The City of Santa Cruz has completed and approved the Master Plan for Pogonip, its square mile Greenbelt property located between UCSC and Highway 9. The approved plan provides for the relocation of the Homeless Garden to Pogonip and limited bike and equestrian uses.
Other than the mere mention in the plan that the clubhouse will be restored, there are currently no realistic plans or any efforts directed at restoring the city owned historic clubhouse building.
The only meaningful effort directed at possibly restoring the clubhouse occurred in 1995, when the city issued a request for proposals. Other than this, the building has been left to rot since at least 1955, when the COWELL FOUNDATION took over. The city has merely continued this tradition. (By the way, Cowell Foundation was paid $15 million cash for the property by state bond funds in 1987, with the property deeded free and clear to the city then.) However, this National Register eligible structure is in dire need of attention and restoration soon if it is to be saved. It is only through the restoration of this structure that the cultural landscape and historic integrity of the park will be maintained to the greatest degree. In this way will this public property aspire to its highest value and best use.
The City of Santa Cruz must recognize its fiduciary responsibility and duty, exercise responsible stewardship in this matter, and take action soon. COWELL FOUNDATION should also recognize their responsibility for their prior lack of any responsible stewardship for this resource and aid the city in its rehabilitation effort, as well. Deferred maintenance? They're not hurtin'-check out the Grahm Hill Showgrounds project! Though the city owned clubhouse is one of the few survivors of the Loma Prieta Earthquake, it cannot tolerate this neglect for much longer.
Take a walk up Golf Club Drive and judge for yourself. Take your spouse, friends, kids, bikes, horses, dogs, cats, or pet hamsters-just make sure you don't ride 'um and/or they're on a leash! (Properly comported homo sapiens excepted, as pertaining to the aforementioned leashing requirement.) (Seriously, please observe all rules of use and stay on the marked and open trails.) Then please call Mayor Fitzmaurice and our City Manager Dick Wilson@4202050, always staunch friends to historic preservation and Pogonip, and tell them how you feel about the disgraceful conditions and waste of the clubhouse. We're not quite done saving Pogonip yet!
In the interim, if you have interest in or any questions about Pogonip, the clubhouse, EIR, or the Pogonip Master Plan, please contact Susan Harris at the Department of Parks and Recreation at 420-6217 or Monterey Bay Conservancy, 831-476-7662, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial in Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 7, 1996, by Anthony Kirk, Chair, City of Santa Cruz Hisoric Preservation Commission
On Tuesday evening the Santa Cruz City Council will decide the fate of the historic limekilns at Pogonip, vestiges of another era hidden on the forested flanks of the hills north of downtown. Constructed perhaps as much as a century and a half ago, when California was still a Mexican province, the limekilns played a vital role not only in the growth and development of Santa Cruz but in the rise of the Golden State. At one time, a quarter of the town's residents found employment in the lime industry, and throughout the nineteenth century in California, more than half of all the lime--an essential element in the making of mortar, plaster, and whitewash--came from kilns in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The tradition of calcining, or burning, limestone in California dates back to about 1790, when Spanish missionaries constructed the first rude kilns in this distant outpost of empire. Lime making as a commercial venture did not emerge until American rule, however, and the industry first flourished in the frenzied days of the Gold Rush. In 1850 the rapid rise of brick construction in the instant city of San Francisco created an unprecedented demand for mortar. Several years earlier, enterprising Yankees had constructed stone kilns outside of Santa Cruz, where huge deposits of high-grade limestone lay buried; and during the first year of statehood, they produced 90 percent of the lime shipped in California.
Over the following decades, the lime industry expanded enormously in Santa Cruz, and for the rest of the century it was a leading industry in the region, rivaling or even surpassing logging in importance. Towering redwoods from ancient forests fell to the axe and were hauled by ox team over skid roads to the dozen or so kilns scattered through the mountains. In preparation for each "burn," skilled masons called archers prepared a grate of low-grade limestone in a kiln, on which the high-quality rock was dumped from above.
For four days following ignition, an enormous fire roared in the kiln, burning white hot, as laborers, working twelve-hour shifts, stoked the flames with eight-foot lengths of split redwood. When the ashes cooled, the pure lime was packed in barrels and carted away to be mixed with sand and water to produce the mortar and cement that built the cities and towns of nineteenth-century California.
Today, long after the last fires died out, the Pogonip limekilns still tower above the old Rincon Road that winds through the former Cowell Ranch. Over the years, though, second-growth redwoods have been slowly reclaiming the site, their roots and trunks and limbs weakening the structural integrity of the kilns' massive stone walls and--unless swift action is taken--ultimately sealing their fate.
In recognition of the historic importance of the Pogonip limekilns and in response to the mandate of the Santa Cruz General Plan, the City's Parks and Recreation Department has proposed the removal of nine second-growth trees in order to begin stabilization of these structures. After stabilization is accomplished, the City will be able to restore the kilns, which are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Once preserved, with an accompanying interpretive display, they would contribute greatly to a better understanding of the history of Santa Cruz, enhancing the attraction of Pogonip to children and adults alike.
It was a belief in the historic value of the limekilns--a commitment to saving the silent stone legacy of a largely forgotten chapter in local history--that led the Santa Cruz Historic Preservation Commission to champion the tree-removal project. With their vote, the Commission members distanced themselves from some of their natural allies in the environmental community, who, despite their like-minded dedication to conservation, are unwilling to advocate preservation of the works of man at the expense of the works of nature.
For historic preservationists, the limekilns are stone symbols of the city's past. Believed to be among the oldest in the state, they represent a transitional phase in the evolution of limekiln technology. They represent, as well, the entrepreneurial acumen and brilliant success of local pioneers such as Isaac Davis, Albion Jordan, and especially Henry Cowell, whose huge fortune sprang in part from these kilns. Perhaps most important, they represent the dreams and aspirations and toil of countless workers, many of them Portuguese and Swiss-Italian immigrants, who came west in search of a better life and helped build the community in which we live today.
This is a legacy that should be honored and preserved, a legacy that the City Council must ponder when on Tuesday evening it weighs the relative values of a renewable natural resource and an irreplaceable historic resource.
(THUMBS UP) To the Santa Cruz City Council for agreeing to speed up consideration of whether to open the Rincon Trail in Pogonip to bicyclists and horse riders. The riders say that would open a key link in public trails, allowing travel from Henry Cowell State Park all the way to Wilder Ranch on the North Coast. The council has several weighty questions to answer about Pogonip: restoration of the Clubhouse, allowing a small campground and siting the homeless garden project to name a few. Yes, its crucial to take a comprehensive look at all these uses, but opening one trail to horses and mountain bikes won't have that overriding an impact on all the other uses.
POGONIP TRAIL REVIEW WILL SHIFT INTO HIGH GEAR
THE COUNCIL DIRECTED STAFF TO SEE IF IT COULD "FAST TRACK" THE ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW ON WHETHER THE RINCON TRAIL IN POGONIP WOULD BE APPROPRIATE FOR MULTIPLE USES
After listening to pleas from mountain bikers and
equestrians Tuesday night, the council directed staff
to see if it could ``fast track'' the environmental
review on whether the Rincon Trail in Pogonip would
be appropriate for multiple uses.
That's a small victory for riders, who had faced
waiting until both the full master plan and the
environmental review of
all proposed uses for the Pogonip were
completed. And that's not expected to be
until the end of the year.
But council members made it clear that
it could take several months for staff to
review the multiple-trail segment of the
master plan, even with the fast-track approach recommended on Tuesday.
``It's not going to happen next week,''
cautioned Councilman Mike Rotkin. ``It
probably will be months from now. ... I'm
not trying to prejudge the outcome.''
That means if staff finds that allowing
mountain-bike riders and equestrians to
use Pogonip trails would be harmful to the
environment, the council likely would
maintain the hiker-only rule that has prevailed during this lengthy review process.
Vice Mayor Celia Scott led the opposition to segmenting the review process,
suggesting there might even be a legal
problem with that approach.
``I just don't think it's a good idea to
throw out false hope,'' said Scott, predict
ing that a decision on the trails likely
won't come any faster with the council's
The Rincon Trail that has been pinpointed by riders as the best site to open imme
diately to multiple use is an old service
road that may be able to better tolerate
heavy use than some of the smaller Pogonip trails.
Riders are interested in opening the
trail because it serves as a key link between Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
on Highway 9, UC Santa Cruz, Wilder
Ranch State Park and the soon-to-be-
opened Gray Whale Ranch property.
In addition to reviewing multiple-use op
tions for some of Pogonip's trails, the oth
er proposed uses for the city-owned park
land that will be studied in the next 10
¼ The Pogonip Clubhouse rehabilitation,
which the council approved in concept
Tuesday. The approximately $600,000 project would allow the building to be used
for such things as educational programs,
as well as a community center.
In addition, staff will study whether it
would be a good idea to build small cabins
near the clubhouse to be used for overnight guests. Money generated from the
cabins could be used to offset operating
¼ The homeless garden project, which
has been targeted for a five- to 10-acre site
in the lower meadow.
¼ Resource-management areas, which
would include grasslands, forests, rivers,
streams, wetlands and other sensitive habitats.
¼ Historic sites, which include the club
house and lime kilns.
¼ All other trails, which could be a mix
of pedestrian-only, pedestrian/equestrian,
¼ Parking area, which may be located in
the upper and lower meadows, Sycamore
Grove and Spring Trail.
¼ A small overnight camping area.
¼ Maintenance and park-management
facilities, which would include a ranger
station and caretaker residence.
Staff said a natural history museum
may be located in Pogonip in the future,
but because no concrete proposal has been
offered it will not be studied in the current
The process involves determining if
these community-approved uses are best
suited for Pogonip, and if they are envi
When the master plan and environmen
tal review are completed, the council will
make a final determination on which uses
will be allowed.
In the meantime, you can view this Pogonip photograph.