COVID-19 Community Response Group Meeting Notes
July 1, 2020
Attendees (via Zoom):
20th Congressional District, State Senate District 17, 30th Assembly District, Cal State Parks, US Forest Service, 5th District Supervisor, Parks Management Company, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, Big Sur Health Center, Esalen Institute, Big Sur Fire, Big Sur CERT, and the Community Association of Big Sur
Big Sur Health Center:
Executive Director Sharen Carey reports for the Big Sur Health Center:
- 2 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in Big Sur.
- As of 6-30, 111 people have been tested at the Health Center.
- Following Monterey County guidance, Big Sur Health Center policy will be to not release any specifics around any positive COVID-19 cases in Big Sur.
- Sharen encourages the Big Sur community to wear masks in public, maintain social distancing, frequently wash your hands and above all, be kind to one another.
Big Sur Fire, Chief Matt Harris reports:
- That last weekend (June 25-26) was very busy and this 3 day weekend (July 3-5) is expected to be even more busy.
- Starting Thursday night and going through this weekend, BSF will be patrolling the South Coast Ridges and the Nacimiento Rd for illegal campfires. Personnel from BSF will be in uniform, driving BSF vehicles and providing educational guidance and requesting those with fires to extinguish them. BSF does not have authority to cite illegal activities but can call for LE back up if needed.
- CABS Ed Butch Kronlund commended Matt and the volunteers at BSF for their commitment. Pointing out that unfortunately this is a necessary step in the short term and that this level of commitment is not sustainable without some type of financial subsidy for this service.
Fifth District Supervisor. Yuri Anderson for Supervisor Mary Adams reports.
- As of today (July 1) Ca. Governor Newsom has rolled back the COVID-19 status of 19 Counties affecting indoor services. Monterey County was not one of those Counties.
- Although Monterey County has reported 3 days in a row of increasing infections, PPE at nursing facilities and ICU Hospital beds are currently sufficient.
- As of now, no announcements changing Monterey Counties current status are expected.
Big Sur Chamber of Commerce reports:
- Kirk Gafill declared that COVID-19 is real in Big Sur.
- BSHC ED Sharen Carey is a great resource for Businesses in Big Sur grappling with responding to a positive case of C-19.
- BSHC is playing an important role as a convenient testing location and was helpful with Nepenthe’s response plan.
- Kirk went on to say that having the required response plan in place was instrumental in minimizing the potential spread of infection. The process worked as intended leading to quick contact tracing, disinfection of any possible contamination and quarantine of any co-workers who test negative but who were in close proximity for the proscribed period of time as outlined in CDC and Monterey County Health Department guidelines.
- Kirk also reported that both Post Ranch and Ventana Inn are expected to be open by mid July.
- Diana Ballantyne reported that folks are welcome to sit down and order food and drinks from the Grill but that Bar seating will be closed and live music is cancelled.
- The campground is open and doing well.
- Watching C-19 developments closely and working to keep everyone safe.
- Rick Aldinger pointed out that part of the Governor’s latest mandate includes law enforcement at the local level utilizing Cal OSHA, Alcoholic Beverage Control and the State Health Department to oversee and make sure protocols are being followed at businesses statewide.
- Rick also reported that the Hospitality community is very concerned that Monterey County could join, at some point, those counties who have regressed in status or be added to the State watchlist, leading to potential restrictions in the ability to remain open for business.
- MCHA is putting together a campaign aimed at 2 audiences stressing the right protocols.
Community Emergency Response Team, Martha Karstens:.
- Final Gloves on training occurred last weekend resulting in 17 newly minted CERT members.
- Upcoming trainings include a refresher for prior CERT members and a Red Cross CPR class. TBA.
- USFS, LPNF Monterey District, Tom Murphey sitting in for Ranger Tim Short:
- Tim Short, in response to resident requests for more boots on the ground reported via email…
- Hi Butch and partners,
- We share your concerns with fire risk, and the busy upcoming holiday weekend. Unfortunately, neither the funding from violation fines, or suppression costs are available for funding support of employees, except for those engaged in suppression activities. Following are some insights into ongoing planning and actions using available resources.
- Within our annually appropriated funding, coordination has been underway to maximize Forest Service field presence with existing district fire personnel. These personnel, and qualified forest protection officers will be patrolling and enforcing the Forest Fire Restrictions. Our field employees will be working extended shifts from 0930 to 2200 through the holiday (Friday and Saturday). Some employees will be working days off to provide this extra coverage.
- This includes two patrol units (light brush engines), five Type 3 engine modules and one 20 person hand crew. One of these engine modules will be dispatched from the southern part of the forest (that also experiences visitor use management challenges) to support the Monterey District prevention activities, and be available for possible suppression, along with other forest resources. Coordination with our law enforcement branch, which has forest wide responsibilities, is also underway.
- In the meantime, we support engaging with our partners to seek better ways of managing visitor use and protecting our valuable natural resources. Efforts are underway in implementing the strategic community fuelbreak project and other fuel reduction projects around the Monterey District. Active partnerships with the county and fire safe councils are helping to further protect communities through defensible space.
- Thomas Murphey added that as of this weekend all roads, trails and campgrounds are open except group campsites at Plaskett and Arroyo Seco.
Ca. State Parks, Monterey District, Big Sur Sector Superintendent Marcos Ortega:
- All parks in the area are now open. But Day Use Are parking lots will close. Walk ins allowed.
- This includes Pfeiffer State Park, JP Burns, Andrew Molera and Point Lobos.
Parks Management Company, Jeremy Waggoner reports:
- All PMC facilities are open, except group camp sites.
- Visitor numbers are down from usual for this time of year.
- Out of County and State visitors are in the majority.
- (Kirk believes tourist volume down 20-25%)
Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Mike Splain, ED:
- Since the last call (between 6/26 & 6/30/20), 10 VWA Trail Crew Leaders & Volunteer Wilderness Rangers contributed 258 hours on 9 patrols, all on coast-side trails. Volunteers made 89 visitor contacts, packed out 31 pounds of trash, removed 14 user-created fire rings, cleaned up campsites, & replaced fire restriction signage. Volunteers also conducted brushing, tread work, & hazard reduction, reported 4 violations, replaced 1 backcountry toilet, & dismantled a user-created lean-to structure.
Esalen Institute. Lacy Shannon:
- Unable to attend.
17th State Senate District, Colleen Courtney for Senator Bill Monning:
- Colleen provides us 2 links to helpful information on COVID-19
- California Covid Link – https://covid19.ca.gov
- California Toolkit – https://toolkit.covid19.ca.gov
- And a link on Ca.’s 2020 Budget.
- California Budget Info – https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/06/29/governor-newsom-signs-2020-budget-act/
- State Senate is starting summer recess today and will reconvene on July 13th.
20th Congressional District, Katie Moon and Phil Deppert on behalf of Congressman Jimmy Panetta.
- Katie reported that Congressman Panetta was back in DC this week meeting with USFS Chief Vicki Christiansen and her Deputies regarding C-19 and the USFS response to wildfire.
- Jimmy also highlighted the issue of lack of adequate enforcement on the Monterey District. He pointed out that more enforcement of open fire restrictions would result in less fires and costs in suppression. The next step in achieving the goal of more enforcement is in the Appropriations Committee.
- Panetta is also backing legislation to address $5.2 Billion in deferred maintenance in the Forest as well as seeking parity in compensation for USFS Firefighters with their peers in other Agencies.
- On June 30th, Jimmy led a delegation of Members of Congress to meet with the White House COVID-19 task force to press for production of more PPE and to discuss a detailed national strategy for evacuation in a major fire event.
- Katie also provided links for public comment on the Wind Power project and the South Coast surveillance tower project.
- The attached Notice of Availability contains instructions for public comment:
- “The CEC encourages use of its electronic commenting system. Visit
- https://efiling.energy.ca.gov/Ecomment/Ecomment.aspx?docketnumber=17-MISC-01, which links to the comment page for this docket. Enter your contact information and a comment title describing the subject of your comment(s). Comments may be included in the “Comment Text” box or attached in a downloadable, searchable Microsoft® Word (.doc, .docx) or Adobe® Acrobat® (.pdf) file. Maximum file size is 10 MB.
- Written comments may also be submitted by email. Include the docket number, 17- MISC-01, and Offshore Renewable Energy in the subject line and send to email@example.com.
- If preferred, a paper copy may be submitted to:
- California Energy Commission
- Docket Unit, MS-4
- Re: Docket No. 17-MISC-01
- 1516 Ninth Street
- Sacramento, CA 95814-5512”
CBP Surveillance Tower
- Upon learning of the CBP Tower proposal in May, Rep Panetta convened a meeting between elected officials and Coastal Commission staff to ask questions about the CCC process for review and request that CCC allow for a public comment period. In response, CCC pushed the decision deadline back to July 15, 2020 to allow for more time to hear concerns and work on the submittal. To make a comment, residents or any member of the public can contact Mr. Larry Simon:
- Larry Simon
- Manager, Federal Consistency Unit
- Energy, Ocean Resources and
- Federal Consistency Division
- California Coastal Commission
- 45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000
- San Francisco, CA 94105
- (415) 904-5288
- Update from South Coast LUAC Chair Connie McCoy:
- At the June 24 Planning Commission meeting, a quick update on the CBP proposal was given as to what had transpired since the May 12 South Coast LUAC meeting and May 27 Planning Commission meeting.
Because of public input, CBP has agreed to push the date for the Federal Consistency Unit to September 15. They also are considering a new design for the tower and a new location.
- The Federal Consistency Determination Unit and the County are still trying to bring CBP back to another South Coast LUAC meeting, but so far CBP has resisted.
30th Assembly District, Dominic Dursa for Assembly Member Robert Rivas:
- Unable to call in.
Monterey County Sheriff Department, Deputy Villasenor:
- Unable to call in.
Community Association of Big Sur, Butch Kronlund. ED:
- Butch reported that the Draft DSP is available.
- Public comment is encouraged on the Draft Big Sur DSP through July 6th, 2020. To see the plan and make comments go to bigsurdsp.com. Additionally, there will be a community Zoom call. See below:
You are invited to the Big Sur Community Zoom webinar:
When: July 6, 2020, 3:00 PM
Topic: Community Association of Big Sur and Beyond Green Travel Q & A on the Draft Sustainable Destination Stewardship Plan. If you have not already done so, please review the plan prior to the webinar.
Register in advance for this webinar:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
- Public comment on the Draft DSP will close at midnight Pacific Time on July 6th 2020.
- Butch also reported that a third tranche of financial relief has gone out to Big Sur’s most vulnerable residents bringing the totals to: 166 checks written, supporting 123 families for a total of $192,300.
- Butch polled the stakeholder group and all expressed an interest in continuing to meet on Wednesday at 2pm.