|Building Alternative Waste Strategies
How to make sure we don't face the Bonny Doon dump site issue again? With the debate on dump site location temporarily tabled, the most important next step is to work proactively with the County to find alternatives to landfills, so that this issue does not rear its head again somewhere else. The RBDA board agreed that the best way to influence this process is to bring expert resources to partner with our well-educated and opinionated membership.
The General Meeting on Nov. 10 will feature a panel of three experts from the waste disposal/recycling community to talk with us about what technologies and strategies are emerging to address trash management both in our own County and the rest of the world:
Victor Aguiar, Program
Director of ProMax, the materials exchange/recycling
Jeffrey Smedberg, Santa Cruz County Public Works Recycling Coordinator
Santa Cruz County Public Works Recycling and Solid Waste Services Manager
The RBDA board has prepared a few opening questions. Come ready with your
questions and cutting-edge ideas for an evening of lively discussion.
Talking Trash: Dumping the Thayer Road Dump Site
By now you've all heard that the Thayer Road site proposed by the Integrated Waste Management Local Task Force as a potential dump site has been dropped from the list, along with all other sites proposed for Santa Cruz County.
At the Sept. 8 RBDA Meeting, Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt addressed the outcry and concerns of our RBDA members. The meeting was conducted in less than ideal circumstances: under the light of car headlamps in the school parking lot due to a power outage that evening.
Mardi was greeted by a group of concerned and disgruntled RBDA members. She admitted to making a mistake in not notifying the RBDA that a Bonny Doon site was on the proposed dump site list.
She was available to take questions for an hour. It was decided that
the RBDA board would gather any additional questions from members and send
them to Mardi, and post the questions and her answers on the RBDA web page.
Please click here to read this exchange: www.bonnydoon.got.net/dump.html
Planning Commission: Felton Quarry a Nuisance
Last August, the County Planning Commission took the Felton (Granite Construction) Quarry to task for not being more interactive with their neighbors, who had complained about excess noise and dust at their nearby Bonny Doon home sites. The quarry management pledged to be more cooperative with the neighbors and has since met twice with a group of them.
We hear that Granite claims they are doing the mitigations required by law (but this is monitored only by them - the classic case of the fox guarding the henhouse.) The neighbors think that the quarry creates a nuisance for their homes, which the law says should constitute grounds for further mitigation, such as an automatic watering system. Since the County has zoned their homes rural-residential, they think there is an implied commitment for the County to mitigate the nuisance, even for those folks who moved there after the quarry was established (which includes most of them). But Granite argues that the dust/noise levels, as measured by them, are not high enough to be called a nuisance; the County Planning Department seems to be in agreement with Granite.
So what constitutes a nuisance? The neighbors called in an attorney
to help clarify the nuance and to nudge the County in what they think is
the right direction. At the mid-October Planning Commission meeting, neighbors
won a key victory: the Commission admitted that the quarry activities were
in fact a nuisance. They agreed to write stricter regulations around quarry
operations. Stay tuned: the next Commission meeting is Dec 8.
Looming Large: Impacts of UCSC Long Range Development Plan
UCSC presented its draft Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) in a public workshop on Oct. 20. This was the fifth in a series of public workshops that are part of a multi-year effort to update the campus's LRDP for campus physical planning toward the year 2020. There are many issues in the LRDP that concern Bonny Doon, including:
1) Plans to create a new entrance to campus off Empire Grade through the Cave Gulch neighborhood. This road will serve the "corporation yard," which means traffic with service vehicles, trucks for building projects, maintenance vehicles, employee housing access, plus traffic to research buildings for graduate students.
2) The campus plans to grow from its current enrollment of 14,000 to an average of 21,000. If you think traffic is bad now around the campus entrances and westside neighborhoods, this means it could increase by as much as 50%. According to UCSC's consultants, there would be an additional 9,000 auto trips to and from campus on a daily basis.
3) A traffic light at Heller Drive (the campus's west entrance) and Empire Grade is in the works already.
There will be an opportunity early in 2005 to identify issues that should be addressed in the required EIR (Environmental Impact Report), though the LRDP draft is currently so vague and general that making specific assertions about environmental impacts will be difficult. An RBDA e-mail alert was sent out to members soliciting comments on the October LRDP draft for a Nov. 5 deadline. Though the deadline is now passed, you may still want to submit your concerns. E-mail to: http://planning.ucsc.edu/lrdp/feedback.htm or lrdpadmin@ ucsc.edu, or mail to: LRDP Comments, Physical Planning and Construction, UCSC, Santa Cruz, CA 95064.
The more comments and concerns we have on record, the better our chances
Coast Dairies Title Transfer Stalled
After years of planning for the uses of the Coast Dairies property, we still await the actual transfer of title to the property. It seems one thing that wasn't planned for was the actual process of conveying the land. TPL (Trust for Public Land) apparently thought the transaction would be exempt from legal requirements that ordinarily apply to the redrawing of multiple parcels.
TPL's attorney has submitted legal descriptions to the County delineating what they claim are 15 existing parcels. They intend to create six new agricultural parcels for transfer to Agri- Culture, a non-profit educational subsidiary of the local Farm Bureau, the remainder going to BLM (U.S. Bureau of Land Management) and State Parks. Again, such a substantial redrawing of parcel lines triggers a process under State law (the Subdivision Map Act) that requires a public process and it is during that process that we could advocate for certain land uses to be prohibited as conditions of approval for the subdivision.
The most enforceable form of land use conditions would be deed restrictions that run with the land and thus could not be undone by a future BLM/California Department of Parks and Recreation sale or swap of the property. A version drafted last year includes 15 deed restrictions which generally say no development, no expansion of mining, no logging, and no off-highway vehicles, restrictions that most of us agree are needed and are included in the Draft Management Plan.
BLM has not agreed to accept the property with these restrictions, with the exception of the four under which TPL acquired the property, only two of which are actual restrictions: (1) open space only, but no definition and unwillingness to agree to "low intensity" recreational use; (2) no commercial timber harvesting, again with no definition and with loopholes. It is possible that TPL, anxious to get the property off their hands, could try to hand over the property with inadequate restrictions.
Hence, it's time to consider what restrictions we should fight for and how best to organize and advance the fight if it becomes necessary. We have heard through State Assemblyman John Laird's office that the preliminary step of conveying the "wet side" portion of the property to Department of Parks and Recreation will likely begin in November or December when the proposal goes to the State Public Works Board.
State Parks has recently attempted to grant a lease for other coastal property it owns to construct a high intensity hotel-type use. However, the latest news from Sacramento is that State Parks will not be accepting new acquisitions due to lack of funding for maintenance and patrol. Next steps in this process await the outcome of the November elections. Stay tuned for more information.
Coho Update: Return of the Natives!
Chalk up two points for coho salmon south of San Francisco. Rather than delisting our coho as petitioned by our local timber industry, NOAA Fisheries (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, previously known as the National Marine Fisheries Service) recently recommended that the fish be upgraded from threatened to endangered status. The petitions argued that coho were never native south of San Francisco.
Now, a new report by Kenneth Gobalet (Fresno State University) et al, states, "There is no question that coho salmon were native to San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties," contradicting claims to the contrary by the Central Coast Forest Association. The report cites samples of coho remains dating from 1895 that were collected by Cloudsley Rutter in streams south of San Francisco which are in the collection of the California Academy of Sciences. In addition, this new report says that it takes examining around 7,500 diagnostic elements to find any remains of even one coho. In the Central Coast only 1,100 elements have been reviewed to date.
The report, copyrighted by The American Fisheries Society, also recognizes that the coho and steelhead bones may not preserve as well as other species because of different mineralization bone density. The authors do not discuss the idea that indigenous peoples may have found coho bones more digestible and therefore consumed them.
Gobalet's latest report concludes that coho are native to the Central Coast, in part because specimens dating from 1895 (prior to introduction of any hatchery fish), that were collected by Cloudsley Rutter in streams south of San Francisco, are in the collection of the California Academy of Sciences.
In reference to the small sampling size reviewed to date along the Central
Coast, the latest Gobalet report states, "Because of this paucity of materials,
far more sampling is required to use the archaeological record as definitive
evidence for the absence of coho salmon from this section of coast. This
is particularly important to acknowledge, because there is no question
that coho salmon were native to San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties (Behnke
2002; P.B. Moyle, personal communication)."
RMC Sold to Cement Manufacturing Giant CEMEX
The world's third-biggest cement manufacturer, a Mexican corporation named Cemex, reached an agreement1 on Sept. 27 to purchase the RMC Group in a bid to make itself the world's second-biggest cement manufacturer. The owner of the plant in Davenport and the quarry in Bonny Doon, RMC Pacific Materials, Inc., is actually much larger than many of us may know. It is a subsidiary of the RMC Group, which is a British holding company that consists of approximately 30 subsidiaries.
The acquisition was made for a whopping $4 billion and will make Cemex one of the world's largest building materials companies, with revenues of more than $15 billion. One of the reasons why RMC may have been inclined to sell is that it hasn't been doing very well recently. It had a 16% decline in 2003 profitability over its 2002 numbers and posted a net loss of $280 million for 2003. In comparison, Cemex grew sales by nearly 10% and income more than 20%.
Despite the fact that Cemex is 98 years old and employs 26,000 people, the acquisition has nonetheless been noted as an unusual case of a new-world company acquiring a well-established European company of this size. Cemex is known for being a ‘hands-on’ type of company and has a history of shaking up management and infrastructures and introducing new ways of doing things at existing companies.
Cemex makes great claims regarding its environmental record2 and has declared intentions to support sustainable development and improve health, emissions and environmental impacts3 (interestingly enough, together with RMC). Cemex was even cited for accomplishments in 2002 by the World Environmental Center4. So, on the face of it, one might be tempted to feel somewhat comfortable about our new neighbor. However, the WEC is very much a self-congratulatory organization, consisting of representatives of many large corporations, and Cemex actually has some serious marks against it.
Cemex has a very poor environmental record at a major plant near Boulder, Colorado, a city often compared with Santa Cruz. Many of the details are discussed in a 2003 article from the Boulder Weekly5, which is very well worth reading. In February, Colorado state officials fined Cemex more than $200,000 for violating state air quality-control laws, but Cemex was nonetheless successful in a later bid to burn tires at the plant.
Once it moves into Davenport, Cemex will be direct neighbors with a powerful ally, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). BLM will be managing almost all of the inland holdings of the Coast Dairies property that shares an extensive border with the RMC properties. Cemex is pressing to create an enormous 460 acre openpit mine6 north of Los Angeles, which is opposed by multiple organizations and governments, including the city of Santa Clarita. In an attempt to stop the project, LA County denied the state permit for the mine, and the BLM has joined Cemex in a lawsuit against the County7.
What will happen here remains to be seen, but it's certain that we will need to be very diligent, keep our eyes open, and do our homework. In addition to the plant itself, the RMC land holdings are very extensive, running all the way up to the top of Empire Grade. Cemex's actions could have a very significant impact on our Bonny Doon lifestyle.
Tom Eklof, the local representative for the Palo Alto based Transcendental Meditation group, reports that the group is continuing to research the site, on Empire Grade between the CYA Camp and Lockheed, that the group purchased a three-year option to buy eight months ago.
A designer skilled in TM principles was flown in Sept. 30 to walk the site and create basic floor plans. The plans will be reviewed over the next few weeks, then staked out on-site. A local soils engineering firm has checked the site and found about five feet of topsoil over fractured granite, a good combination for proper percolation and for farming, an option the TM group is considering. The group would like to come back to an RBDA general meeting in a few months to show their plans and have additional feedback from the community. We'll let you know in advance when they are going to appear at a meeting.
RBDA BOARD NOMINATIONS
Three RBDA board member positions are up for election this January. According to the by-laws, the board appointed a committee of three people to nominate candidates. Yana Jacobs is the board representative on the committee, with Paul Hostetter and David Gelphman from the RBDA membership. Per the by-laws, the committee will present its nominations at the November General Meeting. Additional nominations will be accepted from the floor at that time, after which nominations will be closed. Nominees to the board must have been a member in good standing as of the first of November.
SUMMARY OF RBDA EXECUTIVE BOARD ACTIONS OCTOBER 6, 2004
1. Approved minutes of the 8/11/04 Executive Board Meeting. Unanimous.
2. Approved the authorization of Yana Jacobs to form a committee to nominate Executive Board members at the 11/10/04 General Meeting. Unanimous.
NOVEMBER 10 RBDA MEETING AGENDA
1. RBDA Business
2. RBDA Board Nominations
3. Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt
4. Featured Program
CCALM GROUP SCORES VICTORY
If you read the Oct. 10 Sentinel, you already know that the CCALM group (Community Concerned About Lockheed-Martin), which presented its case to the RBDA many months ago, has made a major advance. Lockheed Martin appears to have agreed to meet with members of CCALM and representatives from the RBDA and Bonny Doon community to discuss environmental issues. Quoting from Rosie Weiser's story in the Sentinel, "We will bring folks in, brief them first, then take them around the facility," said Lockheed spokesman Charles Manor. He noted the plan is not ‘definite yet’ but that the process is under way."
The RBDA congratulates CCALM members and Lockheed Martin on this display of rationality and hopes that Lockheed-Martin will actually go through with the exercise of sitting down and talking out our community concerns about air and water pollution and highway transport dangers.
The CCALM wish list for a series of meetings included these detailed topics, excerpted from their Oct. 11 letter to Lockheed-Martin:
* The full range of Lockheed Martin's practices from 1957 until now that have as their goal to protect the environment and neighbors of Bonny Doon;
* Water testing information 1957 to the present, including ground water, Trident Lake, steam water, drinking water;
* Hazardous materials that are used on site and emergency preparedness at Lockheed Martin and along the routes used to truck hazardous materials to and from the facility;
* A complete list and description of products that have in the past and are presently researched, designed, produced and/or tested at the Bonny Doon facility;
* The relationship between NIROP (Naval Industrial Reserve Ordinance Plant) and Lockheed Martin Bonny Doon.
CCALM leader Lynda Marin is looking for people who have special expertise
or interest in any of these topics to sit in on the discussions. We think
the first three are particularly suited for RBDA representation.
Contact the RBDA Board through the RBDA website to sign up for representation
at one of these meetings (http://www.bonnydoon. got.net/). Lockheed
Martin has not yet agreed on specific times to meet, but interested parties
can give input as to when they are available to attend these meetings.
Support Our Sponsors
Bonny Doon's voice in preserving our special quality of life,
Send mail correspondence to the Highlander Editor at the above
|RBDA Executive Board
The Bonny Doon Planning District
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.
Back to the RBDA homepage
To the Highlander index