July/August 2011 issue

No July Meeting!

See you at the next regular meeting:

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 7:30 PM
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room
Ice Cream Grade & Pine Flat Road

With Key LAFCo Vote Approaching, UCSC Expansion Timeline, Annotated


Because UCSC’s Long Range Development Plan 2005-2020 and opposition to it has been going on for so long and is rather involved, and because the issue is important to so many Bonny Dooners, The Highlander presents a brief history of events from 2004 to the present.


Oct. 20, 2004 UCSC unveils the draft Long Range Development Plan (LRDP 2005-2020). An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be required. The LRDP will mean significant growth on the North (upper) campus and incursion of the city into rural Bonny Doon. This will in turn mean traffic, water and environmental impacts to our rural lifestyle and similar impacts to the City of Santa Cruz.


Feb. 2005 Coalition for Limiting University Expansion (CLUE) formed with RBDA Board participation.


Oct. 19, 2005 The 900-page draft EIR (DEIR) for the LRDP released.


Jan. 2006 RBDA publishes a critique of the DEIR for the LRDP and notes that a Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) denial is the best option for stopping this project. LAFCo is responsible for authorizing any extension of Santa Cruz urban services (water and sewer) to the North (upper) campus where the new UCSC growth is proposed.


Sept. 2006 UC Regents unanimously approve the EIR for the LRDP and the Final LRDP.


Oct. 23, 2006 CLUE, and the Santa Cruz City Council, backed by the County Board of Supervisors, file separate suits to have the EIR for the LRDP thrown out because the EIR process violated guidelines of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).


Nov. 7, 2006 Measures I and J are approved by more than 75% of City of Santa Cruz voters. The two measures require a public vote before the City could apply to LAFCo to extend sewer and water services outside the city limits to the North (upper) campus, would not allow extension of those services without LAFCo approval, and would force UCSC to pay for the increased city services required by its growth.


Feb. 14, 2007 CLUE files a suit challenging the first major project under the new UCSC LRDP, the 95,000 sq. ft. Biomedical Sciences Facility. UCSC claims the EIR for the LRDP approved last September is sufficient and it doesn’t have to do one specifically for the new building.


Apr. 20, 2007 Santa Cruz Superior Court voids Measures I and J on a technicality regarding inadequate public notice.


July 13, 2007 In the various lawsuits filed last October, Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick issues a preliminary ruling that UCSC’s EIR for its LRDP is deficient in the areas of water supply, traffic and housing. The most difficult to correct will be water, since Santa Cruz has little available surplus.

Aug. 28, 2007 Judge Burdick confirms his preliminary ruling and orders all parties to mediation.


Aug. 9, 2008 A Comprehensive Settlement Agreement is reached among parties to the mediation ordered by Judge Burdick a year ago. The highlights are:


                     UCSC undergraduate enrollment will not exceed 17,500, total enrollment 19,480

                     UCSC will pay additional fees for new water supply

                     UCSC (not the City) will submit an application to LAFCo for extension of the   
                        City's water and sewer services to the upper (North) campus area

                     The City of Santa Cruz will not oppose the service extension

                     UCSC will make a fair-share contribution to transportation improvements. 


March 2009 The City signals its support for UCSC development by becoming a co-applicant to LAFCo for extension of water and sewer services to the upper (North) Campus. The City is required to prepare a full EIR for the service extension. UCSC will split the cost.


July 2009 Community Water Coalition (CWC) is formed to preserve the City’s scarce water resources and forestall development of the pristine undeveloped upper (North) campus area.

Nov. 2009 The draft EIR for the service extension to UCSC’s upper (North) campus is released by the City. This EIR will play a major role in whether LAFCo approves the extension.


March 2010 The service extension EIR is critiqued by RBDA, the Sierra Club, the CWC, the County Supervisors, LAFCo, and many private individuals. They point out the lack of data, inconsistencies and conflicts with LAFCo policies and CEQA requirements. Most comments also take aim at the Water Supply Assessment part of the EIR, which acknowledged that supplies are inadequate when rainfall is less than normal (a common event in Santa Cruz). This shortfall could preclude future city growth and increase the amount and frequency of rationing.


July 2010 CWC files a suit claiming that only the City, as provider of services, not UCSC, can apply to LAFCo for a service extension. The suit also claims that the EIR for the service extension expansion violates CEQA.


Aug. 9, 2010 The Santa Cruz City Council certifies the final EIR for service expansion.

Nov. 2010 A new citizens’ group, Habitat and Watershed Caretakers (HAWC), files suit over the inadequacies of the final EIR for the City's service expansion. The suit contends that the City failed to show that it has adequate water to serve the development project, failed to consider alternatives and mitigations, and failed to adequately assess the project’s impacts, thus precluding a meaningful assessment of environmental impacts.


The City claims that the EIR didn’t have to consider the effects of the proposed UCSC development because it is only asking for a "Sphere of Influence" expansion and the development itself is a separate event. However, HAWC cites case law that says development effects must be examined in the EIR if it is virtually certain there will be development as a result of the extension.


Dec. 2010 The CWC lawsuit filed last July is dismissed by Judge Timothy Volkmann. CWC appeals.


Dec. 2010 The HAWC lawsuit is delayed until April and moved from Judge Jeffrey Almquist's courtroom (he is assigned to CEQA cases) to Judge Volkmann's courtroom at the request of the City of Santa Cruz.


Feb. 2, 2011 LAFCo approves a new water policy that will guide all future deliberations and could have a significant effect on UCSC’s attempts to develop its upper Campus. It requires a proposed project’s water supply be “adequate, reliable, and sustainable.” It also requires that a project not adversely affect:

                     sustainable yields in groundwater basins,

                     flows in rivers and streams,

                     water quality in surface water bodies,

                     water quality in groundwater basins, or

                     endangered species.


Without a desalination plant, and with state and national agencies limiting in-stream diversions to provide better conditions for aquatic life, the City's water supply is anything but “adequate, reliable, and sustainable.”


May 2011 Preliminary estimates show that the City will have to reduce its in-stream diversions by at least 800 million gallons a year to provide adequate habitat for endangered Coho salmon and Steelhead trout and other aquatic species.


May 2011 LAFCo Executive Director Pat McCormick says there will be a hearing on the service extension application regardless of the two ongoing lawsuits. He expects to have a status report at its August meeting and the hearing could be in September or October.


In summary, at this point,

·      the HAWC lawsuit questioning the service extension EIR is still pending in Superior Court,

·       the CWC lawsuit regarding who the correct applicants should be in the service extension applications is in Appellate Court,

·       the LAFCo hearing on the service extension should take place soon.

Santa Cruz County Land Trust Conservation Blueprint, Bonny Doon and the RBDA


The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County has just released its eagerly awaited final “Conservation Blueprint for Santa Cruz County.” The Land Trust has long been involved with environmen- tal issues that are critical for residents of Bonny Doon. The Blueprint documents the extreme biodiversity existing in Santa Cruz County (qualifying us as a “hotspot”), but also outlines how fragile this environment is. Recently, we have heard of the Land Trust’s interest and involvement with the future of both the Coast Dairies and the CEMEX property.


The Land Trust is a lead organization in the “Living Landscape Initiative.” This a rapidly emerging story of the five most significant land preservation organizations in our area collabo- rating in an effort to preserve 80,000 contiguous acres extending from the northern reaches of the Santa Cruz Mountains down to the Pajaro Hills. In addition to the Santa Cruz Land Trust, this collaboration includes the Save-the-Redwoods Fund, the Sempervirens Fund, and the Nature Conservancy, and the Peninsula Open Space Trust. The shared intent is for long-term controlled development, sustainable agriculture and timbering, watershed, stream and aquifer restoration, a continuous wildlife corridor, and insured natural beauty for generations to come.


The May 11, 2011 General RBDA meeting was devoted to a presentation by the senior leadership of the Santa Cruz Land Trust to review the draft Conservation Blueprint. Terry Corwin (Executive Director) and Matt Freeman (Director of Conservation) gave a 2-hour presentation demonstrating the detailed scientific analysis and community input that went into this report. The presentation was rich in science, local story, and new data. There were many new GIS maps outlining areas of the various habitats, watersheds, agricultural and timber lands, aquifers, and areas that could be divided and developed in the future. For many attendees the maps were both the highlight and an eye opener. Bonny Doon and the north coast watersheds (Laguna, San Vi- cente, Molina, and Scotts Creek) encompass the largest and most critical geographic area identified for preservation.

The focused mission statement of the RBDA is to promote “the natural and rural setting of Bonny Doon.” The RBDA has had a significant impact in the last 40 years on issues such as a proposed golf course, events center, and even a nuclear power plant in Davenport. So far, none have these have happened. As other articles in this issue of The Highlander note, we are currently actively interested in the potential of UCSC expansion on one side of Bonny Doon, and the future of Coast Dairies and CEMEX on the other.


The Santa Cruz Land Trust is the first local organization to generate an environmental roadmap for the future of our region. How much overlap is there between the mission or the Land Trust and RBDA? It seems quite significant. There is an opportunity for many of the RBDA priorities to be represented by the Land Trust, a well respected, well funded organization with a track record of environmental preservation success including the Sand Hills (a set of ecologically unique islands related to our “Moon Rocks”), prime Watsonville agricultural land, and portions of the Watsonville slough. Clearly the environmental quality of Bonny Doon and our watersheds down to the coast are of critical importance to both the RBDA and the Land Trust.


We all see the severe limitations brought on by the current national and local economic situation in almost every area of life. Environmental preservation in this climate requires new thinking. Land acquisition and public purchase and parkland management have become less viable options. The Land Trust has been working to create incentives for current owners by means of preservation agreements, sustainable land stewardship arrangements, conservation easements, and improved policy, regulation, and zoning. This is an exciting story to see unfold.


Pandora's Box Opening

Reform of Regulations on Nonconforming Structures and Uses on the Table


For several years, Santa Cruz County has been involved in revision of its zoning and permitting regulations. We covered the first phase, having to do with “Small Scale Residential Projects,” i.e. accessory structures, in The Highlander in the winter and spring of 2008. Out of phase, Planning streamlined its rules for “Minor Exceptions,” as we covered in the January and March issues this year.


On June 28, the Board of Supervisors heard a status report on the second phase, “Regulations Regarding Nonconforming Structures and Uses.” In Bonny Doon, where many, if not most of us, have nonconforming structures on our properties, this offers a great potential for easing the pain of maintaining/upgrading our homesteads. At the same time, it could, if not carried out with care, come with the potential for great abuses. The plan is for Planning Staff to meet with public stakeholders during July, and then return to the Board with language for proposed draft ordinances in late August.


As a community and environmental organization, the RBDA mission to “Keep Bonny Doon Rural and Natural” demands we be involved in these discussions. In the first phase of regulatory reform, we helped strengthen the distinction between habitable and non-habitable structures and attended to density issues particular to our rural community. We helped postpone the consideration of implementation in rural areas of the out-of-phase streamlining for two years, so that the impact can be assessed in the urban areas where the streamlining was most needed. Now, we eagerly seek your input on what could be the most contentious and significant round of reforms yet.


To put this phase of reform in context, you need to understand the current regulatory regime and its problems.


Logically, there is a distinction to be drawn between Nonconforming Structures, which were legally built before the current ordinances went into effect, or even before there was any zoning in the rural, unincorporated part of the County, and Nonconforming Uses which have been legally established, but are contrary to current land use zoning. Planning proposes to create this distinction, which is muddy in current regulation, so as to be able to reflect the reasonable, greater concern about the uses of a structure than about the structure itself.

Since, by definition, Nonconforming Uses and Structures arose in a regulatory vacuum, it is quite difficult to establish that a structure or use was legal when it began rather than being a more common nonconforming use; in common language, built illegally without permits. The potential for abuse is obvious.


Another peculiarity of the current regulations is the often murky distinction between “Regularly Nonconforming” and “Significantly Nonconforming.” Drawing a distinction instead between Nonconforming Uses and Nonconforming Structures would allow the former distinction to be eliminated.


The last major problem with the current regime is the perversity of basing permitting thresholds on percentage of exterior walls to be replaced. On the one hand, the discovery of structural damage during remodeling can mean that law-abiding citizens are forced to seek a permit mid-project. On the other, the current regime can be and is gamed by gutting an existing structure and leaving only the original exterior walls while the interior is replaced. Planning proposes to revise the thresholds based on the percentage value of the project, based on assessed current value and project cost estimates.


In both the “Minor Exceptions” streamlining and the current report there has been concern about conflict with existing environmental protections. In the case of “Minor Exceptions,” after public comment and board consideration, riparian corridors were explicitly excepted. Clarification of these new reforms is needed.


This brief article can do justice neither to the nuances contained in the status report, nor the nuances missing from it. We urge all concerned Dooners to examine the report from the Board of Supervisors June 28 meeting, item 40 at http://goo.gl/j1BUF, and then contact your board so that we can fairly represent the opinions and concerns of our community when we meet with Planning this month.



Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge Bicyclists Touring Bonny Doon July 30


On Saturday, July 30, Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge (SCMC) will be crisscrossing Bonny Doon with three variant routes. This year, in addition to the Century and Metric Century that we hosted last year, there will be a Double Metric Century so riders can, in the words of SCMC route director Tom Pennello, “dial in [their] own level of pain.”


The basic Century will ascend Jamison Creek Road and descend Empire Grade to Pine Flat Road and then proceed down Bonny Doon Road back to Pine Flat near the tasting room. From there they will cut over to Martin Road and then across Ice Cream Grade and descend down Felton-Empire Road.

Both the easier Metric Century and harder Double Metric Century will eschew the turn onto upper Pine Flat and continue descending Empire Grade. The Metric Century will turn to descend Felton-Empire, and the Double Metric Century will proceed all the way down to Smith Grade. The hard core riders will traverse Smith Grade and then turn back up Bonny Doon Road toward the tasting room where they will join the Century route across Martin Road and Ice Cream Grade to the Felton-Empire descent.


Projected times that the riders will be in Bonny Doon are not available at the moment, but the tour starts from Scotts Valley High School between 6:30 and 9:30 am, the rest stops on upper Empire Grade will be open from 10 to 3, and the tour finish facilities back at Scotts Valley High will be open from noon to 5 or 6. Please leave some extra time for your travels that Saturday and watch out for cyclists.


Another Charity Bike Tour will be coming to Bonny Doon at the end of August. Details will appear in next month’s Battle Mountain News.

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

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