out by a technical consulting firm called Environmental Science Associates (ESA) and Tom Roberts is their Project Manager for the Coast Dairies planning team. Tom brings an engaging speaking style and his tremendous background to the July 10 meeting. He is a Senior Wildlife Biologist and Land Management Ecologist with more than 20 years of experience. He served for 10 years as a Biologist and Planner for the U.S. Forest Service, where he concentrated on habitat restoration and endangered wildlife issues. Other accomplishments include a long list of major environmental studies and analyses throughout the West including the Bombay property on the west side of Santa Cruz and Yosemite National Park. He has also written three novels and published numerous articles and studies. The result of his research on Coast Dairies is a ponderous document that will be presented to the Trust for Public Land (TPL), the interim property owner, on July 14 and released to the public later. Some portions of the document are already available online at the TPL website.

 Section 1 is an interesting land use history written by local historian Sandy Lydon. The next stage is the Opportunities and Constraints analysis, the "what can we do with it?" part of the process. This is when Dooners should begin thinking about what they would like to see happen on the property, which lies largely in the Bonny Doon Planning area.

 There are questions about access and utilization of the property which require conciliation of competing and sometimes incompatible uses. At the Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) meetings, surfers, farmers, Davenporters and Dooners have had their say and every conveyance from motorbikes and mountain bikes, to horses and trains have had their organizers advocating on their behalf. Less organized and represented are those who just want to enjoy a hike or see some portion set aside for conservation. While the impact of recreational activities may seem trivial compared to the quarrying and clearcutting that has taken place on the property in the past, the influx of visitors is sure to have an impact on surrounding areas and increase the demand for services. The County's general plan designates Davenport as the focus for visitor serving development and some businesses there will prosper, but Davenport doesn't want to be the entry portal either. When, as expected, the federal Bureau of Land Management controls parts of the property, it will be their first holding in the county and thus represent the first time that that bureaucracy has interacted with our county planning processes. What will be Bonny Doon's relationship to the new uses and activities on the property? Bring your questions and concerns to the July 10 meeting, a valuable opportunity to draw on Mr. Roberts' expertise.

What Should Be Done with the Coast Dairies Property?
Tom Roberts, Project Manager,
Coast Dairies & Land Planning Team
Tuesday, July 10, 7:30 p.m.
Multi-Purpose Room, Bonny Doon School

How the Postal Service Works, and Doesn't

Mail delivery in some parts of Bonny Doon has been fraught with problems, but is definitely improving. Julia Simon of the U.S. Postal Service, who came to the May 9 RBDA meeting, explained why. Contracts for local delivery routes are awarded by the Postal Service's San Francisco office. Potential carriers must hope they have made good estimates in the bids they submit, because the Postal Service supplies neither vehicle nor maintenance, no operating expenses, no equipment, no benefits. (We'll hereafter call it Post Office, not service). A sick carrier had better find his own substitute; the Post Office won't. Although training is provided, it is less than what's given to a postal employee, and Julia made it clear that a new contract carrier is expected to clean up a mess left by his (there are no women carriers in Bonny Doon at this time) predecessor.

 After each of the three Bonny Doon carriers arrives at the Scotts Valley Post Office, he sorts his own mail (a great deal comes in pre-sorted, but he still puts it into slots for each customer), then heads out to deliver to his more than 300 boxes. If he can't get back to Scotts Valley by 7 p.m., so outgoing mail can catch the shipment to San Jose, he has to drive it into Santa Cruz. Theft of both incoming and outgoing mail is an acknowledged problem, with no simple answers. Ms. Simon distributed copies of a Post Office handout, "Mail Theft and Mail Security," whose first suggestion is, "Never place your outgoing mail in an unsecured mailbox, especially a rural type curb box." We're urged to pick up mail as soon as it's delivered and report "suspicious activities."

 When asked whether it would be possible to change the Bonny Doon routes to regular rural delivery, Julia read from Post Office regulations: "â¤|the route can be changed only if the carrier agreesâ¤|and only if the change will result in less cost to the Post Office." Similarly, the decision to install secure, clustered boxes is not made at a local level. They are expensive, and helping a contract carrier isn't a priority. Ms. Simon stated that she has been required to demonstrate situations of acute need, and has lobbied hard with higher postal authorities to get those we have now. As postal funds shrink, there's less chance of getting more.

 While we acknowledge that this complex situation is far beyond Julia's control "she has demonstrated her care for us by efforts within the Post Office, and by coming to our meeting" we find matters for concern in her narrative. If we need to mail in a bill, do we have to drive to Davenport with it? If we're concerned that checks may come in the mail, must we rent a postal box and drive to Scotts Valley (apparently there are none left in Davenport)? Can a carrier decide there's no way he'll get through his route in time and leave some mail to deliver the next day? What happens if he has an emergency and can't find a substitute?

 Quite possibly we need to accept that, for once, Bonny Doon is on the cutting edge. An article in USA Today (Mar. 28, 2001, page B-1) points out that what we're experiencing today, or something much like it, may be coming soon to the rest of the country: "The Postal Service announced sharp spending cuts Tuesday in an effort to reduce looming losses. Despite an increase in stamp potential losses of $2 billion to $3 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, it plans to cut 75,000 work-years (the work of one person for one year) in labor costs, reduce administrative costs by 25% and cut transportation costs by 10% over the next five years."

 On the other hand, are we content with the Post Office's decision that Dooners matter less than other taxpayers? Should we lobby the Post Office for more clusters of locked boxes, available for people who want them even if they don't live in the immediate vicinity, or for a couple of strategically located blue boxes for outgoing mail? Could we ask" do we dare?" for conversion to regular rural routes? Should the RBDA form a committee to explore these and other possibilities? Let us know what you think, by email, phone, or at the next meeting.

Pinus Cellularis: Endangered Species on the Coast

The cell tower disguised as a pine tree may never flourish in our area. The Board of Supervisors had their first look at the draft cell tower ordinance on May 8, found some items they wanted changed and sent it back for revisions. Planning staff has now drafted a tightly worded ordinance that will require a noticed public hearing for all new antennae. Board members wanted people to know when an antenna was being installed in their area even when ⤦stealthilyâ¤* hidden from view or added to a tower already in place.

 They also expressed concern about the need to act on Sprint's application to erect towers on the North Coast. The federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 allows service providers to haul the county into Federal Court if their antenna applications are not processed in timely fashion.

 The supes asked County Counsel to examine their options. At the May 22 meeting, they voted for an interim ordinance so Sprint's application could be processed. This may prevent two of Sprint's three towers from being built because the draft ordinance precludes towers on the ocean side of Hwy. 1. A tiny option is left for Sprint by a clause which allows the construction if there is no other feasible alternative. The ⤦feasibleâ¤* language was among several fuzzy terms that the supes asked staff to modify. On Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt's motion "feasibility" shall be determined by consideration of technical and environmental factors. Economic considerations have rightly been excluded. Corporate interests should not justify placing towers in our viewshed. We hope Sprint PCS will find other methods of delivering the service that will have less visual impact. At their June 26 meeting, the supervisors plan to adopt the interim ordinance, which will guide planners while the supes are enjoying their summer recess.

The Road Home

We're all glad to see the chip seal applied on Empire Grade, and Pine Flat and Smith Grade are all marked up for patching, but when are we going to see the work started on Felton-Empire road? Bonny Dooners shouldn't feel bad because the McCrarys (Big Creek Lumber) got the big slipout on their Swanton Road commute fixed first. The McCrarys pay a lot of taxes. [Editor's note: We certainly did not intend to seriously suggest by this comment, which we meant tongue-in-cheek, that the McCrarys in any way influenced any decisions of the County Public Works Department regarding repairs to Swanton Road. Please click here to see our letter to Bob Berlage, Communications Director for Big Creek Lumber]. But now we need to get our heavily used route into the San Lorenzo Valley repaired.

To that end, a committee has been formed to advocate to the county. Members are Mark Akeson, Buel Profitt and Tom Scully. Most of the road is in Supervisor Jeff Almquist's district so the committee might need to start hollering down into the valley, as well as at the County Building. When Tom Bolich, director of the County Dept. of Public Works, spoke at the Sept. 2000 RBDA meeting, he alluded to a complicated formula that determines what road gets fixed first. We hope the road committee will be able to determine if the formula is being applied fairly and accurately to area roads. 

Board Says, "Your Money or Our Lives?"

After considerable discussion "is public safety an issue appropriate to the RBDA?" the Executive Board decided that without law enforcement, it's a waste of time to argue about whether Bonny Doon stays "rural and natural" (or, for that matter, what "rural and natural" means). And so Ted Benhari, our chair, asked the county's Board of Supervisors, at their June 5 meeting, to "negotiate with the Sheriff's Office a salary and benefit package sufficiently generous to attract and retain highly qualified staff, in numbers adequate to provide safety throughout the County." Ted praised the problem-solving work of our community deputy, Stefan Fish, not only in helping individuals, but also in protecting some of our more 'rural and natural' areas. You can read Ted's entire text at our web site, www.bonnydoon.got.net. 

We're relieved that the deputies and Supervisors have now ratified a four-year contract which, everyone expects, fulfills our request. Deputy Fish is patrolling San Lorenzo Valley now, but says the sheriff has authorized him to patrol our area on overtime, and perhaps he will return full-time when the staff returns to full strength. 

Quarry Expansion Rumbling Again

RMC Pacific Materials (formerly Lonestar) has once again applied to the county to expand its limestone quarry east of Bonny Doon Road. Two earlier applications in the last few years were abandoned by RMC. All the applications apply to a strip of land along the east side of the quarry, within the mineral extraction zone (not to the residential properties RMC owns along Smith Grade).

 The county Planning Dept. must decide whether to require RMC to produce an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) as part of the permit process. The chief problem in the past has been the question of whether the quarry expansion will negatively impact the City of Santa Cruzâ¤s water intake facility at Liddell Springs, below the quarry.

 In other news, RMC apparently is shopping around its whole operation (the limestone and shale quarries, and the Davenport cement plant) here. RMC claims it has lost tons of money because of the rolling blackouts and high energy costs. Mega-corporations like RMC (European owned) buy and sell assets periodically because of the tax benefits they get for depreciation. Or there may be more to it.

Committee Created to Study Bylaws

A committee to study possible changes to the RBDA bylaws was created by a membership vote at the May RBDA meeting. Events surrounding the board elections earlier this year focused attention on problems in the bylaws that need to be addressed. The committee will study the issues and make recommendations for changes in a report that will be available by October 1 and discussed at the November RBDA meeting. Changes must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the members present at the January 2002 meeting.

 Committee members are Lisa Akeson, Don Coyne, David Gelphman, Russ Mackey, Dan Michaels, Pat Pfremmer, Morgan Rankin and Frank Wylie.

Support Our Sponsors

Hutton Sherer
Marketing Advertising Design
Full-service, award-winning marketing and advertising services. 2851-C Research Park Drive, Soquel, CA 95073.

Boyce-Abel Associates & Family Lands Consulting
Facilitating & mediating families in their land & other real property transfers.
1003 Smith Grade

Fine Candles by Bee Bright
Pure Beeswax & Hemp/Beeswax Scented Candles
Delicious in your home, gentle on the Earth

Sponsorships are $66 a year, (6 issues).  Send a check and text to: 
RBDA, 102 Sunlit Lane, Bonny Doon, CA 95060.

Verifying Membership Qualifications

At the May RBDA meeting, there was a discussion of whether people who aren't qualified to be RBDA members have signed up. The question had been raised by the unsuccessful candidates in the March board elections. Two motions were passed. The first was a decision not to investigate whether unqualified members voted in the March election, in the interest of healing our organization and focussing energy on more current issues. The second directed our membership coordinator, Ben Harmon, to recommend at the July meeting ways to verify more accurately whether someone is qualified to be a member (living or owning property in the Bonny Doon Planning District, which includes the Coast Road neighborhood across Hwy. 1). 

Please email and let us know how you feel about this issue.

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 |

Send the entire executive board an Click on this image to send an email. Go ahead!

Back to the RBDA homepage
To the Highlander index