September/October 2012 issue

Natives of the Monterey Bay
Chuck Striplen
Amah Matsun Tribal Band

Wednesday September 12, 2012, 7:30pm
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room
Ice Cream Grade and Pine Flat Road

Natives of the Monterey Bay: Then and Now

For thousands of years Native American tribes lived the good life provided by the waterways, beaches, forests and easy-to-take climate of the Monterey Bay. Then a few adventurous and avaricious Europeans showed up...


At the Sept. 12 RBDA meeting Chuck Striplen of the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of the Ohlone/Costanoan Indians, will speak on “The Re-emergence of a tribal presence in the Monterey Bay Area: Opportunities for new approaches in research and stewardship.”


His talk will cover the experience of tribes of the Santa Cruz Mountains through the mission period, historic period, and recent efforts by the Amah Mutsun to restore their role as landscape stewards. While we in Bonny Doon are well-informed about the natural endowments of our region, we may benefit from a greater understanding of its earlier inhabitants and their guardianship of our mountain. Mr. Striplen, who represents the historic Mutsun and Awaswas peoples of the Monterey Bay Area, is an Associate Environmental Scientist with SFEI in Richmond, CA. He specializes in the study of California’s historical ecology, and the role tribes play in shaping and maintaining resilient landscapes.


Mr. Striplen has received multiple degrees from UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley, and is currently a PhD candidate in Environmental Science, Policy and Management at Cal. As an avid student of landscape history and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Mr. Striplen adds another layer of complexity to the Historical Ecology Program’s analysis of the physical and ecological characteristics of the region’s wetlands, creeks, and terrestrial habitats prior to major Euro-American colonization.


He joined SFEI’s Historical Ecology Team in 2002. SFEI, and its predecessor, the Aquatic Habitat Institute, is fundamentally charged with facilitation and development of scientific frameworks for addressing San Francisco Bay Estuary management issues based on sound peer-reviewed scientific protocols and dialog among regulated entities, regulators and policy-makers. Due to their focus on the scientific method, they don’t take sides on environmental issues nor have any political or financial interest in the outcomes of their research and data monitoring, so they are able to provide impartial scientific interpretations to their clients.


Come join us Sept. 12 for a fascinating evening that will combine the rich history of the original peoples of our area and a focus on ecological science.



Opinion on Beauregard Vineyards an Uvaggio


What does that headline mean? An uvaggio is a wine made from different types of grapes. It could be good. It could be bad. And that pretty much sums up the range of opinions Bonny Dooners have offered on Ryan and Rachel Beauregard’s proposal to expand the operating permit for their winery to include the popular summer Thursday dinner concerts, and expand the legal limit for numbers of people allowed to be there at one time.


A little background for newbies to this controversial topic: After a complaint by a neighbor to the Planning Dept. prompted a letter in August warning the Beauregards that they were operating beyond the limits of their permit, they abruptly canceled the Thursday evening events and decided to apply for an expansion of the permit, which was originally granted in 1988 to Bonny Doon Vineyard proprietor Randall Grahm, from whom the Beauregards bought the property about 4 years ago.


The “Slice” Facebook page rattled with emotional posts. Howls of disappointment from the many Dooners who cherished the Thursday dinner concerts as a fun, inexpensive, family friendly event which provided an all-too-rare opportunity to get together, gossip and meet other Dooners. Those who tended primarily to see the events as an unwelcome urban intrusion on the peace and quiet of our rural community, replete with loud music and alcohol, greeted the news with relief.


Your RBDA Board solicited emails on the subject both to try to determine community sentiment, and to better understand exactly what people liked or didn’t like, or saw as possible compromises. To date, we have received a few dozen, and they generally were split among the three shades of opinion: jeers, cheers or suggestions for limits that would allow the events to continue without unduly intruding on neighbors’ peace and quiet and impacting public health and safety.


Some cited the historical context of the winery site at the intersection of Bonny Doon and Pine Flat roads. The Lost Weekend, as it was known for a time, was an informal affair in the 60s and 70s, open when owner Mary Ricci felt like it, usually quiet (all activity was indoors) and frequented by locals, except on some dry season weekends, when cruising bikers from Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Monterey counties made it a regular pitstop, their amplified mufflers competing with the incessant keening of the hundreds of turkeys on the Simpkins’ ranch next door (long gone now). Vintner Grahm had ambitious plans for a restaurant/ entertainment venue but caved in to neighborhood opposition.


Those who responded to our request for input frequently cited the lack of on-site parking and the traffic and noise from the outdoor amplified music as the biggest problems with the events, as well as a concern that they weren’t apropos to the quiet country lifestyle of Bonny Doon and might set a precedent that would encourage others to start up similar ventures. Proponents pointed to the strong support that the Beauregards have given to the Fire Team, the school and others, and the community-building aspect of the Thursday gatherings.


The Beauregards’ existing permit limits events to 49 people, which has been far exceeded at the Thursday dinner concerts, wine club “pickup parties,” and other events. They would like to be able to have as many as 200 guests at a time, which would require off-site parking and a shuttle. Ryan and Rachel say they want to put on the dinner concerts every other Thursday from May through September. They are also thinking of applying to have up to 6 weddings a year and a morning coffee bar, plus the 2 annual new release parties and 2 pickup parties.


Ryan told The Highlander he has hired a land use consultant to hold some preliminary meetings with County planners, but that he probably won’t submit a formal application until this fall at the earliest because he is busy with his grape harvest, which he said is very good and very welcome after last year’s disastrous season.


The application will have to go through a public hearing in front of the Zoning Administrator and very likely another in front of the Planning Commission. There will be several opportunities for public input once the application is submitted. It will be challenging to reach a compromise that will satisfy everyone. Any expansion of the current permit, which doesn’t even allow outdoor amplified music, is necessarily going to have its biggest impact on the immediate neighbors, who now seem to be in the early stages of organizing opposition.


Please continue to email the RBDA with your views on the Beauregards’ proposal, at It would be helpful if you would let us know in the email if you are an RBDA member.


Critical LAFCO UCSC Decision Coming Up


After nearly a year of postponements, amendments, legal action, threats of more to come, and even possible withdrawal by UCSC of its application, LAFCO may take a final vote on Oct. 10 on whether to give the City of Santa Cruz the green light to supply water to the North Campus, and under what conditions.


At a dramatic hearing on June 6, LAFCO (the Santa Cruz Local Agency Formation Commission) considered several versions of the conditions that would be imposed on the City in order to supply the estimated roughly 150 million gallons of water UCSC foresees it needs to sustain its massive building project on the lovely wooded upper campus in Bonny Doon, beyond the city limits and east of Cave Gulch Creek. The commissioners then agreed to postpone any action until their October meeting, while a committee works behind the scenes to craft conditions acceptable to a majority of them that would protect the rights of the City’s current water customers and provide sufficient flow to revive the threatened salmonid (Coho and steelhead) in the San Lorenzo River and North Coast streams, which comprise virtually the City’s entire water supply.


The stickiest issues are how to implement a water neutral policy (a second LAFCO committee is mulling that) to offset the increased university use, and how to guarantee that the demands of the National Marine Fisheries Service and the California Dept. of Fish & Game are met, i.e., that the City comply with the federal Endangered Species Act by cutting its water use from the river and streams by up to 25%. The agencies have told the City that “ does not appear that current water supplies are sufficient to meet current demand and protect listed salmonids, let alone allow for increased demands resulting from expansion of the City’s service area.”


At the June 6 hearing, UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal, obviously piqued at how long it’s taken for LAFCO to reach a decision, and faced with the possibility of strict conditions on its water use, threatened to withdraw its application, which in our opinion would be a violation of the landmark 2008 Comprehensive Settlement Agreement which ended several lawsuits over UCSC growth.


So circle Oct. 10 on your calendars. This could be a critical day in the 7-year long struggle to protect the environment and Bonny Doon from some of the impact of 3 million square feet of new buildings and destruction of over 240 acres of unique animal and plant habitat.


Dooners May Get Stronger Voice About Monster Homes


The RBDA Board has initiated a discussion with Supervisor Neil Coonerty to get the County to reduce the trigger point for the Large Dwelling Ordinance (Santa Cruz County Code 13.10.325) from 7,000 to 5,000 sq. ft. Currently, if a proposed residence is greater than 7,000 sq. ft. it is considered a “large dwelling” or in common parlance, a mansion or “monster house.” Such houses require a design review, including a public hearing with the right to appeal up to the Board of Supervisors. There have been several abuses of this limit in Bonny Doon (see November 2010 and March 2012 Highlanders on our website, and we feel that a lower limit of 5,000 sq. ft. would reduce the abuses by allowing neighbors to weigh in during the permit process. A 5,000 sq. ft. house is still a very large house by most standards. The Board of Supervisors is expected to consider the changes in September.


Other changes in the Large Dwelling Ordinance we proposed will not be brought to the Board of Supervisors this fall but are being sent by Supervisor Coonerty to the Planning Dept. for review and discussion. These additional changes include:


          Simplifying the calculation of a house’s square footage to include the whole house. Currently there are loopholes based on small details and semantics that allow parts of a house to be excluded. For example, lowering some ceiling heights by a few inches or giving a room a different name can allow a much larger house to avoid public comment and review.

          Including appurtenant structures in the trigger point and in the design review process. In Bonny Doon much of the public impact of a mansion can be in the outbuildings and other non-house structures.

          Clarifying that the largest house in a neighborhood does not define the appropriate size for future dwellings but rather, taking into account the neighboring house sizes.

          Clarifying that a public viewshed means the view from any publicly accessible place.

          Making the design standards consistent for those developments that need mitigation and those that are designed right in the first place. Currently, house designs that need mitigation have a lower standard of compatibility with the neighborhood.

          Making the neighbors’ privacy requirements clear and consistent. Currently there are 3 different levels of neighbors’ privacy noted in the code.

If you would like to have some say in whether “monster houses” or mansions are built next door to you, please watch the agenda for the Sept 11 and the Sept 25 Board of Supervisors meeting at this County link or contact us at and let us know you're interested in speaking when the issue comes before the Board of Supervisors.


Talk About Cheaper Gas Not a Lot of Hot Air


A group of Bonny Doon residents met on Aug. 14 to establish a Bonny Doon Propane Buyers Co-op in order to negotiate more affordable propane prices with companies serving the Bonny Doon area. The co-op’s steering committee has requested that Bonny Doon residents who are interested in the coop express their interest by signing in on a Bonny Doon Propane Coop Google Group Page.

There is no obligation for just expressing interest and no personal information of those who respond will be shared with any propane suppliers, or with any other group or business. The number of people who express interest is important because the larger the co-op is, the better the rate that can be negotiated.


Bonny Doon residents who do not use computers, or prefer to communicate by phone, may call and leave their name and telephone number on the answering machine at (831) 423-7790. Once a significant number of residents express interest in participating, and they are reportedly very close to that number at press time, the steering committee can request proposals from propane suppliers, based on that number of potential customers.


It is anticipated that the propane price for co-op members may be as much as $1 per gallon less than the going retail rate. The steering committee is also reviewing options to get a better rate for those who rent their propane tanks, and looking into how to make the change of propane suppliers as seamless and inexpensive as possible.


Time to Begin Thinking About...


As September rolls around every year, our main thoughts turn to...? Well, conceivably yours, dear reader, may turn to chopping up firewood for the rainy season, cleaning out the gutters, getting the kids ready for school... But ours (ok, call us weird) turn to elections for the RBDA Executive Board!


The work of protecting Bonny Doon from inappropriate development is carried out by the RBDA Board, with the support of our membership, of course. Without people willing to volunteer their time and talent to serve on the Board, the RBDA, which has served Bonny Doon for 55 years, couldn’t exist. You may know that elections for the RBDA Board take place at the January public meeting, and nominations must be made at the November meeting, so why are we writing about it now? Because to run for the Executive Board someone must have been an RBDA member in good standing as of Nov. 1. Since our Bylaws state that membership becomes effective 30 days after an application is submitted and dues are paid, anyone wishing to run for the board must already be a member or have submitted an application by Oct. 1. The next Highlander doesn’t come out until late October, so that’s why we’re writing about it now.


If you love Bonny Doon and want it to continue to remain the kind of place that attracted you to live here in the first place, seriously consider whether it isn’t time to put in some time to ensure that that happens. Become a member or make sure your membership is up to date, and feel free to contact the RBDA Board (our phone numbers and email address are below, left) to talk about what is involved in serving on the RBDA Board. It is far from a full-time job, but it is a crucial one for “Keeping Bonny Doon Rural and Natural.”


Support Our Sponsors

Frans Lanting Gallery
Wildlife & Nature Photography
500 Chestnut St., Suite 200 Santa Cruz

The Flower Ladies
Flower Arrangements for Weddings & Special Occasions

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

Mandala Net Design
Full service graphic design Custom web development

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

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!

Dues payments count for a full year from date received.
Dues mostly go 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)

Back to the RBDA homepage
To the Highlander index