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Ben Lomond Wallflower
Ben Lomond Wallflower

Mount Hermon June Beetle
Mount Hermon June Beetle

Silverleaf Manzanita
Silverleaf Manzanita

Band-winged Grasshopper
Band-winged Grasshopper

Ben Lomond Spineflower
Ben Lomond Spineflower

Ben Lomond buckwheat
Ben Lomond buckwheat
Zayante Sandhills Conservation Bank

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August 4, 2011

Scotts Valley approves Sandhills plan, agrees to help hotel developer


SCOTTS VALLEY -- Homeowners who want to add decks to their homes or swimming pools in their backyards will have an easier time getting approval with the City Council's approval of a plan that cuts some federal red tape out of the equation.

The City Council on Wednesday approved an interim habitat conservation plan that affects about 1,600 homeowners in the Whispering Pines neighborhood and some homes on Bean Creek Road and Scotts Valley Drive.

Those homes are in the ecologically sensitive Zayante Sandhills area, and the plan is aimed at protecting the endangered Mount Hermon June Beetle. However, city planner Taylor Bateman explained it only applies to homeowners with parcels up to 1.5 acres, and the projects can only affect 15,000 square feet per parcel.

Under the plan, a homeowner who wants to build an addition, such as a detached garage, can now obtain permission from the city rather than the federal government, and the city will monitor the work to ensure it complies with the federal Endangered Species Act.

Meanwhile, the newly created Zayante Sandhills Conservation Bank used an endowment to buy land in Ben Lomond, Bateman said. That endowment will be funded from the sale of conservation credits that homeowners will have to purchase to offset the damage to the Sandhills habitat.

Councilman Jim Reed called it a "victory for a measured and balanced approach to conserving this species" and a "wonderful way to do right by the environment while also allowing homeowners to do some pretty basic things."

The county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a similar plan Tuesday.

Council members also agreed to tweak the impact-fee schedule for the developer behind the Holiday Inn Express on Scotts Valley Drive, allowing payment on $786,000 in fees to be both deferred and stretched out over a longer period of time.

They also agreed to apply for a $1.2 million federal grant, which would then be loaned to the developer to help move the project forward. But those funds will not be available until close to the end of the project, and they'll mostly be used for furniture, fixtures and equipment.

Earlier this year, the city and developer hired Kosmont Cos. to prepare a financial analysis of the project. Ken Hira, the company's senior vice president, told the council he considered the hotel to be a "win-win project," since it would provide jobs and occupancy taxes for the city.

Ahead of the vote, Reed stressed that the city would be deferring the impact fees, not waiving them entirely, and pointed out that if Scotts Valley receives the federal grant, the city profits in the long term. Once the developer, Anatol Shliapnikoff, pays back the loan, he said, Scotts Valley gets to keep that money and use it for other projects.

Site Assessment Qualified Biologists:

Entomological Consulting Services, Ltd.
104 Mountain View Court
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523-2188
Richard A. Arnold, Ph.D.
Phone: 925-825-3784

Jodi M. McGraw, Ph.D.
Population and Community Ecologist
PO Box 883
Boulder Creek, CA 95006
Phone: (831) 338-1990

More Information:

  • How To Permit Projects in the Sandhills

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