|UCSC's Long Range Development Plan: Bringing the City
to Bonny Doon
For probably the first time in its history, Bonny Doon is faced with major urban development. The University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), as part of its Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) for the next 15 years, wants to build on the Upper Campus. UCSC's plans call for roughly doubling their current 4 million square feet of buildings with new classrooms and dorms. Plans also include a corporation yard (storage for construction materials, vehicles and machines) and new roads down to the Lower Campus and in from Empire Grade at Cave Gulch.
This violates the County's General Plan, which confines dense development to the Urban Services Line (which excludes Bonny Doon), and it is a significant penetration of Santa Cruz's greenbelt. Of course, under state law UCSC has no legal obligation to respect local planning regulations. The LRDP also calls for building on parts of the campus Natural Reserve, a pristine area set aside some 30 years ago for study by students in the Natural Sciences that contains environmentally sensitive and significant areas, a move which seems to violate some of the University's own preservation intentions.
With its plan for increasing the student population from the present 15,000 or so to 21,000, the LRDP will have a tremendous impact on housing and traffic in the City of Santa Cruz, especially on Westside roads and neighborhoods. For Dooners who use Empire Grade as their main artery into town, it means a major increase in traffic, perhaps even a stop light. For bicyclists on the narrow portion of Empire through Cave Gulch, it means a harrowing confrontation with large construction vehicles and many more cars. But the biggest impact will be on Dooners living in the Cave Gulch neighborhood, already impacted by Waldorf School and its own planned expansion, who will now have the UCSC campus right in their backyard.
At the May 11 RBDA meeting, Donna Blitzer, UCSC Director of Government and Community Relations, and John Barnes, Campus Planning Director, will spell out the details of the LRDP, while Don Stevens, of the Executive Committee of CLUE, the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion, will speak to the negative aspects of the plan and how it might be deterred or halted.
This significant expansion of UCSC is driven, of course, by the growing state population and the large amount of open land at the 2,000-acre campus which, to the UC Regents, looks like a relatively cheap opportunity for development. That is why they are asking UCSC to plan for 6,000 more students, four times more than city-surrounded UC Berkeley.
UCSC is the 800-pound gorilla in our community. It has consistently gobbled up more and more of the town. Besides the campus, it now has major holdings downtown, on the Westside, and even on Ocean Street (the former Holiday Inn). As a state agency, it is immune from most local influence and it doesn't have to pay property taxes, thus depleting the already bare coffers of local government. It agreed to give the city a little money to make up for some of that, and the local economy and sales taxes, of course, get a big boost from the large number of students, staff, and faculty. On the downside, Westside traffic is gridlocked morning and evening, and housing prices and rents are driven even higher than they would be otherwise.
The City Council and County Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt have come down against the huge growth called for in the LRDP, and the RBDA Board is opposed to all development of the Upper Campus. But the local community has very little leverage with the Regents. Several communities impacted by UC growth (Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Albany, Davis, and Merced) have been meeting to explore approaches to dealing with it, but very few tools are available. There are various legal and environmental issues that may be exploited, but political pressure may prove to be the most important.
UCSC had an LRDP for the period 1988-2005. In it, the university planned to house 70% of its students on campus and outlined various ways in which the impacts of its growth would be mitigated. But then the state economy tanked and the Regents have been reported as saying in effect that they are sorry but that they don't have the money to implement these mitigations. So less than half the students live on campus and little else was done.
Nevertheless, growth continues. As a state agency, UCSC has no legal obligation to live up to its promises. And if its feet are held to the fire, it can always fall back on the legal justification that education of the state's youth is more important than a city's greenbelt or other environmental considerations (violations of specific state or federal laws excepted).
There is an attempt being made to get UCSC to agree to consider the impacts of its growth on the larger community, and to contribute to measures to help lessen the impacts on traffic, water and sewage. Heretofore its Environmental Impact Reports, required by CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), have only dealt with the campus itself.
The EIR study for the new LRDP is underway and a draft for public comment will be presented in late September. Then the LRDP and draft EIR will be sent to the Regents for final consideration. To get a better idea of the LRDP process, go to http:// planning. ucsc.edu/lrdp/
Come to this important meeting to get a fuller understanding of what UCSC growth means for Bonny Doon and what you may be able to do about it.
Potential Sandhills Habitat Conservation Areas in Bonny Doon
Santa Cruz County and City of Scotts Valley Planning Depts. are in the early stages of evaluating areas for possible inclusion in a new Santa Cruz Sandhills Regional Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), including several areas in Bonny Doon. The areas being considered support one or more of the following species, which are on either the Federal Endangered Species list and/or are a Special Status Species under the California Environmental Quality Act and County General Plan:
Santa Cruz wallflower
Ben Lomond spineflower
Ben Lomond buckwheat
Mount Hermon June beetle
Zayante band-winged grasshopper
Coast horned lizard
Santa Cruz kangaroo rat (not yet listed but expected to be soon)
Some of the areas being considered for inclusion in the HCP are as follows:
Martin Road between Ice Cream Grade and Smith Grade
Several areas through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, between Felton-Empire and Smith Grade
A small area at intersection of Bonny Doon Rd and Smith Grade
An area just to the east of Cave Gulch
Areas included in the final HCP are eligible for Incidental Take Permits issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Services. These permits allow certain types of development to proceed in the sand hills while protecting the listed species through agreed upon mitigations. These permits would be available to any individual landowner who chose to participate in the HCP, with the cost of preparing the HCP assumed by federal and local governments.
The first community outreach session was held April 19th at the Zayante Fire Station in Felton for the Planning Depts. to present their initial thoughts on the new HCP and to hear community input. The full process of creating the HCP will take several years and additional community sessions will be held throughout the process. For a map of the areas being considered and additional information, see http://sccounty01.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/planning/sandhills.htm. Look for FAQs and other documents to be added to this site. Contact County Resource Planner Claudia Slater at 454-5175 if you have questions.
All reports indicate that Bonny Doon mail service has dramatically improved in recent weeks. History suggests that this might be temporary, the result of increased focus by USPS and government officials on our behalf. U.S. Rep Anna Eshoo isn't fooled by the success either. In a strongly worded letter to Kim Fernandez, District Manager for the USPS Oakland District that oversees Santa Cruz mail services, Eshoo reminded Fernandez that "service improved tremendously the last time we raised this issue with the USPS, only to fall short again as soon as attention was diverted from the office of the District Manager." She called upon him to go further than proposed in the initial "action plan" he sent her office, asking him to provide not just increased supervision and a replacement contract carrier, but permanent USPS employees, as her staff had discussed with him in a previous meeting. She stated her willingness to escalate the issue to colleagues in Congress and Postmaster General Potter.
Eshoo recently wrote to RBDA Board member Jane Cavanaugh (and possibly other Bonny Doon residents) to share a copy of Fernandez’s response: "We understand the residents and your [Eshoo’s] office desire a full-time postal employee to provide delivery rather than a contract employee. I have taken those concerns under consideration and have formally requested our postal headquarters in Washington DC to investigate the requirements to convert the Highway Contract Routes to one delivered by a full-time career postal employee." In the meantime, the USPS sent out a notice inviting new contractors to bid for one of the three Bonny Doon routes, so the issue remains open. We encourage you to continue notifying the Santa Cruz USPS of any mail problems: Postmaster, 850 Front Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.
City's Water Line Relocation EIR Now Available
The North Coast System Rehabilitation Program draft EIR was made available by the City of Santa Cruz Water Dept. for public review in early April, with a Notice of Availability sent out to affected parcel owners. The rehabilitation program covers 18 miles of water lines, which cross private and public lands, including some owned by the City of Santa Cruz. The EIR, which was prepared by an independent non-governmental agency, recommends Environmen-tally Preferred options for each of the four creeks affected (Liddell Springs, Reggiardo, Laguna, and Majors).
The EIR document is available at the Water Department, Santa Cruz Main Library, and online at www.ci.santa-cruz.ca.us. Due to the time limits mandated by state law, comments on the draft program EIR must be submitted by May 21, 2005. Send written comments to City of Santa Cruz Water Department, 809 Center Street, Room 102, Santa Cruz, California 95060 Attn: Ms. Linette Almond. For additional information call 420-5200.
This is a major long-term effort by the city which may have significant impact on your neighborhood. If you live in the vicinity of the city's pipelines, It behooves you to check out the EIR to see what the city is planning.
CYA Camp Conversion
Officials for California Youth Authority (CYA), California Department of Corrections (CDC), and California Department of Fire (CDF) were in full attendance at the April RBDA General Meeting to answer our questions and address our concerns about the conversion of the Bonny Doon CYA Camp in to a CDC Camp facility. Anticipating a much larger turnout of community members expressing concerns, the ratio of uniformed officials (13) to community members present (35) was most unexpected.
The presentation included current CYA Camp Director Rudy Luna describing the CYA Camp history and current situation with dwindling CYA populations statewide leading to closures of several camps. (The Bonny Doon camp currently houses only 20 of the 85 inmates for which the camp is budgeted.) Case Butterman, a Conservation Camp Program Manager from CDF, described how the CDF receives much-needed help in forestry cleanup and fire-fighting backup from camp populations, a program which has been severely understaffed with the diminished CYA population. (For more details, see the March 2005 Highlander.)
John Peck, CDC Camp Liaison Correctional Captain, profiled what the adult inmate population would look like: male, 18-65 years average age 45, in for non-violent crimes (drug use, property damage, drunk driving, and so forth), with minimal security risks. He explained the CDC board review process for selecting inmates to receive the "privilege" of being transferred to a camp facility.
When the floor opened up for questions, the small but vocal group of attendees asked many questions concerning what Bonny Dooners should expect in the way of breakouts (few, as previously documented in the March Highlander), visitor traffic (minor, and only on weekends and holidays), help for private projects (none), time scale for repopulation of the camp (July), nighttime security (no lockdown, only one guard who does bed check counts as mandated), community notification in the event of an escape (they'll invite the community to an open house where those who want to can sign up to be notified), and why more inmates don't try to escape from such minimal security. This last question got answers like camp conditions are better than prison, inmates get two days off their jail time for every one day served at camp, and camp keeps inmates busy and offers actual skill building, which many prefer to prison routine. Officials were happy to remain until the last question was answered; by 9:30 it seemed all questions and concerns had been addressed satisfactorily and the meeting ended. If you have unanswered questions or concerns, contact Captain John Peck at 916-323-8378.
Coastal Cell Phone Antennae "Up" For Approval
Back in Sept. 2000 we wrote about the proposal by cell phone company Sprint PCS to install cell towers disguised as a pine tree near Coast Road on the ocean side of Hwy 1, as a windmill at Dimeo Lane, and as a windsock pole below Big Creek Lumber. Activists concerned about Electro Magnetic Radiation (EMR) and also about coastal view shed protection raised objections with the County. They learned that the County is precluded by Federal law from regulating EMR beyond Federal standards but counties can regulate how new antennae are sited and impose neighborhood notification requirements for new antennae.
However, there was no ordinance on the books that regulated the towers—so a long process ensued to draft rules that would govern the installation of new antennae. County staff and cell industry lawyers battled over language and numerous revisions were proposed before the final version went to the Coastal Commission, who must approve new ordinances that apply to the Coastal Zone. Coastal Commission staff required more revisions before a final version was approved by County supervisors. Sprint had to abandon their fake tree and windmill ideas, but last year cell equipment appeared on several existing utility poles along Hwy 1. Neighboring residents promptly called the County to see why they had not been notified as required by the new ordinance and learned that no permits had been sought. It seems that the applicant, AT&T Wireless (since acquired by Cingular) believed they were exempt from permitting requirements because the utility poles they were using are in the State's Hwy. 1 right-of-way and not subject to county regulation.
After more discussion (months go by), Cingular decided to go through the County permit process and on May 6 at 11 a.m. there will be a hearing before the Zoning Administrator requesting approval of the microcell antennae at six locations between Laguna and the City limit. Applicants say the placement of the antennae on the inland side of the highway will have less visual impact and better coverage.
New Empire Grade Fire Station Opens
On April 16 the Bonny Doon Volunteer Fire Team presented its new McDermott Station to the public. The spacious new station on Empire Grade at Felton-Empire will serve not only as a second firehouse for Bonny Doon, but also as a Community Disaster Center. The station was built with generous donations of time, money, materials and labor from the community, and includes a 55,000-gallon water tank for firefighting.
On Sunday, May 15 (not on Mother's Day, as in previous years), the Fire Team will hold its annual Unpancake Breakfast at the Martin Road Fire Station, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Go out and show your support for our volunteers, who so well serve our remote community with emergency services.
It's the time of year when the County returns to using Roundup for roadside vegetation control. As reported in the July 2004 Highlander, Terry Reynolds of County Public Works Department (PW) says their current policy is "no spraying" in Bonny Doon, unless specifically requested by a resident. The ongoing success of this policy depends on us continuing to self-organize to help hand-pull French Broom. Very little of this has happened in recent years. If we want to continue to avoid herbicide spraying in Bonny Doon, we need to get together with our neighbors to pull out the rapidly growing broom. This is done much more easily now, before the ground dries out, and before the broom goes to seed.
Just outside our borders, spraying on Alba, Jamison Creek, and Felton-Empire roads was scheduled for the week of 4/25. To be sure your road is not scheduled for spraying, call the County's official Roadside Spraying Hotline at 477-3937 for a current schedule. You can also post "No Spray" signs along the roadside by your property.
May 11, 2005 RBDA Meeting Agenda
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