USFS to limit public comment due to changes in the NEPA

“Under President Donald Trump, federal agencies have chipped away at the reviews and permitting required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws. Earlier this month, the Forest Service proposed a significant overhaul of the NEPA process for logging and development on millions of acres of federal forest and grassland across the West. 

In a statement, the Forest Service said NEPA environmental reviews are time-consuming, redundant and prevent active maintenance of healthy forests. The agency called it the first serious change to NEPA’s regulation of forest management in more than 10 years. 

The public has 60 days to weigh in on these significant changes. The proposed NEPA revisions comment period closes Aug. 12. Here are some key takeaways:

The proposed changes would reduce environmental review for logging and infrastructure.

The Forest Service wants to expand the number of projects that would qualify for “categorical exclusions” — projects that can bypass environmental analysis or environmental impact statements. The exclusions would apply to forest thinning, various types of road and trail building, brush removal and recreational site management. More controversially, forest projects of up to 7,300 acres (with logging on up to more than half of those acres) could be excluded from NEPA review. Mineral and energy exploration — such as using seismic testing to gather geological data and various small-scale infrastructure building — could also be exempt if it lasts less than one year.”

For the rest of this article see: https://www.hcn.org/articles/u-s-forest-service-might-limit-public-comments

STRs in Big Sur

I have covered this issue before — last month before the end of the public comment period here: https://bigsurkate.blog/2019/05/16/vacation-rentals-tourism-and-big-sur/ but it comes before the Planning Commission next Wednesday, and I wrote an article for the Voices of Monterey Bay website published today.

Here is part of what I wrote:


“The special characteristic of the Big Sur Coast should also be recognized as a primary resource. Man’s presence along this coast continues to reflect a pioneering attitude of independence and resourcefulness; and the environment has been a special nurturing ground for individual and creative fulfillment. The community itself, and its traditional way of life are resources that can help protect the environment and enhance the visitor experience.”
— Big Sur Land Use Plan

By Kate Woods Novoa

Big Sur is raw, rugged, and humbling. It has been said that she can — and will — spit you out, if you don’t belong here. Longtime locals speak of her as if she is an entity. Visitors think of Big Sur as idyllic, and it is in many ways. But this romance does not have a place for short-term rentals.

Those who live here know the difficulties that are a part of the life here: the instability of the road, town trips and school days that must be canceled due to the ever-changing road conditions of Highway 1; storms that take out power lines and telephone lines; slides that take out our main artery, water systems and private roads, not to mention critical bridges; the isolation and the lack of any of the amenities most people have come to not just expect, but need. Get away from the highway, and you may see no services, except what landowners or neighborhoods provide. Here, it is still possible to live up close and personal with Mother Nature. That is why it is humbling. Those who survive the lessons that she has to teach become a community with shared values and a love for this place and one’s place in it.

Fabian Pfortmüller, a Swiss community builder and entrepreneur, defines community “as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” But community, to me, is more than that. We care about each other, help each other, and care about the places where we live. “This is where the magic of a community happens,” Pfortmüller said. “When people care about each other, they develop trust. And trust unlocks collaboration, sharing, support, hope, safety and much more. While most organizations in the world optimize their performance towards external goals, communities optimize for trust.”

Tales of collaboration, sharing, support, hope and trust are legendary in Big Sur. From the early settlers to the last fire, road closure, or bridge collapse, tales of neighbor helping neighbor abound.

For the rest of my article, please see: https://voicesofmontereybay.org/2019/06/20/big-surs-str-problem/

Mo Co Budget approved

The part we might be most concerned with is this: “Also Monday, the board agreed to back a proposal from board chairman John Phillips to devote $1.4 million in transient occupancy tax revenue to the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau. They also directed the organization to conduct a range of economic development initiatives, including a Big Sur tourism study and shuttle, and promotion of county destinations such as the Salinas Valley and River Road wine corridor, Lakes Nacimiento and San Antonio, the Pinnacles National Monument, and more.” From Monterey Herald http://www.montereyherald.com/supervisors-wrap-up-county-budget-hearings

Forest Fire Lookout Project – Chew’s Ridge, 6/6/19

CHEWS RIDGE LOOKOUT

Project Description

The Monterey Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest, in partnership with the Forest Fire Lookout Association, will be exploring the possibility of activating the Chews Ridge Lookout and staffing it with local volunteers in order to provide firefighters with early fire detection, as well as other assistance to the National Forest.  In many circumstances, catching a fire when it is still young can prevent it from becoming large and destructive.  This project gives volunteers the opportunity to help improve fire safety in Monterey County rural areas, the Ventana Wilderness, and the Los Padres National Forest.

To read about this project in detail, see: https://firelookouthost.org/chews-ridge-project/

US Open traffic, parking, and alternatives by Caltrans

Today’s Date: Wednesday, June 5, 2019

District:           05 – Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito and Santa        

                         Cruz Counties                                                  

Contact:          Susana Z Cruz (bilingual) or Colin Jones

Phone:            (805) 549-3138 or (805) 549-3189

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

U.S. Open Traffic and Transit Information

In preparation for the 119th U.S. Open Championship, the United States Golf Association (USGA) and Pebble Beach company unveiled a comprehensive transportation plan to ensure the safe and efficient movement of traffic and pedestrians during the championship, scheduled for June 10-16.

More than 16,000 satellite parking spaces have been secured to help ensure that the anticipated 250,000 fans at the U.S. Open experience trouble-free travel to and from the Pebble Beach.  Local traffic representatives from the California Highway Patrol, Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) have been involved in the 18-month-long planning process with the USGA and Pebble Beach Company.

All fans traveling by car during U.S. Open week should follow event trailblazing signage to California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in Marina, CA, where complimentary parking and shuttle transportation will be provided to and from Pebble Beach. Shuttles will run continuously beginning at 5:30 a.m. PDT each day and continue for one hour following the conclusion of play. One-way shuttle times are expected to take approximately 30-35 minutes, depending upon traffic.

There is no general parking for fans with disabilities available in the immediate vicinity of Pebble Beach Golf Links. All other parking is by permit only. Parking restrictions surrounding the championship grounds and within the Del Monte Forest will be closely monitored and enforced. 17-Mile Drive will be closed to tourist traffic June 9 through June 16, 2019.

Handicapped-accessible parking spaces will be available at all championship parking areas for vehicles displaying appropriate HP/DP license plates or placards. Individuals requiring lift-equipped transportation are encouraged to contact the USGA Admissions Office at 800-698-0661 for more information. 

The cities of Carmel, Monterey and Pacific Grove are offering express shuttle bus services to the U.S. Open for residents and community guests. For more information on fees, daily schedules, frequency, and locations of service, please visit the Carmel Chamber of Commerce (carmelchamber.org), Cannery Row Company (canneryrow.com) and Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce (pacificgrove.com) websites.

Fans and local residents wishing to utilize ride-share options to be dropped off at the championship should utilize the designated Passenger Drop-Off area along Forest Lake Road, located near Gate 1 within the Del Monte Forest. There is no parking or staging for vehicles, so pickup times will need to be coordinated accordingly. Vehicles proceeding to the Passenger Drop-Off are instructed to enter the Del Monte Forest through the Pacific Grove Gate or Morse Gate located on CA-68. Please follow directional signs and attendants to the appropriate pickup and drop-off location. Due to traffic restrictions, access is limited to vehicles no larger than a 12-passenger van or limousine. Passenger Drop-Off vehicles are not permitted to pick-up or drop-off at any other location around the championship grounds.

For the week of Monday, June 10 through June 16, local residents and through traffic are encouraged to adjust travel around peak U.S. Open arrival and departure times (7-11 a.m. and 3:30-7:30 p.m.) if possible. The local residents and area commuters from Castroville Blvd. to eastbound Hwy. 156, there will be no left turn out of Castroville Blvd. onto eastbound Hwy. 156 from Wednesday, June 12 at 10 am through Monday, June 17 at 10 am. There will be a detour to turn right from Castroville Blvd. onto westbound Hwy. 156 traffic will exit at SR-183/Merritt Street then a left at Merritt Street and a left turn back onto eastbound Hwy 156.

Local residents and area commuters from the Salinas Valley are encouraged to follow alternate routing and trailblazing signage to General Jim Moore Boulevard, avoiding CSUMB and CA-1.  Due to U.S. Open traffic, delays can be expected along the primary routes of CA-1 from Exit 399A (Pebble Beach) to Exit 414 (Nashua/Molera Road). Monterey and Pacific Grove commuters should avoid the use of Exit 399A and CA-68 during peak times.

Caltrans will be conducting overnight maintenance work on Hwy 101 at Market Street beginning at 9 pm to 5 am each night: Sunday, June 9 through Tuesday, June 11 (into Wednesday morning).

Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol remain on call 24/7 to respond to traffic issues during the week-long U.S. Open Championship.

ALTERNATE COMMUTER ROUTES

Alternate Commuter Routing Inbound from Salinas traffic using Blanco Road

  • Proceed westbound on Blanco Road to Reservation Road.
  • Turn left onto Reservation Road for 1.0 miles.
  • Turn right onto Inter-Garrison Road for 0.5 miles.
  • Turn right to stay on Inter-Garrison Road for 2.2 miles.
  • At the traffic circle, take the second exit onto 8th Avenue for 0.8 miles.
  • Turn right onto Gigling Road for 1.1 miles.
  • Turn left onto General Moore Boulevard, proceeding southbound into Seaside, CA and towards CA-68.

Alternate Commuter Routing Inbound from Salinas traffic using Reservation Road

  • Proceed westbound on Reservation Road towards Inter-Garrison Road.
  • Turn left onto Inter-Garrison Road for 0.5 miles.
  • Turn right to stay on Inter-Garrison Road for 2.2 miles.
  • At the traffic circle, take the second exit onto 8th Avenue for 0.8 miles.
  • Turn right onto Gigling Road for 1.1 miles.
  • Turn left onto General Jim Moore Boulevard, proceeding southbound into Seaside, CA and towards CA-68.

From the North using CA-1 Southbound

  • Follow CA-1 South. Take Exit 406 for Lightfighter Drive for 0.5 miles.
  • Turn left onto 2nd Avenue for 0.9 miles and follow signage to the parking lot.

From the South using CA-1 Northbound

  • Follow CA-1 North.  Take Exit 406 for Lightfighter Drive for 0.3 miles.
  • Turn left onto 2nd Avenue for 0.9 miles and follow signage to the parking lot.

From the North using US-101 Southbound

  • Follow US-101 South.  Take Exit 336 towards Monterey Peninsula.
  • Merge onto CA-156 West continuing for 6.1 miles.
  • Merge onto CA-1 South continuing for 7.9 miles.
  • Take Exit 406 for Lightfighter Drive for 0.5 miles.
  • Turn Left onto 2nd Avenue for 0.9 miles and follow signage to the parking lot.

From the South using US-101 Northbound

  • Follow US-101 North.  Take Exit 326C towards Monterey Peninsula.
  • Turn right onto Sanborn Road for 0.8 miles continuing onto East Blanco Road for 1.6 miles.
  • Turn left onto CA-68 West/S. Main Street for 2.3 miles proceeding to Exit 20 for Reservation Road.
  • Turn right onto Reservation Road for 4.4 miles.
  • Turn left onto Inter-Garrison Road for 0.3 miles.
  • Turn right to continue onto Inter-Garrison Road for 2.5 miles (continue straight through traffic circle).
  • Turn slight right onto 8th Street for 1.0 miles and follow signage to the parking lot.

USGA will have more information about the championship, please visit usopen.com.

Caltrans has real-time travel conditions; please visit http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/