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Sunday January 17, 2021, 2:05 PMMonterey County Office of Emergency ServicesAdvisory: Fire Weather Watch from 1/18/2021 7:00 PM to 1/19/2021 3:00 PM PST for Monterey County, CA.Dear Nixle User,Fire Weather Watch from 1/18/2021 7:00 PM to 1/19/2021 3:00 PM PST for Monterey County, CA.
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Letter to 5th District Supervisor re CABS

This was sent by a long-term friend and fellow Big Sur resident for whom I have much respect. I echo the sentiments expressed in this letter, and thus want to share it. Some of my friends will not be pleased with my stance, others will be joyous that I am finally speaking out, albeit in the voice of another. As my friend points out and I want to reiterate, CABS does some wonderful work in assisting residents who need help. That is what they are best at.

South Coast by bigsurkate

There is no single voice of Big Sur. There are many and we are varied. When CPOA became CABS, all of us who were voting members of the CPOA organization, even life-time members like myself, became associates — non-voting associates. How they converted is a story for another day. Only the 9 current board members have a vote in what CABS says and does.

This is a conversation that is just beginning. My friend began it, and I am simply amplifying it. Let’s talk about what CABS means to you. If you don’t want to comment publicly, send your comment to me, and I can post it anonymously.

“Dear Mary,
I started this last week before the events in our Nation’s Capitol, a very upsetting day. 
That event reminded me that in a democracy one votes for their choice.  I voted for you to be my elected representative as the Supervisor of the 5th District. I am more than willing to debate, argue and try to persuade you on a point that is of importance to me in the 5th District.
To that point, I am dismayed by the perceived abdication to CABS about the future of Big Sur. CABS is issuing press releases indicating that the Board of Supervisors are supporting the DSP. I listened to that Board Meeting and to imply that the Board was in support of the DSP is not accurate. The Board supported submitting the report.
Why should I be concerned? As someone who has lived here on the Coast for 50 years, and knowing well past actions do CPOA/CABS, I have concerns. They had representatives on the Citizens Advisory Committee who drafted the LUP for Big Sur they were against much that made that plan so important. They had representatives on the Coast Highway Management Plan and they would not endorse it! How do I know?  I know because I was involved with both of those planning efforts and so much more over the years. I give them credit for what they have done which is to help people of this Community during times of crisis. The helping of those members of the Community is and has been important. However their good efforts do not always transfer to being good planners.
This is not my first communication to you about my concerns of this organization  and it may not be my last. I will continue to ask you to not abdicate to this organization important planning decisions. Decisions that must be made by the public agencies that are mandated by law to manage the Big Sur Coast. CABS can be at the table but they should not be the only ones there.  This is a diverse Community with a wide variety of opinions. 
Many of us are appalled by the change in visitation we have seen over the past few years by folks to the Coast. However, the focus has to be on the agencies that have failed to manage this change, starting with the County. This is not a criticism of your tenure as Supervisor.  It started prior to your election. But the Federal, State agencies and County have ignored these changes, not intentionally but through benign neglect.
I am aware of the difficult times we are in as 2021 begins.  It seems that since 2016 it is one challenge after another.. The economy is looking doubtful for some time, the toll of the pandemic is hard to determine at this early date, outlook for this year into 2022 is a challenge. 
I voted for you and I hope you will be our leader for the preservation of our Big Sur Coast, an international destination as well as a unique Community which deserves the best.

Weather Predictions, 1/23/21

Do you remember March of 1995? I will never forget it. I was on a ski trip with the Pacific Valley High School. As we rushed to get home, the Carmel River Bridge washed away, so we had to go down the 101. It was flooded and it closed right behind us. We tried to get across FHL, but both bridges were out. We went down to Paso and had dinner and called home. Highway 1 was out at Soda Springs. We got hotel rooms in San Simeon. Cal Trans told us to come up the 1 in the early morning and they would punch us through. Soda Springs was just about washed away, but Cal Trans got us through, and Rock Knocker was there. I am sure you have your memories, too. They all came flooding back to me when I read John Lindsey’s ominous tweet today. I needed to wait a day before I posted it.

John wrote: “Today’s #ECMWF & #GFS models look eerily similar to March 1995, when an intense cold front (AR) stalled over our area and tapped into a plume of subtropical moisture that stretched to Hawaii. The Santa Lucia mountains above Cambria reported 12+ inches of rain in 24 hours! #CAwx”

March 1995 revisited???

Public Comments on Cal Trans bridge railings

Today I and others read this article in the MCWeekly, regarding proposed bridge “improvements” in Big Sur and realize that we ALL must make our voices heard. None of these proposals are in line with the Big Sur Land Use Plan to preserve the aesthetics of this highway.

Caltrans is accepting input until 1/15/21. I sent a very abbreviated one in:
“Our iconic bridges are a big part of what Big Sur is. These bridges shape the experience of the traveling public and lodge in one’s mind the beauty and aesthetics of this coast. I urge you to design a way to save these historic and picturesque bridges as they were meant to be.”

Here is the letter Martha Diehl sent:

This email serves as a formal request to be included as an interested party for all phases of the two projects identified below. Contact information is provided at the end of this email.

Tier 1—Big Sur Bridge Rail Replacement Program
Monterey County, California District 5–Mon–1 (PM 28.1/67.9)
Tier 2—Garrapata Creek Bridge Rail Replacement Project
Monterey County, California District 5–Mon–1 (PM 63.0)
EA 05-1H800/Project ID 05-1600-0163 State Clearinghouse Number 2020049027

Please provide the following technical reports:

Water Quality Assessment
Natural Environment Study Minimal Impacts Tier 1 and Tier 2 >Historic Property Survey Report Tier 1 and Tier 2
Historic Resource Evaluation Report
Archaeological Survey Report
Visual Impact Assessment

Further, please submit the following questions about the Draft Environmental Impact Reports and include these comments  in the project records:

1) How many people annually view, photograph, paint, visit or otherwise experience the Garrapata Bridge and the other historic bridges listed? How many vehicles crossed Garrapata Bridge during 2020? How many vehicles of what varieties are anticipated to cross the bridge annually in future years? Absent this information, how can the identified significant visual/aesthetic impacts of the proposed project be appropriately analytically weighted when comparing alternatives? 

2) Is the design proposed for the Garrapata Bridge intended for use on all listed bridge rail replacements? Is there a stated commitment to ensuring that the bridges continue to be visually consistent?

3) How will construction of the proposed project impact public access to heavily used Garrapata Beach, including parking and ongoing traffic management?  Traffic conditions in the immediate vicinity of the Garrapata Bridge are intermittently and increasingly impassable and unsafe. This is also the case for others of the historic bridges included in the overall project level analysis. Specifically what analysis supports the determination that the identified potential temporary construction related traffic impacts will not be significant (see DEIR table p vii traffic& transportation)? 

4) How exactly were the proposed projects determined to be consistent with the Big Sur Land Use Plan and the Coast Highway Management Plan? How were the goals and priorities that caused this road section to be designated as a Scenic Byway and one of our country’s first federally recognized All-American Roads considered? Please provide complete analysis methods, process and results.

5) What specific alternative railing designs were considered? Were non-standard design options more consistent with preserving the unique visual character included, as is allowed in the CHMP? What specific criteria were used to select the current proposed design? Was an exact replica of the current railings (or an exact replica with added height sufficient to address stated safety concerns) made with updated structural materials evaluated among the alternatives? If so please provide these analyses. If not please perform them.

6) How many injury accidents related to the existing railing structure or design have occurred in the history of these bridges? This information will assist in determining the relative importance of proposed upgraded safety requirements to the almost inestimable value of the current bridge aesthetics. 

7) What efforts have been made to engage immediate neighbors or easement holders in the project vicinity wrt impacts during construction? How will nearby residents’ access be affected by proposed construction?

8) Have other projects such as bridge-related maintenance or utility upgrade needs been considered wrt proposed project timing? Given the current ongoing severe traffic congestion in this area, can schedules for all reasonably foreseeable infrastructure projects in this vicinity be coordinated so as to avoid multiple sequential project traffic flow impacts? 

Thank you for the opportunity to review the DEIR and comment. I look forward to the responses.


Martha Diehl
Garrapata Trout Farm

Here is another one:


Dear Mr. Wilkinson,

I recently learned that Caltrans is seeking feedback on current plans for repairing/replacing bridge guard railings in Big Sur.

As a 15-year resident of Big Sur, I was incredibly disappointed with the work that was done last year to “improve” various guard rails along Highway 1. The new concrete railing structures are completely out of character with the historic beauty of the highway and its pre-existing stone guard rails. The new smooth concrete barriers are a complete travesty! Their military-bunker aesthetic has significantly degraded the appearance of the highway and are not in keeping with the area’s Land Use Plan, which lists preservation of the road’s visual beauty and character as one of its principal objectives. I understand that the old railings may have needed to be repaired, extended, or improved. However, the manner in which it was done shows a complete disregard for preservation and the visual impact on the natural environment. It is completely infuriating to see my tax dollars spent in that way. In my opinion, those new barriers/railings are hideous and should be torn out and re-done with an appropriate visual aesthetic.

In keeping with that perspective, I am completely opposed to any additional work on any other bridge or guard railings that alter the character of the existing structures. That opposition includes the proposed alterations to the appearance of the bridges at Malpaso Creek, Granite Canyon, Garrapata Creek, Rocky Creek, Bixby Creek, and Big Creek. Any bridge railing repairs or improvements need to retain the character of the original balusters and continue to provide an open, see-through appearance.

I am happy to discuss further via email or by phone if you desire.

Thank you for your consideration.
Carl Swanson
Big Sur

Land Use Advisory Meeting tomorrow

I am sorry, but I couldn’t get these pdfs to post, so I had to take screen shots. That means the “links” aren’t links. You will have to copy and paste them in your browser if you wish to see them. I didn’t have time to fiddle around to see if I could get them to post some other way, as this meeting is tomorrow am.

Sunday Photos, 1/10/21

This week it was a bit harder to find things that gave me joy. It was a tough week. All of these are actually screen shots of things I discovered before the Capitol was stormed. Under each screen shot I have placed a link which will take you to the article and/or website.

But to add a thing of beauty, I will post an old photo of mine which I featured on my FB page this week. It is one of my all-time favorites. Look for the bird.