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.
A Sheriff of Our Own
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
Tree-tment Worse Than the Disease?
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
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.
Beames Rejoins Board
The Mystery Deepens
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.
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