COVOD-19 Community Meeting Notes

COVID-19 Community Response Group Meeting Notes
July 8, 2020

Attendees (via Zoom):

20th Congressional District, State Senate District 17, 30thAssembly District, Cal State Parks, US Forest Service, 5thDistrict 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 Chamber of Commerce reports:
• Kirk Gafill reports that today’s big story is the State Order effective today and lasting at least 3 weeks: Indoor dining is no longer allowed but dining with outdoor seating and to-go orders are.
• Area businesses are seeing a reduction in number of traveling guests.
• Both Ventana Big Sur and Post Ranch Inn are on track to open mid-month. Those properties to only be open to registered guests and not the general public.
• Diana Ballantyne reports a dramatic decrease in restaurant business but campground is full.

Big Sur Health Center:
Executive Director Sharen Carey reports for the Big Sur Health Center:
• 4 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in Big Sur.
• 179 people tested, 23 of which were symptomatic.
• Prior to opening, Staff at the Big Sur Park School were tested, (None symptomatic). Normally, the testing lab promptly notifies the Health Center, even over the weekend, if a test comes back positive, but in this case, that did not happen. After beginning the first day of school, 1teacher was notified of a positive test which resulted in closing the school again. All the Teachers and 3 students are now in 2 week quarantine. All are currently asymptomatic as of 7/8/20.

Fifth District Supervisor. Sarah Hardgraves for Supervisor Mary Adams reports.
• In expectation of an adjustment in business operational status mandated by the State, Supervisor Adams has been in contact with Chamber members over the weekend in order to give them adequate time to prepare.
• Sarah went on to provide an update on the status of Hospital capacity, PPE, infection rate and other metrics influencingMonterey Co.’s C-19 status. Supplies are currently adequate.

Ca. State Parks, Monterey District, Big Sur Sector Superintendent Marcos Ortega:
• The State Order closing Beaches over the 4th of July weekend caught Parks, PMC and USFS off guard and resources scrambled to adapt.
• Locally, Parks implemented a soft closure at Molera and Garapata due to not enough manpower to implement the full Order.
• Going forward Pfeiffer State Park will limit Day Use to 50% capacity with some campsites closed due to proximity of neighboring sites.
• Keeping JP Burns parking lot closed to try and prevent crowding at the McWay Falls overlook. Monitoring the situation while searching for a solution to the issue of social distancing.
• Marcos reports that Rangers wrote 132 citations in June for various infractions with 24 citations written to date in July.

Parks Management Company, Nathan Koontz reports:
• PMC was surprised by the State Order closing Pfeiffer Beach on Friday 7/3/20.
• Due to staffing issues, PMC was unable to manage either the top of Sycamore Canyon or the closed lot at Pfeiffer Beach resulting in illegal parking and trespass at PBDUA.
• Sunday, the CEO of PMC spent most of the day turning vehicles at the top of Sycamore Canyon, greatly reducing the consequences of the closure. Vows to do better.
• Agency partners CA.Parks, PMC and the USFS and CABS to meet later this week to create a contingency plan to manage this area in the event of sudden changes in operational status.

Big Sur Fire, Chief Matt Harris reports:
• BSF was had 1 call out for a motorcycle crash making it a relatively quiet 4th of July weekend.
• Volunteer patrols successfully engaged with campers at the dispersed camping areas on the South Coast Ridges, extinguishing 7 campfires and preventing 6 more from being started. (USFS Patrol cited the 7 who had already started their fires). These patrols occurred Friday and Saturday evening off the South Coast Ridge Rd.
• Big Thank You to Cal Trans for activating the message boards informing the public that fireworks are illegal in the Forest Lands.

Community Association of Big Sur, Butch Kronlund. ED:
• Over the 4th of July weekend, CABS members conducted a detailed survey of illegal roadside camping from Mal Paso to the County line and illegal campfire activity on the South Coast Ridges that allow dispersed camping as well as sections of County road where both camping and campfires are illegal.
• The Team went out either very early morning (4;30am) or in the evening (after 8;30pm) to gather data on illegal behavior.
• Through Zoom screen sharing, Butch showed 3 pages of representative data on spreadsheets as well as a google earth screen shot showing locations of active campsites with evidence of recent or active open fires evident. A summary of that data below:
• Over the 3 days of data collection there was a cumulative:
• 57 illegal campfires on the South Coast Ridge, PlaskettRidge and Los Burros Rds.
• 198 illegal roadside campers in turn outs between Mal Paso Creek Bridge and the SLO County line on Highway 1. Field verified with GPS coordinates, photos when possible and license plate numbers. Roadside campers adjacent Kirk Creek and Plaskett campgrounds were not counted.
• Butch went on to express sincere gratitude to BSF and the USFS for their patrol efforts but wanted all on the call toknow that the scope of the illegal activity was far more widespread than previously acknowledged.
• Phil, Katie and Colleen to be given copies of the collected data sets once it can be collated into a narrative.

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, Fin Eifert and Tom Murphey sitting in for Ranger Tim Short:
• This past weekend was chaotic due to the Governor’s Order to close the Beaches on the 3rd of July.
• Nonetheless, there were type 3 Engines on patrol and a 20 person hand crew available to respond to any short notice issue.
• Fin made the point that everything about the COVID-19 crisis makes operations difficult. He recognized that communication is critical and he intends to continue to work with partners to improve response.

Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Mike Splain, ED:
• VWA volunteers report that backcountry & front-country use of public lands is extremely high & that the need for agency enforcement resources (especially in front-country / car-camping areas) is critical. Volunteers have USFS-compliant radios & have been immediately reporting fire violations to Los Padres Dispatch.
• Between 07.01 & 07.08.2020, 9 volunteers conducted 3 patrols & 1 trail outing, contributing 105 volunteer hours repairing trails, replacing signage, contacting visitors, & packing out trash & toilet paper. Volunteers made 33 visitor contacts, packed out 4 pounds of trash, & dismantled 4 user-created fire rings.
• One patrol encountered a smoldering campfire along Cone Peak Road, which was extinguished & reported to LP Dispatch & local FS fire stations. A stockpile of firewood was dispersed to prevent repeat of the offense.
• Volunteer work continues on the Pine Ridge Trail, with (American Conservation Experience, aka “ACE”) contract crew work resuming at the end of July. VWA-supervised CalFire crews will restore a trail in the Arroyo Seco region later this month as well. Special COVID safety precautions will be observed.

Esalen Institute. Lacy Shannon:
• Esalen is hosting some 2 day friends and family visits to test out their COVID-19 operational protocols.
• Esalen is exploring a phased reopening in July and August pending staffing and safety review of friends and family visits.
• No update yet on community bathing.

17th State Senate District, Colleen Courtney for Senator Bill Monning reports:
• The state capitol building has closed due to an outbreak of COVID-19 affecting legislative staff members.
• Legislators will not go into live, face to face session next week as planned.
• Colleen requested to be included on the California Coastal Trail meeting next week!
• Senator Monning sends his best to all.

20th Congressional District, Katie Moon and Phil Deppert on behalf of Congressman Jimmy Panetta.
• Trump administration making noises about oil and gas leasing off the California coast again. A Ca. delegation of legislators is working to prevent that from happening.
• Announced that the PPP legislation is being extended through August 8th allowing more businesses access to tothese funds.
• Katie, Phil and Butch to work on installing a public display on the Offshore Wind Project at the MAF next week. Display to remain in place for a month so that Big Sur community members can get a sense of the visual impact of the project.
• Last week, Katie provided links for public comment on the Wind Power project and the South Coast surveillance tower project.

Offshore Wind
• The attached Notice of Availability contains instructions for public comment:
• “The CEC encourages use of its electronic commenting system. Visit, 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
• 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 Member 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:
• The Assembly has over 200 Senate Bills to complete.
• Assembly Member Rivas office will help with Unemployment claims for constituents who need it.

Monterey County Sheriff Department, Deputy Villasenor:
• Unable to call in.