The principal objective of the Association is to keep Bonny Doon rural, natural and safe, ultimately to preserve and protect its natural character. In furtherance of this objective, the Association:
1) Considers and takes positions on development proposals and other issues affecting Bonny Doon;
2) Advocates positions of the Association on issues affecting Bonny Doon to the public, responsible governmental agencies and officers, and private parties directly involved in the issues;
3) Advises the community through speakers, a newsletter, and other means of events and proposals affecting the Bonny Doon community.
4) In addition, this corporation is formed for the purposes of performing all things incidental to, or appropriate in, the achievement of the foregoing specific and primary purposes. However, the corporation shall not, except to an insubstantial degree, engage in any activities or exercise any powers that are not in furtherance of its primary purposes.
5) This corporation shall hold and may exercise all such powers as may be conferred upon a nonprofit corporation by the laws of the State of California and as may be necessary or expedient for the administration of the affairs and attainment of the purposes of the corporation. In no event shall the corporation engage in activities that are not permitted to be carried on by a corporation exempt under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The RBDA was founded in 1957 to preserve the natural environment and rural lifestyle of Bonny Doon when community leaders, faced with the likelihood of rapid growth through land subdivisions, worked with the County to develop the Bonny Doon General Plan (the first such plan in Santa Cruz County). This included zoning regulations designed to ensure that Bonny Doon would remain free of developments like shopping centers, tract homes and trailer parks. In the ensuing 60 years, the RBDA fended off many proposals (often in alliance with other land conservation groups) that would have permanently altered the rural and natural environment of Bonny Doon, including:
- A golf course and retirement housing development in what today is the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve
- A nuclear plant in Davenport, with huge power lines running up into and across Bonny Doon
- A trailer park at the intersection of Pine Flat and Martin Roads
- An RV Park in Wilder Ranch State Park
- Houses and timber harvests on what is now instead the Gray Whale section of Wilder Ranch State Park
- An event center in Redwood Meadows Ranch, near the intersection of Smith Grade and Bonny Doon Road, hosting weddings of up to 250 people weekly throughout the summer
- A “pharm” on grazing land on Back Ranch Road with thousands of biologically altered goats, whose waste was coursing through the Coast Road neighborhood and flowing into the ocean
- Old tires being burned for fuel at the (now-shuttered) Davenport cement plant, polluting the air
- Expansion of the limestone quarry east of Bonny Doon Road, which would have destroyed many acres of redwood forest and impacted the Bonnymede neighborhood
- High-volume Santa Cruz City wells along the coast, draining Bonny Doon streams and aquifers
In addition, the RBDA has consistently advocated for better services for Bonny Doon and the North Coast, including fire protection, law enforcement, traffic safety, road maintenance, mail delivery, cell phone coverage and Internet connectivity.
The RBDA is actively working at all times to advocate on behalf of Bonny Doon residents, but often this happens behind the scenes. We suspect the process we use to generate our position on a given issue it is often not clear to our constituents. And perhaps the overarching goal of the RBDA is also unclear. The RBDA aims to work together with the public, government agencies and private parties to ensure that Bonny Doon remains rural and natural. We achieve these goals by an iterative process of researching the issue, listening to the involved parties, consulting with domain experts, government officials and stakeholders, facilitating community discussion through meetings and on-line forums, and deliberating the issue with RBDA board members, before finally taking a position on an issue.