Suggestion to the City for Collaboration

From: Jean Brocklebank
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2010
To: Dannettee Shoemaker
Subject: Collaboration on Arana Gulch

Dear Ms. Shoemaker ~

I write to suggest a collaboration among those interested in seeing the City receive a vote of approval by the CA Coastal Commission (CCC) for the management document known as the Arana Gulch Master Plan. This is a fairly lengthy email and I ask that you please take the time to read it through and contemplate its contents. I respectfully thank you in advance for doing so.

I write to you specifically, as Director of Parks and Recreation (P&R), because management of the greenbelt and its a natural areas has always been the responsibility of P&R, even when the old General Plan Land Use designations contained "community facilities" and "low density residential" components. The Natural Area or Park or Open Space designations belong to Parks & Recreation quite naturally ("Our Open Spaces, Our Community Places").

I write to you to convey my opinion that leadership from Parks and Recreation as a catalyst for a collaborative process is an idea whose time has come. I think it is time for Public Works to allow the Parks & Recreation Department to guide the process for Arana Gulch.

As you may know, collaboration is predicated on a common goal. Many mistakenly believe that collaboration means compromise. This is not true. A compromise is forged between factions with different goals. Only with a common goal, can there be collaboration.

As an aside, my personal goal is that the next vote of the Coastal Commission on anything that has to do with the AG Master Plan be unanimous, as I think that will add an inspiring chapter to the ongoing story of Arana Gulch.

Allow me to explain my idea.

Watching and then reviewing the Coastal Commission hearing of November 18th, I was struck by the consistent message given to the Commissioners.

The testimony presented by speakers was all about the tarplant. Chris Schneiter talked only about saving the tarplant. The bicycle lobby's spokesman talked only about saving the tarplant. The CA Native Plant Society (CNPS) talked only about saving the tarplant. Commissioners talked about saving the tarplant. [1.] Friends of Arana Gulch (FOAG) was unable to attend the hearing but did communicate, by mail and other's testimony, its goal of saving the tarplant.

So, there we have our common goal!

There has always been a lot of behind-the-scenes discussion and planning regarding Arana Gulch and the Draft Master Plan. FOAG has tried to be very much involved in this, the public's business, by communicating information and ideas along the way. We have been a respectful presence for 15 years. We seek now to be accepted as a legitimate partner in this collaborative effort I am presenting for your consideration.

I hereby suggest that you and your staff sit down with FOAG and CNPS (if they are willing) and collaborate on a Final Master Plan that can be presented to the Coastal Commission to receive a unanimous vote. If "saving the tarplant" is truly good for the City, good for Arana Gulch, good for the tarplant, and is what the Coastal Commission wants, then let us collaborate on how best to do that, immediately. FOAG would like to be helpmates in this process. Without speaking for them, I think CNPS would like to be helpmates also.

I am confident that the Coastal Commission will wholeheartedly approve a Master Plan for Arana Gulch that gives science-based guidance for the restoration of the endangered tarplant as well as resource-based maintenance of the entire greenbelt.

In sum, I think there are actually three common goals for a successful collaboration: 1). save the endangered tarplant, 2). use of science-based management, and 3). unanimous CCC vote to approve the Master Plan.

My suggestion, then, is to have all parties who are interested in saving the tarplant with science-based management collaborate on an edited Master Plan that, for now, removes the controversial Broadway-Brommer (B-B) cross town bicycle connection project and leaves everything else in tact. Whereas, historically, the City's goal has been the Broadway-Brommer project (since 1995-6) and all collaboration was toward its approval, my suggestion is predicated on a new goal ("save the tarplant"), so eloquently presented by even the bicycle lobby spokesman at the waiver hearing on Nov. 18th.

If the City cannot get approval of its Master Plan by doing the same thing, over and over again, why not try doing something different?!

As you know, funding for restoration management of the tarplant is not tied to the Broadway-Brommer project. Funding comes annually from development fees shared with Parks & Recreation and a dedicated source is available by the sale of City property, as specified by Chris Schneiter at the March hearing. [2.] The City is quite capable of continued science-based management for recovery of not only the tarplant but also of the other associated species of the coastal terrace prairie grassland of Arana Gulch.

Re-submitted to the Coastal Commission as the excellent master plan for resource management it surely is, I am confident the City would receive immediate and unanimous approval from the Commission. Practically, it would be easy enough to identify the pages of the current Draft Master Plan that refer to B-B to be eliminated for this "new" Master Plan, which could be called a Final Master Plan. This is change the Commission can believe in.

Once the City's revised Master Plan is approved, the business of focusing on some simple management actions could begin immediately. One example is to quickly deal with the major eroded downhill path to the harbor entrance. Another would be to set up one area, with simplified fencing, for a grazing experiment at the end of this winter. Both of these suggestions would most likely not require a "take permit" from the CA Dept. of Fish & Game (CDFG), since both are within the original Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) [3.] between the City and CDFG, to which the CDFG has referred as recently as this past July. [4.]

And what of Broadway-Brommer you might ask? I will leave that to the Department of Public Works. On January 11, 2000 the CA Coastal Commission's Central Coast District Manager Charles Lester, suggested to Ted Lopez (Transportation Planner for Public Works) that "As directed by the City's LCP, the preferred planning approach would be to prepare a specific management plan for the Arana Gulch greenbelt prior to consideration of a Broadway-Brommer Bicycle Pedestrian Path project." In the same letter, Mr. Lester wrote that "Arana Gulch is also home to vast plant, wetland and stream resources that are protected by LCP and Coastal Act policies. As such, it is more appropriate that larger management planning take place for Arana Gulch as a whole prior to individual development decisions that may eventually prejudice future decisions." [5.]

My suggestion for collaboration is to do exactly what Coastal Commission staff identified as the preferred planning approach according to the City's Local Coastal Plan over ten years ago. Let Parks & Recreation get on with the business of habitat management and leave transportation projects to Public Works, where they rightfully belong.

I look forward to hearing from you and would be pleased to meet with you to explain my ideas further.

Sincerely,
Jean Brocklebank

End Notes

[1.] See mms://media.cal-span.org/calspan/Video_Files/CCC/CCC_10-11-18/CCC_10-11-18.wmv

[2.] See mms://media.cal-span.org/calspan/Video_Files/CCC/CCC_10-03-11/CCC_10-03-11.wmv

[3.] MOU, DFG/City of Santa Cruz, 31 March 1997 (19 pages)

[4.] CDFG email July 15, 2010 to Mike Ferry cc John Dixon

[5.] Letter of January 11, 2000 published in the Broadway Brommer Bicycle/Pedestrian Path Connection FEIR May 2002 (pages 38 - 45)