| January 15, 2020|
Dear Big Sur Community Members and Stakeholders,
As we move into the new year, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with a further update on the Big Sur Sustainable Tourism Destination Stewardship Plan (DSP).
We are happy to announce the formation of the DSP Steering Committee. The primary role of the DSP Steering Committee is to assist and support the Beyond Green Travel (BGT) project management team in creating the DSP, including providing guidance, feedback and input for the success of the DSP process. The Steering Committee will help guide the DSP project to a successful conclusion through deliberation, support and action as an important advisory group made up of individuals and stakeholders in the Big Sur Land Use Area, including residents, businesses, emergency services, educators, community members and county representatives. The formation of the DSP Steering Committee follows guidelines for effective project Steering Committees, in terms of size and responsibilities. We sought input from a diverse array of community members in forming the Steering Committee and believe that a community focus is important. The Steering Committee includes the following members, and we want to thank them for their willingness to participate:
Matt Harris (Big Sur Fire Chief/Emergency Services)
Carissa Chappellet (Board President of the Big Sur Health Center)
Mike Freed (Owner, Post Ranch Inn/Co-Chair, California Task Force on
Kirk Gafill (Owner, Nepenthe/Exec Director, Big Sur Chamber of Commerce)
Ryne Leuzinger (CSUMB Staff and CABS board member)
Laverne McLeod (Long-time resident and community member)
Lee Otter (BSLUP Strategic Advisor)
Yuri Anderson (representing County Supervisor Mary Adams)
Steering Committee meetings will be held bi-monthly and more frequently as may be determined by the Committee, and will follow a discussion format, with minutes taken.
In addition to the Steering Committee and other ongoing stakeholder engagement, BGT will continue to reach out to individuals and other stakeholders for their valuable input including US Forest Service, State Parks, Coastal Commission, Esselen Tribe Representatives, Big Sur residents, among others. To further maximize community and stakeholder feedback, a DSP website has also been created (www.bigsurdsp.com), noting the importance of protecting Big Sur’s natural and cultural heritage for future generations. Any stakeholder or community member can provide their comments, suggestions, concerns and recommendations for the DSP directly to the BGT Team through the website. All comments are being collected and collated on a monthly basis and will be included as part of the DSP Report, as well as inform the DSP Project Team of important considerations. In addition, a Big Sur Resident Survey is being created and will be sent out in early February to gather resident perspectives, concerns and input into solutions for visitor management strategies as part of the DSP.
Another important project update is the hiring of Kate Daniels from Monterey County to join the BGT DSP Team. Kate has a strong record of community engagement, including her recent appointment to the Monterey County Planning Commission, her involvement with the ParkIt! initiative and her important knowledge of and familiarity with the Big Sur Land Use Plan, the Big Sur Multi Agency Advisory Council, the Coast Highway Management Plan, the Sustainable Transportation Demand Management Plan, and the California Coastal Act.
On December 10, 2019, the BGT Team provided an update presentation on the Destination Stewardship Plan at the Big Sur Area CABS Annual Meeting held at the Big Sur Grange and attended by 63 Residents, community members and Big Sur area stakeholders. This DSP Project Meeting included BGT Team members presenting different aspects of the project progress to date, led by Costas Christ, President of BGT, Sally Christ, VP of BGT and Kate Daniels, BGT Local Project Coordinator. Among other items, the presentation included a summary on Big Sur Visitation, noting that no reliably accurate statistics exist for the number of visitors to Big Sur, but the overall perception among community members is that visitation is growing rapidly. BGT noted global tourism growth trends will likely increase visitation to Big Sur in the future; how tourism impacts can be both positive and negative, with proper planning and management key to making the positive of visitation outweigh the negative impacts. This was coupled with news stories about Big Sur showing both positive and negative media coverage. In addition, the presentation also included clarity on what a destination stewardship plan is; the need for it to be backed by reliable data and research; and a DSP project timeline, with key milestones identified leading up to a final Sustainable Tourism Destination Stewardship Plan being completed by June 30, 2020. A robust question and answer discussion about the DSP then followed, providing an opportunity for further community input to the DSP process.
In addition to the various meetings and consultations noted above, the BGT team has continued to conduct learning trips along Highway 1 to see conditions first hand and gain a more thorough perspective of how the geography and infrastructure of the region impacts issues related to visitation, business and daily life for residents. The importance of protecting the environment has been a key aspect of these reconnaissance trips to inform the DSP, including driving from Monterey to the South Coast of Big Sur, with stops to inspect facilities and view conditions at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Garrapata State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Point Sur State Historic Park, Andrew Molera State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and McWay Falls. Multiple observational visits were also made to high visitation areas including Bixby Bridge and the Big Sur Valley, on different days of the week and at different times of the day to see visitor use in action.
The intention of the DSP is to also compliment and support both the guidelines that underpin the management of Big Sur, such as the Big Sur Land Use Plan and the more recent Traffic Demand Management Plan, as well as other efforts taking place in Big Sur to address visitation concerns, support conservation of the environment, protection of cultural heritage, economic development and improving quality of life for Big Sur residents. The DSP Process Plan has been put into place including the project timeline, goals and objectives, with stakeholder input throughout the process., as well as on-going review, research and data collection from other plans and reports relevant to a Big Sur DSP, with the intention not to recreate the wheel, but to complement the work of previous studies and plans relevant to Big Sur visitation management.
We look forward to our continuing engagement and consultations with Big Sur community members and stakeholders, as we aim to create a plan that can help Big Sur remain a unique and special place for present and future generations.
Founder & CEO, Beyond Green Travel