COVID-19 Community Meeting

COVID-19 Community Response Group Meeting Notes

May 27th, 2020

Attendees (via Zoom):

20th Congressional District, State Senate District 17, 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:

  • There are still no known cases of COVID-19 in the Big Sur planning area.
  • The BSHC will begin offering COVID-19 testing to EMPLOYEES of BIG SUR BUSINESSES. The health Center will provide this service at no cost.  There is also no laboratory charge. Insurance or CA State will pick up the cost of the lab test. Testing will be by APPOINTMENT ONLY, beginning on June 2nd . Results are available in 48 hours on average. Testing will be conducted Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and all day Thursdays and Fridays.

The Health Center expects to initially be able to test 25 people per day.

  • The health center plans to open the testing to families and others in Big Sur at a later date. 
  • Testing is also available at 3 other locations in Monterey County. EMPLOYEES RESIDING ON THE PENINSULA ARE ENCOURAGED TO USE MPC OR OTHER TESTING SITES to minimize impact on the health center. 
  • Bottom line defense against contracting the virus: Assume it is in Big Sur and take all precautions recommended : wearing facemasks in public, social distancing, frequent handwashing.

Big Sur Fire, Chief Matt Harris:

Chief Matt Harris reports:

  • Big Sur Fire experienced heavy increase in visitation over Memorial weekend, including a carry out of an injured hiker on the closed Salmon Creek trail.
  • BSF is utilizing their cache of PPE on each call out.  Supply is currently adequate.
  • Annual Muster is postponed indefinitely.
  • Expressed support for increased control of dispersed camping areas through utilization of locked gates on access roads (PLaskett Ridge, Los Burros etc.).
  • Butch and Tim cited a Visitor Use Management process that could lead to that outcome.

Fifth District Supervisor. Yuri Anderson for Supervisor Mary Adams.

  • The BOS submitted a letter to the State of Ca. supporting the Monterey County Health Departments attestation stating the county has met the metrics necessary to transition to late stage level 2 of the state SIP order. This means an easing of the state restrictions on some business activities.
  • The county attestation indicates that local businesses will follow guidelines and protocols created by the state.   

Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, Rick Aldinger Diana Ballantyne, and Mike Higgins report:

  • Despite state SIP orders, visitors arrived over the Memorial weekend.  
  • Top priority is to keep staff and community safe while being partially open.
  • Paradoxically, by having more options for visiting public, community and staff can maintain proper social distancing.  
  • A key to being able to conduct business safely is messaging to visitors on what they can expect when they come to Big Sur.  As an example, Post Ranch Inn (projected to open on July 5th) is providing potential guests with a pre-registration list of policies and expected behaviors, transparency on their state of the art cleaning procedures and reduction of numbers of in restaurant diners.

Community Emergency Response Team, Martha Karstens:

  • Zoom trainings continue.
  • Hands on training scheduled for the end of June.

USFS, LPNF Monterey District Ranger Tim Short:

  • A new Forest Order is slated to take effect on June 1st.  This new order will likely open the coastside trails but continue to keep closed the developed campgrounds and dispersed camping areas on the south coast of Big Sur.
  • USFS continues to monitor State and County C-19 guidelines and strives to coordinate accessibility by the public with what State Parks and County Parks is allowing.
  • Butch expressed gratitude for the Forest’s effort to coordinate with State and County Parks to sync up each jurisdiction’s status.

Ca. State Parks, Superintendent Brent Marshall:

  • Introduced Sector Superintendent Marcos Ortega.  Marcos grew up in Big Sur and is filling a vacant high level management position devoted to Big Sur State Park properties.
  • Parks continues to open select day use areas that it deems possible to maintain safe social distancing. The public and the Big Sur community can expect that a few select day use areas will continue to be available for outdoor recreation this upcoming weekend.
  • Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park as well as Point Lobos will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
  • 25 citations for violation of the park closures were written with 250 verbal warnings given as well.
  • Kirk thanked Brent for continuing to work toward further opening of the Parks properties.

Parks Management Company, Brian Cushman, CEO:

  • Day Use Areas (Pfeiffer Beach, Willow Creek, Sand Dollar and Mill Creek) were open over the weekend. Attendance was heavy on the south coast and at capacity at Pfeiffer Beach, but below typical highs for the period.
  • Lime Kiln Beach was opened, adding to the inventory of day use areas open to the public.
  • Poised to opening developed campgrounds once the County, State and USFS SIP guidelines allow.

Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Mike Splain, ED:

  • VWA had 9 Rangers conduct 7 patrols (92 volunteer hours). 4 of those patrols were on closed coastside trails.
  • 161 visitor interactions.  
  • Encountered 28 people on the closed Salmon Creek trail.
  • Hauled out 8lbs of trash and removed 4 fire rings.
  • Had an encounter with an illegal mountain biker on the Kirk Creek trail.
  • South coast trail head signs and cones vandalized. (Sigh).

Esalen Institute. Lacy Shannon:

  • Targeting reopening of the campus on July 5th, subject to local and state SIP guidelines, at reduced occupancy.
  • Shared accommodations (Bunk beds and sleeping bags in communal rooms) will no longer be offered.
  • Although there is no timeline, local bathing opportunities are on the radar and hope to make that available soon.

17th State Senate District, Colleen Courtney for Senator Bill Monning:

  • Senator Monning is currently working on legislation that enhances accessibility and affordability of health care (SB977) as well as creating a strong environmental mitigation plan for an endangered toad that could facilitate widening Highway 156 between Prunedale and Castroville.
  • The Senator is also working with his peers to create a state budget that takes COVID-19 in account.  Important to his rural constituents and a major focus of the budget conversation is wild fire preparedness. More details on the state budget process during COVID-19 can be found here:

20th Congressional District, Katie Moon on behalf of Congressman Jimmy Panetta. 

  • Congressman Panetta is back in D.C. voting on new legislation. 
  • One piece is the bi-partisan PPP flexibility Act. It will ensure that businessowners have more time to use their PPP loan funds, as well as allow more of the loan be forgiven. It will extend the program to 12/31/20 and forgiveness period of the PPP beyond the initial 8 week period to 24 weeks.
  • Participated in a Ways and Means Committee hearing on the disproportionate impact of C-19 on communities of color. Rep Panetta focused on the need for expanded food assistance programs and protections for farm workers
  • The congressman, along with Senator Monning, Supervisor Adams and Assemblyman Rivas are concerned about a lack of outreach to all concerned parties regarding the proposed south coast surveillance tower.  They have met and communicated with Ca. Coastal Commission staff.  As a result, the deadline for public comment has been extended beyond June 15th.  To make

comments regarding the CBP surveillance tower contact: Larry Simon, Ca. Coastal Commission Manager, Federal Consistency Unit

  • Katie reports that the proposed tower would be installed temporarily (1year pilot project). That the height of the tower may be reduced in height from 80’ to 30’ tall and that the surveillance would only be capable of looking out to sea.
  • The congressman is working to support USFS and ensure that FS personnel have the tools and resources needed to safely mitigate and fight wildland fires during the pandemic.

Community Association of Big Sur, Butch Kronlund. ED:

  • Butch reported that our Executive Board has been working hard with the Big Sur business community to identify those community members most financially vulnerable.  Due to the generosity of the Community Foundation for Monterey County and Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey, among others in the Big Sur community, CABS has distributed over $135k to 109 Big Sur families.
  • CABS continuing to make incremental progress in bringing land based Broad Band internet into Big Sur. (Not 5G!!!).

Prescribed Burn at FHL

The FHL Fire Department will be doing a series of controlled burns:

Tuesday 26 May: TA 25 (Sam Jones Road to Interlake Road) Wednesday 27 May: Same as above Thursday 28 May: TA 7 (Vicinity of Jolon Road and Sulfur Springs Road) Friday 29 May: Same as above

Saturday the 30th and Sunday the 31st will be a possibility as well.

5/26/2020 08:27LPF-1161NewPrescribed FireFHL TRAINING AREA 25 M.CRW1LPF E315LPF4X4 E316LPF4X4...35 54.378, -121 6.39623S R8E Sec 28

Memorial Day, 2020

Last year, Bixby Bridge was backed up going south, all the way back to Palo Colorado. This year, much of Big Sur is still closed, but some people are violating the SIP orders anyway.

Just a reminder: People often confuse Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. On Memorial Day we honor those who gave their lives in the fight for our country. We honor our dead. Veteran’s Day, we honor the living.

This post is dedicated to all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and for us…In memory of all of them, regardless of who they were.

Lost Dog — FOUND!!!


UPDATE: This truck and trailer was seen stopping by and picking up Canela at Highway 1 and the driveway. It is from a neighbor’s surveillance camera. It looks like these people picked her up. Keep an eye out:

Our dog Canela is missing as of noon today. She may have followed Libby, my wife down our road at Kleissner’s property and then on to highway one.
She has never done this before. She always wants to be by our side and does not wander.
Her name is Canela and she is a sweetheart.
She does not have her collar because we have been home. And is not microchipped.
Can you PLEASE get the word out?
Please notify the Monterey County Animal Services at 831-769-8850

Thank you!

Canela is missing! Let’s get her home!

Heat Wave

From Daniel Swain, Weather West:

A pretty unusual large-scale atmospheric pattern over the northeastern Pacific Ocean and inland over the Southwest will contribute to a strikingly intense and persistent statewide heatwave this week across California. Indeed, extreme and in many cases record-breaking heat will actually extend across a pretty broad chunk of the American SW in the coming days–not just California. Heat will begin building today, but will become noticeably oppressive in some places by Monday. The heat will continue to intensify Tuesday, Wednesday, and possibly through Thursday before reaching a very impressive peak–especially across NorCal. Widespread daily record highs are expected, especially in NorCal, on multiple successive days (likely in some spots from Mon-Thurs). Right now, the high-resolution models are suggesting that this week’s extreme heat will be most anomalous across portions of the San Francisco Bay Area, where I would not be entirely surprised to see some monthly (not just daily) heat records fall. But ensemble forecasting tools are also suggesting that 850mb temperatures could approach/exceed record levels across an even broader region by Wed/Thurs–so there is some potential for this upcoming heat event to “outperform” even these pretty lofty predictions.

COVID-19 Community Response Report, May 18

COVID-19 Community Response Group Meeting Notes May 18, 2020
Attendees (via Zoom):20thCongressional District, State Senate District 17, 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 Health Center:Executive Director Sharen Carey reports:·     There are still no known cases of COVID-19 in the Big Sur planning area.·     Urges that Big Sur residents be wary of fraudulent telephone and internet activity. Fraudsters posing as representatives of insurance companies, especially Medicare and MediCal, are posing as representatives offering free masks, treatments and COVID testing in exchange for some personal information.·     The Health Center is exploring options for providing testing of individuals who are asymptomatic for COVID-19. Has requested that business owners provide her with a rough count of number of employees that may participate in a future testing program.·      Bottom line defense against contracting the virus: Assume it is in Big Sur and take all precautions recommended : wearing facemasks in public, social distancing, frequent handwashing.

Big Sur Fire, Chief Matt Harris:Chief Matt Harris reports:·       California state fire season officially opens today.·       Big Sur Fire is poised to respond to an active fire season.·       CAPS meeting for Spring 2020 is canceled.

Fifth District Supervisor. Yuri Anderson for Supervisor Mary Adams.·       Led general discussion around the evolving metrics for moving from Stage 1 to Stage 2 of the Monterey County SIP Order. ·       Expressed appreciation for CABS and Chamber amplifying Supervisor Adams notifications.·       Based on last Friday’s turn out, the need to continue the Food Distribution at MPC is clear. This Friday, there will be another distribution with enough boxes to serve 500 families. ·       COVID-19 drive thru testing for asymptomatic residents of Monterey County is now available at MPC. No cost. No appointment necessary. ·      Supervisor Adams is currently on 2 ad hoc committees working on guidelines necessary to transition from stage 1 to stage 2 and 3 of Monterey County’s SIP order. In her portfolio are businesses centric to Hospitality and Personal Services. ·      With Memorial weekend approaching, Mary is focusing on additional resources to crack down on illegal roadside camping and providing law enforcement with stronger language and stiffer fines for those breaking the law.

Big Sur Chamber of Commerce,Kirk Gafill reports:·       The Big Sur Business community continues to try to understand what the necessary metrics are for moving from one stage to another in the Local and State SIP Orders.·       Testing is now available for those not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 at 3 locations in Monterey County. Most convenient location is at MPC. No cost, no appointment necessary.·       Encouraging the Big Sur Health Center to explore providing testing. (See Sharen’s comments above)·       Both locally and statewide, there is growing momentum to ease restrictions. There are complex and competing local and regional policies creating uncertainty on all levels.·       Local, State and Federal agencies need to anticipate increases in visitation beginning this weekend, ramping up further over Memorial Weekend.·       This increase in visitation necessitates more management by government agencies and further easing of restrictions on Day Use Areas and restroom facilities.·       It seems clear that regardless of the SIP Order or what stage Monterey County is in, visitors are coming and we need to be ready.·       Diana Ballantyne expressed concern regarding the status of opening guidance for campgrounds. Yuri Anderson on behalf of Supervisor Adams offered that the priority focus has been establishing guidelines for opening businesses in the stage 2 category. Campgrounds, along with motels and hotels are envisioned to open in stage 3 of the SIP order.

Community Emergency Response Team, Martha Karstens:·       That the residents SIP survey is ongoing.·       18 CERT members continue training via Zoom video conferencing platform.
USFS, LPNF Monterey District Ranger Tim Short:·      The Forest Order essentially closing the Monterey District of the LPNF expired last Friday and a new Order was issued in its place. The new revised Forest Order opens Eastside hiking and Day Use Areas. Additionally, Coastside Day Use Areas, Pfeiffer Beach, Sand Dollar, Mill Creek and Willow Creek were opened without widespread messaging. ·      These open areas are meant to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for Monterey County residents.·      All developed campgrounds and dispersed camping areas remain closed.·      Forest wide fire restrictions went into effect last week.

Ca. State Parks, Superintendent Brent Marshall:·      The hard closure of campgrounds and Day Use Areas is still in effect.·      Despite the rainy weather, Parks personnel issued over a dozen citations for violation of the SIP order by members of the public trying to access clearly marked closed areas.·      Parks is in the process of evaluating the timing of and exact locations of areas that will open first once a decision to ease restrictions is made.

Parks Management Company,Brian Cushman, CEO:·       Day Use Areas (Pfeiffer Beach, Willow Creek, Sand Dollar and Mill Creek) opened over the weekend. Attendance was approximately half normal capacity.·       Day Use Areas have ample signage outlining proper behavior of visitors.·       Expecting an increase in visitation in the weeks ahead.

Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Mike Splain, ED:·     12 uniformed Volunteer Wilderness Rangers contributed 117 hours on 5 patrols.·     Rangers posted closure & fire restriction signage at 17 trailheads, including Boronda, Kirk Creek, Mill Creek, & both ends of the Prewitt Loop.·     Rangers also posted Do Your Part signage at the Carmel River, (eastern) Pine Ridge, Horse Pasture, Church Creek, & Santa Lucia trailheads, conducted fire ring maintenance & hazard reduction at 5 campsites, & made 19 visitor contacts.·     Among the violations reported were 2 cars at Mill Creek TH, 7 cars at Boronda TH, 27 cars at Salmon Creek TH, 5 cars at Baldwin Ranch Rd·     In several locations closure tape & signage had been removed or vandalized.·     On the eastern side of the District, cabin-owners at the Santa Lucia Summer Home Tract reported a wave of lawless behavior- breaking & entering at the old ranger station & 4 cabins, as well as overflowing trash cans, vandalized gates & bonfires at Santa Lucia Memorial Park campground. 

Esalen Institue. Lacy Shannon:·     Targeting reopening of the campus in mid-June, subject to local and state SIP guidelines.·     Esalen has some procedures to address, modify and refine in terms of dining and lodging prior to opening.

17thState Senate District, Colleen Courtney for Senator Bill Monning:·       Reported that a number of Big Sur constituents are working with Senator Monning’s team to solve issues around applying for and receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
20thCongressional District, Katie Moon on behalf of Congressman Jimmy Panetta. ·       Introduced Jimmy Panetta’s new District Manager Phil Deppert, taking over for Kathleen Lee.·       District team continues to provide assistance where needed focusing on SBA programs, Federal stimulus programs and constituents stuck abroad by C-19.·       Jimmy working on legislation (SOS 2020) which will fund states creating strike teams to address C-19 threats to nursing homes and assisted living spaces.·       Traveled to D.C. to vote in favor of the House Heroes Act.·       An important provision of the Act is early voting and vote by mail, funding for Counties to fight C-19 as well as revisions to the CARES Act PPP rules and guidelines for repayment.

Community Association of Big Sur, Butch Kronlund. ED:·       CABS, working with the Big Sur business HR departments, will be making a second distribution of financial assistance to those most financially vulnerable due to employment disruptions brought on by COVID-19.·       CABS has also identified another area of financial need in the Big Sur community and has opened an application process for those independent contractors who have been unable to secure either PPP or SBA funding. ·       With remote learning the new reality for all school age children, Big Sur children continue to be at a disadvantage at home, trying to keep up with their peers due to a lack of Broad Band internet capacity in Big Sur. Katie and Butch to connect this week to continue working toward a solution.