This week, Bonny Doon met another obstacle in its effort to localize control of its fire coverage. A judge ruled that the Santa Cruz Local Agency Formation Commission’s 2008 denial of an application by Bonny Doon Fire and Rescue Inc. to create its own district was done properly.
We are again disappointed that Bonny Doon will be unable to create its district. We hold that local control of fire coverage — involving a local chief and local control over tax dollars — provides the best emergency coverage for a community.
For us, the proof is in the pudding: Felton, Ben Lomond and Boulder Creek all have successful fire districts, all relying on volunteers.
It might be logical for Cal Fire to have a geographic triangle at the north end of the county (with stations in Felton, Bonny Doon and Davenport), and County Service Area 48 clearly needs the Bonny Doon tax revenue to maintain its level of service. However, in light of Bonny Doon’s request to form a district, a change in how Cal Fire resources are dispersed within the service area might be worth a hard look.
Losing Bonny Doon’s tax dollars would be a hit in the short term, but shrinking the service area and not having to devote resources to mountainous Bonny Doon might end up as a long-term savings, if it were handled correctly.
A second item to look at is the ability of Bonny Doon to handle its own fire coverage.
Bonny Doon residents are extremely resourceful and especially good planners. By the diligence and attention to detail Bonny Doon Fire and Rescue Inc. has shown during the application process, it is clear a district would be operated correctly. Voters should have the ability to elect a board of directors to manage their tax dollars, even if taxes were to increase to serve the community.
Cal Fire provides good coverage to Bonny Doon. The firefighters are professional, and response times are good. However, a district with a troupe of volunteers would tend to every need in the community in a more personal way.