Covid-19 weekly meeting notes

COVID-19 Community Response Group Meeting Notes

August 5, 2020

Attendees (via Zoom):

20th Congressional District, State Senate District 17, 30thAssembly District, CA 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 

USFSLPNF Monterey District Ranger Tim Short, John Eifert sitting in:• Announced that the Monterey District has requested a COVID-19 Emergency Road Closure on the following roads to the public: South Coast Ridge Road, Central Coast (Cone Peak) Road, Los Burros (Willow Creek) Road, and Plaskett Ridge Road.• This Emergency Road Closure will go into effect this Friday, August 7th and will stay in effect through October 19, 2020.• The Monterey District is working collaboratively with other agency partners and private property owners for solutions to complex problems.• The Strategic Fuel Break Project has been awarded from funding from the Joint Chiefs and California Climate Initiative Grants. It is undergoing planning efforts for implementation in Fiscal Year 2020, 2021 and 2022. For Fiscal Year 2020 work will be implemented on approximately 157 acres along the North Coast Ridge Road.• Butch asked how the Great American Outdoors Act will impact funding projects in the Monterey District. John replied LPNF will get some funding and will report more next week.• Kirk sought clarification if there will be restrictions on the Nacimiento/Ferguson Road with the Emergency Road Closure Order. John replied there will be no restrictions.• Butch, Martha Karstens and Matt Harris thanked John and the LPNF for taking this action to address the impacts of visitation on the south coast ridges.

Big Sur Fire, Chief Matt Harris reports:• Matt sought clarification on Forest Order and confirmed the following: that the Forest Service closes the roads only and Trailheads remain open; Big Sur Fire will have access to the proposed gates in case of fire; and residents on the south coast ridges also have access with the gates. • Big Sur Fire remains busy with rescues and car accidents.• Big Sur Fire graduated a class of 10 new fire fighters.• Butch wanted to acknowledge Marcus and Trey’s reporting on the conditions on the south coast last weekend. Butch pointed out that their data helped make the case that the visitation on the south coast needed to be addressed and was out of control. Matt goes on to say that Big Sur Fire appreciated the quick collaboration with the Forest Service that led to the Emergency Road Closure.• Matt touched on the need for Monterey County, State and Federal to have a uniform fine structure across jurisdictions.• In later remarks Matt suggested that all firewood at point-of-sale have an insert with clearly stated fire restrictions outside of developed campgrounds. Matt to work with Big Sur Chamber on this messaging.

Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Mike Splain reports:• Since our last call, 2 Volunteer Wilderness Rangers spent 21 hours patrolling the Cone Peak Trail, greeting 34 visitors, packing out a pound of trash, dismantling 4 fire rings, and placing social distancing signage at nearby trailheads.• VWA Trail Crew Leaders and American Conservation Experience contract crews (supported by USFS packers) are currently working on the Pine Ridge Trail between Barlow Flat and Sykes Camp. The trail is tentatively scheduled to re-open in the fall, with a pilot permit system in place to educate visitors on fire safety and Leave No Trace ethics, and to monitor the volume of visitation.• The hope is that restoring this access will serve to more safely disperse visitation and alleviate resource damage currently impacting other extremely popular coastal trails.

Parks Management CompanyJeremy Waggoner:• The developed campgrounds are full.• Day Use areas are below capacity which is rare for this time of year.

CA. State ParksBig Sur Sector Supervisor Marcos Ortegareports:• Marcos was unable to attend.

Big Sur Health Center:• There are currently 10 positive cases of COVID-19.• The Health Center has performed 14 new COVID tests this week bringing the total to 328 tests. There is a 6 day turn around for positive tests and a 3 day turn around for negative tests.

Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, Kirk Gafill reports:• Kirk Gafill reports overall business in Big Sur is down 20-25%.• Monterey County businesses have multiple challenges including turn-around time on COVID-19 testing results and an already diminished labor pool.• Kirk states that the Big Sur Health Center has been an extraordinary resource for the Big Sur business community in meeting the challenges of COVID-19.

Fifth District Supervisor. Sarah Hardgrave for Supervisor Mary Adams reports.• Sarah acknowledged Kirk’s comments on the challenges in multiple sectors of the economy and distance learning of children this fall.• Mary Adams and Chris Lopez coordinated getting message boards installed at the east and west ends of the Nacimiento / Ferguson Road. The message mirroring the Cal Trans message board stating: No Campfires Strictly Enforced.• Supervisor Adams is looking at both short term and long term solutions to deal with the illegal roadside camping issue. • Sarah screen shared the County Health Department dashboard showing where the County is in terms of the metrics driving our operational status under COVID.• 3 of 10 metrics are in the red.  These are: 14 day cumulative COVID incidence per 100k residents = 361, Percent of Nursing Facilities with no new COVID cases in last 14 days = 50% and 7 day average positivity rate of those tested = 14.8%• Monterey County is working closely with hospitals and also seeking alternative housing sites for those needing to be quarantined.

20th Congressional District, Katie Moon on behalf of Congressman Jimmy Panetta:• Katie reported that she and Phil Deppert had a conversation with Butch regarding strategy on how to address cross jurisdictional enforcement challenges on the following: illegal camping, illegal campfires, resource destruction, trespassing, etc. • Great American Outdoors Act passed. The bill has been signed into law. This results are $9 billion dollars available for public lands. Addressing deferred maintenance is a high priority for this funding. 

30th Assembly District. Dominic Dursa for Assembly Member Robert Rivas.• Following up with last week’s suggestion that the local electeds work on a responsible recreation message. Dominic, Colleen Courtney, Katie Moon and Sarah Hardgrave met to start this conversation.

17th State Senate DistrictColleen Courtney for Senator Bill Monning reports:• Colleen was unable to attend.

Community Emergency Response Team, Martha Karstens:• CERT is working with Monterey County to upgrade their repeater.

Esalen Institute. Lacy Shannon:• Lacy was unable to attend.

Monterey County Sheriff Department, Deputy Villasenor:• Jesse was unable to attend.

Community Association of Big SurButch Kronlund. EDreports:• The Sunday morning illegal roadside camping sweep revealed 109 vehicles using Highway 1 turn outs, from Mal Paso Bridge to the SLO county line, to illegally camp.• Pacific Valley continues to be busy with illegal roadside camping (20 vehicles) and 9 tents counted out on the bluff.• Illegal campfires on Prewitt Ridge and Alms = 21 this last weekend. With 3 illegal campfires reported on Los Burros and San Martin.• During the course of the meeting the issue of who has authority to cite under which code is an on-going impediment to changing unwanted visitor behavior. For example, the USFS has a fine structure of $5,000 for an illegal campfire. The County on the other hand has a fine that is far less. The enforcement for illegal roadside camping is dependent upon which jurisdiction the camper is on. For instance, if a roadside camper is across the street from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and is cited by a State Park Ranger the procedure for issuing the ticket and the cost to pay the fine are significantly different than the procedure and the cost to pay the fine if issued by a Monterey County Sheriff or CHP. In order for the public to be forewarned and in order for law enforcement to have an easily enforceable action the jurisdictions need to be on the same page regarding legal language and fine structure. Sarah, with Supervisor Adams Office, thanked Butch for clarifying what the challenge is.


USFS closes 4 popular dirt roads in the South Coast of Big Sur

The three roads that people live on have suffered significant damage such that emergency responders cannot respond with needed equipment if there is a fire or other emergency. Additionally, every night there is at least one illegal campfire. Local residents applaud the order, which goes into effect today, 8/7 and remains in effect until Oct 19.

Given the nature of the comments I have received, I am turning off all comments for this post.

Incident on Old Coast Road

This is all over social media, but I was on a grocery run And didn’t get it until now. Sharing for those of you not on FB. It is hard to say if what was going on was specific to OCR or whether it might happen in other areas as well. Regardless, it was very frightening and all of us should keep our eyes and ears open.
“An inspector with Davey Tree Service was traveling north on Old Coast Rd from Molera. About halfway to Bixby near the cattle guard, the road was boobytrapped with multiple boards studded with construction grade screws face up. The Tree Service employee got a flat and when she stepped out to check, 4-5 men armed with rifles and yelling “Alto!” ran up towards her.
She hopped back in and drove on the flat all the way to our gate here at Bixby. She honked and honked. 2 Davey big trucks she knew were in the area came as did a neighbor’s fiancé. She was crying and very upset. He called the CHP and sheriff – they are now here with a roadblock set up.
This happened just within the hour. Be careful.” (Editor’s Note: probably around 11:30 or so based on when it was posted.)

Offshore Wind Project

From Jimmy Panetta’s Office:

Dear Community Member, The administration is seeking public input as it considers opportunities for offshore wind development off the central coast of California.  You can submit your public comments to the California Energy Commission (CEC) at this link.  This public comment period ends September 30, 2020. Tips for submitting effective comments can be found here.

About the Opportunity for Offshore Wind Development:California is committed to a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the State’s economy and has established long-term policies to reduce most of the greenhouse gas emissions from the electric sector by 2045.  Developing a diverse portfolio of renewable resources is a key component of California’s approach to building a reliable and cost-effective low-carbon energy system.To this end, in October 2018, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a call for Information and Nominations (Call) for three areas off the California coast, two of which are offshore the Central Coast: Morro Bay Call Area and Diablo Canyon Call Area.  Both Call Areas, however, were assessed as incompatible with wind energy development by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), as both areas are heavily utilized by multiple DoD components for critical activities. In August 2019, I joined my colleague Congressman Salud Carbajal in convening a meeting with senior officials from the DoD, BOEM, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sanctuaries, and the State of California.  This group has held subsequent meetings to discuss alternative Call Areas.  The group has identified potential areas that include portions of the Morro Bay Call Area as well as an area to the north and to the south of the Morro Bay Call Area. A description and map of these areas is available on the BOEM website.  The group has also discussed an approximately 90 square mile area within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary adjacent to the Morro Bay Call Area.  The area is labeled “Discussion Area” on the map to facilitate stakeholder input and public input. Any call area must go through a very lengthy authorization process before construction can begin, and feedback is solicited to ensure any final proposal includes the perspective of all relevant stakeholders.

Public CommentThe State of California and BOEM have initiated a process to receive input on potential offshore wind development.  Consistent with public health guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19, the State and BOEM will conduct remote public outreach meetings.  In addition to receiving public comment during the public workshops, the CEC will collect written comments in the California Offshore Renewable Energy Docket until September 30, 2020. CEC is encouraging use of its electronic commenting system.  When you enter the system, please 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 be submitted by email or US Mail.  Include the docket number, 17- MISC-01, and Offshore Renewable Energy in the subject line and email or mail to:

California Energy Commission
Docket Unit, MS-4
Re: Docket No. 17-MISC-01
1516 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814-5512

Visual SimulationsMy office has received visual simulation panoramas and, in partnership with State Parks, has installed these displays at the Big Sur Multi-Agency Facility (MAF).  The visual displays will remain installed at the Big Sur MAF until at least August 1, 2020.  There are three visual displays posted outside, and the rest are inside the building in the conference center.The visuals show simulations at fifteen, seventeen, and twenty miles from shore from two viewpoints in Big Sur at different times of day.  I urge you to safely visit the displays to better understand the visual impacts of wind development off the Central Coast.To visit the Big Sur MAF, please navigate to the following address: Multi-Agency Facility, Big Sur Station #1, Big Sur, CA 93920.  Traveling South from Carmel to San Luis Obispo on Highway 1, the MAF is the first left turn after the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park entrance.  The Big Sur MAF is open from 9:00AM-4:00PM daily.I look forward to continuing to engage with you during and after the public comment period and will ensure your views are taken into consideration as I work with federal agencies to move forward on an offshore wind development proposal that works for our communities. Sincerely,

Jimmy Panetta
United States Representative
20th Congressional District, California

Please note that due to House of Representatives information security policies, emails sent to this email account are unable to be monitored.Washington, D.C. Office
212 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2861
Fax: (202) 225-6791Salinas Office
142 W Alisal St.
Room E116
Salinas, CA 93901
Phone: (831) 424-2229Santa Cruz Office
701 Ocean St.
Room 318C
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone: (831) 429-1976

My hope is to write a more in-depth article about this next month which will also provide links to obtain more information if one chooses. Personally, I have some concerns about why CA is pursuing this option, rather than encouraging solar.

It is the height of irony that this project is proposed for an area off the coast of the only remaining coastal area in the State of California that has never had commercial power to this day. Most of us have provided our own solar power. This off-shore wind project will use an undetermined amount of fossil fuel just create it in the first place. Further, insufficient data is available regarding the harm it may cause to marine mammals and other migratory species.

Here is a link to the Offshore Power presentation from the BSMAAC meeting.  The video is on Mary Adams Facebook page:

The presentation and discussion afterward starts at -2:54:16 and ends at -1:23:29.

A big thank you to Dick Ravich for sending me the link and time stamps.

Photo Sunday, 7/26/20

Tomorrow is Rock Knocker’s 80th birthday. He is a Leo and an extravert, so celebrations are his thing … unfortunately, COVID-19 has made this darn near impossible, except for a special meal planned around his favorites. This is where we would have gone for breakfast, and will, hopefully, next year. Happy Birthday, R!

Veg Fire Sleepy Hollow & CVR

Looks like they hit this hard and fast and are saying the forward movement is stopped.

Incident: 00270 Type: Report of Fire Location: 32835 CRG16 Loc Desc:   Lat/Lon: 36.459483 -121.707956 

Detail Information
4:20 PM7[31] [Appended, 16:21:13] [1] SEES SMOKE
4:10 PM6[15] [Appended, 16:10:16] [1] TRANS TO MONT COM
4:05 PM4[8] [Appended, 16:06:10] [1] RP SEES SMOKE F/HER RES
4:04 PM3[5] [Appended, 16:05:29] [1] BY SLEEPY HOLLOW RD ON CVR
4:01 PM1[3] REP A FIRE

Coyote Fire, San Benito Co. 7/15/20

4:30 pm — I need to separate this one out from the other one as it will go extended and is already grabbing resources from other areas due to structure and lives threats. Evacuations are in progress.

CoyoteFire (San Benito Co) – IC reports 30-50 structures immediately threatened, another 100 will be threatened in the next 12 hours or so. High tension powerlines also in the area.

Offshore Wind Project

Tomorrow the Offshore Wind working group will be presenting to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. Please visit the link below for registration information and directions.

This meeting is open to the public, so please share with anyone who may be interested in attending.