I have continually requested that in these types of communications when we list balancing the interests of … or listing our priorities, that we put the environment first, not last, as without the environment, the residents, the businesses, the tourists would not be here, and yet, it continues to be listed last. (See *bolded portion below in 3d ¶) Get our priorities straight, and eventually, people will listen. That is my first suggestion.
Despite this misapplication of priorities, I applaud the efforts of BGT, CABS, CHP, MoCo, USFS, State Parks, and all of us who are involved enough to make a difference. Please, let your voice be heard.
Beyond Green Travel Announces that a Community Big Sur Destination Stewardship Plan Comment Portal is Open
In order to capture as much stakeholder input as possible, BGT has created an online website to capture written comments and suggestions pertaining to the creation of a sustainable tourism plan for Big Sur. Please visit www.bigsurdsp.com.
Your suggestions, observations and recommendations are welcome and integral to developing a plan that *balances the interests of the visiting public with businesses, residents, commuting workers and the environment. Please take this opportunity to express constructive, solution based comments HERE: www.bigsurdsp.com
In the coming weeks, the local DSP steering committee will be announced. Additionally, surveys are being developed to solicit specific feedback from diverse stakeholders. We will provide updates on both the steering committee and the survey process in the next 30 days.
On behalf of BGT,
Download a copy of the above notice HERE. (PDF, 1 Page, 132 KB)
I ended my multi-year discussion of overtourism in Big Sur through my Tourist Tuesday posts sometime ago and how it relates to other destinations in the world. It seemed to be on a trajectory where nothing could be done. I am not convinced, one way or the other, that it is a problem than will be solved, only that it must. Unsustainable population translates into unsustainable tourism, which in turn contributes more than its share to climate change. As we know from other studies, systems here on this finite planet are intimately interwoven and interconnected. Overtourism is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
The Atlantic wrote and created video on this problem, published yesterday.
Last year, 1.4 billion people traveled the world. That’s up from just 25 million in 1950. In China alone, overseas trips have risen from 10 million to 150 million in less than two decades.
This dramatic surge in mass tourism can be attributed to the emergence of the global middle class, and in some ways, it’s a good thing. But the consequences are grave—particularly for the planet. In a new episode of The Idea File, the staff writer Annie Lowrey explains how overtourism has contributed to large-scale environmental degradation, dangerous conditions, and the immiseration and pricing-out of locals.
“Tourists can alter the experience of visiting something such that they ruin the very experience that they’ve been trying to have,” Lowrey says in the video. “That’s the essential definition of overtourism.”
I apologize for my lack of blogging this week, but several things converged at once, and since Saturday, I have had to be selfish. First I was sick and ended up sleeping most of three days. Then, I had a deadline to make for Voices (see below), and finally, the winter power issues have hit, which means no internet, among other things.
I have recovered from that nasty bug (thanks in part to the Elderberry tincture I made last year), I made my deadline, and will give you the lead-in and a link below, and today, I am, hopefully, resolving my power issues, by making sure my batteries are fully charged after having replenished them with two gallons of distilled water.
From Voices of Monterey Bay:
“Big Sur is the greatest meeting of land and sea. It is where the mountains are constantly marching to the ocean. It is a place to which the word “iconic” has been applied much too often. It is a place that has been “discovered” and Instagramed into a cliché.
We have come to experience ‘LA-type traffic‘ here in paradise, and thus, we are in need of a plan.
Just in the last few days the magazine Fodor’s Travel put Big Sur on its 2020 NO GO list. It is in good company, along with Bali, Barcelona and 10 other popular destinations. With its beauty and all the promotion it gets, the chickens ’have come home to roost,’ according to Fodor’s.
Big Sur is past the point of needing to be ‘managed.’ Any plan that attempts to do this ‘managing’ will be, by necessity, complex and difficult. In the end, it is Mother Nature who determines much of what happens here. That is the allure and the draw. We humans must be careful to consider the needs of this place — her environment — before our own. And a proposed plan meant to tackle the problem acknowledges that Big Sur’s terrain and remote location make solutions even more difficult.”
The Community Association of Big Sur (CABS) has launched a private public partnership to address tourism and its impact in Big Sur. In partnership with the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and their provision of a seed grant to begin the process, CABS has hired Costas Christ of Beyond Green Travel to lead the effort.
However, we need to raise more funding in order to not only complete the analysis and planning process, but to also test out recommended mitigations.
CABS is proud to announce that the Monterey County Weekly in partnership with the Community Foundation for Monterey County and the Monterey Peninsula Foundation have chosen our non-profit and this project to be highlighted in the Monterey County Givesfundraising campaign.
See link at below photo to go to the Monterey County Gives link to make a donation.
Your contribution will be matched by these sponsors, enabling our community to do this important work to benefit generations to come.
With gratitude, Butch Kronlund, ED, Community Association of Big Sur
“Our community can design innovative solutions to ensure that tourism benefits businesses, visitors, residents and our fragile coastline.”Butch Kronlund, ED, Community Association of Big Sur Donate to McGives & help Big Sur complete and implement a sustainable tourism plan.www.CABigSur.orgwww.BigSurPledge.org
I give you something a bit different for my Tourist Tuesday column today. Later, this afternoon, Community Association of Big Sur hosts a meeting here on the South Coast about developing our Destination Management Plan, specifically beginning with data collection. It is a follow-up of the ones held in a whirlwind series of meetings in August by CABS. Those meetings introduced us to what we have been planning and doing since last year. I will report on this meeting later. But for today, I would like to concentrate on what overtourism does to our local environment, and to the greater environment of our world and its impact on Climate Change.
I have been concerned about this for years, and have expressed my frustration in this blog about what some of our tourists/visitors have done, particularly at Bixby, McWay, and here in my backyard of Plaskett Ridge Rd. The destruction is visible and disturbing. From the wildfires started by abandoned campfires:
To the denuding of all the ridge tops:
There isn’t a single ridge top left on Plaskett that hasn’t been denuded and the wildflowers destroyed in order to create a new off-road road and campsite. The escalation of this destruction just this summer has been unbelievable. I have never witnessed anything like it.
I was inspired by the 5- minute speech given by Greta Thunberg to the Climate Change Summit of the U.N. yesterday. It is quite moving. One can find it here: https://twitter.com/CNN/status/1176159504288886785 And realized that our overtourism problem in Big Sur is just one example or manifestation of the destruction of this planet. We can watch the destruction for ourselves right here. But it is happening all over the world in various degrees and in various ways.
It discusses the granting of “Personhood” or legal status to various parts of nature. It begins with the new declaration in Bangladesh granting “rights” to all the rivers in that country.
It is a thorough article that discusses other areas that have done the same thing, including Ohio and the granting of legal status to Lake Erie. It ends with this discussion:
Granting the status of personhood to a natural environment may seem like a bizarre legal fiction, but it’s no more bizarre than the idea that corporations should enjoy that same status, which has been with us since the 1880s.
If we find it strange to view nature the way we view people, that may just be because we’ve grown up in an anthropocentric intellectual tradition that treats the natural world as an object to be examined and exploited for human use, rather than as a subject to be communed with and respected.
“The idea that we can be separate from nature is really a Western reductionist way of looking at the world — we can trace it back to Francis Bacon and the scientific method,” said Price.
He told me that just as women’s suffrage and the abolition of slavery were once unthinkable but gradually became accepted and normalized, the rights of nature idea seems odd now but will eventually gain social currency. “For the rights of nature to be understood and become something we’re comfortable with is going require a paradigm shift, just like the end of slavery did,” Price said.
That paradigm shift may entail nothing less than a total rejection of capitalism, according to Eduardo Gudynas, the executive secretary of the Latin American Center for Social Ecology in Uruguay. He argues that attempts to reduce environmental devastation while staying within a capitalism framework won’t be enough to address the climate crisis.
“The debate around the rights of nature is one of the most active frontlines in the fight for a non-market-based point of view,” Gudynas told me. “It’s a reaction against our society’s commodification of everything.”
I think it is important to emphasize that a paradigm shift must happen for us to end the destruction of Big Sur, a microcosm of the rest of the world, and Mother Nature. How that shift manifests may be completely unexpected.
Once one of Norway’s most accessible glaciers, the Nigardsbreen has receded to reveal a difficult trek across hard slabs of rock. Instead of 50 tourists at a time, guides now take as few as six people, even though business couldn’t be better.
Steinar Bruheim, a guide who’s led tours across glaciers for over 30 years, knows why tourists flock to Norway’s rural, western countryside in the summer.
“They want to see it before it disappears,” Bruheim said.
The Nigarsbreen, like over 90% of the world’s glaciers, is melting. And while the planet is experiencing record temperatures, global travel and tourism, which researchers believe represent at least 8% of carbon emissions, couldn’t be healthier. In 2017, there were 1.32 billion tourist arrivals internationally, with Norway earning almost $19 billion from tourism representing 4.2% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to Innovation Norway, a government entity focusing on business growth.
Norway, like most countries in Western Europe, is experiencing record numbers of tourists, especially during the peak summer months—more than half of all overnight stays traditionally happen from May to August. And most of those tourists, according to Innovation Norway, come to see the fjords and the famous Northern Lights in northern Norway.
That influx of tourists is putting a strain on its natural wonders, especially glaciers.
Big Sur Sustainable Destination Stewardship Plan Update And A Request for Input Dear Big Sur Community Members,
Many thanks to all the community members who participated in meeting with Costas Christ of Beyond Green Travel during his visit in August. CABS has now entered into a contract with Beyond Green Travel to move forward on a Destination Stewardship Plan for Big Sur. To learn more about this process, go to the “Initiatives” page on our website.
An important component of this work is collecting data on traffic. CABS is coordinating with traffic engineers, Cal Trans and TAMC to consolidate existing data sets and reports on traffic volume as a preliminary step to establish where we are going in terms of gathering data for overall vehicle impact on the Highway.
Residents from up and down the coast have expressed that capturing traffic counts in real time, 24-7, 365 days a year for multiple years is an important place to start. Three locations stand out as initial gathering locations: Mal Paso Creek Bridge, Nacimiento Rd and Highway 1 intersection and the southern county line.
We believe that the residents who travel the highway on a regular basis may have insights that could inform the scope of this study. You can help us with the following question. Aside from these 3 locations, above, where else along the Highway or side roads would data on traffic volume be of value?
“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.
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.