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
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
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,
santacruzclue.org, to keep up with and participate in events.
The draft EIR is available on the web at lrdp.ucsc.edu (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 email@example.com 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
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
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 bonnydoon.got.net/1-02_hlndr.html.
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
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, bonnydoon.got.net, 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
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, firesafe.org.
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.
Support Our Sponsors
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& Other Real Property Transfers
1003 Smith Grade, Bonny Doon CA 95060
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The Rural Bonny Doon Association Newsletter
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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.