No July meeting, as usual,but
here's the July/August Highlander
Have a wonderful summer!
The next one will be on:
Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room,
Pine Flat Road & Ice Cream Grade
to Do with an Old Cement Plant?
Back in the 20th century, a constant rain of cement
dust blighted Davenporters’ lives. The cement plant responsible, operated by
CEMEX’s predecessors, offered free car washes, but residents had to cope with
cleaning their windows, houses and backyards themselves.
Upgrading the plant operations in the early 2000s, CEMEX largely
eliminated the dust. However, residents were worried by reports that toxic Chromium
6 was still being scattered out of the plant’s smokestack, which prompted a
visit by famed environmental investigator Erin Brockovich.
Now, Davenport residents face a new challenge to their peaceful
existence, the repurposing of the shuttered plant to accommodate visitors to
Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument and San Vicente Redwoods.
In May, a report was issued about the potential uses of the
100+-acre site. It was produced by three firms hired by the County, using
funding from a variety of public and private sources. The report notes that
“Davenport’s primary economic asset is the ‘quality of place’ created by an
exceptional coastal environment, local recreational opportunities, and a quaint
roadside business cluster, all located within a region that is a
well-established tourist destination.” The irony is that the report’s creators
suggest that redevelopment of the site with things like a hotel, restaurants
and a visitor center would forever destroy that very “quality of place” that
most local residents love about it.
The challenge, perhaps impossible to resolve, is to try to retain
the “Slow Coast” quality of life Davenporters now enjoy while accommodating the
100,000 (or many more) visitors potentially to be attracted by Cotoni-Coast
Dairies and San Vicente Redwoods.
Another challenge is to protect the many sensitive species that
call these open spaces home, including the California Red-Legged Frog, monarch
butterfly, and nesting birds, plus California Species of Special Concern like
the Giant Salamander and the Burrowing Owl. In addition, runoff from the plant site
into San Vicente Creek could affect salmonids offshore.
The report notes that the 100-year usage of the site as a
cement plant has resulted in a long list of contaminants, which may include
arsenic, diesel, heating/fuel oil, Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs),
waste motor/hydraulic/lubricating oil, Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPHs), and
Naphthalene, plus the gigantic cement dust pile now held down by a tire-covered
At a meeting last December, Davenporters were quite varied
in their desires about what they wanted the site to become. Ideas included
repurposing the site to become a CalFire facility, a museum, a “clean” research
and manufacturing site, or a visitor center. Of course, since CEMEX still owns
the property, no plan can be approved and executed without its consent.
More State Funds for Maintenance
of North Coast Beaches?
Beginning with the acquisition of the Coast Dairies beaches by
the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), there has been ever-increasing
visitation to the beaches along the North Coast of Santa Cruz County. The
increased visitation has not been matched with an increase in management and
maintenance resources for the State Parks District. As a result there are few amenities
and deteriorating conditions at the beaches.
There are several initiatives in place that promise to bring
even more visitors. These include extending the coastal rail-trail several
miles closer to Davenport, the designation of Cotoni-Coast Dairies as a
National Monument, and the County’s exploration of reusing the Davenport CEMEX
cement plant for visitor access to the National Monument and the inland San
Vicente Redwoods property.
A measure is now working its way through the State legislature
to place a bond measure on the November 2018 ballot which would fund
improvements and rehabilitation of parks, among other things. Our State Senator,
Bill Monning, voted in favor of advancing the bill, SB 5, when it was read in the
Natural Resources and Water Committee. It will now be reconciled with a similar
bill passed out of the Assembly AB 18, before going to the governor. The bills
have support from the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and the Surfrider
The RBDA strongly encourages residents to contact Senator Monning to
emphasize the critical need for funds to be directed for the overused and under-served North Coast beaches at sd17.senate.ca.gov/contact-us.
UCSC Growth Again Looms as Major
Issue for Bonny Doon and Santa Cruz
It appears that UCSC and the Santa Cruz City and County are
headed once again for a clash over the campus’s growing enrollment. Both the
County Board of Supervisors and the City Council have written letters to UCSC
Chancellor George Blumenthal stating that under the new 2020 Long Range
Development Plan (LRDP), now in its early stages of preparation, the student
population shouldn’t exceed the 2005 LRDP enrollment target of 19,500 students.
Current enrollment is about 18,000 students.
The Supervisors and the Council are concerned that UCSC is
going to exceed the town’s current carrying capacity. They anticipate further
impacts on an already serious housing shortage, straining a water system that has
been greatly stretched by the recent drought, and exacerbating already snarled
traffic. Although UCSC has worked hard to keep car trips and water usage from
increasing despite the ever-growing student population, the most effective way
to reduce impacts would be to limit the enrollment.
Chancellor Blumenthal acknowledges “…we have a poor record of
involving the community early in our planning process. We are, however, capable
of learning, which is why I have begun reaching out to local leaders and the
community. It is imperative the LRDP process be collaborative.” Nevertheless,
he states flatly that the demand that enrollment remain static is a
non-starter. He is caught between the reality of the housing crunch in Santa
Cruz and the UC Regents’ demand that the campus, like others in the system,
continue to grow to accommodate the State’s burgeoning population. However,
this time around, unlike during the preparation of the 2005 LRDP, the
chancellor and the university have a good working relationship with the City
and County, and have pledged that there will be substantial community input into
the creation of the 2020 LRDP.
We hope that is true, and that there will be real results from
community input. However, what we still don’t understand, and this is key, is why
don’t the Regents take into account the needs and desires of the citizens of
the towns that house the campuses, and instead grow enrollment on underbuilt
campuses, like that in Merced, or start new ones?
The 2005 LRDP process resulted in lawsuits from community
groups, including the RBDA and the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion
(CLUE), and both the City and County. The settlement of those suits resulted in
a new era of town-gown cooperation, with the university working hard to
minimize the impacts, and bear some of the cost of, the growing student
The reason the RBDA remains so involved in trying to ward off
UCSC growth is that most of it (a substantial part of the proposed 3 million
square feet of new buildings!), was slated to take place on the North Campus,
in Bonny Doon, urbanizing the green belt between Bonny Doon and the city. It
would have substantially affected the Cave Gulch neighborhood, increased
traffic in Bonny Doon, and heightened the demand for housing in Bonny Doon by
university faculty, staff and students. Thanks to the lawsuits and the financial
impact of the 2009 Great Recession, nothing has been built on the North Campus.
Undoubtedly the 2020 LRDP will again focus most of its development there.
Meanwhile, the university is in the early stages of constructing
buildings to support an additional 3,000 new beds on the west side of the
campus. A majority of these (2,200) will not accommodate new students, but will
relieve the overcrowding that now exists in campus dorms and replace older
buildings that have outlived their useful life.
“Living on campus is an important element in the success of our
students…Immersion in a campus environment helps foster student engagement and
a sense of community, as many studies have shown,” says Chancellor Blumenthal. He
says UCSC is committed to housing more students on campus. It already houses
the highest percentage of undergraduates of any UC campus, but that is only 53%
of undergraduate enrollment. Meanwhile, local rents continue to skyrocket, and
students willing to crowd 8 or more into 2- or 3-bedroom homes and apartments displace
more and more local families.
Resolves to Reduce Rodenticide Use
The RBDA Board has been concerned about the use of rodenticides
in Santa Cruz County, which was one of the primary reasons we advocated that
commercial cannabis be grown within rodent-proof structures. Following
discovery of a dead fox in Bonny Doon — and subsequent autopsy that revealed four
different rodenticides in its tissues — County residents have been working to
reduce or eliminate use of rodenticides. Tai Moses (of Raptors Are the
Solution, or RATS), Eric Hoffman (Bonny Doon resident and former Cannabis
Cultivation Choices Committee (C4) member), Larry Minden, and Dave Rubin (RBDA Vice
Chair) recently met with County Agricultural Commissioner Juan Hidalgo and 3rd
District Supervisor Ryan Coonerty to discuss this issue.
The State of California reserves the authority to regulate
rodenticides, which limits the options that a county has. However, Supervisor
Coonerty was sympathetic to this issue and introduced a non-binding resolution
recommending that residents avoid the purchase and use of anticoagulant
rodenticides. The Board of Supervisors approved this resolution on June 6,
which adds Santa Cruz County to a group of about 30 California cities and
counties with such resolutions. For alternative approaches to dealing with
rodents, check out tips on the RATS website, raptorsarethesolution.org.
Encouraging Increased Housing Density
In order to address the County’s housing shortage, the
Supervisors are reacting to recent changes in State laws relaxing restrictions
on developing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), a.k.a. “granny units.” Three
State bills were signed into law in 2016, SB 1069, AB2299, and AB2406, which
collectively are designed to broadly encourage the development of ADUs and
prohibit local governments from adopting any ordinances that prevent the
development of ADUs.
These new laws are intended to be minimum requirements, and the
California Dept. of Housing and Community Development has encouraged local
governments to use other means to promote ADU development. Santa Cruz County
has already signaled its intention to increase housing density here by quickly
updating the ADU ordinance to include things such as streamlining permit
applications (no longer requiring public hearings), relaxing requirements for
parking, and setting the minimum lot size at 4,500 sq. ft., which allows a
majority of single family homes in the County to develop ADUs.
The RBDA acknowledges that the lack of safe and affordable
housing is a serious and important issue in our region. However, it is also
important to recognize that increasing housing density in Bonny Doon will affect
not only the population density and quality of life of current residents, but
also the quality of life for future generations. While some properties are
better suited to supporting ADUs without impacting neighbors to a great degree,
others are not. How much additional housing density, which also means increased traffic
and noise, will it take to permanently alter the rural nature and character of
Bonny Doon? What do you think?
into RBDA Activities
The RBDA is actively working at all times to advocate on behalf
of Bonny Doon residents, but often this happens behind the scenes. We suspect
the process we use to generate our position on a given issue is often not clear
to our members. And perhaps the overarching goal of the RBDA is also unclear.
The RBDA aims to work together with the public, government agencies and private
parties to ensure that Bonny Doon remains rural and natural. We achieve these
goals by an iterative process of researching
the issue, listening to the involved
parties, consulting with domain
experts, government officials and stakeholders, facilitating community discussion through meetings and on-line
forums, and deliberating the issue
with RBDA board members, before finally taking
a position on an issue.
We’d like to share a recent example of one part of this
process, our attempt to better facilitate community discussion about an
important issue facing Santa Cruz County. In June, the RBDA Board contacted 3rd
District Supervisor Ryan Coonerty and his analyst Rachel Dann via e-mail to
advocate for more transparency in the determination of long-term strategic
changes to the zoning and building codes. This communication was a direct
response to the short public notice the Board of Supervisors provided about the
inclusion of an agenda item to “Accept and file status report on Accessory
Dwelling Unit (ADU) study, and direct staff to return August 22, 2017 with
information on the ADU study, as recommended by the Planning Director.” This
was announced as an agenda item on June 2 for a meeting on June 6, making it
difficult to for the RBDA to measure our community's wants, needs, and fears on
this issue and to provide feedback to the County.
In our communication with the Board of Supervisors, we have
emphasized that the appearance of operating behind closed doors creates fear
and uncertainty. We believe that improving transparency, open discussions, and
community feedback leads to better outcomes for all. We made the following
suggestions for having a more inclusive process: 1) Scheduling long-term
strategic issues on the agenda months in advance instead of days; 2) Providing
easier access to staff reports on strategic issues by creating an email list,
or a web page, with a calendar of process/project milestones and supporting
material; and 3) Providing advance access to staff reports on long-term strategic
issues before they are discussed at Board of Supervisors meetings, to allow interested
parties time to read, deliberate and provide thoughtful feedback without having
to take a day off of work to attend the meeting. The RBDA is still waiting for
feedback from the Board of Supervisors about these suggestions.
A High-Speed Rail
Trail Environmental Impact Report?
In a race to get construction going on the North Coast section
of the Santa Cruz Rail Trail before funding authorization expires at the end of
2020, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is planning to hire a
consultant to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) even before the actual
right-of-way for the trail is pinned down.
As our readers know (Highlander,
May 2017) a serious snag occurred when the RTC found out that the proposed
route for the trail followed the current railroad tracks, while their actual
right of way followed a partially dismantled rail bed. This means that new
rights of way must be negotiated with State Parks and the farmers who lease
much of the land along the route.
Another obstacle to construction starting in 2020 is that the
Measure D transportation sales tax, passed by the voters in November, requires
an environmental study of the option of removing the tracks entirely, adding to
the cost and time required to complete the EIR. The RTC timetable calls for the
EIR to be completed by the Fall of 2018. Any legal challenges to the EIR could
derail this schedule, of course.
Since the original concept for the Rail Trail was developed,
opposition to the rail part has grown, as it is revealed how costly and
underused trains will be.
Kendra Turk-Kubo New RBDA Board Member
and Highlander Editor
Originally from Colorado, I am a new Bonny Doon resident, but
have lived in Santa Cruz County on and off (mostly on) for 23 years. My
husband, daughter and I moved to Braemoor Drive in October 2016, and we feel
fortunate to have been able to relocate our family to such a beautiful and
rural community. As we plan to set our roots down here, I am looking forward to
playing a role in preserving this community as an RBDA Board member. I have a
background in Marine Microbial Ecology, and I am living the dream of my
6-year-old self to study the ocean with as a Research Scientist in the Ocean
Sciences Department at UCSC. I have a vested interest in preserving the rural environment
and unique community we all enjoy, and hope to serve Bonny Doon well as the
Editor of the Highlander. Please, don’t be shy with feedback about what you’d
like to see addressed by the RBDA!
Challenge Returns July 29
It’s that time of year again! As many as 650 additional
bicyclists will be sharing our roads with us on Saturday, July 29, as they
participate in the 2017 Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Challenge. You can expect to
see extra bicycle traffic all over our local roads including Empire Grade, Alba
Rd. Pine Flat Rd., Smith Grade Rd., Bonny Doon Rd., Hwy. 1 and Swanton Rd. between
6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Let’s all use extra caution on the road to ensure
safety for all.
RBDA 60th Anniversary: Did You Serve on
the RBDA Board?
It’s a happy time for America, whose economy is booming, but
clouds are on the horizon.
American made cars with crazy-long tail fins cruise the newly
built Interstate Highways, but Toyota starts selling vehicles in the U.S.
American pride is punctured by the launch of Sputnik.
The Viet Cong emerge in Vietnam.
On the bright side, millions of Americans gyrate happily inside
the newly invented Hula Hoop.
On TV, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball and Groucho Marx have millions falling
off their couches laughing.
Poodle skirts twirl, and jeans are becoming the pants of choice
for both men and women.
And here in the Dooniverse, local residents who recently fought
off the creation of a trailer park and halted the carving up of ranches into 1-
and 2-acre lots organize themselves as the Rural Bonny Doon Association.
To begin planning our 60th anniversary, we would love
to talk to former RBDA Board officers to gather their remembrances of what was
on Dooners’ and the RBDA’s minds over the various decades. If you ever served
on the RBDA Executive Board, please contact the present board at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call one of the Board
members at the phone numbers on this page.
Heidi E. Hart, President, CEO
California Dreaming Real Estate
Local / Non-Corporate
831 247-9410 email@example.com
Boyce-Abel Associates & Family Land Planning
Facilitating & mediating land, estate and asset transference issues
of Our Sponsors
Sponsorships: $100 a
Send check and text
P.O. Box 551, Felton
The Rural Bonny Doon Association
• Felton, CA 95018
voice in preserving our special quality of
The Highlander is mailed free to Bonny Doon
residents prior to the
RBDA General Meetings, which are usually
held on second Wednesdays of
January, March, May, July, September and
We encourage you to participate.
mail correspondence to the Highlander Editor
at the above address,
or by email, below.