July/August 2017 issue

No July meeting, as usual,but
here's the July/August Highlander

Have a wonderful summer!
The next one will be on:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room,
Pine Flat Road & Ice Cream Grade

What to Do with an Old Cement Plant?

Back in the 20th century, a constant rain of cement dust blighted Davenporters’ lives. The cement plant responsible, operated by CEMEX’s predecessors, offered free car washes, but residents had to cope with cleaning their windows, houses and backyards themselves.

Upgrading the plant operations in the early 2000s, CEMEX largely eliminated the dust. However, residents were worried by reports that toxic Chromium 6 was still being scattered out of the plant’s smokestack, which prompted a visit by famed environmental investigator Erin Brockovich.

Now, Davenport residents face a new challenge to their peaceful existence, the repurposing of the shuttered plant to accommodate visitors to Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument and San Vicente Redwoods.

In May, a report was issued about the potential uses of the 100+-acre site. It was produced by three firms hired by the County, using funding from a variety of public and private sources. The report notes that “Davenport’s primary economic asset is the ‘quality of place’ created by an exceptional coastal environment, local recreational opportunities, and a quaint roadside business cluster, all located within a region that is a well-established tourist destination.” The irony is that the report’s creators suggest that redevelopment of the site with things like a hotel, restaurants and a visitor center would forever destroy that very “quality of place” that most local residents love about it.

The challenge, perhaps impossible to resolve, is to try to retain the “Slow Coast” quality of life Davenporters now enjoy while accommodating the 100,000 (or many more) visitors potentially to be attracted by Cotoni-Coast Dairies and San Vicente Redwoods.

Another challenge is to protect the many sensitive species that call these open spaces home, including the California Red-Legged Frog, monarch butterfly, and nesting birds, plus California Species of Special Concern like the Giant Salamander and the Burrowing Owl. In addition, runoff from the plant site into San Vicente Creek could affect salmonids offshore.

The report notes that the 100-year usage of the site as a cement plant has resulted in a long list of contaminants, which may include arsenic, diesel, heating/fuel oil, Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), waste motor/hydraulic/lubricating oil, Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPHs), and Naphthalene, plus the gigantic cement dust pile now held down by a tire-covered tarp.

At a meeting last December, Davenporters were quite varied in their desires about what they wanted the site to become. Ideas included repurposing the site to become a CalFire facility, a museum, a “clean” research and manufacturing site, or a visitor center. Of course, since CEMEX still owns the property, no plan can be approved and executed without its consent.

More State Funds for Maintenance of North Coast Beaches?

Beginning with the acquisition of the Coast Dairies beaches by the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), there has been ever-increasing visitation to the beaches along the North Coast of Santa Cruz County. The increased visitation has not been matched with an increase in management and maintenance resources for the State Parks District. As a result there are few amenities and deteriorating conditions at the beaches.

There are several initiatives in place that promise to bring even more visitors. These include extending the coastal rail-trail several miles closer to Davenport, the designation of Cotoni-Coast Dairies as a National Monument, and the County’s exploration of reusing the Davenport CEMEX cement plant for visitor access to the National Monument and the inland San Vicente Redwoods property.

A measure is now working its way through the State legislature to place a bond measure on the November 2018 ballot which would fund improvements and rehabilitation of parks, among other things. Our State Senator, Bill Monning, voted in favor of advancing the bill, SB 5, when it was read in the Natural Resources and Water Committee. It will now be reconciled with a similar bill passed out of the Assembly AB 18, before going to the governor. The bills have support from the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and the Surfrider Foundation.

The RBDA strongly encourages residents to contact Senator Monning to emphasize the critical need for funds to be directed for the overused and under-served North Coast beaches at sd17.senate.ca.gov/contact-us

UCSC Growth Again Looms as Major Issue for Bonny Doon and Santa Cruz

It appears that UCSC and the Santa Cruz City and County are headed once again for a clash over the campus’s growing enrollment. Both the County Board of Supervisors and the City Council have written letters to UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal stating that under the new 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), now in its early stages of preparation, the student population shouldn’t exceed the 2005 LRDP enrollment target of 19,500 students. Current enrollment is about 18,000 students.

The Supervisors and the Council are concerned that UCSC is going to exceed the town’s current carrying capacity. They anticipate further impacts on an already serious housing shortage, straining a water system that has been greatly stretched by the recent drought, and exacerbating already snarled traffic. Although UCSC has worked hard to keep car trips and water usage from increasing despite the ever-growing student population, the most effective way to reduce impacts would be to limit the enrollment.

Chancellor Blumenthal acknowledges “…we have a poor record of involving the community early in our planning process. We are, however, capable of learning, which is why I have begun reaching out to local leaders and the community. It is imperative the LRDP process be collaborative.” Nevertheless, he states flatly that the demand that enrollment remain static is a non-starter. He is caught between the reality of the housing crunch in Santa Cruz and the UC Regents’ demand that the campus, like others in the system, continue to grow to accommodate the State’s burgeoning population. However, this time around, unlike during the preparation of the 2005 LRDP, the chancellor and the university have a good working relationship with the City and County, and have pledged that there will be substantial community input into the creation of the 2020 LRDP.

We hope that is true, and that there will be real results from community input. However, what we still don’t understand, and this is key, is why don’t the Regents take into account the needs and desires of the citizens of the towns that house the campuses, and instead grow enrollment on underbuilt campuses, like that in Merced, or start new ones?

The 2005 LRDP process resulted in lawsuits from community groups, including the RBDA and the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion (CLUE), and both the City and County. The settlement of those suits resulted in a new era of town-gown cooperation, with the university working hard to minimize the impacts, and bear some of the cost of, the growing student population.

The reason the RBDA remains so involved in trying to ward off UCSC growth is that most of it (a substantial part of the proposed 3 million square feet of new buildings!), was slated to take place on the North Campus, in Bonny Doon, urbanizing the green belt between Bonny Doon and the city. It would have substantially affected the Cave Gulch neighborhood, increased traffic in Bonny Doon, and heightened the demand for housing in Bonny Doon by university faculty, staff and students. Thanks to the lawsuits and the financial impact of the 2009 Great Recession, nothing has been built on the North Campus. Undoubtedly the 2020 LRDP will again focus most of its development there.

Meanwhile, the university is in the early stages of constructing buildings to support an additional 3,000 new beds on the west side of the campus. A majority of these (2,200) will not accommodate new students, but will relieve the overcrowding that now exists in campus dorms and replace older buildings that have outlived their useful life.

“Living on campus is an important element in the success of our students…Immersion in a campus environment helps foster student engagement and a sense of community, as many studies have shown,” says Chancellor Blumenthal. He says UCSC is committed to housing more students on campus. It already houses the highest percentage of undergraduates of any UC campus, but that is only 53% of undergraduate enrollment. Meanwhile, local rents continue to skyrocket, and students willing to crowd 8 or more into 2- or 3-bedroom homes and apartments displace more and more local families.


County Resolves to Reduce Rodenticide Use

The RBDA Board has been concerned about the use of rodenticides in Santa Cruz County, which was one of the primary reasons we advocated that commercial cannabis be grown within rodent-proof structures. Following discovery of a dead fox in Bonny Doon — and subsequent autopsy that revealed four different rodenticides in its tissues — County residents have been working to reduce or eliminate use of rodenticides. Tai Moses (of Raptors Are the Solution, or RATS), Eric Hoffman (Bonny Doon resident and former Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4) member), Larry Minden, and Dave Rubin (RBDA Vice Chair) recently met with County Agricultural Commissioner Juan Hidalgo and 3rd District Supervisor Ryan Coonerty to discuss this issue.

The State of California reserves the authority to regulate rodenticides, which limits the options that a county has. However, Supervisor Coonerty was sympathetic to this issue and introduced a non-binding resolution recommending that residents avoid the purchase and use of anticoagulant rodenticides. The Board of Supervisors approved this resolution on June 6, which adds Santa Cruz County to a group of about 30 California cities and counties with such resolutions. For alternative approaches to dealing with rodents, check out tips on the RATS website, raptorsarethesolution.org.


Supervisors Encouraging Increased Housing Density

In order to address the County’s housing shortage, the Supervisors are reacting to recent changes in State laws relaxing restrictions on developing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), a.k.a. “granny units.” Three State bills were signed into law in 2016, SB 1069, AB2299, and AB2406, which collectively are designed to broadly encourage the development of ADUs and prohibit local governments from adopting any ordinances that prevent the development of ADUs.

These new laws are intended to be minimum requirements, and the California Dept. of Housing and Community Development has encouraged local governments to use other means to promote ADU development. Santa Cruz County has already signaled its intention to increase housing density here by quickly updating the ADU ordinance to include things such as streamlining permit applications (no longer requiring public hearings), relaxing requirements for parking, and setting the minimum lot size at 4,500 sq. ft., which allows a majority of single family homes in the County to develop ADUs.

The RBDA acknowledges that the lack of safe and affordable housing is a serious and important issue in our region. However, it is also important to recognize that increasing housing density in Bonny Doon will affect not only the population density and quality of life of current residents, but also the quality of life for future generations. While some properties are better suited to supporting ADUs without impacting neighbors to a great degree, others are not. How much additional housing density, which also means increased traffic and noise, will it take to permanently alter the rural nature and character of Bonny Doon? What do you think?


Behind-the-Scenes Glimpse into RBDA Activities

The RBDA is actively working at all times to advocate on behalf of Bonny Doon residents, but often this happens behind the scenes. We suspect the process we use to generate our position on a given issue is often not clear to our members. And perhaps the overarching goal of the RBDA is also unclear. The RBDA aims to work together with the public, government agencies and private parties to ensure that Bonny Doon remains rural and natural. We achieve these goals by an iterative process of researching the issue, listening to the involved parties, consulting with domain experts, government officials and stakeholders, facilitating community discussion through meetings and on-line forums, and deliberating the issue with RBDA board members, before finally taking a position on an issue.

We’d like to share a recent example of one part of this process, our attempt to better facilitate community discussion about an important issue facing Santa Cruz County. In June, the RBDA Board contacted 3rd District Supervisor Ryan Coonerty and his analyst Rachel Dann via e-mail to advocate for more transparency in the determination of long-term strategic changes to the zoning and building codes. This communication was a direct response to the short public notice the Board of Supervisors provided about the inclusion of an agenda item to “Accept and file status report on Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) study, and direct staff to return August 22, 2017 with information on the ADU study, as recommended by the Planning Director.” This was announced as an agenda item on June 2 for a meeting on June 6, making it difficult to for the RBDA to measure our community's wants, needs, and fears on this issue and to provide feedback to the County.

In our communication with the Board of Supervisors, we have emphasized that the appearance of operating behind closed doors creates fear and uncertainty. We believe that improving transparency, open discussions, and community feedback leads to better outcomes for all. We made the following suggestions for having a more inclusive process: 1) Scheduling long-term strategic issues on the agenda months in advance instead of days; 2) Providing easier access to staff reports on strategic issues by creating an email list, or a web page, with a calendar of process/project milestones and supporting material; and 3) Providing advance access to staff reports on long-term strategic issues before they are discussed at Board of Supervisors meetings, to allow interested parties time to read, deliberate and provide thoughtful feedback without having to take a day off of work to attend the meeting. The RBDA is still waiting for feedback from the Board of Supervisors about these suggestions.


A High-Speed Rail Trail Environmental Impact Report?

In a race to get construction going on the North Coast section of the Santa Cruz Rail Trail before funding authorization expires at the end of 2020, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is planning to hire a consultant to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) even before the actual right-of-way for the trail is pinned down.

As our readers know (Highlander, May 2017) a serious snag occurred when the RTC found out that the proposed route for the trail followed the current railroad tracks, while their actual right of way followed a partially dismantled rail bed. This means that new rights of way must be negotiated with State Parks and the farmers who lease much of the land along the route.

Another obstacle to construction starting in 2020 is that the Measure D transportation sales tax, passed by the voters in November, requires an environmental study of the option of removing the tracks entirely, adding to the cost and time required to complete the EIR. The RTC timetable calls for the EIR to be completed by the Fall of 2018. Any legal challenges to the EIR could derail this schedule, of course.

Since the original concept for the Rail Trail was developed, opposition to the rail part has grown, as it is revealed how costly and underused trains will be.



Kendra Turk-Kubo

New RBDA Board Member and Highlander Editor

Originally from Colorado, I am a new Bonny Doon resident, but have lived in Santa Cruz County on and off (mostly on) for 23 years. My husband, daughter and I moved to Braemoor Drive in October 2016, and we feel fortunate to have been able to relocate our family to such a beautiful and rural community. As we plan to set our roots down here, I am looking forward to playing a role in preserving this community as an RBDA Board member. I have a background in Marine Microbial Ecology, and I am living the dream of my 6-year-old self to study the ocean with as a Research Scientist in the Ocean Sciences Department at UCSC. I have a vested interest in preserving the rural environment and unique community we all enjoy, and hope to serve Bonny Doon well as the Editor of the Highlander. Please, don’t be shy with feedback about what you’d like to see addressed by the RBDA!


Mountain Bike Challenge Returns July 29

It’s that time of year again! As many as 650 additional bicyclists will be sharing our roads with us on Saturday, July 29, as they participate in the 2017 Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Challenge. You can expect to see extra bicycle traffic all over our local roads including Empire Grade, Alba Rd. Pine Flat Rd., Smith Grade Rd., Bonny Doon Rd., Hwy. 1 and Swanton Rd. between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Let’s all use extra caution on the road to ensure safety for all.


RBDA 60th Anniversary: Did You Serve on the RBDA Board?


It’s a happy time for America, whose economy is booming, but clouds are on the horizon.

American made cars with crazy-long tail fins cruise the newly built Interstate Highways, but Toyota starts selling vehicles in the U.S.

American pride is punctured by the launch of Sputnik.

The Viet Cong emerge in Vietnam.

On the bright side, millions of Americans gyrate happily inside the newly invented Hula Hoop.

On TV, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball and Groucho Marx have millions falling off their couches laughing.

Poodle skirts twirl, and jeans are becoming the pants of choice for both men and women.

And here in the Dooniverse, local residents who recently fought off the creation of a trailer park and halted the carving up of ranches into 1- and 2-acre lots organize themselves as the Rural Bonny Doon Association.

To begin planning our 60th anniversary, we would love to talk to former RBDA Board officers to gather their remembrances of what was on Dooners’ and the RBDA’s minds over the various decades. If you ever served on the RBDA Executive Board, please contact the present board at board@rbda.us, or call one of the Board members at the phone numbers on this page.


Are you an RBDA Member? Join the conversation, get news updates on the Facebook page exclusively for RBDA members: RBDA, Rural Bonny Doon Association

Support Our Sponsors!

Frans Lanting Gallery
Wildlife & Nature Photography
108 High Road, Santa Cruz 95060
831 429-1331 www.lanting.com

The Flower Ladies
Flower Arrangements for Weddings & Special Occasions
831 423-0261 www.theflowerladies.com

Northcoast Berry Farms
340 Woodpecker Ridge
Bonny Doon CA 95060   831 426-3733

McHenry Vineyard
Estate Pinot Noir
Bonny Doon CA 95060
530 756-3202    www.mchenryvineyard.com  

Heidi E. Hart, President, CEO
California Dreaming Real Estate
Local / Non-Corporate

831 247-9410     myagentheidi@gmail.com  

Boyce-Abel Associates & Family Land Planning
Facilitating & mediating land, estate and asset transference issues


Become One of Our Sponsors
Sponsorships: $100 a year
Send check and text to:
P.O. Box 551, Felton CA 95018

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.

Contact the RBDA Board in one email

Support the RBDA
- Renew Your Membership
: all 1-year memberships expire on January 31st.

Your continued support enables the RBDA Board to work on issues critical to Bonny Doon, to hold meetings to educate and get feedback regarding those issues, and to publish The Highlander newsletter.

Some people may not understand that receiving The Highlander in the mail doesn’t mean you are a current RBDA member. To reach the whole community we mail The Highlander to all mailboxes in Bonny Doon.

So unless you joined for multiple years, all 1-year RBDA memberships will expire on Jan. 31, 2016. To continue to support the RBDA, we need you to renew now for the 2016 year. Details are here.

Dues and donations go mainly to printing and mailing The Highlander, and rent and insurance for the public meetings at the school.

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 board@rbda.us.

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!

Annual dues are used primarily for printing and mailing The Highlander,
your voice for keeping Bonny Doon rural and natural.

Click here for details!

Those who make additional contributions qualify as:

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

Sharktooth Beach trash and graffiti, photo by Ted Benhari 

Back to the RBDA homepage

To the Highlander index