COVID-19 Community Response Group Meeting NotesJuly 22, 2020
Attendees (via Zoom):
20thCongressional 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:· Kirk Gafill reports that Big Sur businesses are in crisis management mode as it relates to addressing the challenges brought about by COVID-19.· 2/3 of California is on the State watchlist, with uncertainty around messages emanating from Sacramento and Monterey County regarding metrics for continued business operations.· Sacramento has decreed that local public schools will begin the academic year “distance learning”. This will have an impact on working parents.· Currently visitation numbers are down 20-25%.· In a positive outcome of the pandemic, Diana Ballantyne reports tobacco sales are off 80% at Fernwood. Big Sur Health Center:Executive Director Sharen Carey reports for the Big Sur Health Center:· There are currently 8 positive cases of COVID-19.· BSHC has conducted 277 tests, 141 tests in July.· Sharen is urging community members to wear masks, practice excellent hand washing hygiene, social distance and don’t panic if you or someone you know tests positive for COVID-19. · When an employee tests positive, the employer is required to notify ALL employees that there has been a positive person identified, but the employer must also protect the identity of the person who tested positive. · The employer is also required to notify those who meet the threshold for close contact time with that employee to undergo testing and quarantine.· In a small community like Big Sur, these twin responsibilities are very difficult to successfully accomplish.· Under these circumstances, the person who tests positive is understandably stressed and those who may have come in contact with that person may feel apprehensive and even angry. Please keep in mind that a person who tests positive is not at fault. They deserve to be treated with kindness and understanding. Big Sur has always gone beyond the norm to help neighbors in a crisis. This is no different. We need to get through this by sticking together.USFS, LPNF Monterey District, Fin Eifert sitting in for Ranger Tim Short:· With 28 employees in isolation due to exposure to a positive COVID-19 case, Fin reports that there has been a high level of communication and cooperation between State and Federal partners as well as shared learning between the Agencies. Every action that is taken is done so with an abundance of caution.· Shared housing is being evaluated.· Butch described an encounter with the team covering the quarantined crews. There were no masks evident and of course, in a crew truck, social distancing is impossible. Others on the South Coast reported the same behavior, leading Butch to ask, “if these men get sick, who is covering for them, and how are you going to change this culture around masks?”· Fin replied that he is acting immediately to address this problem.· He went on to say he is thankful for being able to work with all those on the call and in the community. Fifth District Supervisor. Sarah Hardgrave for Supervisor Mary Adams reports.· Was unable to attend. Ca. State Parks, Monterey District, Big Sur Sector Superintendent Marcos Ortega reports:· He, Katie, Phil and Butch installed the visual displays of the proposed wind turbineprojectoffshore of Big Sur at the MAF. 3 representative photos are located outside on the South East corner of the building with an array of different perspective photos located inside the MAF conference Room and available for community members to view from 9am to 4pm daily. There is also information posted on how to make public comments. These turbines will be visible from our shoreline. The time to comment is now!· Brent Marshall, Tim Short and Marcos are working closely together on the repercussions of COVID-19 and employees in shared quarters at the MAF.· State Park Rangers are reporting unprecedented road side parking levels and working on traffic management solutions along with Agency partners.· Marcos, Butch, Nate and Brian from PMC met earlier in the week to discuss contingency plans for sudden closures due to State mandates. Some additional signage may be employed alerting the public that Pfeiffer Beach is closed may be employed as a pilot project, to relieve congestion at the top of Sycamore Canyon Rd.· Kirk expressed thanks for all the interagency cooperation and also asked for an explanation for maintain the Park Day Use parking at 50% capacity and continuing to keep the Day Use lot at JP Burns closed. Marcos explained that doing so makes it harder for the public to over crowd an area, violating social distance guidelines. These policies are undergoing continual evaluation.· Marco went on to cite the terrific job the State Parks staff is doing in dealing with this unprecedented time. All on the call acknowledged the challenges and expressed appreciation for their efforts on behalf of the Public and the Big Sur community.
Parks Management Company, Nathan Koontz reports:· So far, no PMC employees have tested positive for COVID-19.· Concurred with all on the call that the challenges USFS and Parks are experiencing are issues they are dealing with as well.· Senior Management team are currently circulating to all PMC managed sites to evaluate Staff and protocols.· Offered that if anyone sees something not right with Staff or Operations to get in touch with him or Butch who has a direct line. Big Sur Fire, Chief Matt Harris reports:· Unable to attend. Community Emergency Response Team, Martha Karstens:.· 14 member refresher training was held. Wonderful class with an exceptional Instructor. Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Rich Popchak reports:· Terrace Creek and Pine Ridge trails: Since the last call, there have been 3 outings involving 10 volunteers and 3 contractors (horse packers). The work was in preparation for the eventual reopening of the corridor to visitors (when it is safe to do so). · The purpose of two of the outings was to make the Terrace Creek Trail safe for pack stock to support contract trail crews (ACE). They will begin work on the Pine Ridge Trail on July 29. · The third outing involved 8 volunteers. They packed in the components of two wilderness toilets which were assembled and installed at Sykes Camp. · A Volunteer Wilderness Ranger completed a patrol of the Silver Peak Wilderness. · Since the last report, volunteers donated 189.5 hours of service, made 34 visitor contacts (26 in the Silver Peak and 8 on Coast Ridge Road) and packed out 15 pounds of trash.
Esalen Institute. Lacy Shannon:· Unable to attend.
30thAssembly District. Dominic Dursa for Assembly Member Robert Rivas.· Assembly Member Rivas office continues to work on EDD cases for constituents.· As of now, there is no extension of the Federal $600 per week supplement to EDD.
17thState Senate District, Colleen Courtney for Senator Bill Monning reports:· Senator Monnings Office is working on a recent influx of EDD cases involving Big Sur residents.· Legislature will be back in session next Monday in Sacramento.· The Legislature and the Governor have come to an agreement on a Budget that features: $5.7 Billion in response to C-19, $85.6 million to Cal-Fire and $50 million for community power resiliency (wildfire prevention programs).· The Budget notably did not cut funding for programs addressing Aging, Community based services, In home support services, Cal Work and Medical Optimal Services. 20thCongressional District, Katie Moon and Phil Deppert on behalf of Congressman Jimmy Panetta.· Great American Outdoors Act, co-sponsored by Congressman Panetta, passed the House. May be a source of funding for local USFS lands.· An analysis shows that in the 20thCongressional District, 6,621 businesses received PPP affecting the jobs of 82,000 people.· Katie reported on the Wind Turbine visual installation at MAF and will issue a notification regarding public comment details on Thursday 7/23/20.
Monterey County Sheriff Department, Deputy Villasenor:· Jesse calling in on his day off that illegal camping over the July 4thperiod was extreme.· He reported that there is a general warning circulating among law enforcement to be extra careful due to concerns over social unrest. Officers in the County are doubling up. Here on the Coast, all the Agencies with a law enforcement component provide mutual Aid to one another.· During discussion around parking on the Highway issues, Jesse noted a distinct difference in Travelers who are just passing through and those willing to pay a Day Use fee and commit to a Big sur experience.
Community Association of Big Sur, Butch Kronlund. ED:· Efforts to gather data on impacts of illegal activities (Roadside camping, illegal campfires) continue. CABS is working on creating an interactive application that will simplify the data collection process. · Illegal camping along Highway 1 from Mal Paso Bridge to the SLO County line, Saturday night, shows a total of 115 car, truck, trailer, van and RV campers.