“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.
Most of you have heard, by now, of the fiasco that was Bixby Bridge this weekend. This was Saturday, by Adam Slawter. At 6:30 pm, it was backed up from Bixby to Palo by cars going south. That is 2.2 miles of idling vehicles.
This is the video taken by Tim Huntington on Saturday at 2 pm of the cars headed south, as he was heading north: https://vimeo.com/338490145
This was what it looked like early – as in 9 am – on Sunday, in the rain. Martha Diehl took these photos. Note the door opening into traffic immediately before another vehicle in the last photo.
Imagine that there is an emergency, which is much more likely with the influx of clueless people from out of the area. What happens then? How do emergency vehicles navigate through this quagmire? They can’t. How are the Cal Fire engines and others supposed to get to us when there is a fire this summer? Or cliff rescue, or serious injuries? This is a life-threatening situation that must be resolved.
Monday, a temporary solution presented itself. MCSO stationed THREE officers here at Bixby and they managed to keep traffic moving, at least until early afternoon, one source told me. So we need to pressure the County to assign 3 officers every weekend and holiday to manage the traffic at this bottleneck.
On the brighter side, CABS was there educating and interacting with the tourists on Monday morning, raising the awareness of our visitors to treat Big Sur with respect.
(Photo by Patte Kronlund)
(Photo by Lisa Kleissner)
Let us start preppering our Supes to take action, now! We don’t need to come up with a “perfect” solution, I don’t have one. But we could try a variety of things to see what will work, short of painting the bridge puke green. We could experiment with running shuttles, or the current MST buses, allowing only them to park, or to drop off and pick up visitors to the bridge from a staged area north and south. The County of Monterey could pass an ordinance, for health & safety reasons, prohibiting parking on both eastern and western sides and OCR, assess BIG fines, and enforce it! If you have another idea, I am all ears. Toss those ideas out there, no matter how crazy they seem. It might just give someone else the inspiration they need to find a solution that will work.
This was taken last year, but as the prolific grasses are drying out, I am reminded of this, and how dangerous it is. Besides destroying the environment, causing erosion which washes out the road below (not shown in photo), off roading can cause a wildfire if the grasses catch from your muffler or catalytic converter. Why take a chance? Stay on the roads please.
And now, a growing number of “Subaru Ambassadors” have found these spots (the one below is just up the road from this one above) and more and more Subarus are coming every weekend. A month ago, it was a group of 4 Subarus. This past weekend, it was those four, plus four more, and at least two more want to join the group on the next trip.
May 1, 2019 SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – The National Interagency Fire Center is predicting a heavy wildfire season for areas along the West Coast of the United States this summer.
The Boise, Idaho-based center said Wednesday that most of the country can expect a normal wildfire season in the period from May through August.
But the states of California, Washington and Oregon are an exception.
I know. I know. It is not Tourist Tuesday or Tourist Thursday, and here I am again suggesting solutions to our tourist problems that we need to explore and/or implement. It seems particularly timely with the start of the construction project at JP Burns that will last until…what?…fall?
Here is a very similar situation to what happened here in 2017/2018 and how a sister state is dealing with overtourism and a disasterous road closure. There is a lot to be learned from this article about the solutions they are implementing that could be applied here, as well.
“HAENA — Kuhio Highway west of Hanalei — closed and accessible only to residents since last year’s disastrous storms — is tentatively set to reopen on or about May 1, but continuing restrictions will make actually using the highway challenging for both residents and visitors.
For the first month the highway is back in operation, Haena State Park — gateway to Ke‘e Beach and the Kalalau Trail — will remain closed entirely, as state park officials hurry to finish a reconstruction of park facilities that will cut the number of visitors allowed to go there from 2,000 to 900 each day.
Details of the phased reopening of the highway were presented Tuesday night at a contentious meeting of the Hanalei-Haena Community Association, attended by top county and state officials.”
This article has the solutions that Kauai is implementing to make this opening a bit more palatable to the residents effected. We need to be looking at which of these solutions to our situation could or should be applied here. Please go read the article in its entirety.
“By August  the headlines declared that ‘tourists are no longer welcome’, and ‘residents hate tourists’ in these angry tourist hotspots. Meanwhile local governments took measures to appease residents and restore order.
Barcelona and Venice have taken a “punishing” approach by forbidding selfie-sticks, and fining tourists, while Amsterdam has taken a redirectingor “guiding” approach. Here is what the panel member from Amsterdam had to say:
”In 2013, we already knew that because the world economy was growing so fast, and traveling became so cheap, that the amount of people visiting our city would be too much to service in a way that didn’t harm our locals, because in the end that’s our main goal: to keep the city livable, lovable, and prosperous. So we quit promoting tourism, but there was social media. There are so many still promoting our city. And on the one hand, it makes us feel proud, because who are we? We’re the lucky people that can live in this most beautiful city in the world. On the other hand, it makes it hard because you know it will attract more people.
So we try to focus away from marketing, and instead focus on guiding. We’re an open and free country, an open city, and we would love to invite people who save their money and time to visit everything that’s valuable in our city. Only again, we want to do it in a way so that it will not harm the local people.
There are two factors—one is antisocial behavior, especially in the red light district. Visitors come and couldn’t care less where they are, they just drink their heads off. That’s a real problem. To fight that problem we have to meet with police, law enforcement, to nudge travelers, saying that of course they’re welcome and we are a city of freedom, but freedom is based on one condition and that is respect for each other and the city. The other factor is too many people in a certain spot at a certain time. If you’re in the city for the first time, you go to the highlights. In Barcelona, you want to see the Sagrada Familia. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower. But we also know that a lot of people who come to the city are repeat visitors or are Dutch, so we can guide them much more easily to other unknown spots. We have to make sure we can spread tourism but not spread the problem. Other neighborhoods are welcoming to visitors, but up to a certain point.
ME: I thought this was interesting, you did simple things. Amsterdam Beach for example or extending the range of the CityPass so it was free to get outside of the city.
GU: You have to facilitate. It starts from the perspective of the traveler. If I go to Paris, it’s easy for me to go to Versailles. Versailles is not Paris, it’s a different city, but I don’t care. We know from data that people are willing to travel for an hour if they find something of interest. That is why we collaborated with 32 other cities around Amsterdam to ask about their unique spots, and make sure visitors could get there with public transport. We all know that people are becoming more and more lazy—they want to be serviced! If you have to transfer twice, you’re not going to go. So we have a city card and we make sure all of the museums in the other cities are on the card as well, so you make it 10 times easier to go off the beaten track.
ME: I thought this was a brilliant idea: live feeds of the lines outside museums that you could check on the website, so before you go somewhere you can say, “oh that’s busy, I’ll check later.” That to me is so obvious but only you were smart enough. It’s a win-win!”
It seems as if I have so much information I want to share regarding overtourism, I think I might have to add a second day for a while. As we all know, once fire season starts, we will all be too busy to have this discussion!
Here is the first page of a lengthy article I am reading (I will be posting more of it in the coming weeks, as well as of other lengthy articles):
It got me thinking…what are the tourist/resident ratios for other destinations? So I looked up a few: The greatest ratio given is 33:1 Here. However, there are other statistics available and the countries with the highest Yearly Tourist arrivals to residents ratio are Andorra, Macao SAR, China, Sint Maarten (Dutch part), Monaco, Aruba with a(n) Yearly Tourist arrivals to residents ratio of (2,630), (2,349), (1,169), (957), (883) % respectively. (See: http://mecometer.com/topic/yearly-tourist-arrivals-to-residents-ratio/)
So, I did a little math. A conservative estimate of the number of visitors to Big Sur given at the CCC meeting on Friday, 3/22/19 was said to be 5-6 million a year. I will use the lower, more conservative, 5 million. The number of residents in Big Sur, being generous, is approximately 1500. What does that make our tourist to residents ration: 3,333% -greater than any country in the world, by over 700%!!