Outreach to Elected Officials re Alder Creek Closure

From Kirk Gafill (with apologies to all who received this – but the info is critical for all Big Surians and others in nearby counties)

Dear All,

As we now move into our next phase of limited highway access with Alder Creek slide likely to prevent access on Highway 1 from the south for a period of weeks, perhaps longer, it is imperative that our community contact our elected representatives to urge their support of Caltrans efforts to re-open Highway 1 in the timeliest manner possible. I am very appreciative of Caltrans efforts to date and believe that their management as well as on the ground engineers, construction, maintenance , and public information staff are doing all within their power to re-open the highway at Alder Creek.

Unfortunately, given the size of the slide, the proximity of the slide to the National Marine Sanctuary, various other potential environmental impact concerns, the lack of nearby earth disposal sites, and the requirements of Caltrans to interface with agencies such as NOAA, I believe we need to ensure our elected officials are fully aware of the social and economic impact of this year’s highway closures on the Big Sur community, the northern San Luis Obispo County communities, and the Monterey Peninsula, to ensure they are providing Caltrans with both the mandate and the resources necessary to effect the timeliest re-opening of the Alder Creek slide possible.

Many residents and businesses are still suffering the economic effects of the Basin Complex Fire in 2008 and the effect of this year’s series of highway closures has been of a similar economic magnitude, with an as yet uncertain time frame before the community can rely upon the traveling public having unrestricted access on Highway 1 along the entirety of the Big Sur Coast, from Cambria to Carmel.

From a community and Big Sur Chamber of Commerce perspective, I would recommend consideration of the following points in your outreach to our elected officials:

· Provide Caltrans with the mandate to re-open Highway 1 at Alder Creek in the timeliest manner possible.

· Provide Caltrans with the resources to do so.

· Emphasize that the current socio-economic costs to the community associated with the highway closures have been enormous and that each and every day that the highway is closed to the south adds to that cumulative cost. My best estimate for Big Sur alone, much less the Monterey Peninsula and San Luis Obispo communities, is that a south coast closure will reduce Highway 1 traffic levels by at least 35-40% of normal.

· Emphasize that the most critical environmental issue is the economic health of the residents, employees, and businesses that depend almost entirely on Highway 1 being accessible to the traveling public and that there are no reliable or suitable alternate routes for the traveling public (Nacimiento-Ferguson has length advisories, is narrow, has multiple hairpin turns, often equivalent to a single lane and requires access across Fort Hunter Liggett, which can often be shut down to meet military training needs).

· Avoid using the term “side casting,” to describe potential impacts of overspill of slide material into Pacific Ocean as this will raise immediate red flags with agencies from an environmental impact on the Marine Sanctuary.

In terms of priority or emphasis, I would recommend contacting US Representative Sam Farr to urge NOAA’s fullest cooperation and support of Caltrans efforts in addition to assistance in identifying and allocating any available federal highway funds for an emergency highway repair. For priority allocation of state resources and support of the mission to re-open the highway, please contact Assemblyman Bill Monning and State Senator Sam Blakeslee (whose district encompasses most if not all of northern San Luis Obispo County as well), and Governor Jerry Brown. Additionally, please contact Supervisor Dave Potter as he can serve as an additional advocate for our community with state and federal officials and agencies.

The contact information for these elected officials is as follows:

US Representative Sam Farr – https://forms.house.gov/farr/webforms/issue_subscribe.html

Assemblyman Bill Monning –
District Address
701 Ocean Street
Room 318-B
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone: (831) 425-1503
Fax: (831) 425-2570

State Senator Sam Blakeslee – http://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/ContactPopup.php?district=SD15&inframe=Y&

Governor Jerry Brown – http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php

Monterey County Supervisor Dave Potter –

Monterey Courthouse
1200 Aguajito Rd., Ste. 1
Monterey, CA 93940

Thank you very much,

Kirk Gafill
President – Big Sur Chamber of Commerce

General Manager
Nepenthe/Phoenix Corporation
48510 Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93920