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The Commish? Supes Prez Mardi Wormhoudt's name is being floated for a seat on the California Coastal Commission.


Going Coastal

The Nu&-z rumor mill has been spinning this week over word that new Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks) may decide to put his mark on the 12-member Coastal Commission by appointing new commissioners. As speaker he controls four appointments who serve at his pleasure--meaning he can replace them at any time. Some who hope that fresh appointments may bring a renewed commitment to environmental concerns are rooting for Santa Cruz Board of Supes President Mardi Wormhoudt.

"I applied for the Coastal Commission about four years ago and I got a lot of letters of support," Wormhoudt says. But the appointment went to construction executive David Potter of Monterey. Potter's term expires next March, when Hertzberg will likely still be speaker.

Asked if she'd apply again now, Wormhoudt unhesitatingly says, "Yes."

She says she has been getting calls all week from people encouraging her to do just that. "At this point there's really nothing I can do about it," she says. "It's really up to the speaker, who I really have no relationship with. If he decides not to reappoint Potter, I hope [Assemblymember] Fred Keeley will let me know." The appointment would not require her to give up her elected office.

Mark Cohen, a spokesperson for Hertzberg, says he was not aware of any plans to dump Potter, who represents the Monterey Bay area.

"Potter started out as very pro-conservationist," says Mark Massara, attorney in charge of the Sierra Club's coastal program. "But his voting record has really gone downhill, and ever since the Watsonville High School debacle we've lost faith in him.

"Since the Coastal Act over 30,000 developments have been approved by the commission--about 98 percent of all the proposals that come before them," Massara adds.

We'll Make No Wine

"This isn't a winery! It's an entertainment facility!" exclaims Ted Benhari, executive director of the Rural Bonny Doon Association.

Benhari is referring to the proposed Redwood Meadows Ranch Winery, which Bill and Robin Cunningham hope to build on a 47-acre agricultural parcel in Bonny Doon. The application goes before the County Planning Commission Aug. 9.

"We are extremely wary of this large entertainment facility bringing unwanted traffic to the area," says Benhari. RBDA wants to eliminate entertainment facilities from the project. Some residents are also concerned about potential adverse effects on water quality and supply and waste management.

Benhari says the project sets a dangerous precedent by allowing agriculture-zoned land to be used for nonagricultural purposes.

Owner Bill Cunningham sighs. "Nobody refers to the Bargetto or the Byington wineries as wedding halls." According to Cunningham, a winery needs to attract an entertainment clientele to be viable. He says his will be no different from other wineries in Santa Cruz County that are open to the public. He has set the number of events at up to 60 per year: 12 events of up to 195 people, 24 of up to 150 people and 24 of under 100 people.

"We intend to be good, harmonious neighbors," adds Robin Cunningham.

The proposed winery will have a tasting room, an office and a multifunction production house which, when not making and bottling wine, could serve other purposes. He has offered to donate the space to elementary school and fire department fundraisers. He claims that none of the structures will be visible from surrounding residences, nor will any noise reach neighbors. He also insists that traffic will not be a problem since there is only one house between the proposed winery and Highway 1.

Benhari is dubious. "You're going to have big trucks hauling grapes on these little, windy roads," he says. "We will be able to hear them making and bottling the wine not to mention the outdoor parties." Benhari is also concerned that if the winery fails Bonny Doon will be left with a big events facility "that nobody wants in Bonny Doon."

"The only way people can create controversy over this is by misrepresenting how wineries work," says Cunningham, adding that his family has been making wine since the early 1950s. "Most people in the general membership of Bonny Doon do not oppose this once they get the facts straight."

Burning Rubber

Those who haven't forgotten the flaming tire debacle of last fall (when lightning hit seven million discarded tires which burned for weeks in Stanislaus County) may find Senate Bill 876 unsettling. The bill will be heard in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee Aug. 7. Embedded in a piece of legislation that offers some positive solutions to the state's snowballing used-tire problem is an amendment which encourages tire burning for cement and lime kilns.

"They call it 'transformation,'" says Joyce Eden, vice president of Loma Prieta Sierra Club's Air Quality Committee and active member of West Valley Citizens Air Watch, "but what it amounts to is burning tires because they are cheap fuel without taking into consideration the environmental impact."

The result of a recommendation by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, SB 876 claims that "the consumption of used tires rather than fossil fuel for the kilns may reduce air pollution and may contribute to the improvement of air quality."

Some folks couldn't disagree more. Five years ago, the Santa Clara County Kaiser/Hanson cement plant burned tires for 45 days in a test to gauge environmental impact. The Bay Area Air Quality Management Board reported after the test that dioxin emissions increased over 30 percent, benzene 12.5 percent, nitrogen oxide 6 percent and lead over 600 percent. There were also substantial increases in zinc, mercury, copper and numerous other hazardous heavy metals and neurotoxins in the air.

In a previous News & Views article ("Rubber Soul," Sept. 1, 1999) Martha Gildart, manager of CIWMB's Waste Tire Management Unit, claimed that "tires combusted in a furnace are carefully metered as to quantity and speed, consistent high temperature, sufficiency of air feed, and retention of combustion gases for complete combustion of the hydrocarbons. The exhaust then goes through a dry-scrubber for removal of sulfur compounds and then a bag-house for removal of particulate matter."

Eden says these claims are erroneous.

Old tires are also used in rubberized asphalt, roofing materials, playground products and airplane shock absorbers.

SB 876 also calls for a 600 percent increase in tax charged on the sale of tires, from 25 cents each to a dollar and a half, which would go towards subsidizing transformation.

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From the August 2-9, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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