Federal Surveillance Tower comes to Big Sur

UPDATE: The Monterey County Planning Department today notified Big Sur residents that it will schedule another meeting of the South Coast Big Sur Land Use Advisory Committee on May 26 to discuss the tower proposal. 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is building a temporary surveillance tower meant to provide “security and coastal protection” at a remote site in Big Sur.

News of the proposed tower at Lucia Ranch, 50 miles south of Carmel, did not reach Big Sur until last Tuesday, when the South Coast Big Sur Land Use Advisory Committee heard an “informational” presentation about the project.

Neighbors adjacent to Lucia Ranch, including former Rep. Sam Farr, said they weren’t aware of the proposal until after Tuesday’s meeting.

The 80-foot tower would apparently test technology the agency has developed in an effort to capture real-time photographs and video of boats up to 24 miles out to sea. If working correctly, the surveillance would detect packages, people and weapons on the vessels.

Documents presented to the Big Sur committee indicate that the solar-powered tower relies on “maritime radar” and other technology that “automatically detects, tracks and identifies watercraft of various sizes crossing open water between international waters and the U.S. shoreline.”

In a letter to the state Coastal Commission, a CBP representative said the tower is meant to “provide continuing security and coastal protection” and that more of them could be installed in other regions of the coast.

Oddly, after identifying the site, the CBP’s letter notes that “the strategy and actual placement of the system is For Official Use Only and is Law Enforcement Sensitive information.”

For the rest of the article, see: https://voicesofmontereybay.org/2020/05/15/cbp-plans-surveillance-tower-in-big-sur/

18 thoughts on “Federal Surveillance Tower comes to Big Sur

  1. the terms ‘federal surveillance’ and ‘temporary’ do not belong together in the same sentence…

  2. Big brother in Big Sur…. No public input. They owe us at least the use of that tower for internet/cell signal relay for the citizens.

  3. Don’t like it. Seems like there should have been more of an effort to have public input by the people in direct site of this tower (Aka all the neighbors on the south coast). I doubt they’re going to ONLY keep an eye on boats.. with a tower like that they can literally see anything and everything/one on the south coast in sight..

  4. Mike, talk to your dad. He was there. And Connie, in trying to get another zoom meeting that neighbors can attend, was able to add everyone else’s name from the SCLUAC to the request, except your dad. She did add your dad’s name, and got a new meeting date.

  5. Yes, related, but not. Employers monitoring their employees through spy or tattleware when they can easily tell productivity by the work accomplished, regardless of what ever else was going on in the employees life. What about employees who have children at home who they have to babysit and homeschool? Not fond of where we are going because of COVID-19.

  6. It’s in the emergencies Americans lose more of their freedoms. Think 9-11 & the Patriot Act! Just yesterday we lost the fight to require a warrant for the gov’t to look at our browsing history! Vote in November!

  7. Little Philly, this has been in the works since Oct of 2018, before the pandemic. But generally speaking, yes, I agree with you. During emergencies…and we never get them back.

  8. for ‘security and coastal protection’…. security and protection from who, who and what is such a threat to the vast and powerful US that this surveillance is the rational response ?

    the surveillance would detect ‘packages, people and weapons ‘on the boats’ ‘ now lets think about that. packages of what are so dangerous ? the majority of US drug deaths are from domestic pharmaceuticals. people ? dunno about that my friends and neighbors, have any of us seen or heard of ‘people’ invading Big Sur from the sea to justify this ? and weapons ? heck, the US makes and exports more weapons than any other nation, nobody is importing them at ‘boat’ level, much less through Big Sur

    this is just plain nonsense.

    but a NON-DIRECTIONAL device with a 24 mile radius of surveillance for ‘ packages people and weapons’ is crazy fascist weirdness

    Fortress Amerika

  9. Should we tell them about the fog?

    But seriously, drugs certainly come ashore between Big Sur and Morro Bay. Or related shenanigans. That said, the tower will be a useless boondoggle. A comparatively invisible cell tower would benefit “Homeland Security” better than this eyesore.

    Unrelated: What was that sound? Sounded just like a sheep or goat down in the redwoods this morning. We are remote. Saw nothing. I’d go look but it was a worrisome sound and I’d return with brush-scratched skin and a thousand ticks.

  10. Kate, I gather this tower is state of the art 5G technology package ready to deliver on demand data w/ heat seeking detection, etc.. There must had been a few engineers and scientists 45 had to talk or dare listen to during these secret meetings..Crazy, how does the M.B. Marine Sanctuary status get ignored in all of this, California Coastal Commission?

  11. Warning: Do not do or suggest anything that can be considered “incitement” that is not considered protected speech under the first amendment.

    This tower is most likely just Palantir profiting from Surveillance Capitalism, the technology is already in all the police cars, the tower is just an extension of that capability, you can take a training course or download the manuals and read through them to learn about all the data they capture.


    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the largest law enforcement agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).


    Government doesn’t change, it metastasizes, it rules its citizens as property to be exploited or a hazard to be warehoused, the one comforting thing about government is that you aren’t forced to choose between malice and incompetence; It’s always both. ─ Freedumb™

  12. Not all incitements are illegal or against the constitution. Incitement to vote, of course is not, but as to some incitements, yes, do not do or suggerst anything that can be considered “incitement” unless one is the orange clown.

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