November/December 2013 issue

Saving the Salmon and Trout
Don Alley and Matt Hayes

Opening Cemex Redwoods

Brian Largay

Wednesday, November 13,
2013, 7:30 p.m.
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room
Ice Cream Grade and Pine Flat Road

Saving the Salmon, and the Trout

The once abundant Coho salmon and Steelhead trout native to the Monterey Bay are now endangered. In particular, Coho populations have fallen nearly 99% in the last or so 70 years, and their continued existence is very much in doubt.

Public (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA) and private organizations and individuals are trying to preserve and restore these magnificent and important fish, whose numbers have been so reduced by both human-made and natural causes.

At the Nov. 13 RBDA meeting, Matt Hayes of the non-profit Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project (MBSTP), based in Swanton, and local Certified Fisheries Scientist Don Alley, of D.W. Alley & Associates, will detail the efforts to save these salmonids, and educate us on their complicated life cycles.

Founded in 1976, MBSTP operates a hatchery and rearing facility in Swanton to supplement natural production of Coho Salmon and Steelhead, and saltwater net pens in Moss Landing and Monterey harbors to acclimate Chinook salmon fingerlings obtained from the Feather River Hatchery to the ocean. To teach young people about the life cycle, habitat requirements, conservation and global importance of anadromous salmonid fish MTSTP runs an educational program for local K-12 schools.

Photo courtesy of
                    Don Alley
For 30 years, Don Alley (left, with California giant salamander) has devoted his career to monitoring and studying populations and habitat conditions of Steelhead, Coho and the also-endangered Tidewater Goby in California coastal watersheds and lagoons. He consults on environmental impact reports and fish management and enhancement plans for private and public clients on the Central California Coast. He is one of, if not the leading expert on Coho and Steelhead, and we are very grateful to him for coming to talk to us about this fascinating and important subject.

Matt Hayes, who is on the board of the MBSTP and is its Steelhead Trapping Coordinator and Media Liaison, will explain the importance of his organization’s work to the environment and to both sport and commercial fishermen, and show how MTSTP goes about it.

Except for the hatchery manager, MBSTP is an all-volunteer organization that depends on donations. For information about helping out at MBSTP, call Volunteer Coordinator Mary Hermansky at 831-331-5586, or email
Conserving Cemex Redwoods

The California Coastal Conservancy has approved a grant of $2 million to be used to preserve and open up to public access the 8,532 acres, mainly forest above Davenport, that was the former Cemex land holding. The RBDA had written a letter in support of this important grant as it represents an unparalleled opportunity to preserve a massive sweep of North Coast mountains adjacent to and in Bonny Doon.

The Coastal Conservancy also awarded $100,000 to the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County that will help fund a $250,000 public access plan for the property. The Land Trust is already working with a consultant and plans to have a draft ready by next summer. The hope is that public access to some areas will be available in 2 to 3 years. Both the County of Santa Cruz and the Costal Conservancy will review the public access plan prior to its implementation.

Land Trust Conservation Director Bryan Largay will once again be at the next RBDA meeting, on Nov. 13, to expand on how Bonny Doon residents can make their voices heard as part of this planning process. The Land Trust expects to have a website up to take public input on the plan, and Bryan will elaborate on what the Land Trust hopes to accomplish in this public input process. It is expected that, due to ecological concerns, car camping and motorized off-road vehicles, including dirt bikes, will be off the table, but the conservation groups that control the property want to explore a variety of other uses.

Public access is also complicated by the fact that continued timber logging is expected to play an important role in continuing to finance the property. While the logging will only involve a relatively small portion, the Land Trust's experience can be valuable in that area: it manages the Byrne-Milliron Forest above Corralitos, which is also open to the public and subject to periodic timber harvests.

The planning process for public access is described briefly in the four phases outlined as follows:
Phase 1. Information gathering, (Fall 2013 and Winter 2014)
During this phase anyone interested in the plan may complete a questionnaire. The Land Trust will also interview certain affected parties, such as owners of adjacent lands, emergency services, and others. Two small group meetings will be held, one for education and research interests, and one for representatives of recreational user groups. During this period various technical assessments will also be conducted.
Phase 2. Opportunities and constraints summary (Spring 2014)
The findings from Phase 1 will be combined into a summary of the opportunities and constraints on the property. These will be presented at a Community Meeting in early spring. Public input will be welcome at that meeting and during the following month.
Phase 3. Draft plan (Summer 2014)
Public input will be combined with feasibility analysis to develop a draft plan. This will be presented at a Community Meeting in the early summer. Public input will be welcome at that meeting and during the following month.
Phase 4. Final plan and implementation (Fall 2014-Fall 2015)
Input from the public, follow-up analysis and decision making by partners will lead to the Final Plan. Components to be implemented will be submitted to Santa Cruz County for regulatory compliance, which is anticipated to take about a year.
Please join us on Nov. 13 to hear how you can have a voice in helping to formulate the planning process for public access to this major new public open space that is part of our neighborhood.

Hotel (Davenport) California?
Could the shuttered Davenport cement plant become the gateway to the Cemex Redwoods property? Or a hotel? Or both?

Sempervirens Fund, one of the conservation groups that helped purchase the Cemex Redwoods property has received a grant from the Center for Creative Land Recycling to check out possible pollution at the plant, how much it might cost to remove, and how to pay for it, with a view toward acquiring it. Cemex is still responsible for decommissioning the plant and making it safe. Among possible contaminants are asbestos dust, mercury, gasoline and diesel fuel, and the 850,000 tons of cement kiln dust piled up and tarped outside the plant.

Cemex is due to file a plant cleanup plan for approval by the County in 2014.

It certainly would be a boon to the Davenport economy to have the hulking plant converted into a useful asset, such as a hotel, and could solve the challenge of focusing public access to the Cemex Redwoods property without impacting residential neighborhoods in Davenport or Bonny Doon. But people might like it so much they would never leave.

Castle House Proposal Scaled Back

In the face of opposition from neighbors and the RBDA, the application to hold weddings at the Castle House and Garden, at 4286 Bonny Doon Road, has been scaled back from 12 to 6 weddings a year, with a maximum of 49 guests rather than 100, and ending by 7 p.m. instead of 10.

We appreciate Castle House proprietor Teresa Sabankaya’s efforts to make her proposal more acceptable, but neighbors and the RBDA Board are still opposed to the application. We are unalterably against people turning their properties in residential neighborhoods into commercial event venues. We think it is unfair for one property owner to benefit financially at the expense of his/her neighbors, and it is a bad precedent for Bonny Doon.

The Castle House is in a residential zone. The regulations for home occupations in such zones allow many types of business pursuits, albeit with restrictions on hours, noise, traffic, etc. County Code 13.10.613 states that the purpose of the regulations is “1. To allow persons to carry on limited, income-producing activities on their residential property; and 2. To protect nearby residential properties from potential adverse effects of the allowed activity by not allowing home occupations that would create excessive noise, traffic, public expense or any nuisance.”

If a residential property owner wants to exceed those limits, or conduct a business that is restricted by that section of code, he/she must apply for a “discretionary” permit, which requires a public hearing conducted by the Zoning Administrator (so-called Level 5).

Because of the level of opposition that the Castle House proposal has generated, the Planning Dept. has decided that this application must be approved by the Planning Commission, called a Level 6 approval.

Without a permit, the Sabankayas have hosted a number of weddings over the past couple of summers. When some neighbors complained, in August the Planning Dept. ordered the Sabankayas to apply for permits but gave them permission to continue to host weddings already booked through October 2013. It told them not to book any new weddings. Upon learning that they continued to advertise on the Web and book weddings beyond that date, the County sent a second letter on Sept. 19 telling them to “fully comply with the code.” Subsequent to that the Web site was taken down and the new, reduced proposal was made.

UCSC Water EIR Goes Down the Drain

It was a horrible Halloween for UCSC in Santa Cruz Superior Court Oct. 31, as Judge Paul Marigonda upheld a State Court of Appeal decision that the EIR for its application to supply water to the North Campus was inadequate because several alternatives were not considered.

Now, the City of Santa Cruz, which is a co-applicant, and UCSC will have to begin work on the EIR once again, and get it certified, before the application can come back for approval to LAFCO, the Lo- cal Agency Formation Commission. This will be costly, and time-consuming, especially given the fact that significant events regarding the City’s water supply have occurred in the interim, so all that information will have to be reconsidered and brought up to date.

Combined with the failure of the City’s desalination plant proposal and the imminent large reduction in the water supply due to the requirement to keep more flow in the North Coast creeks and the San Lorenzo River to provide improved Coho and Steelhead habitat, it now seems that there is an even better chance that LAFCO, the Local Agency Formation Commission, will place severe restrictions and conditions on any approval of UCSC’s application for water to supply the huge planned North Campus development.

The EIR suit was brought by Habitat and Watershed Caretakers, HAWC, a local citizens’ group.

Apple Exec Mansion Goes Mini

Robert Mansfield, a top hardware executive at Apple, has announced plans for a new mini: a more palatable, scaled back version of the proposed huge mansion at his property on Moore Ranch Road, off Smith Grade. In an Aug. 19 letter to the Planning Dept., his representative, Jonathan Swift, wrote that, “The proposal plans have changed drastically to reflect a significantly smaller dwelling [and] fewer accessory structures.”

The original Mansfield proposal attempted by various technicalities to keep the proposal from being subject to the County Large Dwelling Ordinance (County Code Section 13.10.325), which involves much more scrutiny than smaller projects, in order to help “preserve the neighborhood character in which the proposed house is located.”

At the time of the application 2 years ago, the ordinance was triggered by buildings larger than 7,000 square feet, and the language describing what portions of a building are considered habitable was confusing and contradictory. By such ploys as lowering the ceiling heights of certain rooms, the Mansfield proposal claimed the house would only be 6,774 square feet. In reality it would have been closer to 9,000 square feet.

The RBDA Board asked the County to clarify the definitions of habitable space, and to reduce the size of a dwelling that must be reviewed under the ordinance to 5,000 square feet.

We opposed the Mansfield proposal because it would have been 12 feet higher than the maximum allowed height; would have been sited close to the edge of a prominent bluff overlooking popular trails on Wilder Ranch; that the property it is to be built on is under an Open Space Easement; and that Mansfield sought to use what amounts to sleight-of-hand to avoid triggering the Large Dwelling Ordinance.

The details of the Large Dwelling Ordinance is critically important to Bonny Doon because already two 7,000 square foot houses, divided up into many small rooms, and rented out mainly to college students, have been built here in the past couple of years. Essentially boarding houses, they have had a large negative impact on their neighbors. We are totally opposed to this type of structure, and sought the County’s help in regulating it as far as possible. (Unfortunately, California State law prevents local jurisdictions from limiting the number of people who can live in dwelling.)

Supervisor Neal Coonerty agreed to help us and was influential in getting other provisions of the ordinance changed earlier this year so that any dwelling larger than 5,000 square feet now comes under the regulation’s scrutiny.

The new Mansfield proposal is for a 3,768 square foot house, 23 rather than 35 feet high, and moved back about 29 feet further from the edge of the bluff, making it much less apparent from Wilder Ranch. As such, the project is no longer of concern to the RBDA Board.

Court Blocks Public Input on Coast Dairies Subdivision

Our attempt to force a public hearing on a planned subdivision by Coast Dairies & Land Corporation (CDLC) was rejected in Superior Court on Oct. 21.
Along with Save Our Agricultural Lands (SOAL) and some North Coast individuals, the RBDA has been trying to force a public hearing which could better protect the town of Davenport’s water supply and allow local input on infrastructure required for the new parcels CDLC is creating on the portion of Coast Dairies used for farming.

The Superior Court made its ruling (notwithstanding a Court of Appeal decision which seemed to indicate otherwise) that the division of the Coast Dairies property into 7 or more parcels doesn’t qualify as a “subdivision.”

After failing to convince the County of our opinion, the RBDA/SOAL et al hired attorney Bill Parkin of Wittwer Parkin, LLP, to pursue the matter. The RBDA and the other plaintiffs are reviewing the ruling with Parkin as to whether it should be appealed.

Why is this important? Because it involves ownership of the water rights to San Vicente Creek, which is Davenport’s water supply, preservation of farming on the parcels rather than selling them off for expensive residences, and protecting Davenport residents from the use of harmful chemicals on the farms adjoining the town.

CDLC, a non-profit entity set up by the Trust for Public Land, still owns the 6,000 acres of Coast Dairies on the inland side of Highway 1. (The seaside portion, 407 acres, was transferred to State Parks in 2006.) CDLC wants to transfer the remaining portion to the federal Bureau of Land Management, but BLM won’t take the agricultural parcels.

TPL acquired Coast Dairies in 1998. Many people, including us, have been frustrated by the long delay in opening large portions of it to public recreational uses. However, we feel it is important to guarantee that this precious property be managed properly, and want the public, including ourselves, to have input into such issues as roads, parking, water use, wastewater treatment and utilities. The lawsuit has already forced TPL to cement into legally binding restrictions on offroad vehicles, mining and other protections.

Help Keep Bonny Doon Wonderful

The reason Bonny Doon continues to be such a great place to live, besides of course, the many warm-hearted, caring, community-minded people who live here, is the RBDA, which since 1957 has striven, successfully, to protect the quality of life and the nature of Bonny Doon.

The RBDA’s work is carried out by its Board. Over the years the many dedicated people who have served on it have done the heavy lifting in keeping Bonny Doon “rural and natural,” as our slogan says.

Without active participation, not just support (which of course we greatly appreciate) from the residents of Bonny Doon, there could have been many developments—golf courses, tract housing, event centers—that would have horribly changed the nature of our community.

Over the years the RBDA has helped preserve large areas like the Ecological Reserve, Coast Dairies and Gray Whale Ranch, and fought off the expansion of the former Cemex limestone quarry.

To continue this work every year we need new people to step up and commit to serving on the Board.

If you want to help this effort, contact Lad Wallace, chair of our nominating committee, 515-3077, or via our website here. The work is engrossing and rewarding, and besides, we are a fun group of people to get to know.

Nominations take place at the Nov. 13 RBDA meeting. The terms of Lad, Joe Christy and Ted Benhari are up Jan. 8.

Members who need an absentee ballot for the Board election must request it from the Membership Coordinator by Dec. 15.
Removing Trees Damaged in Martin Fire

If you have trees that were impacted either by the 2008 Martin Road Fire or the subsequent pine beetle infestation you can still remove them without paying for and obtaining a permit for each tree or stand.

Matt Johnston of the County Planning Dept. says the March 2011 “blanket tree removal permit” is still in effect, but only through next March. You still must fill out and submit a form to the department’s Environmental Coordinator, and must follow certain rules. Trees must be in danger of falling on a structure, path or roadway, and must be stressed or dying from the fire or infestation by the pine beetle. You can also remove healthy trees to improve the ponderosa pine forest, but that must be done under the supervision of the Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection.

For questions or to obtain a form, phone Matt Johnston at 454-3201, or email him at

Support the RBDA by renewing your membership now: all 1-year memberships expire on January 31st.

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 
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Bonny Doon Planning
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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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