Friends of Arana Gulch

Blueprint for a Resolution to the Arana Gulch Controversy

By Michael Lewis and Jean Brocklebank

15 October 2011

In this blueprint, we go forward toward a resolution of the conflict created by the Arana Gulch controversy. Science, data and the laws of the land, as well as our heartfelt desires, will inform all decisions.

Keeping minds open to creative solutions to problems and conflicts helps to end contentiousness and allows us to move forward, carefully as well as swiftly.

This blueprint is divided into three parts: Goals, Recommendations, and a potential Timeline for implementation.

Goals:

  • to facilitate the restoration and recovery of an endangered species and its habitat
  • to facilitate the restoration and recovery of Arana Creek and its endangered species
  • to allow the Coastal Commission to approve the City's Master Plan for the Arana Gulch Greenbelt and encourage appropriate public use of an environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA)
  • to acknowledge that there is support for a transportation project connecting the west side and east side of Santa Cruz County
  • to acknowledge the concerns of the environmental community as well as other citizens to keep transportation pavement out of the City's tiniest greenbelt.
  • to acknowledge that everyone, in a way, can be involved in a community solution to the current controversy
  • to assure that the California Coastal Act remains the strong system of protection and conservation that it was intended to be
  • to allow multiple projects, both inside and outside the greenbelt, to go forward, which, taken together, should give everyone involved something but not all.

Recommendations:

  • The Coastal Commission has recommended that the City "prepare a specific management plan for the Arana Gulch greenbelt prior to the consideration of a Broadway-Brommer Bicycle Pedestrian Path project." ***
  • The City re-submits it application, without Broadway-Brommer (see Annotated Master Plan), as recommended, for a hearing in December 2011 in San Francisco, for unanimous approval by the Coastal Commission.
  • The AGMP management prescriptions for tarplant habit restoration and recovery will include newly established procedures for mowing, raking and low impact treatment of areas with established tarplant populations, and with low impact temporary fencing (no concrete footings) for grazing/mowing-scraping and/or prescribed burning.

 

*** As recommended by Coastal Commission staff in a January 11, 2000 letter from Charles Lester to Ted Lopez, Transportation Planner, Santa Cruz City Public Works Dept.

Timeline

November 2011 -- City withdraws current application and resubmits its application (without Broadway-Brommer)

December 2011 -- City wins approval of its AGMP (minus Broadway-Brommer) from Coastal Commission

Jan - March 2012 -- City, County and S.C Port District form a team to study a reconfiguration of the harbor culverts to initiate restoration and recovery of Arana Creek's tidal reach, which also addresses sedimentation into the upper harbor that requires dredging.

Spring - Fall 2013 -- City initiates the Murray Street Seismic Retrofit project that includes widened bike lanes and a widened pedestrian sidewalk.

Spring - Fall 2013 -- The County initiates a Brommer Street Extension bike lane and pedestrian safety project design that also solves the current drainage sedimentation pollution into Arana Creek.

Possibilities:

2011 - 2015 -- Rail Corridor segments in planning and design for bicycle and pedestrian paths, especially from 7th Avenue to Seabright

2015 -- City submits application to Coastal Commission for a Broadway-Brommer east-west connection through the Arana Gulch greenbelt, if it chooses to pursue the project