November/December 2012 issue

Law Enforcement in Bonny Doon

Sgt. Daniel Freitas

Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office

RBDA Board Nominations

Wednesday November 14, 2012, 7:30pm
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room
Ice Cream Grade and Pine Flat Road

New Sheriff in Bonny Doon


Sergeant Daniel Freitas of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office will be our guest speaker at the RBDA November 14 General Meeting at the Bonny Doon School Auditorium. Sergeant Freitas assumed responsibility for the Bonny Doon district about three months ago, and we welcome the opportunity to meet with him. He will speak on a range of topics orbiting around the general concept of Neighborhood Watch.


Sergeant Freitas is a native of Central California who graduated from Chico State University and moved to the Santa Cruz area about 10 years ago. He has several years of experience as a patrol officer, a field-training officer, and in investigations of property and personal crimes. Additionally, he was a Domestic Violence detective. He was promoted to sergeant about 18 months ago and was recently assigned to the Live Oak Service Center, which is responsible for Bonny Doon.


LAFCO Decision on UCSC Expansion Now Slated for December 5


On December 5 LAFCO may finally make a decision about what conditions to impose on the Santa Cruz City Water Dept.’s delivery of water to UCSC’s North Campus. For most of the past year, at public meetings and behind-the-scenes discussions, LAFCO, the Santa Cruz Local Agency Formation Commission, has considered how to balance the needs of existing customers with those of the ever-expanding university, in light of a limited water supply that may shrink by 25% in order to sustain the habitats of Coho and Steelhead salmon, and the questionable promise of more water from a proposed and controversial seawater desalination plant. The future of the desal plant may well be determined by a November 6 vote on whether its construction will have to be approved by the Santa Cruz electorate.


LAFCO’s decision is currently scheduled to take place at its December 5 meeting in the County Board of Supervisors Chambers, on the 5th floor of the County Building, 701 Ocean Street, starting at 9:30 a.m.


Following a 4 to 3 vote on June 6 to impose stricter conditions on the expansion of City Water to the North Campus than what the commissioners approved by another 4-3 vote on Dec. 7, 2011, LAFCO agreed to create two committees to try to reach a consensus. The broad issue is how to apply LAFCO’s policy of ensuring that any project it approves has an “adequate, reliable and sustainable” water supply. The two main areas that have been sticking points are:


          How to impose a fair and workable "water neutral" policy on both city water customers and UCSC that would offset the increased water use on campus;


          How to ensure that the increased campus water use can be justified given that state and federal wildlife protection agencies are demanding that a quarter or more of the City’s normal rainfall year water supply may be needed to restore fish habitat in the San Lorenzo River and North Coast streams, from which the City derives more than 90% of its water. (See “Planning Coho Recovery on the Central Coast” on page 2.) The agencies have told LAFCO that even in normal rainfall years there soon won’t be enough water for both fish habitat restoration and public use.


During the time that LAFCO has been debating the water expansion issue, Santa Cruz citizens and UCSC students, graduates and faculty have been organizing in opposition to the North Campus expansion and the desalination plant. At the June LAFCO meeting, dozens of UCSC people were on hand to testify against the expansion on environmental, practical and spiritual grounds, and presented a petition calling for a rejection of the university’s application signed by over 2,300 people.


The postponement of the decision at that June 6 meeting was preceded by threats of new lawsuits from the City and university. At the meeting UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal asked to be allowed to withdraw the application until the commissioners come to the sensible conclusion that approving it with conditions UCSC doesn’t like will cost everyone a lot of money in lawyers’ fees.


In fact, withdrawing the application would violate the Comprehensive Settlement Agreement signed in August 2008 that ended suits and countersuits over the expansion from the City, County, community groups including the RBDA, and the university. Under the agreement, UCSC agreed to go through the LAFCO approval process, but retained its right to proceed with the expansion if it’s application was rejected or approved with conditions it objects to. Of course, there would then be the question of how it would obtain water for the expansion, and more lengthy legal battles and delays would be expected to occur.


People opposed to the university’s expansion into Bonny Doon, like the RBDA, have been heartened by LAFCO’s serious consideration of the issue, and the fact that nearly eight years into the duration of UCSC’s 2005-2020 Long Range Development Plan it still hasn’t managed to get the approvals it needs. The construction of nearly 3 million square feet of buildings and infrastructure on 240 acres of unique and precious animal and plant habitat along Cave Gulch Creek would be the largest construction project in the history of Santa Cruz County and forever change the nature of that area of Bonny Doon. A third entrance to the university near Waldorf School could also greatly impact traffic on Empire Grade.



Planning Coho Recovery on the Central Coast


In early September, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released their Recovery Plan for the Evolutionary Significant Unit of the Central California Coast Coho Salmon, now available here. This plan is the culmination of an effort that began in 1993 when the Santa Cruz Fish and Game Commission petitioned the State Department of Fish and Game (DFG) for listing of the Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) under the California Endangered Species Act. Our side of the Monterey Bay is the southern limit of the Coho range. Between 1926 and 1996 the population of Central California Coast (between Punta Gorda and here) Coho dropped by 99%. DFG declared them threatened in 1995, as did NMFS under the Federal Endangered Species Act in 1996. The decline continued so Coho were reclassified as endangered in 2005. In 2005 it was estimated that 329 Coho returned to spawn in Scotts Creek, which arises in Bonny Doon. In 2011, it was estimated that there were three and this year, one.


The plan, in three volumes totaling 2,000 pages, focuses on avoiding extinction of the Coho. While not a regulatory document, and hence having no legal power itself, the plan lays out an effort estimated to take between 50 and 100 years and cost roughly $1.5 billion dollars over that time.


There is a 24-page executive summary distilling the 330 pages of the first volume which, in turn, lays out with considerable literary merit and impressive graphics the dimensions of both the problem and the proposed solutions, as well as criteria for measuring success.


The meat of the plan is the 1,200 pages of detailed actions at scales ranging from the entire region to individual streams. Scotts Creek, the only stream in the county with all three cohorts (Coho have a rigid three-year life cycle) is ground zero for Coho recovery. Waddell and San Vicente creeks are also covered in the plan, as is the San Lorenzo River. The greatest challenge is simply retaining, and in many cases restoring, adequate flow to the streams so the fish can migrate even in the driest years. Because of the rigid life cycle, three consecutive years of inadequate flow at this point would wipe the Coho out.


The heart of the challenge is the tug-of-war between fish and people for the water. Santa Cruz County is the only one in the state without inter-county water exchanges. North County, including the City of Santa Cruz, is almost entirely dependent on surface water from the same streams upon which the Coho depend. Very recently, the State has become more assertive about the requirement that the City restore stream flows and finally submit a Habitat Conservation Plan after 12 years of discussions. Sadly, the City’s proposals for surface flows from its initial draft plan were flat-out rejected by DFG as inadequate.


The Coho are not the only salmon at risk in our area. Steelhead, which are even more dependent on the San Lorenzo River, and Chinook, which prey on young Coho, are also endangered. Next spring, NMFS will release its recovery plans for those species.


The Endangered Species Act makes it national policy to preserve species at risk of extinction as a fundamental part of our natural heritage. How fundamental a part salmon are is evident not only economically and culturally in the long history of the fishery both before and after the arrival of Europeans, but even more deeply as a foundation for the forest ecosystems of the West Coast, which wouldn’t exist without returning salmon bringing significant nutrients to the forest from the sea.


The time to act is now. The examples of Condors, Bison, and Whooping Cranes prove that extinction can be avoided. The Recovery Plan is here to guide our action. We recommend that all Dooners read at least the executive summary and take responsibility for stewardship of our streams and the riches they contain.


Tracking Sudden Oak Death in Bonny Doon


Since 2008, Matteo Garbelotto’s Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab at UC Berkeley has been relying on citizen scientists to conduct an annual Sudden Oak Death (SOD) blitz: a weekend when samples are collected statewide from specimens of trees known to host Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum), which is decimating oaks throughout the state. On May 19 a dozen volunteers fanned out over Santa Cruz County and returned with samples on the 20th as the eclipse was throwing its spooky crescent shadows.


In Bonny Doon, as well as new sites, every dead and dying tanoak along Empire Grade and every site where SOD had been reported to Garbelotto’s lab were visited. Only one tree, a small Bay Laurel near Pineridge, was found to be infected with SOD. It appears that the numerous dead and dying tan oaks here are succumbing to other pathogens: conjecturally the less virulent annosus root disease. Countywide, 845 trees were visually surveyed, including 71 trees showing SOD symptoms from which samples were collected. Of the 71 samples, 30 tested positive. While this is better news for Bonny Doon than expected, the future is not so bright. Almost all of the infected trees discovered are in the San Lorenzo Valley, and there are three infected Bay trees in Wilder Ranch State Park. Bay Laurel are not killed by SOD, but they are very readily infected, making them dangerous reservoirs of the disease. Garbaletto pessimistically expects that eventually the only tanoaks remaining will be those propagating from burls until they reach about 20 feet and succumb; true California oaks (Quercus spp.) face extirpation in the coast region.


Much more information is available at Garbelotto’s web site. Even better, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 10, at the CAL FIRE Training Room on Gushee Street in Felton, Garbelotto will present an overview of the results. For more on the November 10 meeting, contact forester Nadia Hamey <>.


New Smoke Rules for Backyard Burns


As anyone who has driven through the San Lorenzo Valley on a winter day can attest, the air there is often thick with unhealthy amounts of smoke, primarily from wood stoves. In fact, the San Lorenzo Valley (SLV) is one of the dirtiest areas in the state in terms of days per year that it is out of compliance with clean air standards. In response to the health risk, the Monterey Unified Air Pollution Control District (MBUAPCD), which has the local responsibility for monitoring and enforcing clean air rules, has designated the valley as a special Smoke Sensitive Area (SSA), with additional regulations aimed at protecting valley residents’ health.


Since so many people in the SLV depend on wood stoves for heat, the air district has been trying for several years to address the problem with grant-funded wood stove change-out programs to assist residents in upgrading fireplaces and older uncertified wood stoves to cleaner alternatives. Last year was an unexpected success and the program ran through its funding in just 45 minutes. This year the program, which opened October 16, is both better funded and more tightly focused on low-income residents, and it still has funding. For more information see˜Woodstove˜pdf.


The secondary problem of smoke from backyard burns led the air district to adopt on September 19 a new revision of their rule 438 governing Open Outdoor Fires.

There has been much trepidation and confusion in Bonny Doon about this revision. However, the most extensive changes, which include limits on the number of burns per day and a one-acre minimum lot size on which burns are permissible, only apply to the SLV SSA and a similar SSA on the Monterey Peninsula.


The confusion stems from insufficient detail in the map accompanying the definition of the SLV SSA by the San Lorenzo Valley General Plan boundary, which includes slivers of Bonny Doon. The good news though is that Braemoor, Summit Road, Feather Lane, McGivern Way, and Bonnywood neighborhoods, among others east of Empire Grade, are all outside the SLV SSA.


Luckily, the changes in Bonny Doon are relatively minor. The biggest changes are:


          Everyone who wants to burn in their backyard now has to have a free smoke management permit, previously only required of contract and organizational burners.


          In addition to calling the MBUAPCD the afternoon before you burn to verify that the next day will be an allowable burn day, you must notify the MBUAPCD on days that you actually burn.


          Fires are prohibited on lots smaller than half an acre and within 100 feet of another person’s dwelling.


          There has also been a continued tightening, begun last year, on the hours, size and management of permissible burns.


At 7 p.m. on Monday, November 12, at the McDermott Fire Station on Empire Grade, Mike Gilroy, Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer for MBUAPCD, will be at the annual meeting of the Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council to give a presentation and answer questions on the new rules as they apply in Bonny Doon. All are welcome. For more information on the meeting, email or call 515-8389.



Bonny Doon Propane Co-Op


The Co-Op has selected Ferrellgas as the provider of propane for the Co-Op for the first contract period. Ferrellgas has agreed to provide propane at $0.85 per gallon above the wholesale price for the duration of their contact, and will charge about $1.40 per gallon for the first fill-up. If you rent your tank, they agreed to not charge for changing out tanks and transferring your propane to their tank. The have set a reasonable rate for tank rental as well.


Answers to most questions about the Co-Op and how to switch to Ferrellgas can be found at the Co-Op web page:!forum/bonny-doon-propane-co-op

If you have more questions you can post them there. You will also find a downloadable form to join the Co-Op and sign up with Ferrellgas, a nationwide gas company which will be serving Bonny Dooners out of its depot in Hollister, though it reportedly plans to open one in Watsonville.

Update since the Highlander went to print:

To set up an account with Ferrellgas, call 866-803-0543 directly and they will set up an account on the phone. They will honor the agreement for the Bonny Doon Co-Op even if you have not signed up with the Co-Op in advance. The agreement is to charge $0.85 over the wholesale price posted at on the first Friday of the month. On November 2nd, the posted TARGA price for the San Francisco Bay area was $1.09, which yields a current price of $1.94; however they are offering a first-time fill-up price of $1.69.

In addition, if you rent your tank, they will install one of their tanks and transfer the propane from your current tank into the one they install for free. Their tank rental is $45 a year for a tank up to 499 gallons, $65 for a 500 to 999 gallon tank, and $85 for a 1000 gallon tank, and the first year's rental is free.

RBDA Board Nominations


As usual, nominations for the RBDA Executive Board will take place at the November RBDA meeting. The two-year terms of four board officers expire in January, those of board members Jacob Pollock, Tom Hearn, Marty Demare and Salem Magarian. Additionally, membership must elect someone to fill the remaining one-year term of Pat Morrison, who had to resign at the end of last January. As per the By-laws, in the interim the Board appointed Ted Benhari to fill her seat until the next Annual RBDA meeting, which takes place this January 9.


The Executive Board appointed Salem Magarian to chair a committee to nominate candidates at the November 14 meeting. Additional nominations may be made by members at that meeting.


To serve on the Executive Board you must have been an RBDA member in good standing as of November 1. Since membership becomes effective 30 days after an application is submitted and dues are paid, anyone wishing to run for the board must already have been a member or have submitted an application by October 1.

If you are committed to the RBDA mission of keeping Bonny Doon rural and natural, please call a current board member (see phone numbers and so on here) or email the board at


Ideas for RBDA Meeting Topics


We are always open to suggestions for interesting programs and speakers at our bimonthly (except July) RBDA public meetings.


What are you interested in? Local flora and fauna, gardening, environmental and political issues, Bonny Doon history or geology, public safety?


What were some of your favorite speakers or presentations at past RBDA meetings?


Were there any that you would like us to repeat?


Please email us with your ideas and comments at


California Oaks photo by Ted Benhari:

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The Highlander
The Rural Bonny Doon Association Newsletter
Box 551 • Felton, CA 95018

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 
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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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