November/December 2005 issue

The Energy Efficient Home
in the Era of $60 a Barrel Oil

Sharon Block, Energy Consultant, Block Energy Design
RBDA General Meeting
Nov. 9, 2005, 7:30 PM


Third District Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt

November 9, 2005
Ice Cream Grade at Pine Flat Road

The Energy Efficient Home

With gas at $3 a gallon and propane prices set to soar this winter, energy conservation is becoming essential for everyone, not just those motivated by ecological or political reasons. Besides abandoning your car, the best way to conserve is to make your home energy efficient. To help you figure out how to do that, Sharon Block of Block Energy Design in Santa Cruz will be the featured speaker at the Nov. 9 RBDA General Meeting. She is an expert at analyzing a building’s energy use and calculating your home’s energy efficiency.  New technologies for energy efficient design and materials have been coming at an ever more rapid pace, and Ms. Block will discuss the latest advances in lighting control, window design and home and water heating, including producing heat and electricity from the sun.

Come to the Nov. 9 meeting to learn how to save money and help our country and the planet at the same time!

The City Coming to Our Hill: UCSC Expansion EIR Released

The draft Environmental Impact Report for UCSC’s massive expansion plans was released on Oct. 19, opening up a 60-day window for public comment.  The EIR itself is massive, three volumes totaling 900 pages in 12 chapters and five appendices. It probably will take about 60 days just to read it, let alone thoroughly understand and analyze it. Nevertheless, the first of two public hearings to receive comments is scheduled for Nov. 16 from 7-10 p.m. at the University Inn & Conference Center, 611 Ocean St., with a second Nov. 30 from 3-6 p.m. at Stevenson College Events Center on campus.  The EIR studies impacts from the 15-year plan, which calls for the campus to grow from 15,000 to 21,000 students and from 4,077 to 5,600 faculty and staff. The footprint of campus buildings will double. Most significant to us is that it will bring the first urban development to Bonny Doon, as UCSC constructs dorms and classrooms and a corporate yard (storage for construction materials, vehicles and machines) east of the Cave Gulch neighborhood.

Also proposed are a new road in from Empire Grade near Cave Gulch and one down to the Lower Campus. The increased traffic from the expansion will mean longer commute times, and much heavier traffic through Santa Cruz’s west side.

This urban penetration into Bonny Doon flies in the face of the County’s General Plan, but the UC system is exempted by the State Constitution from having to comply with local land use regulations.  The LRDP also calls for building on parts of the campus’s environmentally sensitive and significant Natural Reserve, set aside some 30 years ago for study by Natural Sciences students.
CLUE, the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion, which the RBDA board has been working with, will be studying the draft EIR and organizing opposition to the expansion. Check out CLUE’s website,, to keep up with and participate in events.

The draft EIR is available on the web at (you better have a fast browser), or on a CD-ROM ($6.95) from Santa Cruz FedEx Kinko’s at 105 Laurel St., or on campus at Xpress It! If you want a paper copy from those sources it will cost from $150 to $500, depending on whether you want it organized in tabs and its complicated graphics in color. Paper copies are also available at the library at 225 Church St. and at McHenry Library on campus.

Whether or not you read the draft EIR, we encourage you to express your feelings and thoughts about this huge project, the largest development ever in Santa Cruz and Bonny Doon history. It will irrevocably alter the nature of our community.

Send your comments via e-mail to or mail them to 2005 LRDP EIR Comment, UCSC Physical Planning and Construction, 1156 High St. Barn G, Santa Cruz, CA 95064.

Cemex Continues Quarry Expansion Efforts

In yet another stage of a long-running saga, Cemex (which recently purchased RMC and now owns the quarries and the cement plant) is continuing the expansion efforts started by RMC several years ago for the big limestone quarry south of Smith Grade and east of Bonny Doon Road. They want to start mining in a strip along the quarry’s east side, near Bonnymede Road.  Neighbors have long been concerned about the expansion’s impact on their wells and springs. Their concerns are echoed by the City of Santa Cruz, which gets up to 10% of its water from its big intake facility on Liddell Springs south of the quarry.

According to David Carlson of Santa Cruz County Planning, Cemex is working off the same environmental impact report (EIR) initiated by RMC. The original RMC proposal was to expand by 26 acres, but this was reduced to a little more than 17 acres in later years. The EIR in front of the County is for this smaller area. The expansion proposal has been around for a long time. RMC applied for it twice before in the ‘90s, and twice allowed the applications to expire. Originally started in 1997, but later retracted, the proposal was picked up again in the spring of 2002, at which time the Santa Cruz County Planning Commission required RMC to do an EIR, rejecting an appeal made by RMC to proceed without one.

Today the EIR is still not complete. There have been a number of delays, one of the more significant being the completion of a hydrogeology report investigating the potential impact on the water sources mentioned above.  Mr. Carlson indicated that the report was generally favorable of Cemex’s proposal. This was echoed by Janet Krolczyk, Cemex Director for the south/central region. Ms. Krolczyk went on to say that the report had found that blasting activities contributed only very slightly to turbidity that had been observed in Liddell Springs, which is one of the principal concerns of the City of Santa Cruz. However, both Mr. Carlson and Rob Walker, Quarry Manager for the Davenport plant, stated that further studies are underway and that it was premature to come to any final conclusions at this time.

While the hydrogeology report is now complete, it has taken so long that other data has become stale and must be refreshed. In addition, the report is much bigger than the County expected, so the consultant doing the EIR will require more time and therefore require more funding. As a consequence, the County has to rework the financials, which will unfortunately cause yet more delay.
There is nothing for the public to review yet on the Cemex application, but whenever it is ready, the draft EIR will be posted on the County’s website, at which time there will be a public comment period. 

If you would like to be notified when the draft EIR is available, contact Claudia Slater, County Planning Department, and ask to be put on a notification list: 454-5175.  For some more history of the expansion proposal, please see the January 2002 Highlander article RMC Quarry Expansion Blasted at

Fire Safety in the Ecological Reserve

Fire has been excluded from the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve for well over 30 years, and much of the area is severely overgrown and has large accumulations of dead vegetation. Fuel reduction will open some of the overgrown areas, reducing the extreme fire potential of the area, allowing space for regeneration of some of the rare species of plants found there.  The process of reducing fuel sources in the Reserve will hopefully begin this winter after the US Fish and Wildlife Service gives their biological opinion of the federally funded Vegetation Management Plan (VMP). They met Oct. 25 (just as we went to press) with California Department of Forestry (CDF) and California Department of Fish and Game representatives to view the Reserve, according to Angela Peterson, CDF Vegetation Management Program Coordinator.

Initially, CDF crews will create a 75-  to 100-foot wide shaded fuel break bordering Ice Cream Grade and Martin Road, thinning out smaller trees and brushy vegetation, and limbing the lower branches of larger trees to remove ladder fuels. Some stretches will be partially or completely excluded where necessary due to trail or ecological considerations. Cut vegetation will be disposed of by chipping and/or burning in piles. As resources permit, manual fuel reduction will be performed on the interior areas of the Reserve.

A component of the plan calls for three small one- to six-acre prescribed burns, but this would not be done until late summer or fall, which is when fire would most naturally occur. These burns will be preceded by some degree of manual fuel removal to keep temperatures low, and will be conducted in an attempt to restore specific habitats and help seed germination and plant re-sprouting. Also proposed is that the outer loop trail be graded to 10 feet in width, with rock, geotextile fabric, and contouring added as necessary for erosion control. This will allow access to emergency vehicles (fire, medical, law enforcement). VMP implementation could start as early as mid-November, but more likely sometime later this winter. Once fire season starts, CDF crews may not be available to do the work until the following winter, stated Ms. Peterson.

Lockheed Defuses Some Environmental Concerns

On Sept. 14 Lockheed Martin finally hosted a meeting at their Empire Grade facility to answer questions posed by the RBDA and CCALM (Community Concerned About Lockheed Martin) regarding environmental safety.  The meeting, which was also attended by Capt. Dennis Mason of the Bonny Doon Fire Team, was cordial and, for the most part, Lockheed representatives were forthcoming about the heretofore mysterious activities conducted at its 4,400-acre mountaintop facility.

There are about 70 employees there now, well down from the peak period ending in 1984 when Lockheed was testing the rockets used to propel missiles for the US Navy. Much of the work still involves the Navy, which still owns a few acres within the facility, most of which is unused forest land.  Now the focus is on manufacturing sophisticated devices which mostly can be called fuses, in lay terms. They are small explosive-filled tubes with attached fittings. They are used to do things like set off bigger explosions in various weapon or hardware systems, or blow off bolts to detach fuel tanks, as on the rockets which power the space shuttle. 

CCALM, a local group of concerned citizens, has been trying for a couple of years to get the County and Lockheed to reveal what, if any, hazardous or potential polluting substances are transported to and from and stored, used and disposed of at the Bonny Doon facility. Based on what Lockheed officials told us at the Sept. 14 meeting and reports filed with the County, there isn’t much to be concerned about in the present operation.  However, what happened on the Lockheed property from 1957 to 1984 remains a mystery. There are unsubstantiated reports of evidence of large explosions from that period, and of careless dumping of fuel and other chemicals used in the rocket testing. Lockheed claims it has no records from that period, which somewhat strains credulity. Because of that, the RBDA and CCALM suggested to Lockheed that they drill some test wells and take some deeper samples from ponds on the property to determine if any dangers to the water table exist. They say they are considering that request, and also another for an actual tour of the facility.

The meeting was a good beginning to an open dialog and good relations with our community, and we hope that it continues.

The Magic of Bonny Doon - It Didn’t Just Happen Naturally

Why do you live in Bonny Doon? The natural beauty, the peace and quiet, the wonderful climate? Do you ever stop to think about why Bonny Doon is relatively unspoiled, no strip malls, no cookie-cutter housing developments, no large commercial enterprises?

Despite the pressures of rising population, macro economic forces and the occasional entrepreneur looking for big rewards, Bonny Doon has remained rural and natural. Today Bonny Doon is considered one of the most desirable places to live in Santa Cruz County. But it didn’t just happen. It took the hard work and dedication of hundreds of citizens, working through the RBDA or on their own, to keep it that way.

It is all too easy as we go about our busy lives to forget the fragility of this beautiful area. Yes, we have managed to set aside large areas like the Ecological Preserve, Coast Dairies and Gray Whale Ranch, but there are still significant threats: the expansion of the Cemex (formerly RMC Pacific Materials and Lone Star) limestone quarry, and the growth of UCSC, to name the two biggest. All this is to remind you that we must maintain our vigilance. And the best way to do that is to support the RBDA. For nearly 50 years, the RBDA has been at the forefront of the fight to preserve the quality of life and the environment of Bonny Doon. Become or remain a member, or serve on the Executive Board.

To be fully effective the RBDA needs your support or the Bonny Doon that we love could be damaged forever.  One way that you can help is to let us know what’s important to you. It will help guide the RBDA as we continue to work hard to protect Bonny Doon’s precious quality of life. What issues are of concern to you? What programs would you like to see at future RBDA meetings? Maybe it’s a program that celebrates what we have here, such as the history of Bonny Doon or an exhibition by local artists. Are there any developments that impact the quality of life in Bonny Doon we haven’t been covering?  Send your ideas to us via our web site,, or contact one of the RBDA board members using the phone numbers at the bottom of this page. The RBDA is your organization. Help make it as important and relevant as you can.

Home Insurers the Teeth Behind New Fire Safety Law

State law now requires a clearance of flammable vegetation for a distance of 100 feet around buildings in wilderness and forested areas. This clearance, commonly called “defensible space,” was previously only 30 feet. The California Public Resource Code 4291, which codified the change, took effect Jan. 1, 2005. The real teeth to the new regulations comes from the insurance companies. They can actually require more clearance than the 100 feet if they are going to insure a building, and potentially cancel policies where clearances are not maintained.

Why the increase? Large wildland fires in recent years have destroyed thousands of houses in California. Many of these homes could have been saved if there had been adequate defensible space. The insurance industry and firefighting agencies have been strong advocates for increased clearance.  Many houses in Bonny Doon do not have enough clearance in the event of a severe wildland fire. 100 feet of clearance does not mean that all vegetation has to be removed within that distance from the house. It must be significantly reduced though, with the aim of preventing a fire from spreading from one piece of vegetation to another and finally to the house.  Fire can spread very quickly through “ladder fuels;” think of burning dry grass that ignites some low shrubs, which ignite large shrubs and small trees, which then enflame large trees. The fire burns the way fire burns best: uphill, creating an “up the ladder” phenomenon.

Three elements are required to have a fire: heat, air and fuel. By eliminating portions of the fuel surrounding your home, one of the necessary elements is removed, which interrupts and slows the spread of the fire. These breaks in the fuel are what give firefighters a chance to save your home.  How much vegetation to remove depends on many factors: the type of vegetation and how readily it burns, the density, composition, and height of the existing vegetation, the steepness of the terrain around your house, the type of construction and materials the house is built with (particularly the roof), and other site specific details. The California Department of Forestry (CDF) can assist homeowners in determining how much clearance is enough and, along with local landscapers and tree services, can advise on the best way to carry out the required fuel reduction and removal, as well as what vegetation might be suitable as replacement vegetation.

The pamphlet Living with Fire in Santa Cruz County is a good guide to use in creating defensible space. It is available from CDF headquarters in Felton.  While you can greatly increase the fire safety around your own house, on a larger scale a whole neighborhood that employs fuel reduction practices will increase each home’s safety even more. A number of homeowners in the Pineridge area have started a fire safe council and have organized a month-long clean up. Winter is an excellent time to be proactive and make your house as fire safe as possible. Burn season starts Dec. 1. Call 1-800-CAL-BURN to check if it is a legal burn day.  For further information, contact Rodney Maddocks, Fire Prevention Bureau Chief, Felton CDF, 335-6720,

RBDA Board Nominations

Three RBDA board member positions are up for election this January.  Following the bylaws, the board appointed Treasurer Alec Webster to  the 3-person Nominating Committee, and directed him to select two others from the RBDA membership. Per the bylaws, the committee will present its nominations at the Nov. 9 General Meeting. Additional nominations will be accepted from the floor at that time, after which nominations will be closed. Nominees to the board must be RBDA members in good standing as of Nov. 1, 2005. If you are interested in running, call Alec at 426-1960.

Nov. 9, 2005 RBDA Meeting Agenda
1)    RBDA Business
2)    RBDA Executive Board Nominations
3)    Featured Program: Making Your Home Energy Efficient

RBDA Executive Board Actions Oct. 5, 2005
1)   Authorized a letter to Lockheed Martin thanking them for their recent
responsiveness, encouraging them to keep communications open, and requesting
that they perform water testing.
2)   Authorized a letter to Senators Boxer and Feinstein requesting that they
actively oppose the Pombo bill gutting the Endangered Species Act.
3)   Appointed Treasurer Alec Webster to head the Nominating Committee and
directed him to find two non-board members to serve with him.

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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
Don Coyne
Vice Chair
Jodi Frediani
Alec Webster
Corresponding Secretary 
Yana Jacobs
Ben Harmon 
Recording Secretary
Robert Thornton
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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