Re-purposing the Cement Plant,
Pot Regulations, and Noise
Supervisor Ryan Coonerty
Wednesday, November 9, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room,
Pine Flat Road & Ice Cream Grade
Re-purposing the Cement Plant, Pot Regulations, and Noise
Important topics of interest to Dooners will be discussed by
our 3rd District Supervisor, Ryan Coonerty, at the Nov. 9 RBDA
meeting, including an interim report on the underway licensing procedures for
medical marijuana cultivators; a plan to re-route planes headed for San
Francisco Airport (SFO) that could impact Bonny Doon; plans for new uses for
the shuttered Davenport cement plant property; and new zoning and noise rules
being considered by the County. And of course, he will address any questions or
concerns you may have.
On the subject of the Federal Aviation Agency’s plans to once
again change the flight path for SFO-bound planes, on Oct. 13 Supervisor
Coonerty wrote to Joe Simitian, chairman of the Select Committee on South Bay
Arrivals, that he is very concerned that contemplated changes might simply move
to Bonny Doon and the City of Santa Cruz the annoying noise that Scotts and San
Lorenzo valleys residents, as well as some other areas, have been complaining
about since the FAA moved the flight path and changed the regulations a couple
of years ago. The problem is not just that the new flight brought planes over
the homes of valley residents, but that the noise is much louder because the
path is lower and the airlines were allowed to use a much noisier braking
system that seems to be aimed at saving fuel costs.
The affected residents made a lot of noise of their own,
forcing authorities to form the “Select” committee to study the situation and
recommend solutions. That committee seems poised to make a recommendation that
would return the flight path to its former route over Santa Cruz and Bonny
Doon, but at the lower altitude and with the noisier braking system. In his
letter Supervisor Coonerty strongly objected to merely shifting the noise
impacts to another part of Santa Cruz County. , The Board of Supervisors has
unanimously endorsed that objection.
The FAA is also considering more changes in the flight path
altitude and braking rules (known as class B airspace) that will affect
communities. Supervisor Coonerty is asking that a study be conducted of the
noise impacts from shifting the flight path trajectory before it is made
permanent, and that the study not be done until the new altitude and braking regulations
are in place.
The Select Committee will meet again on Oct. 27, about the time
this issue is in your mailbox. Come to the RBDA meeting on Nov. 9 to find out
what happened, and to let Supervisor Coonerty know your concerns.
Cement Plant to Become the “Great Park” Gateway?
Looming in front of the scenic treasure that is Coast Dairies
is a massive eyesore: the idle Davenport cement plant. It opened in 1906 and
produced cement for concrete to rebuild San Francisco after the great
earthquake, and for 103 years it supplied cement for roads and buildings
throughout the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas.
If its present owner, Lone Star California, Inc., a subsidiary
of CEMEX, chooses not to pursue the path being laid out by a Sempervirens Fund
shepherded reuse plan currently being developed by County staff and consultants,
it may be here in another hundred years. Funding for the plan, $425,000, was
donated to Sempervirens by the Moore Foundation, the Resources Legacy Fund, and
the California Coastal Conservancy, a State agency.
Reuse planning efforts began with a survey and meeting in
Davenport in 2014. Residents were asked to offer suggestions and opinions about
basic questions affecting the Davenport community, like housing and jobs and
visitor impacts. Only 16% of those surveyed favored using the cement plant
property as a recreational gateway to the preserved natural areas above
Davenport: the 5,800-acre federally owned Coast Dairies property now under
consideration for national monument status, and the 8,500-acre San Vicente
Redwoods property, which a consortium of conservation organizations, including
Sempervirens, bought in 2011. The latter property, which stretches up to Empire
Grade, has no southern public access. A small section of Coast Dairies on
Cement Plant Road intervenes.
It has seemed to us from the beginning of Sempervirens’ push to
make Coast Dairies a national monument that one of their main motivations is to
attach San Vicente Redwoods to it, as part of their plan to create a “Great
Park” stretching from southern San Mateo County through Santa Cruz County.
Davenport residents said they certainly don’t want to see
visitor access to Coast Dairies through the town. More popular options for the
cement plant site were a trade school, favored by 59%, or light industrial use.
To produce the reuse plan the County hired RRM Design, the same
consulting firm that designed the Arana Gulch trail on the east side of Santa
Cruz, the Twin Lakes Beach improvements and which is now working on the “Rail Trail”
for the County’s Regional Transportation Commission. RRM will help develop a
Coastal Restoration Plan and any accompanying General Plan/Local Coastal Plan
(LCP) amendments for the CEMEX property, necessary to allow for any portion of
Plan options that are not currently allowed under the existing General Plan/LCP.
The Coastal Restoration Plan will detail the potential for economically
viable reuses for the property, considering site and regulatory constraints, and
a detailed analysis of the opportunities and challenges for integrating public
access and related amenities. This includes using portions of the property for
public recreational access to the coast, Coast Dairies, San Vicente Redwoods, and
State parks, and an economic analysis of the potential reuses of the cement
plant’s structures, to ensure their short and long-term viability.
A 2014 study identified many issues which will require detailed
investigation. 103 years of manufacturing cement produced many contaminants,
including chromium 6 and mercury. For much of that time Davenport was regularly
showered in cement dust. It may take years to identify and remediate
contamination of the ground and water before any new uses can be implemented.
Hopefully, much of the rusting plant will be hauled away, by train, which would
be much more efficient than the hundreds of truckloads it would require.
The consultants will be holding a community workshop from 6 to
8 p.m. on Nov. 10 (invitations forthcoming) at the Swanton Pacific Ranch “Little
Creek” house. It’s designed to introduce people to the process, tell them how
they can be involved, and solicit initial feedback.
As the site owner, Lone Star California, Inc. has the sole
authority to select and submit for permit approval any future development
proposals. While the process to identify mutually acceptable reuse options is
being performed in cooperation with the company, it has the option to submit
its own proposals to develop the property or amend the Local Coastal Plan.
Coast Dairies About to Become a National Monument?
With less than three months to go in his administration, and
despite the continuing misleading campaign by Sempervirens Fund, Coast Dairies
still hasn’t been proclaimed a national monument by President Obama.
Over the last couple of months Sempervirens has run a series of
ads asking people to write to Obama to urge him to issue a proclamation. Each
of the ads carefully skirts the truth in an attempt to make an even stronger
case that monument status is highly supported by locals. One featured former
Sempervirens Fund president Fred Keeley (he’s still on their board, but is no
longer president) as a supporter of monument status, but fails to identify him
as a board member.
It has become traditional for high-ranking Interior Dept.
officials to visit properties proposed for monument status, to see the land and
get a feel for local support or opposition. On Sept. 17, Bureau of Land
Management Director Neil Kornze chose to visit Piedras Blancas, a 20-acre
elephant seal rookery near San Simeon, instead of Coast Dairies, despite the fact
that Coast Dairies comprises 5,800 of the 6,300 acres proposed for addition to
the CCNM, and is the only one of the properties under consideration that has a sizable opposition to monument status.
That visit was in connection with a meeting in Cambria, 3 hours
south of Santa Cruz, to supposedly give the public an opportunity to state
their position on adding Coast Dairies and five small properties to the
California Coastal National Monument (CCNM) an offshore stretch of ocean
bordering the state.
Who arranged a meeting location that prevented a sizable
number of local opponents from attending? It seems that it was the office of
Sen. Barbara Boxer, a supporter of making a Coast Dairies a national monument,
although we strongly suspect Sempervirens was behind it. Significantly, Sen.
Boxer didn’t attend.
Afterward, Sempervirens ran another ad thanking Kornze for
visiting the California coast, but failed
to mention that he visited Cambria, not Santa Cruz.
Sempervirens bused two loads of supporters to Cambria, one full
of local residents, and the other with Amah Mutsun tribe members, whom Sempervirens
has been courting with monetary and political support in return for their
support for monument status.
Opponents managed to bring a few carloads of people who spoke
about the misleading claims of the benefits of monument status: that it will
bring more protection (Coast Dairies is already fully protected from
development); that there will be more money for management and stewardship
(only $20,000 is guaranteed); and that monument status will save a forest full
of redwoods (none of the relatively small number of redwoods, roughly about as
many as line Smith Grade, are planned to be cut by BLM).
Attaching Coast Dairies to the CCNM is in direct conflict with
one of the conditions that our Board of Supervisors insisted was necessary for
their support of monument status. Nevertheless, the Board has not protested.
Several other, more significant conditions were not included in the failed
legislation introduced into Congress by Sen. Boxer and Rep. Anna Eshoo, and
thus are unlikely to be included in any presidential proclamation. We think
that those conditions are extremely important in protecting local agencies (police,
fire, etc.) from having to foot the bill for the expected increase in visitors
monument status will bring, and in trying to avoid major impacts on the town of
Davenport and on traffic on Highway 1 and Mission Street.
Community Action: It’s a Good Thing
Com·mu·ni·ty, noun. 1.
a group of people living in the same place or having a particular
characteristic in common. 2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result
of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
The year was 1994, and I had just moved my young business to
Ingalls Street on the Westside of Santa Cruz. At the time, there was a lot of
activity going on that made things difficult for me, so rather than being upset
about it, I took action.
I got together with neighbors and started a Neighborhood Watch
program. By now you would know that Ingalls Street is a hot spot of activity.
It’s fast becoming more popular than Pacific Avenue.
In 2000 I moved to Bonny Doon, and chose a house on the back side
of the Ecological Reserve we know commonly as Moon Rocks. When the Martin Fire
hit, I just knew I was going to come home to a charred landscape, but that time
I got lucky. Very lucky.
I drive home on Martin every night, and I will openly admit I
have grown tired of people trespassing there. The “No Trespassing” signs are in
place, and I honor them. I've not been up there since it all burned.
I realized one day that my anger and frustration around the
possibility of yet another fire needed to express itself through useful
measures. I contacted our local Sheriff. Contacted the Department of Fish and
Game. Everyone seemed to agree to let a few of us show up with cones, wire,
garbage bags and the like, and within a few hours a couple ofhuge spots of the fence were fixed, and garbage
was picked up until we ran out of hands to carry bags. Some rocks got moved,
and it occurred to me in that moment that part of our community was brought
together to help an area that really needed it.
I love it up here, I really do! What I miss is community get-togethers
for the greater good, and I plan on calling more days just as we did one
Saturday morning last month. In the old days people would get together and do a
Barn Raising. Let’s take that thought and start doing things such as
Neighborhood Watch, Roadside Cleanups and more.
I gotta admit: it feels good driving down Martin Road seeing
what we did that day, and I encourage all to help make a change in our little
area of this planet. You will reap the real rewards.
No, You May Not Have This Dance
An unpermitted 3-day commercial event, billed as “Root
Awakening—Dance Party & Campout,” scheduled for Oct. 21-23 on a large
property adjacent to the correctional facility on Empire Grade, was shut down
by authorities before it could get underway.
According to the event website, over 1,700 people were
interested in attending, and 223 had actually bought tickets. The organizers,
who apparently live on the property and are planning to turn it into a
spiritual retreat (this was attempted unsuccessfully several years ago on this
property), posted that “the county somehow got wind of our event and allerted
(sic) some neighbors and the fire department. All of them are extremely against
us gathering peacefully on our own land to dance and hang out with old and new
friends. We will be talking with the county to see what can legally be done in
the future but at this time we are not allowed to host anything. What a world
we live in 😟"
The promoters of the event apparently are well intentioned but
naïve. They don’t seem to understand Dooners’ very reasonable anxiety about
wildfire. Anyone trying to make a business of hosting events where camping, and
presumably campfires, is involved, needs to recognize that only a single small
accident can be catastrophic. Psychedelics use is usually an integral component
of these events, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence about safe fire
A similar commercial event took place last summer on a property
near Wilder Ranch, and the authorities have warned the landowner that any
repeat would subject him to serious penalties.
There is also the matter of loud music continuing well beyond
the 10 p.m. county curfew. Judging from comments on “Slice”, community opinion
is split about whether this is obnoxious or tolerable, at least for private
parties. But imposing this kind of sound intrusion on the community for
commercial purposes is another matter.
We appreciate that the Root Awakening promoters indicate they
will apply for a permit before scheduling their next event, which will give the
public a chance to weigh in with our concerns.
The Loma Fire: Why There Must Be Residences on Pot
The devastating Loma Fire in the Summit area on the Santa
Clara/Santa Cruz border allegedly started on a pot farm on uninhabited land. It
seems, from the present evidence, to demonstrate very dramatically the
importance of a requirement, like that in Santa Cruz’s new cannabis cultivation
ordinance, that there be a permitted residence on the property. With a
permitted residence the fire code requirements for water, adequate wiring,
proper generator use, and adequate emergency access apply. This might have
prevented the fire from starting in the first place, and if someone lived there,
there is a good chance it could have been suppressed before it spread.
The area where the fire started, on the Santa Clara side of the
summit, is dominated by outdoor and hoop-house grows, neither of which trigger
any special requirements under State and County fire codes.
It seems certain that when the forensic report works its way
through the State Attorney General's and Santa Clara County District Attorney's
offices we’ll have well documented evidence of the fire risk of pot farming in sparsely
The RBDA Needs You!
The RBDA is a vital organization for Bonny Doon, serving as our
pipeline to the Santa Cruz County government to advocate for necessary public
services like adequate road maintenance and law enforcement, and for strong
land use regulations that protect Bonny Doon from negatively impactful
development. To continue to effectively serve in that role, we need your
participation, both as members and as board officers.
At the November public meeting, RBDA members may nominate
candidates for the RBDA Executive Board for 2017. The nominees will be voted on
at the January 11, 2017 RBDA Annual Meeting.
The terms of three officers, Andy Davidson, Tom Hearn and Marty
Demare, expire in January. There is currently one vacancy on the board due to
the resignation of Betsy Firebaugh earlier this year, so an additional person
will also be elected at the January meeting.
At the October 5 RBDA Board meeting, Jennifer Joslin was
appointed to the vacancy on the Board created by Betsy’s resignation, but will
have to stand for election at the January meeting. Says Jennifer, who also
served as a Board officer in the mid-’90s:
"I fell in love with Bonny
Doon the first time I drove up the hill in the late ’80s and saw the
sunlight shining through the redwoods. We didn’t have redwoods in my
home state of Rhode Island, and Bonny Doon was a welcome respite from
congested Marin County where we’d been living. We drove up Bonny Doon
Road…and never left . “I served as President
of the Board of the Bonny Doon Preschool for several years when my
children were young. It’s been a wonderful place to live and raise
our two now college-age children. As an environmental advocate, I want
to continue to contribute to our special community in a direct and
If you are interested and able to help Bonny Doon and the
RBDA by serving as a Board officer, or simply want to know what is involved,
please contact the Board by email email@example.com.
To be nominated or to vote you must be a member in good standing. You can join
or renew your membership at a public meeting or by mailing in the form at bonnydoon.got.net/members.html
Heidi E. Hart, President, CEO
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