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Mon Dec 19 2011 (Updated 12/20/11) California Coastal Commission Approves Controversial $5 Million Arana Gulch Master Plan
Cycling Advocates Seek Control of Santa Cruz County Sierra Club On December 8th, the California Coastal Commission voted 10-1 to approve the controversial $5 million Arana Gulch Master Plan. The vote was expected to resolve a fifteen year long battle between cycling advocacy groups and environmental groups that oppose a bike path through the Santa Cruz greenbelt. But in a move that has some long time Sierra Club members crying foul, cycling advocacy groups are running a slate of three candidates for the board of the Santa Cruz County Group of the Sierra Club in the December election. This would be the second cyclist-sponsored candidate slate in two years, and is expected to decide control of the Santa Cruz Group Executive Committee.

The candidates have no prior history of volunteering for the Sierra Club, but do have extensive ties to local cycling advocacy groups. Tawn Kennedy is coordinator of Green Ways to School, a K-12 education project that is funded by a grant through People Power and the Hub for Sustainable Transportation. Greg McPheeters is the immediate past Chair of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, and Mary Odegaard joined People Power in advocating for the King Street bike boulevard. The trio are attempting to unseat the current Santa Cruz Group Executive Committee Chair, Kevin Collins, a long time Sierra Club forestry activist, as well as the Forestry Committee Chair, Dennis Davie, and the Secretary / Treasurer, Mark Sullivan, a local environmental attorney.

A mailer to Sierra Club members touts the experience of Kennedy, McPheeters, and Odegaard in youth outreach, solar energy, and organic farming. But long time Sierra Club activists are concerned about the lack of experience in core Sierra Club conservation activities, which they feel are essential to the Sierra Club mission. The Sierra Club has been active for half a century in Santa Cruz County on forest and watershed conservation, native species protection, coastal advocacy, and zoning and land use, as well as evaluating public and private projects for conformance to local, state, and national environmental laws. The Executive Committee Chair, Kevin Collins, explains that the Sierra Club is one of the few local environmental organizations that does not receive money from City or County and so is free to take positions on politically charged land use and development issues.

Read more | Final Battle in 15 Year Long Arana Gulch Saga? | Friends of the Pogonip | Friends of Arana Gulch

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