September/October 2016 issue

Earthquakes!!! In Bonny Doon

Dr. Allan Lindh

Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room,
Pine Flat Road & Ice Cream Grade

What Could Be Shaking in Bonny Doon?

As huge blocks of the earth's crust, known as plates, scrape slowly past each other at a rate of about two inches a year, tremendous force is built up along its deep underground branches, which we call faults. Periodically, something slips, releasing some of that energy in the form of an earthquake. In California the block called the Pacific plate is moving northwest, scraping horizontally past the plate dubbed the North America.

Bonny Doon is bounded on three sides by major faults, at least one of which is active. In addition, the San Andreas fault is about 10 miles away. It produced a Magnitude 8 (M8) earthquake in 1906, a Magnitude 7 (M7) in 1989, and has one segment capable of another M7 anytime, says Bonny Dooner Allan Lindh, a seismologist (scientist who studies earthquakes), who will talk about local earthquakes and faults in a presentation at the Sept. 14 RBDA meeting entitled “Seismicity and Faulting in and Adjacent to Monterey Bay.”

Dr. Lindh studied geology and physics at UCSC, and then earned a doctorate in Geophysics from Stanford University. He worked for 30 years at the US Geological Survey, a large fraction of the time trying to predict earthquakes. He says, “I did not succeed, but we learned a few important things along the way.” 

According to Dr. Lindh, the good news is that almost all of Bonny Doon is underlain by hard rock, and people who live in well-built homes, in which they have taken reasonable precautions, should come through the next M7 just fine.

Nevertheless, this should be a fascinating evening and a great opportunity to get your questions about local earthquakes and geology answered.


Update from Supervisor Ryan Coonerty

As your 3rd District County Supervisor, I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the RBDA newsletter. Here is a short briefing on some of the issues we have worked on in the past six months.

One of the most important issues in decades affecting not just Bonny Doon, but the whole County, is the commercial cultivation of cannabis. This past August, after several months of work by the Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4), County staff, and many engaged community members, the Board of Supervisors voted to adopt a cannabis cultivation ordinance.

One of my main policy objectives for the cultivation ordinance was to severely limit commercial cannabis cultivation in Bonny Doon and in all rural residential areas of the County. As soon as I was elected to serve as your Supervisor, I heard loud and clear from the Bonny Doon community that commercial cannabis cultivation was causing major problems in the community from smell, to generator noise, to water consumption, land speculation and many other negative impacts.

When the ordinance came to the Board, I advocated that there be a carve-out for the Coastal Zone, plus one mile inland, where cannabis could only be grown on Agriculturally (A) zoned parcels over 10 acres. Though there were concerns from other Supervisors and of course the cultivators, the Board ultimately agreed to the Coastal Zone carve-out. This will protect almost all of Bonny Doon from the impacts of large-scale commercial cannabis cultivation.

The Board also banned generators as the sole source of power for cultivators, and mandated that there must be an on-site water source to prevent growers from using trucked-in water. In the end, I was pleased with the result of the cultivation ordinance that we passed. The ordinance now must go through environmental review before taking effect.

I want to acknowledge the Bonny Dooners who came out to Board meetings and C4 meetings to make sure that neighborhood concerns stayed in the forefront of the discussion. I want to especially acknowledge my representative to the C4, Eric Hoffman, who spent hundreds of hours contributing valuable input into the process, oftentimes as the lone voice on the C4 for protecting rural neighborhoods. I have no doubt that our collective efforts resulted in an ordinance that put neighborhoods, families, and the environment ahead of the cultivation industry.

In addition to working on policy like cannabis cultivation, my office also communicates with constituents on a daily basis to address many quality of life and safety issues affecting Bonny Doon. For example, in the last six months we have worked with the County’s Public Works Department to fill potholes on Empire Grade north of Cave Gulch, and to investigate whether a steel plate was sinking on Smith Grade Road. We had crews trim a tree leaning dangerously over Bonny Doon Road, and most recently we asked Public Works staff to re-stripe the centerline along Smith Grade (restriping Smith Grade was actually taken from a suggestion off of the Bonny Doon “Slice” Facebook page, which I read regularly).

My office also investigated piles of cut vegetation left on the side of Bonny Doon Road (by Comcast) and compelled them to clean it up. We were able to get radar speed feedback signs installed on Pine Flat Road to help reduce speeding around the school, and I am currently working with the Bonny Doon CERT Team and CalFire to look at how we can make more community members eligible to participate in the County’s Emergency Medical Response (EMR) program.

All of these issues were initially brought to us by Bonny Dooners. My staff and I not only welcome your suggestions and feedback, we rely on your eyes and ears to help us better serve you. So please continue to call (454-2200) and email ( my office—my staff and I are here to help!


Marijuana Measures on November Ballot

Besides deciding among presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, or even Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, voters will have some major decisions to make as they mark their ballots Nov. 8. Californians will again be asked to approve the recreational use of marijuana by adults. Medical or recreational marijuana use will also be on the ballot in at least eight other states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada and North Dakota.

Residents of Santa Cruz County, and the cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville, will also be asked to approve measures to tax medical marijuana sales. The County plans to use the money to help fund registration and licensing of medical marijuana growers and purveyors, and enforce a new ordinance controlling the medical marijuana business. The ordinance was passed in June but won’t go into effect until an environmental review is completed and approved. Meanwhile, the registration process for growers has begun. (For details, see the July 2016 Highlander, and Supervisor Ryan Coonerty’s letter above.)

The California recreational use initiative, designated Proposition 64, is backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. At a Santa Cruz County Medical Society meeting July 13 Newsom called it the “most comprehensive legalization initiative to be placed in front of voters.” He said its provisions cover 64 pages in the voter information pamphlet we will receive in October. It puts the State in charge of regulating marijuana, and imposes taxes on retail sales while also allowing local regulation and taxation.

Newsom called the war on drugs expensive and “an abject failure” that especially negatively impacts young adults and people of color, who often, because of lack of money, agree to plead guilty. Thus they wind up with a record that makes it difficult to get a legitimate job. This blights lives and results in the government spending more money on re-entry services and job training.

Newsom said some of the benefits of Prop. 64 are that the money raised through taxation of what is now a multi-billion dollar black market industry will be divided among research, youth programs and drug treatment (60%), law enforcement (20%) and environmental protection (20%). Newsom estimates as much as $1 billion could be raised through taxation.

While Prop. 64 will create a detailed process and system of regulation, Newsom said that it allows for, and he expects it to be, modified as time goes by. He also forecast that the black market industry in California will continue as long as there are places in the U.S. where marijuana continues to be illegal. Nevertheless, he predicted that legalization in California will cut drug cartels’ revenues by 60%.

If the initiative passes possession of marijuana would become an infraction, a petty crime typically punishable by a fine, rather than jail time.

Many people who favor recreational use decriminalization worry that the industry will be taken over by large corporate entities. To deter that, Newsom said, Prop. 64 gives existing businesses a five-year head start.

Under Prop. 64 state agencies will license and regulate the industry. There will be an excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15% of the sales price and a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Medical marijuana would be exempt, but local jurisdictions can impose their own taxes on it, as Santa Cruz wants to do (see above), as well as on recreational pot. There will be packaging, labeling, advertising and marketing standards and restrictions and marketing and advertising to minors will be prohibited. People convicted of marijuana related crimes could have their sentences reduced or eliminated and records for prior marijuana convictions will be destroyed.

Local jurisdictions will also be able to impose their own regulations on marijuana sales, distribution, etc.


What Is the RBDA?

The RBDA is almost 60 years old. It was founded in 1957 when it was recognized that Bonny Doon is a very special place blessed by nature and geography, one too precious to let be despoiled by heavy development on small lots, trailer parks and shopping centers. The visionary founders of the RBDA pressed the County to create a zoning plan that ensured that no more properties would be cut up for that kind of development. This was the first General Plan adopted by the County, and led to similar plans to guide smart growth throughout the unincorporated areas.

Those founders also understood that Bonny Doon needed an organization to press for adequate public services: mail, telephone, roads, law enforcement etc. Without a strong united voice, our small population wouldn’t have had, and won’t have, much clout at the County building.

Below are some of the developments that over the years were prevented by the RBDA (some, of course, in alliance with other concerned groups and individuals), with the result that Bonny Doon today is one of the most desirable and unspoiled areas of the County:

•    A golf course and retirement housing development in what today is
      the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve;
•    A trailer park at the intersection of Pine Flat and Martin Roads;
•    A nuclear plant in Davenport, with huge power lines running up into
       and across Bonny Doon;
•    An RV Park in Wilder Ranch State Park;
•    Houses and periodic timber harvests on what is now instead the Gray Whale
       section of Wilder Ranch State Park;
•    An event center in Redwood Meadows near the intersection of Smith Grade
       and Bonny Doon Road, hosting weddings of up to 250 people weekly
       throughout the summer;
•    A “pharm” on grazing land on Back Ranch Road with thousands of biologically
       altered goats, whose waste was allowed to course through the Coast Road
       neighborhood into the ocean;
•    Old tires being burned for fuel at the (now-shuttered) Davenport cement
       plant, polluting the air;
•    High-volume Santa Cruz City wells along the coast, draining Bonny Doon
       streams and aquifers;
•    Bonny Doon’s population double or triple what it is today.
Though the County’s wholesale overhaul of zoning ordinances and building codes is still looming, as is the expansion of UCSC into Cave Gulch, most of the biggest land use and development battles are now (thankfully) behind us.

While informing Bonny Dooners about and speaking out against developments that would negatively impact the quality of life in our community and neighborhoods remains one of the RBDA’s prime focuses, we also continue to fight for better services, such as:
•    fire protection;
•    law enforcement;
•    traffic safety and road maintenance;
•    cell phone coverage and Internet connections.
A strong Bonny Doon voice is of critical importance for us to be heard at the County building. As the historic organization fighting for Bonny Doon, the RBDA is the best vehicle for that. For us to be successful, your membership and support is vital. Become a member, volunteer for the RBDA Board, come to our meetings, and help us with your ideas, suggestions and letters, so that Bonny Doon continues to be the very special place it is.

The RBDA Needs Your Help

The RBDA Board is currently under-staffed by two members, which makes it hard to do all we need and want to do. If you have ever considered pitching in to help your community, now would be a great time to step up.

Membership in the organization is also lagging, though we believe this is likely an oversight on the part of some of our loyal members. A couple of years ago the Board opted to change the membership signup requirements and we have not been sending out snail-mail reminders to folks like we used to. All memberships now come due at the end of January every year, and we notify everyone it’s time to sign up again in the January Highlander. Without those mailed reminders many people who have been members for years have not renewed.

This affects our treasury as well. A “normal” year of expenses runs about $3,000, most of it for printing and mailing The Highlander. The rest is split between rental of the school room and required liability insurance for our meetings there, plus the cost of keeping our webpage on the Internet and our P.O. Box. Our intake from dues, donations and sponsorships last year fell short of this amount by a few hundred dollars, and we had some one-time extraordinary expenses associated with the completion of the organization’s incorporation, which amounted to about $1,500.

So, we need your help! If you haven’t already for 2016, renew your membership. The RBDA Board needs two more members, especially if you have skills in the areas of Facebook and other social media communication, newsletter editing and design (desktop publishing). If you have skills in those areas and share the RBDA’s mission of low-impact land use development and improving public services, please contact us at to talk over what being a board member involves.

Bus Service Cut

On Sepember. 8, the Santa Cruz Metro will be reducing Bonny Doon bus service because of budget shortfalls.

Cayla Hill, Administrative Specialist for Metro’s Planning Dept., says that the bus service provider “…is going through difficult financial times and has been working to address a fiscal structural deficit in our budget over the last couple of years, meaning that our expenses are greater than our revenues.  We are doing the best we can to provide as much service as possible for our riders while making sure that we can continue to sustain a viable service in the long term.”

Overall, the Metro has undergone a restructuring of its entire network of fixed-route bus service, reducing it by approximately 10%, says Hill, adding that, “Although we are disappointed that we had to reduce service, this outcome is much better than the projected 30% reduction being considered only a year ago.”

For Dooners this means that Route 41 bus weekend service will be eliminated, as will the weekday 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. trips, leaving only the weekday 5:50 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. trips operating.

 The discontinued trips will be replaced by service on the Route 42 Davenport/Bonny Doon Route, with weekday 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. trips. On weekends an 8:30 a.m. trip will be added, and the 6:00 p.m. trip will be moved to a 4:30 p.m. departure.

For more information or to make comments, contact Cayla Hill at or (831) 420-2581 ext. 1313.

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

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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

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)

Coast Dairies, photo by Ted Benhari 

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