[MetroActive News&Issues]

[ Santa Cruz | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

Public vs. Private: A threat to public access of Nisene Marks State Park is the subject of a recently filed lawsuit by the Nisene 2 Sea Open Space Alliance.


Sea Suit

Nisene 2 Sea Open Space Alliance wants to nip development plans on the former Koch Property in the bud, and to do so it has filed a lawsuit against the county.

The 142-acre area overlooking Monterey Bay has been a public access route for hikers and bicyclists from the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park to Cabrillo College and New Brighton State Beach for over 50 years. Contention over its future has been brewing for a year and a half between concerned neighbors and Steve Carmichael, who co-owns the property with the Palo Alto based Men-Chy Ma Enterprises. Carmichael has said he wants a "small low-density residential development" (20 homes) while the Nisene 2 Sea folks want to purchase the property for ultimate inclusion in the state park system, creating a "corridor" from the forest to the beach.

Development (or erosion control, according to Carmichael) efforts were red-tagged by the county twice last year, but that didn't stop the drilling of a 650-foot well for a home planned to sit atop what bicyclists refer to as Cardiac Hill. This June, county office Environmental Health Services issued a "finding of compliance" for a septic tank in the same area. Development here would block access to a heavily used trail, which is the only western access to Nisene Marks during the winter.

"There are two inconsistent documents," says Nisene 2 Sea's attorney Bill Parkin. Environmental Health Services' findings show the project is in compliance with regulations while the Planning Department's findings show the opposite, Parkin contends. The Planning Department states that the grade of the slope on which the septic tank would be located exceeds 30 percent, making it an illegal location.

"Environmental Health Services found that the septic tank wouldn't be placed on the slope, which is directly at odds with information we, as well as the Planning Department, have gathered," Parkin says. "Even if they

have graded the slope down below 30 percent, they have to go with what it was originally. The whole idea is to prevent these areas from becoming illegally graded because that creates other stability issues like soil erosion, which can be caused by grading."

Parkin also contends that grading on the property has been done illegally. The lawsuit seeks to convince the county that the compliance is "inappropriate."

"There has been a lot of opposition from neighbors," comments Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt, "and I had the feeling they would file suit sooner or later."

Biotic resource specialists have concluded that the disputed area is a suitable habitat for the Ohlone Tiger Beetle, a candidate for the federal endangered species list. Flat portions of the property are also home to several species of native coastal prairie grasses.

While a proper building permit is needed before development can ensue, Nisene 2 Sea's fear is that the county's inattention to misinformation in the finding of compliance could allow development plans to go ahead unchecked.

Carmichael's lawyer was unavailable for comment.

Deal Gone Bust?

A deal to purchase the Catalyst appears to be foundering, although neither side would confirm the impasse.

When Nu&-z contacted business broker Jim Roberts to see how things were coming along, Roberts said the deal appeared to be, in his words, "dead."

Roberts says that buyer David Farling, owner of the Usual in San Jose, received a letter from Capitola attorney Ed Newman that said there were "insurmountable problems" with the lease.

"He refused to say what the problems were," Roberts says. Neither Farling nor Newman would return calls from Nu&-z. Catalyst owner Randall Kane said he had no comment on the negotiations.

A tentative deal between Kane and Farling was signed May 5 for a reported $300,000 that would have left Kane in possession of the building and sold ownership of the business to Farling. Roberts says the escrow is technically still open.

Union My Ass

If Will Rogers were living in Santa Cruz today, his famous quote about the Democratic Party ("I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat.") might have referenced the Santa Cruz Action Network instead. When it comes to our favorite local PC do-gooders, it seems nothing comes easy.

On the eve of its endorsing forum (Sept. 13, 6pm at the Louden Nelson Center), SCAN insiders say a lively debate over the four open Santa Cruz City Council seats is likely. Fifteen candidates are vying for the seats, and six are given a shot at the endorsement: Emily Reilly, Ed Porter, Dick Doubrava, Scott Bugental, Dr. Arnie Leff and Bonnie Morr.

But at the Labor Day picnic at Delaveaga Monday, some union supporters were shocked to find candidate literature being handed out without a union "bug." The bug certifies that the item was printed by union labor, and having it is an article of faith among trade unionists.

Of the six names above, Leff, Reilly and Morr handed out nonunion pamphlets. The most surprising was Morr, who is herself a union representative for the United Transportation Union.

Local union activist Nora Hochman took note of the lack of union support at the event, particularly Morr's lit.

"As a trade unionist herself she should be held to a higher standard," comments Hochman. On the general issue of seeking union support with nonunion material, the ever-reticent Hochman says: "Don't come kiss my ass without a union bug on your lips."

Morr was unavailable for comment.

Gettin' Outa Dodge

You'd think he was running unopposed. In fact, incumbent District 27 Assemblymember Fred Keeley (D-Boulder Creek) has three rivals for his job: Republican Charles Carter of Monterey, Libertarian David Bonino of Santa Cruz, and Natural Law Party candidate Madeline De Joly of Aptos. Nevertheless, a confident Keeley and his wife are taking three weeks off to tour England and Italy in the midst of a general election campaign.

To what should we attribute this not so subtle dissing of his opposition? Overconfidence? Chutzpah? Reality?

If Keeley is also not bothering to campaign for fellow Democrats during that time, is that a sign that the speaker pro tem's final Assembly term will be spent on the margins of political influence?

Perhaps it's a radical new campaign strategy, calculated to avoid overburdening voters with campaign rhetoric out of respect for voter energy and attention span. Yeah right.

On the other hand, we're guessing a lot of folks wish Gore, Bush and Nader would follow suit and get outa Dodge for a few weeks.

[ Santa Cruz | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

From the September 6-13, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate