July/August 1999 issue
A deputy for Bonny Doon?
Do we want a full-time deputy for Bonny Doon?
Also, the proper care and handling of vandals

Sgt. Tony Jack of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Dept.
RBDA Meeting, Wednesday, July 14, 7:30 p.m.
Multi-Purpose Room, Bonny Doon School

A Sheriff of Our Own
Do we want a full-time deputy for Bonny Doon?

        Recognizing that some of the same problems that plague more populated places also occur on the North Coast, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s office is seeking community support for stationing a full time (40 hours a week) deputy in the Bonny Doon/Davenport area.
   At the July 14 RBDA meeting, Sgt. Tony Jack will talk about the services that would be provided by the new deputy, who would be based in Davenport. The county supervisors have budgeted for four new officers, but haven’t decided where they’ll be assigned. The county and federal governments will share their salaries. 
   While seeking feedback on whether we want a sheriff stationed here, Sgt. Jack  will also talk about recent changes in the Sheriff’s office and how they handle regular patrols and emergency responses. "We want to help people get what they want out of the Sheriff’s office," he told the Highlander. 
   Interest in law enforcement has leapt in Bonny Doon because of the recent mail thefts, the burglaries in the Moore Ranch Road neighborhood off Smith Grade, and the highly publicized Chirco case, which has sparked discussion of what level of force a homeowner can or should use to protect his or her person or property. In that case Ben Chirco, a Bonny Doon homeowner, was charged with assault when, after calling the police, he pointed a gun at and handcuffed to a gate a teenager he says he caught vandalizing his trucks. 
   While Sgt. Jack can’t comment on the Chirco case, he will explain the legal issues involved in so-called "citizen’s arrests," exposure to personal liability, and how to respond when vandals or burglars are caught in the act. If you have questions about the new deputy, you can call Sgt. Jack at 464-6230, or e-mail him at scruza.shf242@hw1.cahwnet.gov. Or better still, come to the July 14 RBDA meeting.

Tree-tment Worse Than the Disease?
   Burned by criticism that they weren’t doing enough to protect us from power outages and forest fires, PG&E wants to clear up to a 100-foot swath around the 12-mile main transmission line through Bonny Doon down to Davenport. 
   That means, according to the power company, that 1,800 trees have to go. 
   Not so fast, says Planning Director Alvin James. Prodded by Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt, James told PG&E on June 9 to holster their chainsaws until he checks into what permits are required.
   PG&E thinks state law allows them to cut without permits for "maintenance" purposes. County law defines maintenance as trimming branches, not removing trees. Show me the state law, Mardi said. PG&E’s Alec Arago, local government/community affairs rep for the Central Coast, says a reply will be coming in a couple of weeks.
   According to Arago, PG&E is willing to work with people through whose property the line passes to resolve issues like privacy maintenance and retention of favorite trees. He says the power company wants to replant the areas directly under the lines with native shrubs, grasses and small trees. 
   To get answers to questions about the tree cutting, call Arago at 479-5844. If there is enough interest, Arago will attend the July 14 RBDA meeting. Call him or RBDA chair Ted Benhari at 426-5053 if you want to see him there. 

Second Unit Ordinance A Potential Disaster for Bonny Doon
   Last year the county supervisors, quietly, and over the objections of our own supervisor, Mardi Wormhoudt, passed an ordinance that allows nearly all property owners to build second dwelling units on parcels zoned for single-family homes.
   With one stroke of the pen, this ordinance effectively doubles the potential density of the unincorporated areas of the county, including Bonny Doon. It subverts the County General Plan, Measure J (which limited growth and called for development to be concentrated within the urban zones) and the strict zoning which the RBDA and other Bonny Dooners worked so hard to put in place. 
   The units are ostensibly to be so-called "affordable" housing, with strictly controlled rents, but the opportunities for both illegal and legal abuses are huge. This sinisterly simple ordinance had an obvious and seductive appeal for the supervisors. They seemed to be taking a big step toward solving the frustrating affordable housing problem. They relieved pressure from the state for Santa Cruz to bear more of the burden of the rapidly growing California population. They create an opportunity for the county’s thousands of illegal units to be legalized. And they get a chance to turn all those problem, money-draining illegal units into tax and fee revenue.
   It’s a win-win situation for everyone, no? No! The losers are all those concerned with quality of life in their rural residential areas, who now face loss of privacy, deterioration of property values, increased demand on aquifers, and heavier traffic.
   The ordinance seems to have been passed with little thought for its negative effects. Because it permits location of the second units wherever the property owner desires, it is easy to transfer the impact to neighbors. Shared wells will have to serve additional families. Narrow driveways will bear more traffic. Trees which gave neighbors privacy may be removed to make way for the new units, and, if they have timber value, to pay for construction costs.
   Already this ordinance is creating strife among neighbors, including some in Bonny Doon, and more is sure to come. But until enough people grumble to their supervisors, little probably will be done to reduce the impact of this ill-conceived law, or to at least mitigate some of its more harmful effects. The RBDA board would at least like to see the permitting process for second dwelling units be as stringent as that for primary units, that enough water be proven available, that septic requirements be better spelled out, and that minimizing impact on neighbors be considered before the unit and its location are approved. The property owner should bear all expenses caused by the second unit’s construction, like developing any necessary additional sources and storage of water, widening and maintaining driveways, planting trees or building fences for privacy, etc.
   We are not against affordable housing. We just want it not to deteriorate the quality of life that we have worked so long and hard to preserve in Bonny Doon.

Wasting Our Money
   The coastal zone’s deep incursion into Bonny Doon could force us to pay for inspections of our septic tanks because of problems largely confined to Southern California.
   The state Assembly has passed a bill, AB 885, aimed at reducing the amount of bacterial pollution in coastal waters. It could require all septic tanks in the coastal zone to be inspected on a regular basis. In an article on June 23 the Sentinel suggested that the inspections could be annual, and the inspection fee as high as $100 (though the bill’s language doesn’t spell out the fee and inspection schedule). Homeowners could also be required to pump out their tanks, which costs up to $300.
   While we support pollution reduction, and reducing health dangers to marine life and the ocean using public, we think that the bill will unfairly penalize many Bonny Dooners. The fact that the coastal zone comes further inland in Bonny Doon (up to Empire Grade) than almost anywhere else in California means many homeowners whose septic tanks have no role in the problem may nevertheless fall under the purview of this law. 
     The state Senate’s Environmental Quality committee will take up the bill July 12. You can read the bill’s language on the legislature’s web site (click on the link on the RBDA web site). If you want to comment on it, write to Sen. Bruce McPherson and Assemblyman Fred Keeley (contact info is found on our home page here, and in phone book government pages.

Wine Sí, Weddings No
   For the past nine months the RBDA board has been studying a proposal to build a winery and events center at the Redwood Meadows Ranch, 3875 Bonny Doon Road, at Brisa del Mar Drive, just south of the intersection with Pine Flat. 
   Bill Cunningham developed Redwood Meadows in the ’80s, subdividing the ranch into 12 parcels of 5-acres each, and two open space easements, one for agriculture and one for timber. The open space easements allowed the residential parcels to be substandard in size. The ranch, which overlooks the Pacific, offers spectacular views and redwood cathedrals, and was beautifully and sensitively designed and developed as an upper end gated community. 
   From the beginning, Cunningham, who presented his plans at the November RBDA meeting, intended to develop the agricultural parcel as a vineyard and winery. The people who bought the 5-acre parcels (only three have built houses so far) contend it was explained to them that this was to be a "boutique" winery, fermenting grapes grown on the property. But over the years the Cunninghams, who lost one planting to gophers, evolved a larger vision for the winery.
   As he detailed it in his building application to the county, he would be able eventually to produce 10 times the vineyard’s capacity, or about 40,000 cases, which would make it among the larger of the county’s wineries, although still relatively small by industry standards. But much more than a "boutique." Cunningham also applied for permission to rent the premises out for weddings and other events, of up to 250 people, a dozen times a year, plus 24 events of 150 people, and unlimited smaller events. 
   This application to hold events is at the heart of the opposition to the project by the RBDA board, and most, if not all, of the Redwood Meadows Ranch property owners.
   Cunningham insists a new winery today can only be successful with the increased marketing opportunities and revenues brought by the events. We don’t know if this is true, although most wineries have succeeded without holding unrelated commercial events.
   But in any case, we feel that the impact on the neighbors (which they fear, despite many measures Cunningham says he is willing to take to mitigate it) and on Bonny Doon is too high a price to pay for this winery’s increased chances of success. And it would create a precedent for additional commercial event facilities, winery-based or otherwise, to be built in Bonny Doon, with the resultant negative effects on the rural residential nature of our community.
   We also support the neighbors in their wish that the winery’s size be limited to the original vision as outlined to them when they bought their parcels. We recognize that a 4,000 case winery is quite small, and that nearly all wineries import some of their grapes for blending. Therefore we have asked the county to limit the capacity to twice the gallonage that can be pressed from the vineyard on the property, or about 8,000 cases, which is the capacity of many our area’s highly regarded boutique wineries. Additonally, we support the objections raised about the project (traffic, noise, impact on their wells, etc.) by the Concerned Homeowners of Redwood Meadows, and have urged the Planning Department staff to address them before any hearings on the proposed application.
   The county is now deciding whether the concerns expressed warrant an Environmental Impact Report be required, as the neighbors’ group has demanded. This would be time-consuming and expensive, and would put off the Planning Commission’s review of the application for several months, or longer. If no EIR is required, and no litigation is filed demanding it, the commission may rule on the project as early as the fall. 

SOAL and Damnation
   Damn! Only our desire to keep our PG-13 rating keeps us from using stronger language in reaction to the recent ruling by Superior Court Judge Bill Kelsay upholding the county’s ordinance allowing biomedical animal operations on Commercial Agriculture (CA) land.
   Kelsay threw out the Sierra Club’s and SOAL’s (Save Our Agricultural Land) argument that outfits like Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc. (SCBI), even though they raise farm animals, are more like feedlots, crowding huge herds of animals together, feeding them with trucked in fodder, and ruining the land so that traditional farming could never again occur there. 
   The judge accepted the county’s argument that it has the right to decide what biomedical operations can occur on CA land, and has set reasonable limits in its ordinance.
   Meanwhile, the Planning Commission put off until Sept. 8 a decision on an application for palatial horse barns that SCBI owners the Stephensons want to build on their Back Ranch Road property. The barns, which total 8,000 square feet (for 10 or fewer horses; each horse will have its own spa?) could also be used for goats, although not those used in biomedical operations. The commissioners said there were a lot of unanswered questions.

Beames Rejoins Board
     Miriam Beames, who served on the RBDA executive board in 1997-98, has consented to fill out the remaining seven months of the term of Mark Bedford, who has moved to Pacific Grove. We are sorry to see Mark leave the board, and will miss his wisdom and insight. We are also very pleased to have Miriam back. She worked hard to research and understand issues affecting Bonny Doon, and helped the board take informed positions.
   With this change, the board also reshuffled some positions. Dave Deamer takes over Mark’s former role as treasurer, and Miriam will share Marilyn Hummel’s position of corresponding secretary.

The Mystery Deepens
     It’s B-a-a-a-c-k! Yep, that pesky old mystery sound from RMC’s Davenport cement plant, is starting to disturb Dooners sleep again. According to those who have been particularly bothered by it, the sound, thought quelled by some new mufflers on a huge fan at the plant, is again disturbing the peace of Bonny Doon.
   The RMC people say they are going to install some new sound equipment at the plant and at a site in Bonny Doon to try to trace the source again, but it looks like we may be back to square one.
   If you have heard the sound again, contact any of the RBDA board members at the phone numbers or email contacts on the masthead below.

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 prior to the RBDA General Meetings, which are usually held the 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. 

RBDA Executive Board

Chair, Highlander Editor: Ted Benhari  426-5053    | email here |
Vice Chair: Bill Hornaday 421-0167    | email here |
Co-Corresponding Secretary: Marilyn Hummel 426-3352    | email here |
Co-Corresponding Secretary: Miriam Beames 423-6275    | email here |
Treasurer: David Deamer 426-5601    | email here |
Membership: Fred Bryck 425-5476    | email here |
Recording Secretary: Val Haley 425-1587    | email here |
All board members in one email    | email here |


Contact the RBDA Board in one email

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