The Threat to Arana Gulch:
History of Our Struggle

April 24, 2013 - Santa Cruz City Council approves plans for Arana Gulch Master Plan paved bicycle routes and fencing for grazing.

April 23, 2013 - First meeting of the Arana Gulch Adaptive Management Working Group (AMWG). FOAG was instrumental in forcing City Parks and Recreation Department to open all AMWG meetings to the public.

April 19, 2013 - Santa Cruz City submits Habitat Management Plan and engineered blueprints to the California Coastal Commission for comment and eventual approval.


July 23 and 27, 2012. We inventoried for the endangered Holocarpha macradenia, finding 15 plants, which we reported to the City's Parks and Recreation Dept. We flagged the area to protect it from trampling and disturbance by visitors and their off-leash dogs. We also found two other coastal prairie grassland natives (Madia sativa and Deinandra corymbosa) that help identify Arana Gulch as important habitat for such species.
To see pictures of the species in their Arana Gulch setting, go HERE.


December 5, 2011

Alas, the Coastal Commission vote was against us: 10 - 1. The one bright spot on the Commission was Esther Sanchez. To be fair, Danya Bocho was close to being with us, but when she asked two pertinent questions, she received misleading...well, lies, as answers from the Commission staff.

Now listen up! This is not over. The bicyclists and the City bureaucrats won nothing tonite. They won nothing because 1) the Conditions of Approval will never be met and I suspect they will never get their development permit (yes, we are eternally optimistic); and 2) we have other avenues to walk...

To everyone, from everyone who came to San Francisco, do not give up hope. We have come too far to give up, have we not? Tomorrow is another day. Go to Arana Gulch and get its glad tidings and reaffirm your care for this special place. Your affirmation is powerful, for you and for her (Arana Gulch). For anyone who hasn't yet signed our petition, go to

As ever,
Jean & Michael
on behalf of all Friends of Arana Gulch

December 5, 2011 - The California Coastal Commission voted 10 - 1 to approve the Arana Gulch Master Plan, including the paved Boradway-Brommer Bicycle-Pedestrian project, expanded with a paved route from Agnes Street entrance, and extensive fencing for cattle grazing.

New Restoration Strategies for Holocarpha macradenia
Our Report to Parks & Recreation Resource Managers (8/25/2011)

Click here for report

FLASH! Our Restoration Strategies Implemented (October 13/14, 2011)
Click here for pictures

October 2011 - Santa Cruz City Parks and Recreation Department implements FOAG recommendations for tarplant management in Arana Gulch, based on our study of Watsonville Wetlands Watch tarplant management at Tarplant Hill in Watsonville.

August 25, 2011 - FOAG submits "New Restoration Strategies for Holocarpha macradenia in light of 2011 Field Studies" to Parks & Recreation resource managers. Read HERE.


On July 27, 2011, Friends of Arana Gulch members found thirteen tarplant individuals
growing near another coastal prairie tarweedy species, Madia sativa (over 100 individuals).
We notified the City of our discovery. They added our finds to their own later tarplant inventory,
with the final count more than forty plants.


November 29, 2010 - Suggestion to the City for Collaboration Read it here

Suggestion to the City for Collaboration (11/29/10)
Read it here


In response to the California Coastal Commission's direction to Staff and the City to look at alternatives to the transportation project in the ESHA in the Arana Gulch Master Plan, Friends of Arana Gulch presented a "Restoration Alternative with Interpretive Trails" to the Parks and Recreation Department in a meeting on April 7, 2010. Click here to see the FOAG Alternative.
Click here to see the proposed interpretive trails (in yellow).

October 7, 2010 - Nina Hyatt paints before it disappears, standing in the path of the proposed paved bike route.

One more reason for the Coastal Commission
to deny approval of Broadway-Brommer
, (10/3/2010)
Click here to read.


On April 11, 2010 FOAG sent the Santa Cruz City Council a letter explaining two funding myths that Jean Brocklebank researched and clarified that provide a clear path for the City to begin tarplant recovery and management in Arana Gulch. Click here to read the letter.

October 16, 2010 - Blueprint for a Resolution to the Arana Gulch Controversy Read it here

Commissioner Mark Stone has placed on item on the agenda for the November Coastal Commission meeting in Santa Monica, asking for a waiver of the rule that prevents a developer (the City) from resubmitting an application for six months after a project is denied by the Commission. This means that the City could resubmit the same application and be on the agenda as early as the December meeting (San Francisco). FOAG questions the waiver. Click here to read.

October 14, 2010 - COASTAL COMMISSION REJECTS CITY'S ARANA GUCLH MASTER PLAN APPLICATION - The Coastal Commission saw through the myths and addressed the facts. The City is now free to concentrate on crafting a Master Plan that follows the direction of the City's own General Plan to protect the sensitive species of Arana Gulch and manage for the restoration of tarplant habitat.

Friends of Arana Gulch Assists with Restoration Volunteer Labor (Augist, 2010)
Read it here.

March 11, 2010 - COASTAL COMMISSION VOTES UNANIMOUSLY TO CONTINUE DECISION ON ARANA GULCH MASTER PLAN! Commissioner Mark Stone made the motion, saying, "We would like to give this project another shot and look to see if there is any alternative that satisfies the commission." Stone and a majority of other commissioners indicated they would vote against the project as proposed because they believed it was clearly a transportation project made to look like a conservation plan.

December 15, 2009 - The City of Santa Cruz submitted an application for a development permit for the Broadway-Brommer Bicycle-Pedestrian Path Connection to the California Coastal Commission (CCC). The CCC has until January 15, 2010 to reply to the City as to the adequacy of its permit application.

August 26, 2009 - 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rules for the City. Read the Sentinel article here.

California Native Plant Society and Friends of Arana Gulch offer our gratitude to Parkin and Wittwer for their efforts in court on behalf of Arana Gulch.

June 25, 2009 - Our lawyer presented oral arguments today in the 6th Appellate Court of California. A decision will be forthcoming within 90 days.

May, 2008: The Friends of Arana Gulch fund appeal reached its goal. The lawsuit appeal filed in November of 2007 continues.

January 8, 2008: The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) and Friends of Arana Gulch (FOAG) filed their appeal of the Superior Court's November 2007 decision on their lawsuit against the City of Santa Cruz challenging the Arana Gulch Greenbelt Master Plan and Environmental Impact Report (EIR). At issue is the lack of alternatives in the EIR for development of a bicycle connection between the east and west sides of Santa Cruz. The City's EIR failed to consider alternative bike routes that do not cross habitat of a genetically significant population of Santa Cruz tarplant.

November 9, 2007: The judge issued a decision in support of the City of Santa Cruz. California Native Plant Society and Friends of Arana Gulch are awaiting receipt of the final judgement before deciding on any further course of action.

September 7, 2007: The judge did not issue a decision on September 7th. Instead he will study the case and issue his decision by October 7th. And he scheduled a Case Management Conference for November 2nd. This is a chance for attorneys to verbally raise any issues after the written tentative judgment. The judge will then subsequently issue a final judgment.

August, 2007: 2007 Tarplant Found!!

2007 Tarplant
(click here for pictures)

June 13, 2007: The Arana Gulch Court hearing date has been postponed from June 14 to September 7, 2007 at  8:30 AM., due to heavy Court case load.
June 5, 2007: Arana Reply Brief submitted from California Native Plant Society and Friends of Arana Gulch. Click here to download a .pdf copy of the brief. This file is less than 1 MB, so it will download fairly quickly.

April 27, 2007: Opposition Brief recieved from the City of Santa Cruz. Click here to download a.pdf copy of the brief. NOTE: this is a 6.2 MB file! It will take several minutes to download, depending on your connection speed.

April 23, 2007: The Court hearing date has been postponed from May 10th to June 14th at 8:30 AM.

March 1, 2007: California Native Plant Society and Friends of Arana Gulch submit Petitioner's Opening Brief (click to download 1.5 MB .pdf file) in Superior Court of California for the County of Santa Cruz. The hearing has been postponed until May 10 at 8:30 am, due to extra time granted to the City of Santa Cruz to prepare the Administrative record.

July 11, 2006: City Council Approves Master Plan and Certifies FEIR Santa Cruz Sentinel Article

Friends of Arana Gulch is supporting a law suit by the California Native Plant Society against the city over violations of the Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area and Critical Habitat designations for Arana Gulch.

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Last updated 11/17/13