Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, Big Sur Health Center, Esalen Institute Community Liaison, Big Sur Fire, Big Sur CERT, Monterey County Sheriff and the Community Association of Big Sur met today to continue coordinated efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each organization provided an update on their current operations and preparations for continuing to shelter at home.
It is important to note that as of this moment, there are no known cases of COVID-19 in the Big Sur planning area.
Big Sur Health Center:
Sharen Carey reports the Health Center has rescheduled regular non-essential exams and is conducting more telephone medicine.  There is a triage tent set up in the front parking lot for people with potentially contagious illness. Staff are equipped with the necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to safely see patients. The Health Center requests that if you are sick for any reason, please call ahead to see if a visit or a telephone call is needed. Patients with symptoms of COVID-19 will be assessed and testing will be arranged if appropriate, then sent home for quarantine until results are available or routed to CHOMP if necessary. So far, there have been no known cases of COVID-19 in the Big Sur area.
Big Sur Fire:
Matt Harris reports that 20 members of Big Sur Fire are currently operational and equipped with PPE needed to continue their first responder mission. The Fire Station at Post Ranch is in lock down with access limited to all but key personnel. Many of the volunteers are now unemployed, creating financial uncertainty.  Matt is asking the community to consider hiring members of Big Sur Fire for property maintenance and fire clearance projects.
Big Sur CERT
Hal Latta and Dick Ravich report that a resident survey has been sent out to the CERT Team leaders responsible for each of 7 enclaves that CERT has a presence. The survey is intended to establish the segment of Big Sur’s population that is sheltering at home.
Monterey County Sheriff:
Jesse Villasenor reports that all Deputy’s are equipped with PPE and the SO is operating and responding normally (24/7, 365). Recent calls involve burglary of unattended parked cars. Notably, all Law Enforcement agencies continue with active mutual aid including officers from the Fish and Wildlife Service, State Parks, US Forest Service and California Highway Patrol.
Big Sur Chamber of Commerce:
Kirk Gafill, Rick Aldinger and Diana Ballantyne report that business activity has slowed appreciably. A list of businesses, from north to south and their current status, hours of operation and telephone contact information may be downloaded HERE. (PDF, 2 Pages, 92.8 KB) Top of mind for all of the businesses is the continued good health and safety of employees sheltering on property as well as those employees sheltering at home.
Esalen Institute:
Lacy Shannon reports the property is closed at least until April 12th with that date to be re-evaluated at the end of March. Esalen admin. is supporting out of work staff in helping them to secure unemployment benefits, as needed. A current challenge is maintaining a ‘shelter in place’ status while at the same time supporting off property employees who regularly rely on services like laundry facilities, mail deliveries and meals. Some employees are working from home and those sheltering on property are fulfilling their job duties, and, in some cases, have adapted job functions to maintain employment and income.
Community Association of Big Sur:
Butch Kronlund reports his appreciation for those organizations above answering the call to coordinate efforts during this rare moment in modern human history.  As needs emerge, CABS intention is to utilize all of the combined ingenuity and resourcefulness of its Board of Directors and many Associate members in support of the Big Sur community.

The Parker Report (Dist. 4)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Dear Friends,

We hosted our first virtual Hot Topics meeting last night to share information about the County of Monterey’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and our Shelter in Place Order. We were joined by over 100 Monterey County residents who received brief updates from our County Chief Administrative Officer Charles McKee, County Health Department Director Elsa Jimenez, and Emergency Operations Center staff Kelsey Scanlon.

The video (which began recording after the meeting had started) of our Hot Topics meeting has been posted online at Supervisor Jane Parker – Virtual Hot Topics 

Meeting Summary of resources shared in the Virtual Hot Topics meeting:

• County COVID Website –
• Daily Situation report, (public distribution list sign up on right corner of screen)
• To receive updates regarding COVID-19 in Monterey County, text MCCOVID19 to 888777. 
• To receive updates regarding COVID-19 in general, text Coronavirus to 211211. 
• Health Department Hotline (Monday-Friday8am-5pm). Call: 769-8700 or 755-4521
• COVID-19 Economic Assistance Hotline (Monday-Friday8am-4pm). Call: 796-1909
• Montage Health Virtual Care Option Free for all community members experiencing mild respiratory symptoms. 
• Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System – COVID-19 Hotline 755-0793 (7am – 11pm)
• General Information call 2-1-1 (please be patient – 30 minute wait time)
• Sign Up for Jane Parker’s Email Newsletter –
• Additional Questions about coronavirus and the shelter in place order can be sent to

Trusted Sources of Information
Monterey County Health Department –
California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response
California Department of Public Health
Centers For Disease Control (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
2-1-1 Monterey County information and referral hotline. 

Due to the “Shelter in Place” Order, my office is closed to the public. However, my staff and I are all working from home, coordinating essential County services, and responding as quickly as we can to calls and emails from the public.

You can reach my team by calling us at 831-883-7570 or emailing us at If we don’t answer please leave a message so that we can get back to you. For general questions about COVID-19 or the Shelter in Place order you can also call 211 or visit the County COVID-19 website.

This is an unprecedented time, and we are all working together to navigate new challenges. Please take good care of yourself and check-in (remotely!) on your friends, neighbors, and loves ones. Thanks for your vigilance, please check in on your neighbors and support one another, and stay healthy. 


Jane Parker
Monterey County Board of Supervisors, District 4

5 ways to guard your mental health

This is from WebMD, but it seemed worth sharing the first one and directing you to their website for the other 4:

These are challenging times for our mental and emotional well-being. The stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak have been difficult enough, and now the social distancing requirements have led to profound changes in our daily routines. You may be feeling the strain already—personally it only took about two days before the stress and disruption led to tension between my wife and me. It’s hard to find your equilibrium when everything feels upside down.

Every life situation is bringing its own unique challenges during this time. Countless college students are living at home again, separated from their friends and partners. Parents are doing their best to homeschool their kids while working from home themselves. Single people are struggling with the unprecedented social isolation. And all of us are faced with daily uncertainty about how long this crisis will last and where it will take us, individually and collectively.

So many of the routines and activities we took for granted have suddenly fallen away: commuting to work, going to class, hanging out with friends, shopping in stores, going to the gym. Now that our lives have been stripped down, we need to be very intentional about protecting our mental health. Here are five key practices to guard your heart and mind during this crisis.

1. Be Good to Your Body

Mental health starts with physical wellness. A growing body of research supports our intuitive understanding that the mind and the body are intimately connected. The following areas are especially important:

  • Make sleep a sacred priority. Give yourself enough time in bed to get the rest you need (typically seven to nine hours). Stick to a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible, resisting the tendency to let your schedule fall apart if you don’t have daily commitments. Build in a technology-free winding down routine for 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime.
  • Move every day. Now that gyms are closed and our activities are so limited, it’s easy to become inactive and not realize that you’re barely moving throughout the day. Find a way to move. Go for walks every day if you’re still allowed to where you live—we’ve been scheduling short hikes with our kids each afternoon. Look into online exercise or yoga videos, or bust out those ballroom dancing home instruction videos you’ve been meaning to get to. Consistent physical activity is well known to lower stress and anxiety and improve mood, not to mention strengthening your immune system.
  • Feed your body and mind. Speaking of your immune system, choose healthy food options like vegetables and fruits, and avoid highly processed foods and refined sugar. Resist the pull toward letting your diet turn to rubbish during this time. Limit your alcohol consumption, and beware of too much caffeine, which can aggravate stress and anxiety. If you’re aiming to eat better, focus on making one improvement to one meal at a time, and gradually build from there. Good nutrition is good not just for your body but for your mind and emotions.

Here is the link to the other 4:

Guidelines from Big Sur Health Center

Big Sur Health Center
Public Notice Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 prevention guidelines include avoiding “discretionary” travel, shopping trips and social visits for at least 15 days.

But what should you do if you have to run an essential errand, such as grocery shopping or visiting the pharmacy?

“You cannot get infected if your hands are clean before you touch your face, and if you don’t breathe in air from somebody who’s sick and coughing,” Greg Poland, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic, told CNBC Make It. “So as long as those two conditions exist you cannot catch this virus.”

Here’s are some things you can do if you must go out for essentials:
Plan Strategically – Plan to run your errands during off-peak hours so you’ll be around fewer people. (Experts say that peak grocery store hours are typically in the afternoon on weekends and between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.  Check with your favorite local store(s) before you go.  Some are setting aside special shopping hours for seniors over 60 who are at the highest risk.

Make a list before you go so you get the essentials and get out quickly.

Several Big Sur businesses are providing take-out food and fresh fruit and vegetables to save us from needless trips to town. Check out River Inn, Ripplewood, Fernwood, The Lodge and Big Sur  Bakery.

Bring Your Own Cleaning Supplies – “If you have access to disinfectants such, as Clorox Disinfecting Wipes or Lysol brand disinfectants, bring them with you to the store to wipe down any surfaces that you will have to touch, such as a grocery cart or gas pump,” advises Georgis Benjamin, a physician and the executive director of the American Public Health Association

If you have it, carry hand sanitizer in your car to use after shopping until you can get home and wash thoroughly with soap and water.

Gloves and masks still aren’t necessary, unless you’re sick: “We’re trying to keep those for healthcare providers,” says Benjamin.

CDC guidelines recommend that you always wash your hands before touching your face, especially.
• after you get home from your outing
• before and after unpacking groceries
• after you sneeze or cough

Those at high risk, over 60 and anyone with underlying medical problems should try to find someone to run errands for you so you can stay at home.

Finally, for those of you who live on gated roads, remember, the keypad is metal and the virus can live there for 3 days.  Carry hand wipes or sanitizer easily accessible in your car.  Punch the key codes with your knuckle, leaving your hands free to close the window, handle the steering wheel and pick up the gel to wipe off your knuckle.  Sound excessive?  Think of how many people use that keypad daily!  It’s the little things that can get you!

Please stay safe everyone!

For comments, questions or suggestions, please contact Sharen Carey, PA-C, Big Sur Health Center, at:

Misc. Updates & Info

From the USFS:

Los Padres National Forest offers
virtual services in response to Covid-19
GOLETA, Calif. – Los Padres National Forest is limiting public access to its offices and implementing virtual services beginning today to protect the health and safety of employees and members of the public during the COVID-19 outbreak in accordance with guidance from federal and state authorities.

Customers needing information, permits and maps are encouraged to call the Supervisor’s Office or Ranger District Offices during regular business hours for prompt customer service, or by visiting the Forest website at for additional updates.

“As we work through an unpredictable and rapidly changing situation, health and safety is our number one priority,” said Los Padres National Forest Supervisor Kevin Elliott. “We are committed to continuing to support our communities and fulfill our mission as we all work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19.”

These actions have been taken based on the best available medical advice to limit gatherings of large numbers of people and to promote social distancing.
Members of the public are encouraged to call the following Los Padres National Forest offices:

Supervisor’s Office – (805) 968-6640
Santa Barbara Ranger District – (805) 967-3481
Santa Lucia Ranger District – (805) 925-9538
Ojai Ranger District – (805) 646-4348
Monterey Ranger District – (831) 385-5434
Mt. Pinos Ranger District – (661) 245-3731

Visitors to our National Forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to:

I also got a notice they were suspending controlled burns, but cannot find it.



In a statement on its website, the P.B. Co. announced it was closing The Lodge at Pebble Beach and the Inn at Spanish Bay. The closure also applies to the company’s four golf courses and goes into effect at 5 p.m. today

“The health and well being of our guests, employees and their families is of paramount importance,” the statement said. “In light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, Pebble Beach Resorts has temporarily suspended our resort operations. For more than 100 years, we have welcomed guests from near and far to enjoy legendary golf and world-class accommodations along a backdrop of stunning natural beauty. Once the world is ready to travel again, we look forward to welcoming you to Pebble Beach.” 

The company said it was continuing to take reservations for arrivals after April 17. It also announced that “in order to provide essential services to Pebble Beach residents, our Gallery restaurant and Pebble Beach Market will both be open for take-out meals only.” 


Governor Newsom Signs Order to Protect Public Health by Expanding Vote-by-Mail Options and Extending Deadlines for Presidential Primary CanvassPosted: 20 Mar 2020 09:00 PM PDTSACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today issued an executive order to permit vote-by-mail procedures to be used in three upcoming special
Governor Newsom Deploys California National Guard to Help Distribute Food at Food Banks & Protect California’s Most VulnerablePosted: 20 Mar 2020 08:07 PM PDT  Food banks are seeing a shortage in volunteers and experiencing greater need due to COVID-19   Governor calls for
Benefit programs available to help California workers who are losing wages due to the impacts of the CoronavirusPosted: 20 Mar 2020 06:24 PM PDTSacramento – Workers who have lost their jobs or have had their hours reduced due to the impacts of COVID-19
SBA Offers Disaster Assistance to California Counties Small Businesses Economically Impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19)Posted: 20 Mar 2020 04:48 PM PDTSACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Oregon small


I highly recommend reading this article in VOMB for Under the Sheltering Skies to get a first hand report for what this sheltering in place has been like to our service industry employees. https

And from McWeekly: “What a week this has been. In many ways, our lives and community have been transformed by the arrival of a pandemic in Monterey County. Hour by hour and day by day, all of us have been forced to adapt and let go of routines, plans and expectations. This is true right here at the Weekly, where a dogged and dedicated team has tirelessly pursued breaking stories while publishing our annual Best Of Readers Poll (our biggest issue of the year) and launching this new daily e-newsletter, Monterey County NOW. While taking on that work, we lost seven beloved staff members to layoffs this week in an effort to respond to a major malfunction in the economy. What a week this has been.” Amen. Is 2020 over, yet?

Get take out, when you can, from your local restaurants. Tip well, if you can. Buy gift certificates for use later. Shop your local stores and markets. They are doing everything they can to provide you with what you need. Donate to your local news outlets, if you can, as advertising revenue is drying up. Stay home, wash your hands, and most of all, be kind.


I think there were a couple other notices buried somewhere in my inbox, and if I find them, I will either add them here, or post another post after the photo tomorrow. BTW, I encourage you to send me any photos from your time of solitude for my photo Sunday posts. I think this is the only time when I wish I were married again so I would have someone to talk to and commiserate with…then I recover my sanity and smile.

Big Sur: Overtourism to Ghost Town

I published the following article in Voices of Monterey Bay, tonight.

One day Big Sur locals are complaining about the invasion of tourists in our formerly peaceful little village, and the next we are struggling to survive. Mother Nature has decided to put the brakes on tourism everywhere, including Big Sur.

Big Sur is no stranger to natural disaster, and we have had our share in the last few years. Just in the last four there was the Soberanes Fire that started July 22, 2016 and lasted until October, and we had  assorted Highway 1 closures that stranded us for weeks at a time. So this is not new to us. We have ridden out similar scenarios many times, and we are good at it. It is always during a disaster that Big Sur really shines and takes care of its own.

“We as a community simply can’t help but work harder and try our very best to persevere,” Kurt Mayer, owner of Big Sur Deli and Big Sur Taphouse, once said.

In Big Sur, like elsewhere, businesses scrambled to figure out how they would handle this latest natural disaster. What did it mean for staff, employees, and customers? By Wednesday, businesses were in compliance with the county order and our local Big Sur markets and stores were busy contacting locals to find out what they wanted so they could stock appropriately.

Diana Ballantyne, general manager of Fernwood Resort, Rick Aldinger, general manager of Big Sur River Inn, and Ken Harlan, owner of Lucia Lodge, are soliciting input from locals about stocking their stores to help residents avoid town trips. Fernwood is also offering a 10 percent discount to all locals — except on alcohol and tobacco. River Inn is still dispensing propane and gas, paid for at the pumps. Best to call for hours, though. Just got word from Big Sur Bakery that they are open for take-out and are exploring available options.

Mayer’s Big Sur Deli has a history of stocking the store for locals, as he did when the bridge was out and Paul’s Slide was closed. The area in between became an island. Locals should give the store a call and let them know what you want them to stock for you. Also, those businesses that carry propane, like River Inn, will have it available but with limited hours.

River Inn, Fernwood, Riverside  Campground and Gorda are all still accepting guests as of this writing. Gorda’s gas station (pay at pump only) and general store are likewise open, as is take-out from the restaurant.

As we all know given the speed of this virus, and the orders being issued, this could change tomorrow, or even by the time this is published. All are implementing deep cleaning and sanitation routines. Other businesses have temporarily closed completely. Treebones is closed for the duration of the shelter in place. Esalen has completely closed for four weeks. Deetjen’s and Henry Miller Library have completely closed temporarily as well. Just heard from Nepenthe, and they say they are also completely closed for the duration.

The State Parks have closed all their parks to overnight camping. The Monterey District of the Los Padres National Forest has also closed off all its developed campsites in compliance with Monterey County’s shelter-in-place order.

If you are a Big Sur local and have any special needs, I urge you to call one of our local businesses and see if they are able to accommodate you.

It is always during a disaster that Big Sur really shines and takes care of its own.

Another unreported side effect of this current situation is what is happening with people who have second homes outside of major cities and the impact on their tenants/caretakers. Here in Big Sur, these owners are coming to hide out in their second (or third) home. One South Coaster told me that “I can’t speak for all of Big Sur, but our landlord just told us he’s coming up with his kids for a few weeks. He asked me to do a huge grocery shopping trip for him, his nanny, and three boys and it feels hugely unfair and dangerous. We spent the last few weeks stocking up just so we could stay home during this time.”

There are probably other similar stories out there I have not yet heard about.

The South Coast of Big Sur is unusually positioned. We live like this, particularly in winter. We sometimes spend a good deal of our summer getting ready for winter. Yes, we tend to be a bit squirrelly. Some make town runs weekly, others monthly, and a few only go every six months or so.

We once used CB radios to communicate. Now it is Facebook, DM, or email and text. Tuesday night, a neighbor and I were communicating this way and we shared that we were both going to King City the next day. She was refilling her stock of gasoline and propane and picking up some food while she was at it. Her husband was away, and she only had the back-up vehicle, which had a battery problem. She was glad to know a neighbor would be around in case she had trouble. She did, and we found her being assisted by two guys in a Subaru and so we followed her home. We stopped and shared stories.

Big Sur can have a wicked sense of humor as evidenced by this gem from Diana at Fernwood: “But seriously, let me know if there is something in particular, other than the basics.  I’m thinking a case of asparagus, so the entire Big Sur valley starts smelling like asparagus pee at the same time.” She says it is arriving on Thursday.

It is the way we come together as a community that always makes me proud and honored to be a part of it. We are like small towns all over America who come to the aid of neighbors during times of crisis, and usually with a sense of humor. We may freak out momentarily, but then the shirt sleeves get rolled up and we have at it. Be safe, be healthy, be patient, but most of all … be kind.

USFS – LPNF Closes all developed campsites.

Facilities and developed recreation sites within the county on the Monterey Ranger District would be closed for public use. The public would still have access to non-developed recreation facilities such as trails and dispersed camping, and telework would be maximized by employees to comply with the county order. Telephone service may be provided to facilitate customer service, and the public would have access to front desk personnel to ensure ongoing service and provide visitor information. First responders and other emergency service personnel would continue operations as allowed by the county order, and mitigations would be applied to minimize employee exposure. Field staff would be utilized in coordination with law enforcement personnel to ensure public safety and protection of National Forest System facilities and resources.