September/October 2006 issue


SEPT. 13, 2006, 7:30 PM

RBDA General Meeting
September 13th, 2006, 7:30 PM
Ice Cream Grade at Pine Flat Road
Fire Protection District Petition Drive Extended to Sept. 23

The drive to collect signatures on petitions to create a Bonny Doon Fire Protection District (BDFPD) is going very well, according to Tom Scully, Fire Team Board of Directors chairman. The drive will conclude at the annual Fire Team BBQ on Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Martin Road Firehouse.

The BBQ hours are 4 to 8 p.m., but the station will be open for petition signing that day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

As of this writing, about 35% of the registered voters in Bonny Doon have signed the petition. A minimum of 25% is needed to submit it to LAFCO, the Local Agency Formation Commission, to study the proposed district, hold public hearings and make a recommendation to the County Board of Supervisors. LAFCO can recommend approving the district as submitted, reject it or suggest changes, such as a revision of the proposed district boundaries, and/or increasing the proposed budget and thus the taxes imposed. The Bonny Doon Fire District Formation Committee has set a goal of 75% of the registered voters to demonstrate strong local support for the proposal.

Since the petition drive started as summer vacations began, many people have been away when petition circulators knocked on their doors. If you haven’t already signed and want to, contact Tom Scully at 425-1432 (or and he can arrange for someone to come to your house. You can also stop by the McDermott Fire Station at the corner of Empire Grade and Felton-Empire Road, which will be open and staffed by community volunteers six days a week, Monday to Friday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

To learn more about why our Bonny Doon Fire Team wants to create a separate Fire Protection District, or if you have questions or concerns about particular issues, log on to the Fire Team website at www., call Tom Scully at 425- 1432, or come to the Sept. 13 RBDA General Meeting.

Community Q&A on Fire Protection District Proposal BDF and CDF Representatives at RBDA General Meeting

With the question “not if, but when the next wildfire happens in Bonny Doon,” making sure we have the best, most timely fire protection is of paramount importance to all Bonny Doon residents. Heavily wooded mountains, limited road access in and out of many areas, and significant population growth since the last major fire in the late 1940’s all increase our vulnerability.

The Bonny Doon Fire Team (BDFT) has put much thought into proposing a Bonny Doon Fire Protection District. Come find out more about the implications of this proposal for our safety, for the ongoing support and strength of our fire team, and for property taxes. Captain Todd Meyer from BDFT will be the featured guest speaker at the Sept.13 RBDA General Meeting to give us more details about the proposed fire district formation. He will be joined by Unit Chief John Ferreira from the California Dept. of Forestry to answer community questions on the roles CDF and BDFT play now in protecting us from fire and how those roles would change in the new fire district. Also joining us at the General Meeting will be Sgt. Bill Gazza of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Dept. to introduce himself to the community and answer any questions or address any concerns we may have. Sgt. Gazza was recently assigned to the San Lorenzo Valley-Bonny Doon beat.

Supervisor-elect Neal Coonerty, who formally takes office in January, also plans to attend the General Meeting to keep abreast of Bonny Doon community issues and concerns as he will rely on members for advice, education and direction.

Beachy Keen!
State Parks Takes Over Oceanside Coast Dairies Lands

In a deal heralded as the most significant addition of beaches to Northern California state parks in 31 years, the transfer of five miles of Santa Cruz North County beaches, 407 acres in all, from Coast Dairies to California State Parks
Dept. is finally completed. Another 5,700 acres on the east side of Hwy. 1 is scheduled to be transferred to the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) later this year.

The remainder of the 6845-acre transfer is being donated to the Watsonville-based group Agri-Culture, a non-profit agency in the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau that will manage the leases for farmers who continue to grow crops there.

The transfer ends a complex eight-year process of acquiring these lands for preservation. With limited staff and resources, it may take some time before State Parks is able to implement plans for the five miles of coastal property it acquires. Within the next year, look for new signs to go up and limited patrolling by rangers. Posting of the beaches on the State Parks web site will likely bring additional tourists. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently approved funding to hire nine rangers and maintenance workers for the new park, who will hopefully arrive in time to manage new levels of visitors.

The current plan created by State Parks, BLM, and Trust for Public Land (the previous land holder) calls for mixed use on most of the land by hikers, mountain bikers, and horse riders. Logging and motorized vehicles will be banned.

Possible future improvements include having a coastal trail with stairways to provide easier beach access.

Campaign Begins in Support of UCSC Growth Curbing Measures

The fight to keep UCSC from outgrowing Santa Cruz has now focused on two ballot measures to be voted on by the City’s voters. CLUE, the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion, is working with the City Council and other groups to support the measures.

CLUE chairman John Aird and our own Supervisor-Elect Neal Coonerty have agreed to be co-chairs of the Steering Committee for the campaign to pass the measures in November. The first measure would require City officials to refuse to provide City services to accommodate UCSC’s growth unless UCSC pays the full cost of constructing and operating such services. It further directs City officials to take all legal actions “to avoid significant adverse effects of University growth, particularly on the housing market, traffic congestion, and water supply.” It goes on to prevent extension of City public services outside the City limits without the approval of LAFCO (Santa Cruz Local Agency Formation Commission). Under the State Constitution, UCSC is exempt from local land use regulations. Although comprised of local officials, LAFCO is a state agency, so it does have jurisdiction over UCSC.

Unlike a City measure that passed in 1987 opposing UCSC growth, this new measure will be part of the Santa Cruz municipal code and have legal force. A companion measure would add an amendment to the City’s Charter requiring a vote of the people before the City Council can “initiate an annexation to the City’s water service area or sewer service area.”

The first measure would accomplish two things. It would require UCSC to pay its fair share of past and future improvements to the transportation, sewer and other infrastructure needed to support the increase in students, faculty and staff. It would also prevent the City Council from asking LAFCO to extend city services to the upper campus expansion behind the Cave Gulch neighborhood of Bonny Doon, which is outside city limits. Unfortunately, Bonny Doon voters won’t get to vote, since these are Santa Cruz City measures.

UCSC’s 15-year Long Range Development Plan, 2005-2020, calls for 6,000 more students. Including faculty and staff, the campus population could reach 27,000, almost half of the city’s current population. The City Council, Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt (who asked the Council members to place the measures on the ballot) and her successor, Supervisor-elect Neal Coonerty, are unanimously supportive of the ballot measures.

Even if the ballot measures aren’t approved in November, two recent state court rulings emphasize the responsibility of state institutions of higher learning to reimburse their host communities for infrastructure expenses required by their growth. One decision came recently in an Appellate Court ruling for San Diego against two community college districts, and it was soon followed by a Supreme Court decision in favor of Monterey peninsula cities, which were suing CSUMB (Cal State-Monterey Bay).

UCSC has contributed some money to the City for infrastructure improvements, but it has held the upper hand in negotiations. The court rulings and passage of the measures will change this. The City of Santa Cruz is concerned that the huge growth proposed by UCSC would use up all the uncommitted water supplies the city has, preventing any new industries or housing in Santa Cruz until new water supplies are obtained. In addition, there is concern that the increase in students will drive families out of the city, as neighborhoods become dominated by students, who can better afford to pay higher rents, and cause unprecedented traffic jams, particularly at rush hours.

To help CLUE in its support of the campaign, send an e-mail to, or write to CLUE, PO Box 5241, Santa Cruz, CA 95063.

Continued Search for Phone Service Backup Solutions

The RBDA Board is continuing to  research options for emergency phone service in the event of an extended power outage. The community learned at the last RBDA General Meeting that upgrades in AT&T phone service to provide high-speed Internet service (DSL) changed over 30 powered relay stations throughout Bonny Doon to fiber optic cable instead of copper.

Fiber optic lines require PG&E power to maintain phone service. They have battery backups but they last only about eight hours. AT&T trucks with generators must recharge them if the power is out longer. Concerns remain that AT&T may not be able to keep all our phones working during extended power outages.

Cell phones, a safe bet in other areas as a land line backup, currently have spotty reception in Bonny Doon. While the addition of cell towers in Bonny Doon is a controversial and not necessarily ideal or even possible solution, we did learn through our research that the addition of cell phone towers to complete Bonny Doon cell coverage could provide backup service in the event of extended power outages and failure of the AT&T backup strategy.

Cell phone calls are routed through a combination of cell towers and land lines, but appear to be reliable even in a power outage. Cell phone calls are initially received by a cell phone tower, then routed directly to the AT&T central switch downtown, which has its own generator for backup when power is down. Cell towers have their own generators, which go on automatically when power is out, according to a source who does construction work on the towers.

Temporary Win for Smith Grade

The RBDA Board recently made a formal request to the County Board of Supervisors for funds to repair storm-damaged roads in Bonny Doon. Many Bonny Doon and  County roads are badly in need of repair. Main arteries most in need of repair in Bonny Doon were Empire Grade and Smith Grade. Empire Grade, as the more major artery with eligibility for federal funding, will likely be repaired this year. But Smith Grade was in competition with almost 70 other County roads damaged this winter, with very limited funds available and priority given to roads where any further damage could entrap residents.

In a follow-up call to John Presleigh, Assistant Director of the County Public Works Department, the RBDA Board made a successful case for the temporary Smith Grade repairs, which were completed the following week. Damage on Smith Grade was severe enough this past winter to put Majors Creek, one of the City’s water supply streams, at risk to a massive bank and road failure. Current repairs made are a much needed temporary win for both the City and Bonny Doon residents. The repaving of the road surface covered significant cracks, which will stop water from entering and exacerbating the problem. However, without a retaining wall—an expensive solution the County budget can’t install on every slip failure—the road, creek, and City water supply are still at risk from further earth movement in the future.

Watershed Committee Walk Another Success

The RBDA Watershed Committee sponsored another walk along the Laguna Creek watershed in July, learning more about seasonal changes that happen to the watershed. Although it was one of the hottest weekends of the year, hikers enjoyed a beautifully cool and breezy walk.

The group included a marine ecologist and a botanist, who added their knowledge to discussions along the hike. It was suggested during the field-trip that we have Dylan Neubauer show her slides of unique sea shore plants which are located in the new State Park Lands adjacent to the Lagoon. Other topics discussed were the increasing off road bike trails proliferating in Bonny Doon, and surveying rainbow trout populations above the City water catchment dam on Laguna Creek.

The Watershed Committee will be talking to the staff at Bonny Doon School about upcoming projects and look forward to more educational walks in the near future.

In late August, committee members Karl Bareis and Jodi Frediani met with State Parks Head Ranger Joe Connors to discuss the ways Bonny Doon residents can work with State Parks to eliminate trails leading into areas supposedly closed to the public. Ranger Joe Connors says that he can work with us to identify problem areas and help get crews assigned to eradicate illegal trails. In the mean time, as we move into fire season he suggested we take note of any off road activities within the park and call the Wilder Ranch Rangers Office at 423-0528 with as much information, such as car license numbers, location etc.

Eco Preserve Work Winds Down

California Dept. of Correction crews continue to return to the Bonny Doon Ecological Preserve in between calls to help fight wild fires to complete chipping the brush they cleared earlier this summer through a large $80,000 federal grant for fire protection maintenance work in the Eco Preserve. The time period in which the grant money could be spent has officially ended, so no new brush clearing will happen.

The crews will continue to return and finish chipping, burning any remaining brush piles when the rains return and legal burn season begins this winter.


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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 
Board Chair
Ted Benhari
Vice Chair
Jodi Frediani
Alec Webster
Corresponding Secretary 
Yana Jacobs
Ben Harmon 
Recording Secretary
Don Coyne
Highlander Editor
Jane Cavanaugh
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The Bonny Doon Planning District
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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.

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