Now that the dust has settled to some degree, the Coast Property Owners Association would like to bring you up to date on developments that have been taking place during this latest community disaster and a look at what may develop soon.
As soon as it was known that the Bridge was condemned, a Unified Command system was instituted. The core community organizations at the center of this process were, and continue to be, the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce and the Big Sur Coast Property Owners Association. These three organizations immediately partnered up with Monterey County Office of Emergency Services along with other cooperating agencies including California State Parks, Cal Trans, Monterey County Sheriffs, California Highway Patrol, US Forest Service, as well as County Supervisor Mary Adams, Assembly Member Anna Cabellero, State Senator Bill Monning and US Congressman Jimmy Panetta and their highly capable, results oriented staffs.
It was this initial ad hoc group that coalesced to problem solve issues like the resupply of food for residents (estimated 450) trapped between Pfeiffer Canyon and Paul’s slide. It was also this group, in concert with Heather Lanier and Carissa Chappellet from Rancho Rico, that spearheaded the concept and implementation of a community trail on State Park property.
There are now ongoing efforts to establish a new normal on both sides of Pfeiffer Canyon.
At about the time the Community Trail was under construction a second group, the Big Sur Economic Recovery Taskforce, was formed by Supervisor Mary Adams. This group includes many of the same individuals and organizations populating the Unified Command as well members of the Monterey County Convention and Visitor Bureau, the Monterey County Hospitality Association and the Peninsula Chambers of Commerce. As implied by its title, the group’s focus is to work through obstacles to reestablish a robust tourism industry not only in Big Sur, but also throughout the Central Coast of California.
Currently, the group is focused on establishing parking solutions and alternate transportation modalities for visitors driving south from Carmel. Under discussion is parking to be developed at Molera Fire Camp, the Molera lower parking lot and around the ball field at Pfeiffer State Park. These locations would then act as loading zones for shuttle buses. To implement this strategy, a shuttle circulation plan between these points needs to be developed and a shuttle operator identified.
As part of the strategy for moving visitors, it has been suggested that local entrepreneurs may want to register themselves and their vehicles as UBER or Lyft transportation providers. One creative local has already taken steps to initiate an electric bicycle rental business.
Also under discussion is establishing a park and ride lot somewhere on the Peninsula (Marathon Flats, Rancho Canada) where employees could park and carpool and/or shuttle bus south to work.
South of Pfeiffer Canyon, the challenges are even more pronounced. The best-case scenario is that the Highway to the south will be open to the public, on some controlled level, by Memorial Day weekend. Until then, Helicopter guests visiting Post Ranch and public access through the Community Trail are the primary engines of commerce. Trail access by the public is predicated on a working parking-shuttle system operating on the north side of the Canyon.
That access will require a viable traffic turn-around solution somewhere near Loma Vista, completed Highway repairs up to and including at the Deli and some form of visitor transportation from the trailhead, to points south. Then there is parking for residents and workers using the trail to go north…… The next steps on these issues will involve Cal Trans Traffic and Construction Engineers in collaboration with adjacent land owners and the Unified Command.
Further South, the communities in and around Lucia, Pacific Valley, Treebones Resort and Gorda have endured great uncertainty due to the nearly constant closure of the Highway and, until recently, the closure of Nacimiento Ferguson Road. There is currently a request into Cal Trans to modify the open times for local and vendor traffic through Paul’s Slide and Mud Creek to allow for noon passage, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This would make life easier to manage for everyone as long as it does not add significant time to a full opening of the Highway to the public.
Many in the Big Sur Community are concerned with the degradation of both the environment and the quality of the visitor and resident experience. Traffic, illegal parking and lack of public restrooms are cited as major ongoing problems associated with living in and visiting Big Sur. With that in mind, this is an opportunity to pivot, hit reset, tackle proof of concept and provide some solutions to these problems.
The teams assembled above are working together toward positive outcomes. They are supported by the business leaders in Big Sur and the Monterey Peninsula as well as the political and agency decision makers in Monterey, Sacramento and Washington DC.
If you have any ideas or recommendations to contribute, please email them to me at info
Finally, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Big Sur Coast Property Owners Association and the wider community, I’d like to thank the Community Foundation for Monterey County for their support and partnership in helping those impacted by the Sobranes Fire of 2016, and the winter storms of 2017. Additionally, I would like to recognize two members of the Hospitality Industry, specifically Mike Freed and David Fink, for their leadership in developing a campaign to provide economic relief to employees suddenly out of work. Well done Mike and David!
Butch Kronlund, CPOA