BSMAAC meeting, 8/12/08

Last night’s meeting was quite informative. Representatives from a multitude of agencies were available to discuss processes, including Monterey County Planning Department, who explained emergency permit processes, waiver of fees, etc. BAER (USFS) and SEATS (Cal-Fire) were present and explained the process of assessment of the burned areas, and the mitigation procedures available. They will look at and consider all available options for the prevention of slides this winter. BAER will have a report available within 7-10 days, and SEATS will have theirs available in 14 days. Both will be posted on their websites. Anyone who wants to have their private property assessed for potential sliding and watershed problems, can contact cpoa to sign up. (http://www.cpoabigsur.org)

Several times, BAER and SEATS both used terms like, “Get out of the way” in talking about landslides, flooding, etc. Michael Miller asked if this meant “mandatory evacuation.” Of course, SEATS explained the danger of remaining rather than answer the question directly.

Steve Price, of Cal-Trans, presented information on how they plan to handle the 900 culverts between SLO Co. line and the Carmel River, and what they are currently doing now in anticipation of problems. In a few instances, they are going considerably up slope clearing. He does not anticipate any bridge problems, but even if there were, they have the temporary, instant install bridges like the one they used on Carmel River, in 1995, I believe it was.

One interesting thing Steve Price had to say, from a South Coast perspective, is that if winter flooding and slides are significant, then the Pitkin’s Curve/Rain Rocks project scheduled to begin in March of 2009 and take 4 and 1/2 years to complete, will be pushed back. Lane management (closures) will also be assessed based on winter road conditions. (I am paraphrasing this whole section — particularly “significant” as I did not note the exact word Steve used.)

Frank Pinney presented the plan, utilized in 1998, of a local incident command, offering control, governance, and communication, with links all up and down the coast. The IC would undergo special training, as would the rest of those in the project, and would include Citizen Emergency Response Teams with representatives from all areas of the coast. When he said, “control,” I got nervous. Typical South Coast response, I guess.

CPOA has been instrumental in coordinating efforts between all the various agencies involved in the rebuilding and winter protection of Big Sur. They continue to have many meetings, including one coming up on the 21st to continue the dialogue and process in this arena.

It is impossible to predict what will happen this winter. While we can compare to the floods of 1972 after the Marble-Cone fire to what we may experience this winter, most feel even though this fire was HUGELY different in terms of intensity and acreage burned, there is quite a bit of optimism, as we are infinitely more prepared, having various plans already in place, and assessments going on as I type. But the consensus seems to be (we did not really vote) that it is best to prepare for the worst, and perhaps, it will not happen.

For those of you interested in listening to the whole 2 plus hour meeting, or any portions thereof, Kelly O’Brien will have the audio posted on her life in the fire lane blog, and KUSP website in a day or two.

I will post website links later today at the bottom of this post, when I find them in my Jeep.