November/December 2009 issue

Enforcing The Law In Bonny Doon
 Sheriff Phil Wowak Sgt. Stefan Fish, Sgt. Jim Ross

RBDA General Meeting
Wednesday November 11th, 2009, 7:30 PM

Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room
Ice Cream Grade & Pine Flat Road

A Strong Environmental Voice Is Stilled

 On Oct. 20 a powerful champion of the RBDA and the environmental and civil justice movements was taken from us, as former Supervisor and Santa Cruz Councilwoman Mardi Wormhoudt succumbed to melanoma.

Mardi was an invaluable ally of ours in the 12 years she served as 3rd district supervisor, stepping down in 2006. During that time she led or supported our efforts on many issues, including the Santa Cruz Biotech “goat pharm,” development at Gray Whale Ranch, the Wilder Ranch RV Park, and UCSC expansion, to name a few.

“I had worked with her on many causes over the years, but I got to know Mardi much better as we served together on the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion (CLUE) negotiating team in the UCSC expansion lawsuit settlement discussions” says Ted Benhari, your Highlander Editor. “Her political acumen, toughness and negotiating skills were formidable, but what I especially appreciated were her warmth, keen sense of humor and nose for BS, that made the many long hours of meetings tolerable. Mardi was unflappable: she had style and grace, and could articulate issues and positions so that everyone understood them. She was direct and honest and you knew exactly where you stood with her.”

Up to her last days Mardi continued to be active in local politics, supporting City and County candidates and issues, and working with her predecessor, ex-Supervisor Gary Patton, to form the Community Water Coalition to serve the interests of the public in preserving the City’s challenged water supply.

She will, needless to say, be very deeply missed. She was one of the principal architects of the Santa Cruz and Bonny Doon we know and love today.

North Coast Law Enforcement May Improve Despite Budget Woes

The miserable state of the County’s finances will only delay further any plans to assign a Deputy to the North Coast/Bonny Doon area, but new Sheriff Phil Wowak has a plan that may provide an increased law enforcement presence here.

We interviewed Sheriff Wowak, who took over the department in April, in his office on Oct. 21. He told us that the budgetary problems that have kept our area from having a deputy assigned to it have only increased in the five years since we last had one. His department is 20 patrol deputies shy of authorized staffing levels (124 deputies), after it lost 12 more positions in the 2009-2010 budget year.

Nevertheless, Sheriff Wowak is currently working on juggling support staff to free up several Community Service Officers for “community policing,” which means getting to know an area and its inhabitants and its problems. Their job is to work on long-term solutions to crime reduction, and provide a point person for local residents to call with concerns and information. If things go as planned, this could begin in January, Sheriff Wowak says.

Additionally, he has applied for federal grants to add two positions to each of the five districts covered by his department. However, he points out that we are in competition for those grants with high-crime urban areas, so the success of the grant applications is far from guaranteed. Santa Cruz County lost out on similar grants earlier this year.

Currently, the North Coast/Bonny Doon area is covered by deputies who are also responsible for Live Oak or the San Lorenzo Valley, so response times to emergency calls can be as long as 30 minutes in extreme circumstances, says Sheriff Wowak. Nevertheless, he emphasized that every call is responded to, though if no emergency is involved, it could take a few days.

Major crimes—homicides, rapes, major assaults—in the County’s unincorporated areas, including Bonny Doon, were down 10% over the last year, according to the Sheriff, but property crimes like theft and vandalism were up 19%, which he opined were most likely due to the tough economy.

As part of the overall community policing idea, the Sheriff would like to recruit more volunteer help to relieve deputies for direct crime related work, and to help serve as the eyes and ears for the police force. The value of that was illustrated recently when the license plate of a burglary suspect in Bonny Doon was jotted down by a neighbor, and the car spotted within days on Hwy. 9 by a Bonny Dooner (amazingly, the son of the robbery victim) and the alleged burglars apprehended.

The RBDA also maintains an email list of its members that can be alerted in an emergency when we are notified by law enforcement authorities. We strongly encourage all our members to keep their email addresses current with us.

Sheriff Wowak said he is also working to improve the system for informing residents when wildfires threaten homes. Lessons learned in the Martin and Lockheed Fires of the past 2 years have been invaluable, he said. He also encouraged residents to register their cell phones with the 9-1-1 Center so they can get information when they are away from home. (Log on to

Sheriff Wowak, Sgt. Stefan Fish (who was the last deputy assigned to Bonny Doon and who was very helpful in reducing crime here), and recently assigned Sgt. Jim Ross will be at the Nov. 11 RBDA meeting to talk about crime and public safety issues.

More Problems Emerge for Cemex Quarry Expansion

From global warming considerations, to Dusky-Footed Wood Rats, to a new legal opinion that questions the very legality of its quarry expansion, it seems that Cemex faces several more hurdles in its quest to add 17 acres to its Bonny Doon limestone quarry.

A hearing on the expansion was included on the Planning Commission agenda for the evening of Oct. 28, hours after this issue of the Highlander went to press, but it was likely that the commissioners, as usual, would bow to the Planning Dept. staff’s request to put the item off once again, because of the complexity and volume of the issues surrounding it.

One of the biggest issues is that California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines require Global Climate Change effects be included in the Draft Environmental Impact Report to allow public review and comment, followed by the EIR writer’s responses. Those climate effects—the fact that the production of a ton of lime from the quarry expansion for cement in the Davenport plant's kiln releases a ton of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas— were not discussed until the Final EIR, thus denying the public and governmental agencies the opportunity to raise questions and have them answered in the Final EIR. A legal consultant for the City of Santa Cruz (see below) contends that is a violation of CEQA rules and the Planning Dept. should have re-issued the Draft EIR, not just gone ahead with the Final EIR.

The Final EIR didn’t consider the carbon dioxide emissions from the Davenport plant even though cement production is the sole reason for mining the quarry’s limestone. Cemex is far and away the largest point source of carbon dioxide in the County.

Fish and rats provide two other problems for Cemex. The cement company never put in place the habitat protections for endangered coho and steelhead required by the Planning Commission in its Oct. 8, 2008 review of the existing quarry’s operating permit and its compliance with its 1997 Certificate of Compliance. In fact, Cemex hasn’t even obtained the permits to do the work.

Mitigation measures in the Final EIR aimed at preserving the San Francisco Dusky-Footed Woodrat, through relocation of its Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area, appeared to satisfy the County's General Plan/Local Coastal Plan requirements, but they do not satisfy California Coastal Act policies, which apply in the absence of vested mining rights, and do not permit re-creation of habitat values at a different site.

But wait...doesn’t Cemex have vested mining rights in the quarry expansion area? Not according to a legal memorandum included in Santa Cruz City Water's Sept. 21 letter to the Planning Commission. That opinion, by a Sacramento environmental law firm, Remy, Thomas, Moose and Manley, LLP, claims Cemex’s predecessor, RMC Pacific Materials, forfeited its vested rights to mine in the quarry Boundary Expansion Area in February 2004, when the California Appellate Court agreed with Santa Cruz County’s opinion that, in accepting the terms of the 1997 Certificate of Compliance (needed for its permit to mine), RMC had waived its rights from its 1969 use permit to mine beyond the area authorized in that certificate,

If this opinion holds up, it could permanently keep Cemex from getting a permit to mine the expansion area.

Meanwhile Cemex and the Santa Cruz City Water Dept. continue their discussions about mitigations that will protect the City’s Liddell Spring water source from any effects of Cemex’s quarry expansion

EIR for UCSC Upper Campus Expansion Expected Soon

The Draft Environmental Impact Report for expansion of City water and sewer services to UCSC’s undeveloped Upper Campus should be completed sometime in early November. The public will then have 60 days to comment, up from the usual 45, according to City officials. The service expansions must be approved by LAFCo, the Local Agency Formation Commission, which will also hold public hearings. Several groups, including the RBDA, CLUE, the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion, and the new Community Water Coalition, are closely following this issue. Central concerns about the expansion include its effect on wildlife and the environment in this pristine area, noise and other negative impacts on the Cave Gulch neighborhood, and the ability of the limited City water supply to serve this unprecedented growth, especially in light of possible reductions in the supply from the need to increase stream flow to accommodate Coho and Steelhead, silt from the Cemex quarry expansion operations, and rainfall reduction that might be caused by global warming.

Meanwhile, UCSC appears to be making serious efforts to live up to the commitments it made as part of the Comprehensive Settlement Agreement with the City and County of Santa Cruz, the RBDA and CLUE. According to information given out at an October meeting of the various groups, UCSC has greatly reduced its water consumption, begun construction of hundreds of dorm units, and made payments to the City for traffic improvements. Planning work on a left-turn lane for people turning into the campus’s main entrance from High Street at Bay Street is underway. The change is expected to be complete by the fall of 2010.

Lockheed Fire Aftermath

The Martin Fire of 2008 and the much large Lockheed Fire of last June have Bonny Dooners and fire officials paying a lot more attention to fire prevention. And as we see the Loma Fire burning in the 2008 Summit Fire area as we go to press, the fact that an area recently burned doesn’t mean it can’t burn again.

On Sept. 30 Cal Fire released a Lockheed Fire Post Fire Risk Assessment, created by a team consisting of Cal Fire forester Angela Bernheisl, Rich Casale of the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Big Creek Lumber forester Nadia Hamey, Ecological Consultant Dr. Grey Hayes and Michael Huyette, of the California Geological Service. According to the report. 36% of the 19,001-acre Scott Creek Watershed was burned in the 7,800 acre fire. Some of the subwatersheds burned more extensively. A large number of trees were destroyed or damaged, and fires are still smoldering in the roots of many.

The Assessment Team issued 11 recommendations. Number one was the need for Swanton residents to participate in emergency evacuation planning; second was the need for a site-specific study of the high-risk areas identified in the report in order to minimize risks.

The report includes maps and ecological impact assessments and many pages of valuable information regarding erosion, mudslide possibilities, stream impacts and chances of future fires, but does not speculate on the fire’s cause other than to say it took place during lightning season. It also contains a practical guide for property owners recommending actions to take after a fire. The full report is available at:

Meanwhile, the RBDA Board is talking to CalFire officials about ways to make Bonny Doon safer from wildfires, including the creation of shaded fuel breaks on the eastern slopes of San Vicente Canyon, and we plan to explore similar initiatives with State Parks in Wilder/Gray Whale State Park.

The fact that an area recently burned doesn’t mean it can’t burn again.

Open Space District Bill Withdrawn

Faced with opposition from the Santa Cruz Farm Bureau and the Santa Cruz Local Agency Formation Commission, LAFCo, plus the cities of Watsonville and Scotts Valley, our local representatives, State Senator Joe Simitian and Assemblyman Bill Monning have withdrawn SB211, their bill that was working its way through the State Legislature. It would have fostered the creation of a Santa Cruz Open Space District. The Santa Cruz County Land Trust lobbied for the bill, which would have allowed our Board of Supervisors to place a measure on the ballot asking voters to create an Open Space District here, and another measure to fund it. SB211 was supported by the Supervisors and some other local government entities, as well as your RBDA Board and other local environmental organizations. LAFCo contended that SB211 duplicates its own bureaucracy and process and is unnecessary, while the Farm Bureau was concerned that it could reduce agricultural land or restrict its use, and the two cities worried they’d lose taxes.

All the parties involved will be discussing their differences, community meetings will be scheduled and hopefully a bill that meets everyone’s needs can be hammered out and pass muster in next year’s legislative session.

RBDA Board Nominations At 11/11 Meeting

The November RBDA meeting is designated by our Bylaws for nominations for the RBDA Executive Board. The election takes place at the Annual Meeting, which will be on Jan. 13. Three board positions expire in January, those of Ben Harmon, Joe Christy and Jan Hilkert. If you are interested in serving on the RBDA Board, contact Nominating Committee head Ted Benhari at 426-5053 or through the RBDA website,

If you care about the work the RBDA does for the community, helping to keep it informed of important issues, preserving our rural and natural heritage, and supporting community issues like fire safety, law enforcement and road maintenance, consider serving a term or two on our board. Without volunteers, the RBDA cannot function. Board service is important and rewarding and doesn’t require serious amounts of time, perhaps 15 or so hours a month for most of the board jobs.

RBDA 11/11/09 General Meeting Agenda

1. Featured Program: Law Enforcement in Bonny Doon: Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak, Sgt. Stefan Fish & Sgt. Jim Ross

2. RBDA Board Nominations

RBDA Board 10/7/09 Actions

1. Approved amended minutes of 8/5/09 board meeting. Unanimous.

2. Approved sending a letter to the Santa Cruz County Planning Commission, pursuant to Cemex's pending application to mine on 17 acres adjacent to its limestone quarry below Smith Grade, to express concerns about 1) deficiencies in proposed compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, 2) mitigations required from previous mineral extraction which have not yet been started, and 3) indirect results of the proposed mining which should be considered in light of pending legislation, California Assembly Bill 32 and Senate Bill 97.

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The Highlander
The Rural Bonny Doon Association Newsletter
102 Sunlit Lane • Bonny Doon, CA 95060
Box 551 • Felton, CA 95018

Bonny Doon's voice in preserving our special quality of life, 
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