Film shoot, Bixby Bridge, 2/27 or 2/28

Date: 02/20/2020
Notification of Upcoming Film Activity – Big Sur Area
To: Big Sur Residents and Businesses
From: Mark Redmond, Location Manager
Re: Film Production Activity on Highway 1 in the Big Sur Area Scheduled for 3/27 OR 3/28/2020
In an effort to better communicate with Big Sur residents and business owners regarding upcoming film activities in the area, this is to notify you of a permitted film shoot to take place on 2/27 or 2/28 /2020 from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. Our work will require intermittent traffic control (ITC) at and near Bixby Bridge and Hwy. 1 [Mile Markers 59.8 to 55. As per our permit, a portion of parking at the Bixby Bridge turnout will also be used. Traffic holds will be in small areas [2/10- 3/10 mile.]
We will be hiring California Highway Patrol officers to facilitate the ITC and to ensure public safety and access with only brief traffic holds. Most of our trucks and equipment will be stationed a few miles away on private property.
We have taken all necessary steps to ensure that the required permits have been obtained and will comply with restrictions necessary for a safe and efficient shoot.
The production company would like to show its appreciation to the community with a donation to the MId Coast Fire Brigade .
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. I hope this advance notice is helpful for you to plan your day.
Sincerely yours, Mark
Mark Redmond
Location Manager
Lucid, Inc.
415 505 7400 redmondmark@mac.com

Tourist Tuesday, revisited

President’s Day weekend is a good time to revisit an issue I have written about before: Local communities are in the best position to determine the level of tourism and type of tourism they want or can handle.

Three days of picture-perfect California weather, a holiday weekend and the expected happened —  tourists were out in droves. The CHP (California Highway Patrol) and MCSO (Monterey County Sheriff’s Office) have come to understand the need for a proactive presence at Bixby Bridge and often will take up positions there BEFORE they get the inevitable calls regarding the dangerous conditions brought on by the selfie instagram crowds. For that those of us who must travel the highway for work or town runs, we thank you.

I haven’t been creating “Tourist Tuesday” blog posts for some time, but now that CABS (Community Association of Big Sur) and BGT (Beyond Green Travel) have partnered to create a community-based Destination Management Plan, I think it is time to revisit the issue — not every week, but occasionally, as new information becomes available.

What started this one is an article I read on Good News Tourism here: https://goodtourismblog.com/2020/02/good-news-in-tourism-february-9-15-2020/. The thesis of this article is that local communities are in the best position to determine the tourism levels and type they want or can handle. That is also the premise of the partnership between CABS and BGT.

CABS and BGT have developed a survey to be completed by residents, businesses, employees, and others, as a starting point to determine the direction this community will take in managing the overtourism we are experiencing. I reached out to CABS and BGT today (Monday as I write this) regarding this survey and was told it was being translated into Spanish. After the original posting, I received the information on the survey and will publish it tomorrow. Now, then, is a good time to draw attention to at least one other community who has done the same.

In the Good Tourism blog, there is a paragraph that stood out: “Even local authorities can be out of touch, of course. A perfect example is from a survey of residents and businesses of San Juan Islands, Washington state, USA. Results were published during the week. According to one finding, “there was wide acknowledgement among residents that vacation rentals reduce long-term housing affordability”, which is reportedly counter to the County’s prior position.” Sound like Monterey? It does to me, so I decided to check out the survey created for San Juan Islands of Washington State.

Indeed, I found the similarities to be striking. This is from the 65 page summary of the findings from the San Juan Islands survey, which can be found here, https://sanjuanislander.com/news-articles/government-news/san-juan-county/30583/results-from-tourism-and-visitor-management-survey-released

“One finding that differs from the county government’s beliefs regards vacation rentals. The county says they do not have an impact on availability of housing. According to the study:

‘There was wide acknowledgement among residents that vacation rentals reduce long-term housing affordability. Residents recognize economic benefits from tourism, but also that tourism-related crowding reduces the quality of visitor experiences and has negative impacts on the environment.’

‘A higher percentage of businesses than residents recognized the economic benefits from tourism, but most agreed that vacation rentals reduce affordability of long-term rentals.’”

It is important for everyone involved in promoting our area to aim toward promoting a quality experience for the tourist that focuses on the existing infrastructure and businesses who are the life blood of community. Both businesses and community need housing which is affordable to provide employees who live where they work, and for the volunteers on which all of Big Sur’s major non-profits depend. STRS do NOT provide an affordable alternative to existing campgrounds, inns, and hotels — they are often as expensive or more than what already is here. It isn’t affordable alternatives that are driving tourists away from local businesses and infrastructure and into the fast disappearing wildness of Big Sur, it is the crowds who stream here who can’t get reservations because we are already overbooked. We are loosing the characteristics that originally drew our visitors — friendly, accommodating locals, day trips into the wilderness from their base in Big Sur in our campgrounds, inns, and hotels. Instead, tourists are making our wilderness their base with no reciprocity to our businesses, spending little or no money actually IN Big Sur . The current selfie-tourist brings little to our community and businesses.

I don’t leave my property on holiday weekends because it has become untenable. My son counted 75 cars when he came home from a town run. That’s probably 150 plus people camping along a five-mile road. One of them was camping in the middle of the road after their clutch gave out and they got themselves stuck. They had come from San Jose. If they spend ANY money here, it will be to Cambria Towing. My son has become extremely experienced in getting town folk out of the predicaments they have gotten themselves in to.

75 cars equate to 150 plus people camping on a five-mile road. Since much of it is too steep for camping, and there are only a finite number of places suitable for camping, this means tourists were camping on top of each other. How is that a sustainable experience for tourist or local? One local asked others if anyone had noted any USFS presence during this weekend, so far, no one has reported seeing any. This will make for an interesting fire season this year.

State Park Volunteer Opportunities

Help Restore Soberanes Point at Garrapata State Park

February 15, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Do you love Garrapata State Park? Then join our efforts for one weekend day each month as we work to restore the native habitat of this beautiful state park’s Soberanes Point.

Monterey District State Parks is launching a monthly, volunteer program designed to educate and engage our coastal communities in an ongoing habitat restoration program at Garrapata State Park. You, your family and friends are invited to join our Natural Resources Team and fellow volunteers at SoberanesPoint where we will be working to preserve and restore the park’s natural resources. Volunteers and park staff will be removing non-native invasive plants such as cape ivy, mustard, sweet alyssum, and poison hemlock. Together we will be replanting native coastal scrub species, while realigning or removing unofficial trails that disturb sensitive habitat areas.

We will meet from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the 3rd Saturday of every month. Our upcoming programs will be held on 2/15, 3/21, 4/18, and 5/9. Please Note: The program in May will be held on the second Saturday. As volunteers help us succeed at Soberanes Point, we will expand our work to other areas of Garrapata State Park in future weekend programs.• Please wear close-toed, sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing for physical work in rocky, uneven terrain, rain or shine, and breezy to windy conditions.• Please bring a hat, work gloves if you have them, sunscreen water and a snack.• We will provide tools, loaner gloves, if you don’t have them, water, and training.• All ages welcome. No experience or long-term commitment is necessary.

Can’t join us on Saturday? The California Native Plant Society leads a volunteer work day on the 3rd Sunday of the month. Click on the link for more information.

Contact us at volunteer.monterey@parks.ca.gov or 831-574-9008 for more information about Garrapata State Park volunteer programs and additional opportunities throughout Monterey District State Parks.

Wind Advisory

In case you missed it, NOAA has put out a wind advisory: “Wind Advisory from 2/2/2020 4:00 AM to 2/3/2020 4:00 AM for Monterey County  https://inws.ncep.noaa.gov/a/a.php?i=42284571 Strong winds are expected as a dry cold front moves through the region. Winds are expected to be out of the northwest around 15 to 30 mph with wind gusts forecast to range from 30 mph to 45 mph. Strongest wind gusts will be observed along the immediate Pacific Coastline with gusts ranging from 40 mph to 50 mph.”

Destination Stewardship Plan & Steering Committee

                                       January 15, 2020
 
 
Dear Big Sur Community Members and Stakeholders,

As we move into the new year, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with a further update on the Big Sur Sustainable Tourism Destination Stewardship Plan (DSP).
 
We are happy to announce the formation of the DSP Steering Committee. The primary role of the DSP Steering Committee is to assist and support the Beyond Green Travel (BGT) project management team in creating the DSP, including providing guidance, feedback and input for the success of the DSP process. The Steering Committee will help guide the DSP project to a successful conclusion through deliberation, support and action as an important advisory group made up of individuals and stakeholders in the Big Sur Land Use Area, including residents, businesses, emergency services, educators, community members and county representatives. The formation of the DSP Steering Committee follows guidelines for effective project Steering Committees, in terms of size and responsibilities.  We sought input from a diverse array of community members in forming the Steering Committee and believe that a community focus is important.  The Steering Committee includes the following members, and we want to thank them for their willingness to participate:

          Matt Harris (Big Sur Fire Chief/Emergency Services)
          Carissa Chappellet (Board President of the Big Sur Health Center)
          Mike Freed (Owner, Post Ranch Inn/Co-Chair, California Task Force on
          Destination Stewardship)
          Kirk Gafill (Owner, Nepenthe/Exec Director, Big Sur Chamber of Commerce)
          Ryne Leuzinger (CSUMB Staff and CABS board member)
          Laverne McLeod (Long-time resident and community member)
          Lee Otter (BSLUP Strategic Advisor)
          Yuri Anderson (representing County Supervisor Mary Adams)

Steering Committee meetings will be held bi-monthly and more frequently as may be determined by the Committee, and will follow a discussion format, with minutes taken.

In addition to the Steering Committee and other ongoing stakeholder engagement, BGT will continue to reach out to individuals and other stakeholders for their valuable input including US Forest Service, State Parks, Coastal Commission, Esselen Tribe Representatives, Big Sur residents, among others. To further maximize community and stakeholder feedback, a DSP website has also been created (www.bigsurdsp.com), noting the importance of protecting Big Sur’s natural and cultural heritage for future generations. Any stakeholder or community member can provide their comments, suggestions, concerns and recommendations for the DSP directly to the BGT Team through the website. All comments are being collected and collated on a monthly basis and will be included as part of the DSP Report, as well as inform the DSP Project Team of important considerations.  In addition, a Big Sur Resident Survey is being created and will be sent out in early February to gather resident perspectives, concerns and input into solutions for visitor management strategies as part of the DSP.

Another important project update is the hiring of Kate Daniels from Monterey County to join the BGT DSP Team.  Kate has a strong record of community engagement, including her recent appointment to the Monterey County Planning Commission, her involvement with the ParkIt! initiative and her important knowledge of and familiarity with the Big Sur Land Use Plan, the Big Sur Multi Agency Advisory Council, the Coast Highway Management Plan, the Sustainable Transportation Demand Management Plan, and the California Coastal Act.
 
On December 10, 2019, the BGT Team provided an update presentation on the Destination Stewardship Plan at the Big Sur Area CABS Annual Meeting held at the Big Sur Grange and attended by 63 Residents, community members and Big Sur area stakeholders. This DSP Project Meeting included BGT Team members presenting different aspects of the project progress to date, led by Costas Christ, President of BGT, Sally Christ, VP of BGT and Kate Daniels, BGT Local Project Coordinator. Among other items, the presentation included a summary on Big Sur Visitation, noting that no reliably accurate statistics exist for the number of visitors to Big Sur, but the overall perception among community members is that visitation is growing rapidly. BGT noted global tourism growth trends will likely increase visitation to Big Sur in the future; how tourism impacts can be both positive and negative, with proper planning and management key to making the positive of visitation outweigh the negative impacts. This was coupled with news stories about Big Sur showing both positive and negative media coverage. In addition, the  presentation also included clarity on what a destination stewardship plan is; the need for it to be backed by reliable data and research; and a DSP project timeline, with key milestones identified leading up to a final Sustainable Tourism Destination Stewardship Plan being completed by June 30, 2020. A robust question and answer discussion about the DSP then followed, providing an opportunity for further community input to the DSP process. 
 
In addition to the various meetings and consultations noted above, the BGT team has continued to conduct learning trips along Highway 1 to see conditions first hand and gain a more thorough perspective of how the geography and infrastructure of the region impacts issues related to visitation, business and daily life for residents. The importance of protecting the environment has been a key aspect of these reconnaissance trips to inform the DSP, including driving from Monterey to the South Coast of Big Sur, with stops to inspect facilities and view conditions at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Garrapata State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Point Sur State Historic Park, Andrew Molera State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and McWay Falls. Multiple observational visits were also made to high visitation areas including Bixby Bridge and the Big Sur Valley, on different days of the week and at different times of the day to see visitor use in action.
 
The intention of the DSP is to also compliment and support both the guidelines that underpin the management of Big Sur, such as the Big Sur Land Use Plan and the more recent Traffic Demand Management Plan, as well as other efforts taking place in Big Sur to address visitation concerns, support conservation of the environment, protection of cultural heritage, economic development and improving quality of life for Big Sur residents. The DSP Process Plan has been put into place including the project timeline, goals and objectives, with stakeholder input throughout the process., as well as on-going review, research and data collection from other plans and reports relevant to a Big Sur DSP, with the intention not to recreate the wheel, but to complement the work of previous studies and plans relevant to Big Sur visitation management.
 
We look forward to our continuing engagement and consultations with Big Sur community members and stakeholders, as we aim to create a plan that can help Big Sur remain a unique and special place for present and future generations.
 
Best regards,

Costas Christ
Founder & CEO, Beyond Green Travel

Community Invitation from Esalen

PLEASE READ THE INVITE — RSVP TO info@esalen.org as directed on the invite, not here in the comments. Ask them if Cambria or Carmel are local enough. Ask them if your Big Sur pay stubs will be sufficient. Esalen did not share their criteria with me and did not define what they mean by “local.” Thank you.

Coast Ride this weekend

Upwards of 400 bicyclists are expected this holiday weekend, as well as our own Forager’s Festival. From the website: http://thecoastride.org

“This year’s “Coast Ride” will be from January 18th-20th (Saturday, Sunday, Monday)

We continue this year back to the original, the classic, the standard, gorgeous, full-coastal route this year, featuring a climber’s delight on Day 2 with views and climbs that will wow you.

We are excited to return to Sports Basement [in San Francisco] to start our journey down the coast.  We will start bright and early as usual – arrive at 7:00am so we can roll by 7:45.  We end in Santa Barbara for our standard 375 miles of California coastline cycling.”\

I have a number of other news items of interest, including an Esalen invite to the community and several items from CABS, to post today.