|State Parks Gives Peek at Future Plans For Coast Dairies
The recent transfer of the Coast Dairies Ranch land was the largest addition of beaches into the California State Park system in over 30 years. From Hearst Ranch in San Simeon to the Oregon border, Coast Dairies was thought to be the largest piece of private beachfront property on the California coast. We have been privileged to enjoy the spectacular beauty of this land for years. Under the management of the State Parks Dept., access points, services, mixed usage, and visitors will all increase. We have invited a California State Parks representative to the Nov. 8 RBDA meeting to speak with us about future plans for the new park addition. Come ready with your questions.
The State Parks representative will also field questions, concerns, and interest about motor and mountain biking in area park land. The RBDA Watershed Committee has been talking with Wilder Ranch State Park Ranger Joe Conners about how to curb the use of illegal trails and creation of new (illegal) trails by motor and mountain bikers, which have been increasingly impacting local watersheds. After a recent Santa Cruz Sentinel article put the RBDA in a list of other groups that have generically “taken issue with mountain biking,” the RBDA board had a conversation (heated at times) about our specific position on motor and mountain biking so that we could go on record more accurately. With mountain biking enthusiasts in our midst, we as a board came to the agreement that we oppose illegal use of State Park land by motorcyclists, mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders, and support organized public dialog sessions to determine new trail access. There is surely more lively debate to come.
Santa Cruz to UC: See You in Court
Frustrated by the refusal of University of California Regents to address the many concerns of the community in the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for UCSC’s new 15-year growth plan, the Santa Cruz City Council, backed by the County Board of Supervisors, filed suit on October 23 to have the EIR thrown out and the whole process redone. The suit charges that the EIR process violated guidelines of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
On the same date, Coalition for Limiting University Expansion (CLUE) filed a companion suit on the same grounds. The CLUE suit has been joined in name by the local Sierra Club and the RBDA.
At a public hearing in late September before the Regents in San Francisco, speakers were limited to two minutes. Apparently a half hour was all the Regents could allow for a 15-year plan which will have a profound impact on Santa Cruz and Bonny Doon. Without asking any questions or acknowledging the concerns of the local officials and community members who spoke, the Regents unanimously approved the EIR, which is supposed to deal with mitigating the impacts of the 15-year growth plan. It will add 4,500 more students, plus more faculty and staff, and increase the square footage of buildings by 67%. Most significant and distressing for Bonny Doon will be the creation of a new college and corporate materials yard on the upper campus, east of the Cave Gulch neighborhood. This will bring a lot more traffic to Empire Grade, including large trucks. When a stop sign at a new road from the upper campus onto Empire is built just south of Waldorf School, traffic could easily get stacked up down the steep slope through Cave Gulch.
It will also mark the first urban development in Bonny Doon. Until now we have been protected by the County General Plan, which prohibits urban development north of the City boundary. UCSC is exempt from the County’s land use regulations.
But that doesn’t mean the fight to keep the City on a Hill out of Bonny Doon is hopeless. The new lawsuit, plus Measure J on the upcoming Santa Cruz City ballot, are aimed at restricting and/or preventing the development of the upper campus. If it passes, as expected, it would require the City Council to put the question of extending City sewer and water services to the voters.
Another measure, Measure I on the City ballot, requires City officials to refuse to provide City services to accommodate UCSC’s growth unless UCSC pays the full cost of constructing and operating such services. It further directs City officials to take all legal actions “to avoid significant adverse effects of University growth, particularly on the housing market, traffic congestion, and water supply.”
That is also what the new lawsuit is about. Both City and County elected officials are unanimous in the opinion that the UCSC EIR doesn’t adequately address the impacts from the growth and, where they do, the proposed mitigations are inadequate.
Unlike a 1987 City measure opposing UCSC growth, Measure I will be part of Santa Cruz’s municipal code and have legal force.
Two recent state court rulings emphasize state universities’ responsibility to reimburse their host communities for infrastructure expenses required by their growth.
In mid-October the Regents visited the UCSC campus for only the second time in 40 years. They saw a campus very different from the vision promulgated by UCSC’s founders. They heard once again from Santa Cruz officials and community members, and again the Regents were passive and unresponsive‹said nothing and asked no questions. They also saw unhappy students and union members, who tried to keep them from exiting the building where they were meeting. A small riot ensued. It was a microcosm of the many problems now besetting the once serene, bucolic campus.
Bonny Doon Fire Protection District: the Process
The drive to gather signatures on the petition to form a Bonny Doon Fire Protection District (BDFPD) is winding down, with nearly 1,000 registered voters having signed, which is far in excess of the 25% required. As the Fire District Committee prepares to move into the next phase of the process, filing the petitions with LAFCO, the Local Agency Formation Commission, it will continue to gather signatures to show as much community support as possible when they are submitted.
“Because Bonny Doon doesn’t have a business area where people congregate, it has been a very labor-intensive, time-consuming process,” says Tom Scully, Bonny Doon Fire/Rescue Inc. board chairman. “We really appreciate the hard work of everyone who has helped with this effort.”
If you haven’t yet signed the petition and want to, either come into the McDermott Fire Station, at the corner of Empire Grade and Felton-Empire Road, when the sign is out, or call Tom Scully at 425-1432 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the petitions are filed with LAFCO, the county elections department will check a statistically significant sample to ensure that at least 25% of the voter signatures are valid. Following that, Pat McCormick, LAFCO executive director, will poll all the agencies that may be affected by the creation of the new district, such as adjoining fire departments, and of course, the Santa Cruz County Fire Dept., of which Bonny Doon is now a part. The comments received will be digested by McCormick and his staff, who will consider them and other pertinent data and issue a recommendation to the LAFCO board, which is comprised of representatives of the County Board of Supervisors, local cities, and two local agencies, as well as an at-large public representative. McCormick and his staff will also closely study the proposed budget for the new district to ensure that it is viable.
Before the LAFCO board votes on its staff’s recommendation, they will hold a public hearing. If the board approves the new district, there will be a hearing for people who may oppose it to voice their opinion. Meanwhile, the Supervisors must pass a resolution to approve the transfer of monies to the new district from County Fire.
The creation of the district then goes to a public vote. A majority is needed to create the new district. To finance the district, there will be a separate poll of the new district’s taxpayers. Here the bar is higher: two-thirds of the taxpayers, representing at least half of the district’s tax revenues (McCormick is checking on this; no new fire districts have been created locally in many years) must approve the new tax.
All this will take a long time. McCormick has estimated that the soonest the new district can begin operating is July 1, 2008.
At the September RBDA meeting, Capt. Todd Meyer of the Bonny Doon Fire Team explained why they want to form the new district, and what its benefits will be to our community. If you have questions about particular issues, or just want to learn more about what is involved, call Tom Scully at 425-1432.
Wanted: New Environmentally-Minded Board Members
The RBDA is now completing its 49th year of protecting Bonny Doon’s rural, natural beauty. Over the years many dedicated people have served on the RBDA Board. Every year we need new people to step forward and commit to serving on the RBDA board to help preserve our community. For the past several years, the same group of dedicated individuals has served on the board and several are looking to pass along the torch to others.
The November General Meeting will include taking nominations for the four RBDA board positions up for election this January. Terms for Ted Benhari, Yana Jacobs, Alec Webster, and Jodi Frediani all expire this January. We welcome nominations for anyone (including yourself) who is interested in helping to preserve Bonny Doon’s rural, natural environment. Nominees to the board must have been a member in good standing as of the first of November. Per RBDA bylaws, a Nominating Committee of one board member and two members will present nominations at the Nov. 8 General Meeting, followed by other nominations from the floor. After this meeting nominations are closed. Elections take place at the Jan. 10 Annual Meeting.
Wondering what kind of a time commitment this would involve? While some issues require more involvement than others, in general the role of being a board member is not exceptionally time consuming‹about 8 hours a month. It’s a great way to get to know more about the community and its history, get to know some of your neighbors (we can be a fun bunch), as well as to give back to your community. If you are interested and want to learn more, contact Nominating Committee chair Alec Webster or any RBDA board member.
Cemex Moving Ahead on Quarry Expansion
As part of an effort by Cemex to open communication channels with the communities surrounding their cement and quarrying operations, RBDA Chairman Ted Benhari and Membership Coordinator Ben Harmon met recently with Cemex’s Environmental Director for South Central U.S. Operations Janet Krolczyk, Vice President for U.S. Manufacturing Operations Satish Sheth, and Quarry Manager Robert Walker. (Last year international cement giant Cemex, based in Mexico, bought RMC, including the Davenport plant and Bonny Doon quarries.) They said that their new management is eager to work with the community, and that they would like to attend a future RBDA meeting to go over any issues we may have.
The most pressing issue for Bonny Doon, of course, is Cemex’s application to expand the limestone quarry east of Bonny Doon Road and south of Smith Grade. This application has dragged on for about five years, while studies were done to determine the effect of the expansion on the City of Santa Cruz’s Liddell Springs water intake. The proposed 17-acre expansion is at the northeast corner of the quarry, near the Bonnymede neighborhood. The draft EIR for the proposed expansion is nearing completion now that the hydrology studies have finally been completed. (See the November 2005 Highlander article “Cemex Continues Quarry Expansion Efforts,”)
Claudia Slater of the County Planning Dept. says that all the technical studies have been completed and a third party EIR consultant is reviewing the historical and recent geological and karst data. This information will then need to be translated from its raw technical form into layperson’s terms suitable for the EIR. This process will still take a minimum of two to three months. At the recent meeting, we agreed with the Cemex officials that an appropriate time for them to appear at an RBDA meeting would be after the EIR is filed, though they say they are open to meeting at any time.
Cemex has filed an application for water appropriations from San Vicente Creek watershed for a second time. Possible impacts on various threatened and endangered species have raised concerns among several agencies, including the State Dept. of Fish and Game, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the California Coastal Commission, as well as environmental groups, including the Sierra Club. All have filed protests recently with the State Water Resources Control Board, Water Rights Division.
The Santa Cruz Group of the Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club (ventana.sierraclub.org) has protested that Cemex is already diverting too much water from the San Vicente watershed and has requested an investigation into Cemex’s claim to a pre-1914 appropriation for all of their diversions. The Sierra Club is concerned that the requested water appropriation would negatively impact populations of endangered coho salmon and other species, such as steelhead rainbow trout and the red-legged frog.
The cement plant expansion (known as the “Dome Project”) originally proposed by RMC has been shelved. The plan to construct a large raw materials storage facility was held up for a long time while mitigations were sought for the red-legged frog habitat that would have been affected by the construction. Cemex decided to pull the application.
Watershed Committee Proposes Education Project with Bonny Doon School
On Sept. 30 the District Strategic Planning Session at Bonny Doon School set three- to five-year goals for the school. Superintendent Gail Levine, the teaching staff, School Site Council members, School Board, and members of the Bonny Doon community attended the all-day session. During the science education session, integrating studies of the Bonny Doon watershed with the science curriculum, initially proposed to school representatives in late August, was discussed in-depth.
The purpose of the proposed education project is to include the topic of the Bonny Doon watershed in the curriculum of Bonny Doon School, integrating the subject with math, science, history, art, and writing studies. RBDA Watershed Committee members and local biologists, botanists and artists, as well as community volunteers, will work with teachers and students on organized hands-on educational projects related to the Bonny Doon watershed area. The proposed goals are to bring awareness of the Bonny Doon and Santa Cruz County environment to the forefront, enabling students and their families to have a practical role in their own local community, and to enjoy and learn from the natural surroundings close to home.
Information on the outcomes of the Sept. 30 Planning Session were presented at the end of the School Board meeting on Oct. 25. Community members can check the Bonny Doon School website anytime for current school news and events: bonnydoon.santacruz.k12.ca.us
Dwindling Coffers: Proposal to Raise Membership Dues
Another piece of business at the Nov. 8 General Meeting will be to give notice that at the Jan. 8 Annual Meeting we’ll propose membership dues to $20 per individual or $15 per person for more than one member at an address. This will be the first dues raise since January 2000, while postage rates and printing costs have risen substantially. In addition, for the last few years Bonny Doon School has required us to take out liability insurance for our meetings, which runs about $700 a year. The result is that our treasury has been running a small deficit each month, and our reserves are running low. Hopefully the increased dues will allow us a comfortable margin so we can continue to send the Highlander to all Bonny Doon mailboxes.
We’ve received a welcome and much needed influx of renewals in recent weeks. Thanks to all who recently renewed their memberships. We plan to do more membership campaigning and seek additional sponsorships.
RBDA Board Actions Oct. 18, 2006
1. Approval of Executive Board meeting minutes for Aug. 2, 2006.
2. Propose to the general membership at the January meeting raising dues to
$20/ individual and $15/person for more than one member at an address.
3. Voted to increase Highlander sponsorships to $100/year.
By E-Mail Vote Oct. 22, 2006
… Approved adding our name with that of the Sierra Club to the lawsuit
against the UCSC Long-Range Development Plan 2015 Environmental Impact
Report to be filed by CLUE, the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion.
Vote of 5-0, Ben Harmon and Ted Benhari abstaining.
RBDA Meeting Agenda Nov. 9, 2006
1) RBDA Business
2) RBDA Executive Board Nominations
3) Sgt. Bill Gazza, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Deputy
4) Featured Program: Our Newest State Park: Coast Dairies Oceanside; Speaker from Calif. State Parks Dept.
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