No July meeting, as usual.
See you on September 11th.
Have a Safe and Happy Summer!
Be Careful with Fire!
Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room
Ice Cream Grade and Pine Flat Road
Vineyards Applies for Permit Expansion
The much discussed application by the Beauregards to expand wine production and permitted events at their winery and tasting room at 10 Pine Flat Road was filed in May. However, as of this writing, the Santa Cruz Planning Dept. has deemed the application incomplete and so has not yet begun its review.
According to County Planner Samantha Haschert, who will be shepherding the application through the permit process, the department wanted more information on the septic system plans, to determine if it is capable of handling the load of 175 guests at the summer evening Thursday events. Haschert said there are also several inconsistencies in the application that need to be cleared up. They gave the Beauregards 60 days, to Aug. 20, to resubmit the application
The Beauregards are asking for permission to allow a maximum of 10 Thursday night community events per year with up to 175 guests each; up to 6 evening events per year with a maximum of 49 guests per event; to produce up to 5,000 gallons of distilled spirits per year; to increase wine production from 20,000 gallons to 45,000 gallons per year; to allow on-site sale of coffee and pastries between the hours of 7 am - 11 am daily; and to recognize the conversion of a portion of the permitted winery to a 1,986 square foot residence.
The application says that the limited parking at the winery itself will be supplemented by parking at the nearby Vigné Farms equestrian center, also operated by the Beauregards, who have a long-term option to buy the property. Guests would be shuttled back and forth by van to reduce pedestrian traffic at what can be a dangerous intersection.
Other issues the planners will be focusing on, according to Haschert, are the occupancy capacity of the small tasting room, the movement of traffic, the noise and other impacts on the neighborhood, and the impact on Mill Creek, which borders the property and flows into San Vicente Creek, the source of Davenport’s water.
Once the application is considered complete the Planning Dept. has 30 days to make an initial review. The process usually takes several months before all the issues are resolved and a public hearing, in this case in front of the Planning Commission, is scheduled.
The public will have many opportunities for input on the proposal. The application can be read at the Planning Dept., and letters can be submitted up until the time of the Planning Commission hearing, at which oral comments can be made.
City Must Re-Do EIR for UCSC Water Growth
As expected, the California Supreme Court declined to overturn the California 6th District Court of Appeal decision that the Environmental Impact Report prepared for UCSC’s application to extend City water to its North Campus is inadequate.
That means that it must be redone before LAFCO, the Santa Cruz Local Agency Formation Commission, can resume its consideration of the application. This will probably take at least a few months, followed by a month or more of public review and issuance of a final document.
The suit to overturn the EIR was brought by Habitat and Water Caretakers (HAWC), a local citizens’ group headed by Bonny Dooner Don Stevens, on the grounds that it didn’t consider the environmental impact of alternatives to supplying the water needed by UCSC’s massive 3-million square feet of new buildings and supporting facilities on 240 acres of its North Campus, which is in Bonny Doon.
LAFCO had been considering the application for more than a year as the suit moved through the legal system. When it finally resumes its deliberations, LAFCO will have some different commissioners. Of particular concern to us is that Neal Coonerty, the Board of Supervisors chairman, has replaced Supervisor John Leopold on the commission with Supervisor Zack Friend. Leopold, who now becomes the alternate member, has championed compromises that limit the impact of the huge development.
In the background looms the ongoing debate over the City’s future water supply, which is greatly in question as the proposal for a de-salination plant founders and federal and state wildlife agencies press for more water to restore the threatened and dwindling salmonid (Coho and steelhead) populations in our streams, which are the source of most of the City’s water. In light of that, does it really make sense to commit another 100 to 150 million gallons of water a year to UCSC, whose expansion ignores the County’s General Plan (legally, it is entitled to do so because of a State Constitutional Amendment) which seeks to keep urban development within the City’s boundaries?
Heartland’s Plans for Airport
At the May 8 RBDA community meeting 3 members of the Bonny Doon Heartland organization which has leased the Bonny Doon airport land on Empire Grade (with the goal of buying it in the coming years), spoke about their activities and intentions.
Ann Freiwald, Stephen Weir and Ed Landau (who founded the Bonny Doon Propane Coop) said the group’s plan is to transform the 28-acre airport land into a place where people can gather as a community and reconnect with nature and the land. Anne explained that the name was chosen because, “Our hearts and dreams are in it.”
The lessees are parents of children who attend Waldorf School. One parent recently moved to Bonny Doon and discovered that some of the airport land was for sale (two other parcels within the metal fence had been sold for development).
The group originally formed as an LLC, a Limited Liability Corporation, and tried, with limited success, to find additional investors to help buy the land. It is now reorganizing as a non-profit. Ed Landau said the group is trying to boost its funding through grants. Anne said they plan to focus on farm education, community gardens, and a children’s garden, with meetings, classes and summer camps. It is currently advertising a 4-day camp to help girls to “get you in touch with your strong, compassionate and empowered self!” Anne said they are not planning to advertise events outside the county.
They told the meeting audience of 65 people that they intend to work closely with County Planning to figure out what activities may be conducted legally on the land. “We’re very aware we’re in the middle of a residential area,” Anne said.
Questions from the audience were mixed. Some welcomed the organization and its planned activities while others questioned why it was even needed since what it planned to do was already being done on a smaller, household level by many Bonny Dooners. Other concerns focused on the importance of keeping the airport open as a landing strip for aircraft in case of emergency or by special request. In fact, they are legally required to do so.
Anne said that her group is very open to community input and scrutiny, and invited people to their campfire events to learn more about it. They also have a website, bdheartland.com, which describes their plans, goals and activities. For information, call 515-8473.
CEMEX Redwoods Update
The blueprint for the uses of the land currently called the CEMEX Redwoods has been completed. And we, like many in Bonny Doon, are highly interested in what this “conservation plan” says about the future of the 8,532-acre property now in the hands of Sempervirens Fund and the Peninsula Open Space Trust. Unfortunately, our curiosity and interest will not be satisfied anytime soon, because the document has not been made available.
At the May 8 RBDA meeting Brian Largay, Conservation Director for the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, talked about the process for allowing and managing public access to the land, which stretches from Davenport to Empire Grade. The Land Trust participated in the purchase and will be the holder, along with Save the Redwoods League, of the conservation easement that governs use of the property.
Largay said that public input will be sought over the summer for what public uses should be allowed on the mountainous property, and what possible problems are foreseen. He opined that there will be separate trails for hikers, bikers and equestrians, and perhaps overnight camping, but no campfires permitted. He expects the public use plan to be finished by the end of 2014. The Land Trust, he said, will be in charge of managing public access. Once the Bureau of Land Management acquires the adjacent Coast Dairies property, trails connecting the two will be created.
The conservation plan divides the property into areas considered ecologic reserves, those that need restoration (CEMEX and previous owners have logged it for years, and some parts need thinning to restore forest health), and those that will be “sustainably” logged to provide funds to manage the property, as well as create local jobs. Big Creek Lumber is expected to handle the work.
According to Largay, there will be no public or peer scientific review of the conservation blueprint. It makes us wonder, “Why do they need to be so secretive?”
Supervisor Coonerty Won’t Seek Re-election
Bonny Doon and the 3rd District will have only its 4th supervisor in 40 years starting in 2015, as current Supervisor Neal Coonerty announced recently he won’t stand for re-election to a 3rd 4-year term.
However, chances are reasonably good that the new supervisor will also be named Coonerty, as Neal’s son Ryan, who has been a councilman and mayor of Santa Cruz, is reportedly organizing support for a run of his own. His dad also served as a Santa Cruz mayor and councilman. So did Neal’s predecessor, Mardi Wormhoudt. Also reportedly interested in jumping from the council to the Board of Supervisors is Lynn Robinson, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
In his 6-plus years on the Board Neal has worked closely with the RBDA on many issues, including most recently the changes in the Large Dwelling Ordinance, but has had key differences with us on the issue of UCSC expansion into Bonny Doon. Nevertheless, he has made himself available whenever we have an issue to discuss, attended all our public meetings he was able to, and sent his long-time assistant, Rachel Dann, when he couldn’t.
Ryan, who was mayor during the negotiations that led to the Comprehensive Settlement Agreement which ended a tangle of lawsuits over the expansion, has been a firm supporter of the university’s growth, but pushed successfully for UCSC to bear more of the infrastructure costs that growth requires, and to limit its impact on housing and traffic. Overall, his positions on issues have been virtually identical to his father’s.
Coast Dairies’ BLM Transfer Entering Final Phase?
After winning a favorable ruling from California s 6th District Court of Appeal, the RBDA Board and local residents await the next step in the long-running Coast Dairies land transfer process. What needs to happen is for the owner of the more than 6,000-acre property, Trust for Public Land (TPL) to make an application to the County to subdivide the land so it can sell it to different entities. The bulk of it is to go to the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
This will initiate a process that will allow citizens to voice their concerns, such as demanding protection of Davenport’s water supply, which is on Coast Dairies property, and seek greater buffers from pesticide use on adjacent farms that lease their fields from Coast Dairies.
This local County process is what the RBDA has sought all along as a prerequisite to the proposed land transfer to BLM and others. One stumbling block in the transfer is that BLM will not accept a portion of the property near the cement plant that was used as an industrial waste disposal site by CEMEX’s predecessors. It has not been established whether or not toxic materials are buried there. A process to allow transfer of the site's ownership from Coast Dairies to CEMEX was begun several years ago, but CEMEX has never been clear about its willingness to accept ownership.
Legal proceedings are now back at the Superior Court in Santa Cruz. A case management conference took place on July 18.
Meanwhile, various reports indicated that TPL was planning to transfer a portion of the property to BLM this summer, apparently without going through the County s public process for dividing the property, despite the RBDA’s victory in the appellate court. When the RBDA s attorney, Bill Parkin of the Wittwer & Parkin law firm, asked TPL to agree not to make such an unauthorized property transfer, TPL refused. That left us no choice but to seek a temporary restraining order, which TPL opposed. However, TPL eventually agreed to stipulate that no transfer or division of the Coast Dairies property could occur until the Superior Court proceedings were completed. The final court hearing is scheduled for October 18.
Hopefully, this signals the beginning of the final stage of the rescue of this magnificent treasure of the Central Coast, which surrounds Davenport and stretches up the coastal benchlands to Bonny Doon. There are 6 creeks that run through it, and habitats ranging from coastal chaparral to redwood forest. It was acquired by TPL in 1998 and saved from proposed development of a 139-home subdivision, although it was highly suspected that the developer only acquired the option to buy it from the original Swiss owners in order to motivate conservation organizations to step up their efforts to preserve it and drive up the price.
In August 2006 TPL transferred ownership of 407 acres of coastal bluffs and beaches seaward of Highway 1 to State Parks. The public—hikers, equestrians and in particular, mountain bikers—have been salivating to gain access to the property for 15 years. For a detailed history of the long-running saga, see the Sept./Oct. 2011 Highlander online by clicking here.
Merging Property Parcels Can Save Money, Preserve Privacy
Though currently parcels in Bonny Doon cannot be divided into sections smaller than 5 acres, many small parcels (under 5 acres and typically 1 or 2) still exist, and can, have been, and are being developed. These “mini” parcels were created several decades ago to change Bonny Doon from a rural into a more suburban locale. These include Quail Drive, Country Estates, Braemoor, Sunlit, Pineridge and others. Some were not fully developed but the parcels still exist and are ready to be built on.
Along both Pine Flat Road and Empire Grade there are open spaces consisting of multiple separate parcels. The best example is the Bonny Doon airport, fully enclosed with metal fencing along Empire Grade but in fact made up of 3 parcels. The biggest parcel has the landing strip, hangar and house, but there are also two smaller pieces that were sold recently to owners who plan to develop each one. That is the reason why there is now a wooden fence and an RV (with separate access off Empire Grade) downhill from the house.
Off Pine Flat, James’s Mountain Nursery has a metal fence similar to that at the airport, enclosing 5 acres. Until last year that property was comprised of 5 separate parcels, all of which could have been sold off individually and developed. The reason that will now never happen is because the parcels were merged into one by the owner, with the intent to both preserve the open space and reduce property taxes.
People who own multiple parcels can sell off the undeveloped pieces, or if they are adjacent to their house, combine them into one, thus reducing their property taxes, and ensuring the prevention of future development. Depending on the number of parcels, their development potential and the reassessed value of the combined land, dollar savings can be in the thousands. One owner combined 6 parcels totaling 9 acres. They had been part of an intended “neighborhood,” but only one house was built.
Combining parcels is inexpensive and takes only about a year to complete. Click here for the form (pdf) to be filled out and sent to the County Assessor’s Office, along with a check for $36.00.
Shark's Tooth Beach - photo by Ted Benhari
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
California Oaks - photo by Ted Benhari
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