Red Flag Warning issued

Red Flag Warning for dry lightning, in effect from 11 AM Sunday to 5 PM PDT Monday for Monterey County, CA. The Fire Weather Watch is no longer in effect. Affected Areas: Santa Lucia Mountains, Los Padres National Forest, and Interior Monterey County Including Pinnacles National Park. https://inws.ncep.noaa.gov/a/a.php?i=59783626

Overnight closure of Bixby Bridge tomorrow, 7/15, is canceled

HIGHWAY 1 AT BIXBY BRIDGE TO REMAIN OPEN THURSDAY OVERNIGHT WITH RETRUN TO REGULAR SCHEDULE ON SUNDAY JULY 18

MONTEREY COUNTY – There will be no overnight closure of Highway 1 at the Bixby Bridge this Thursday July 15.

As previously scheduled, Highway 1 at Bixby Bridge (PM 59.5) will close Wednesday July 14 at 10 pm and reopen Thursday July 15 at 6:30 am. However, the overnight closure previously scheduled for Thursday July 15 has been cancelled. Highway 1 will remain open for the weekend beginning Thursday July 15 at 6:30 am.

The regular schedule of full overnight closures of the bridge for maintenance work will begin again on Sunday July 18. The hours of the overnight closures remain from 10 pm to 6:30 am.

Next week, Highway 1 at the Bixby Bridge will close overnight from Sunday July 18 through Thursday July 22 at 10 pm and will reopen at 6:30 am. Highway 1 will be open for the weekend starting at 6:30 am on Friday July 23.

During the following week, Highway 1 at the Bixby Bridge will be closed overnight from Sunday July 25 through Thursday July 29, from 10 pm to 6:30 am. Highway 1 at the Bixby Bridge will be open without any additional closures beginning at 6:30 am on Friday July 30.

Note: Due to the use of a large crane and other heavy equipment on the bridge during the closure, the roadway would take at least 30 minutes to reopen for emergency vehicles.

Caltrans is working closely with the California Highway Patrol to coordinate traffic control and emergency response during closure hours.

In case of an emergency requiring travel across the Bixby Bridge during the hours of the closures, residents and all travelers are advised to call 911

There is no detour for this closure and traffic control will direct motorists to return along Highway 1 in the direction from which they came.

Message and directional signs will alert motorists in advance of the closure area.

These closures are necessary for contracted maintenance crews to perform repairs and inspections on the bridge support for the safety of all travelers.

Los Padres announces additional fire restrictions

To put this in plain English — no campfires ANY WHERE, and propane stoves ONLY in developed campgrounds and require a permit. No propane stoves in back country, at all.

Los Padres officials announce additional fire restrictions

SOLVANG, Calif. – Due to extremely dry vegetation and an increasing fire danger, Los Padres National Forest officials today announced that additional fire restrictions will go into effect beginning tomorrow, July 15, 2021. The following restrictions will be rigorously enforced until the end of the declared fire season:

  • Smoking is prohibited in all areas of the national forest except within an enclosed vehicle, building, or designated Campfire Use Site. 
  • Fireworks are prohibited at all times and in all locations within Los Padres National Forest.
  • Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order on roads and trails specifically designated for such use. This restriction is in effect year-round. 

Violators are subject to a $5,000 fine and/or six months in jail, and could be liable for the full cost of any fire suppression activities that result from their actions. For further information regarding current conditions as well as safety tips, contact your nearest Forest Service office or visit the Los Padres National Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf.

This Order is effective through December 31, 2021.

###

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Big Sur Land Use Plan Workshop tomorrow at 9 am

This is the information one needs to access the meeting:

The public may observe the Zoom meeting via computer by clicking on the following link: https://montereycty.zoom.us/j/94753594142?pwd=cC90UERpcjlKT2E1dEVCQ0VhUFBydz09, or the public may listen via phone by dialing 1-669-900-6833 and then when prompted, entering the Meeting ID Access Code 947 5359 4142. Password: 541062

The Monterey County Planning Commission will be conducting a public workshop to review and provide direction on the Draft Big Sur Coast Land Use Update prior to environmental review on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, at 9:00 AM via ZOOM.

On page 8 of the Agenda, are links to download copies of the Staff Report, Exhibit B – the Draft Land Use Plan and 7 other Exhibits for the meeting.  Please note, Exhibit B is not available, it is the original BSLUP with the deletions and additions clearly marked. For those interested who don’t have a copy, contact me and I can send it or contact a member of your local LUP committee.

Download the Agenda and Zoom log-in information HERE.  (PDF, 8 Pages, 172.4 KB)

https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/departments-a-h/housing-community-development/planning-services/committees-hearings-agendas/planning-commission/agendas-reports-2021

Here is the letter Sarah Clark wrote to the Planning Commission on behalf of Keep Big Sur Wild

396 HAYES STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94102 T: (415) 552-7272 F: (415) 552-5816 http://www.smwlaw.com


July 12, 2021
Monterey County Planning Commission Monterey County Government Center 168 W. Alisal St.
Salinas, CA 93901
Re: Big Sur Coast Land Use Plan Update Dear Commissioners:
SARA A. CLARK Attorney Clark@smwlaw.com
This letter contains the comments of Keep Big Sur Wild on the update (“Update”) to the Big Sur Coast Land Use Plan (“Plan”) proposed by the Big Sur Land Use Advisory Committee (“LUAC”). Keep Big Sur Wild is a group of residents concerned with protecting the scenic landscape, sensitive natural resources, and wild, rural character of the Big Sur coastal region. As a preliminary matter, Keep Big Sur Wild is concerned about the inadequate opportunity for public participation in the workshop. The complete draft of the Update was not released until Friday (only 3 business days prior to the workshop) and the redline version of the Update does not appear to be available via the agenda links. The short timeframe and incomplete information will make it difficult if not impossible for the public to be adequately prepared for the workshop. Before moving forward with environmental review and hearings on any Update, we urge the County to host an additional workshop, preferably with the opportunity for in-person participation and adequate advanced review.
Based on our preliminary assessment, it is clear that the strict resource protections of the original Land Use Plan (“LUP”) would be seriously degraded if the draft Update is adopted as proposed. While it contains a number of positive changes, Keep Big Sur Wild is concerned about the extensive and significant attempts to reduce protections for natural and scenic resources. These changes are not warranted; if anything, the Plan’s protections for natural and scenic resources and its limitations on new development should be retained and strengthened. We urge the Planning Commission and Land Use Advisory Committee to take these concerns seriously and modify the Update before moving forward.

  1. The Plan’s policies should not be recast as objectives.
    First, the Update should not weaken any of the Plan’s mandates by replacing them with aspirational language. The draft Update reframes many of the current Plan’s “policies” as “objectives.” See, e.g., Update at 11 (Sections 2.2, 2.2.1); 12 (Section 2.2.3); 12-13 (Section 2.2.5); Plan at 10-11. These changes could undermine the Plan’s effectiveness. While objectives

Monterey County Planning Commission July 12, 2021
Page 2
are broad goals, policies are specific, enforceable commitments. See Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, General Plan Guidelines, Appx. E, at 381-382 (“An objective is a specified end, condition, or state that is an intermediate step toward attaining a goal” while “[a] policy is a specific statement that . . . indicates a commitment of the local legislative body to a particular course of action.”) The current Plan’s references to policies should remain unchanged throughout the document, to make clear that the Plan contains concrete commitments, not merely goals.

  1. The Plan’s protections for natural and scenic resources and limitations on development should be retained and strengthened.
    As the Plan acknowledged, the “scenic qualities and the natural grandeur of the coast” create “spectacular beauty,” but “man-made improvements” would detract from its “near- wilderness attributes.” Plan at 6, 9. These concerns remain valid and pressing today. As a result, the Plan’s protections for natural and scenic resources and its limits on new development should be retained and strengthened, not weakened. For instance, the current Plan provides that “it is the County’s objective to preserve” Big Sur’s scenic resources “in perpetuity.” Plan at 10. The draft Update would delete the phrase “in perpetuity,” allowing for the possibility of future degradation of those resources. Update at 11 (Section 2.2.1). The requirement to protect scenic resources “in perpetuity” should be retained as part of the Plan, ensuring permanent preservation.
    Likewise, the Plan states that “the County’s basic policy is that all future [shoreline] access must be subordinate to” the preservation of the land in its natural state. Plan at 11. The draft Update would weaken this language, instead providing that “the County’s basic objective is that all future access should subordinate to this priority.” Update at 12-13 (Section 2.2.5) (emphasis added). The Plan’s current mandatory language prioritizing preservation over shoreline access should be retained. Preservation of Big Sur’s wild character and scenic views must be paramount.
    The current Plan’s philosophy states that “[m]an-made improvements detract from the near-wilderness attributes of the area.” Plan at 9. The draft Update replaces this with a more development-friendly formulation, stating that “[m]an-made improvements should enhance the natural quality of the area.” Update at 11 (Section 2.1). The Plan’s current language should be retained. Given the area’s wild character and fragile natural resources, it can only be protected by strictly limiting development of new infrastructure.
    The Plan clearly states that “[t]he County’s primary land use planning objective is to minimize development of the Big Sur coast.” Plan at 11 (emphasis added). The draft Update weakens this objective and recasts it in the past tense, asserting that “[t]he 1986 LUP’s primary land use planning objective was to stabilize development of the Big Sur coast.” Update at 12 (Section 2.2.4) (emphasis added). The Plan’s current objective should remain unchanged, as there is an ongoing need to “minimize” development, not merely to “stabilize” it. Further

Monterey County Planning Commission July 12, 2021
Page 3
development threatens the integrity of Big Sur’s wild and scenic resources, and will exacerbate existing strains on Highway One, which is already at its maximum capacity at many times.
The current Plan states that “[t]he County’s basic policy is that future land use development on the Big Sur coast shall be extremely limited,” and that “[i]n all cases, new land uses must remain subordinate to the character and grandeur of the Big Sur coast.” Plan at 11 (emphasis added). The draft Update would weaken this provision from a mandatory policy to a nonbinding, aspirational goal. It would provide that the Plan’s “intent” is “to retain the County’s basic objective that future land use development . . . shall be extremely limited,” and that “it is the intent of this plan that new land uses remain subordinate to” Big Sur’s wild rural character. Update at 12 (Section 2.2.4) (emphasis added). The Plan’s existing language should remain unchanged, to make clear that development must be subordinate to preservation. Moreover, the draft Update would delete a sentence stating that “[a]ll proposed uses, whether public or private, must meet the same exacting environmental standards and must not degrade the Big Sur landscape.” Id. This key sentence—which require preservation of the Big Sur landscape—should be retained as part of the Plan.
Finally, the current Plan highlights Big Sur’s unique wilderness character. Many edits in the Update remove such references, resulting in a Plan that fails to adequately protect such wilderness. For instance, the Update proposes to delete the term wilderness from the overall Philosophy and Goals for Planning. Update at 10. Care must be taken to ensure that any updated Plan reflects and protects Big Sur’s wilderness, rather than erases it.

  1. The Plan should not allow widening of Highway One or other highway improvements that would harm scenic and natural resources.
    The Plan should mandate that Highway One permanently remain a two-lane road, and should not include any language allowing for future highway expansion. The current Plan requires that the highway “shall remain a two-lane road.” Plan at 10. The Update would delete this language and instead defer to CalTrans’ standards, merely stating that “[t]he highway is a two lane road” and noting that Coast Highway Management Plan “sets forth design and safety standards.” Update at 12 (Section 2.2.3) (emphasis added). Expansion of Highway One would imperil Big Sur’s scenic vistas and wild landscapes. The Plan should continue to mandate that the highway be limited to two lanes. Elsewhere, the Update still requires that the highway “shall remain a two-lane road.” Update at 63-64 (Section 4.1.1). That language should be used consistently throughout the Plan. The draft Update also calls for “appropriate areas along Highway One [to] be designated by Caltrans for construction of paved by-pass lanes and turnouts for slow-moving vehicles.” Update at 65 (Section 4.1.3(A)(2)); see also Update at 66 (Section 4.1.3(C)(4)(c)). The Update should not call for construction of passing lanes, as this would require the widening of Highway One to more than two lanes, negatively impacting scenic views and sensitive natural resources. Slow-moving vehicles can use existing turnouts to allow other vehicles to pass. References to construction of new passing lanes should be deleted.

Monterey County Planning Commission July 12, 2021
Page 4
The Update likewise should not call for any other improvements to Highway One that would negatively impact the wild and scenic character of the Big Sur region. The draft Update calls for an “electronic system . . . advising travelers of traffic congestion on Highway One.” Update at 66 (Section 4.1.3(C)(4)(b)). This provision appears to refer to electronic traffic signs, but does not indicate where the signs would be installed. Similarly, the draft Update calls for “illuminated signs on Highway One” which would direct slow-moving vehicles to pull over, to be located at the “north and south ends of Big Sur.” Update at 67 (Section 4.1.3(C)(4)(d)). Such signs (illuminated or otherwise) would be incompatible with Big Sur’s scenic viewsheds and wild, rural landscape. This provision should be revised to clarify that signs can be installed only at already-developed locations in or north of Carmel (for southbound traffic) and in or south of Cambria (for northbound traffic).

  1. The Update should not weaken Plan provisions relating to traffic on Highway One.
    Without much explanation, the Update revises the Plan’s characterization of traffic conditions. The current Plan acknowledges that “[e]xisting levels of service on Highway 1 during peak use periods are unacceptable,” and concludes that “[r]eductions in peak use period traffic should be sought.” Plan at 66. By contrast, the draft Update states that current Levels of Service (“LOS”) are acceptable, and concludes that “should levels of service on Highway One become unacceptable, reductions in peak use period traffic should be sought.” Update at 64 (Section 4.1.2(3)) (emphasis added).
    The number of annual visitors to Big Sur has increased from 2.9 million to 4 million since 1986. See Update at 61; Plan at 63. The Update acknowledges that traffic congestion on Highway One is a significant problem, noting that “[a]t peak summer periods and during holiday weekends, Highway One has approached maximum carrying capacity and many recreational facilities are being overused.” Update at 15; see also Update at 61, 63, 98. Despite this, the Update asserts that traffic LOS on Highway One is now significantly better than it was found to be in the 1986 Plan.1 Update at 61. Although it changes these LOS conclusions, the Update leaves the 1986 Plan’s vehicle traffic numbers unchanged, when in fact both average daily traffic volumes and peak-period traffic volumes have increased significantly. The Update’s conclusion that LOS is acceptable is therefore unsupported. In reality, traffic conditions on parts of Highway One are already unacceptable during peak periods. The Update should acknowledge this fact and reflect up-to-date traffic data.
    1 The current Plan states that LOS on Highway One north of Big Sur Valley is at LOS D at average annual daily volumes, and LOS E at summer peak periods. Plan at 63. The Update revises these conclusions to LOS B and LOS C, respectively. Update at 61. South of Big Sur Valley, the current Plan states that Highway One operates at LOS D at average annual daily volumes, and at LOS E in peak periods. Plan at 63. The Update revises these to LOS A and LOS B, respectively. Update at 61.

Monterey County Planning Commission July 12, 2021
Page 5

  1. Conclusion
    Keep Big Sur Wild appreciates the opportunity to comment on the proposed Update to the Big Sur Coast Land Use Plan, and respectfully requests that the County revise the draft Update as outlined in these comments. Thank you for your consideration.
    Very truly yours,
    SHUTE, MIHALY & WEINBERGER LLP
    Sara A. Clark
    cc: Tim Green, Keep Big Sur Wild

Full Overnight Closure of Bixby Bridge starts tonight

THERE IS NO DETOUR.

FULL OVERNIGHT CLOSURES OF HIGHWAY 1 AT BIXBY BRIDGE

BEGIN TONIGHT MONDAY JULY 12 AT 10 P.M.

MONTEREY COUNTY – Maintenance work on the Bixby Bridge (PM 59.5) will result in full overnight closures of Highway 1 for three weeks beginning Monday July 12.

The hours of the overnight closures will be from 10 pm to 6:30 am. The first night of the closure will be tonight Monday July 12.

During the first week, Highway 1 at the Bixby Bridge will be closed Monday July 12 through Thursday July 15, from 10 pm to 6:30 am. Highway 1 will be open for the weekend starting at 6:30 am on Friday July 16.

During the second week, Highway 1 will close from Sunday July 18 through Thursday July 22, at 10 pm and will reopen at 6:30 am. Highway 1 will be open for the weekend starting at 6:30 am on Friday July 23.

During the third week, Highway 1 at the Bixby Bridge will be closed Sunday July 25 through Thursday July 29, from 10 pm to 6:30 am. Highway 1 at the Bixby Bridge will be open without any additional closures beginning at 6:30 am on Friday July 30.

Note: Due to the use of a large crane and other heavy equipment on the bridge during the closure, the roadway would take at least 30 minutes to reopen for emergency vehicles.

Caltrans is working closely with the California Highway Patrol to coordinate traffic control and emergency response during closure hours.

In case of an emergency requiring travel across the Bixby Bridge during the hours of the closures, residents and all travelers are advised to call 911

There is no detour for this closure and traffic control will direct motorists to return along Highway 1 in the direction from which they came.

Message and directional signs will alert motorists in advance of the closure area.

These closures are necessary for contracted maintenance crews to perform repairs and inspections on the bridge support for the safety of all travelers.