Vacation Rentals by Owners

The public is invited to attend an open discussion with Monterey County Planning Department staff regarding residential home stays and hosting events along the Big Sur coast.

The meeting will be held Thursday, September 19th at 7:00 pm at the Big Sur Grange Hall.

Planning staff will also send out information materials before the meeting via email.

Kathleen Lee
Chief of Staff for
Supervisor Dave Potter
(831) 647-7755

Short term rental meeting

It was 14 years ago when we last visited this issue. I was not involved, I was transistioning in my own life, and wasn’t focused outward as much as I am at this moment.

After the BSMAAC meeting on Friday, May 17th, reported here, we had a working group meeting on Wednesday the 22nd in Salinas. The issue is short term rentals and events, although events is not getting much “air time” at the moment.

There were a lot of good comments on all sides about this issue. However, I was a bit saddened to see the acrimonious behavior of several community members at this meeting. Very disappointed if we allow this conversation to devolve into emotional attacks on one another. Both sides allowed that to happen. I don’t think one person is responsible. How we react is just as important as how we act.

Hopefully each Big Sur resident can assist in keeping this issue organic and not divisive. Lets all try to see the concerns of one another. There are more than just two sides – there are as many “sides” as there are residents of Big Sur.

One thing we all need to look at is the long-term effects of any decision we make today. That is what I have seen time and time again with various laws we have enacted. We haven’t seen beyond the immediate personal desires to the ultimate consequences of our actions. I used as an example what I know – criminal law. We react to a situation, enact laws that don’t take into account the ultimate consequences – such as the three strikes law, which imprisoned people for life when the third strike was a $25 petty theft of DVDs. Eventually, we woke up to the fact that we didn’t want to support these people for life, provide them with their basic needs and better medical care than some of us can afford, because once we, as a society, take over responsibility for these individuals, we must, legally and morally, take care of them humanely. So, once we realized what we had done, and the consequences of our actions, we woke up and changed the law. I have dozens and dozens of example where we were governed by principles of short-sightedness. Let that not rule us here. We need to look first at the larger picture … Our vision of and with Big Sur, THEN take a look at the specific problems and potential solutions.

Let us not start from a place of sleep, but of wakefulness. Rentals in Big Sur, whether long-term or short term, will affect our community. The questions become … How do we want them to affect this beautiful place we call home? What is our vision for this place? Lets start with the big questions, the overall goals we share. Big Sur WILL change. It has changed, it will continue to change. Can we, as a community direct this change? Can we work together, or will we let personal fears and concerns dictate our actions and reactions.

Most of us, after 9/11 were more than happy to give up freedom for personal security. I thought it was an error then, and I watch us, as a nation, proceed further down this path. We let our government dictate what is best for us. That has never been Big Sur.

I have only lived here for just under 30 years. I wasn’t born here, I was born in SF. I wasn’t raised here, I was raised in So Cal. I’ve watched my home state change a lot in my 64 years. I’ve watched Big Sur change a lot in 30 years. One thing about us as a community that I have always loved and respected is our independence and non-reliance on government entities to solve our problems. We solve them ourselves. We fight it out, work together, find solutions and compromise. That has always been who we are. Now we are bringing in government entities, in the form of County Planning, County Health Department, County Law Enforcement, and County Counsel to solve an issue which is ours. Lets find ways to solve this ourselves.

I do not have a pony in this show, I have very dear friends that I deeply care about on all sides of this issue. My main concerns are that we keep this process fair, representative, balanced, and respectful. If living here in Big Sur has taught us anything, She has taught us the need for this. Big Sur is the epitome of Mother Nature. She teaches fairness, balance, and respect, or, as we all know, she spits us out.

I find it absolutely ironic that I am writing this blog post while I am watching the news of follow-up reports on the devastation in the OK tornadoes where 1300 homes were lost, not even considering the children and lives lost. Do you see the irony?

Tomorrow, I will post a potion of the 1982 Big Sur Land Use Plan that details residences and where we were then. We then can see where we are now, and where we want to go in the next 30 years. Please be a part of the conversation, no matter where you stand. Just remember who we are and what we stand for – Big Sur – respect, balance, and beauty.

BSMAAC meeting Agenda, Minutes, and separate Working Group Meeting on Short Term Rentals and Events

There is a new web site devoted to these meetings with links to agendas, minutes, and member reports. It can be found here

Thanks so much, Laura, and all!

Congressman Sam Farr and Supervisor Dave Potter, Co-Chairs

FRIDAY, May 17, 2013 – 10:00 A.M.
Pfeiffer Big Sur Lodge Conference Center
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur


10:00 a.m.​I.​CALL TO ORDER​ ​ Congressman Sam Farr


. APPROVE MINUTES OF October 19, 2012


1. Coastal Trail Update​​ ​Sen. Bill Monning
1. Discussion on LCP update process
re: short term rentals and events in Big Sur ​ ​Carl Holm
2. Vista Point Interpretive Displays​Corby Kilmer, Caltrans
3. Elephant Trunk Slide Permanent Repair Project​Lisa Lowerison, Caltrans​

(please bring written report)

Big Sur Resident Member
Big Sur Chamber of Commerce
Coast Property Owners’ Association
Monterey County Planning Department
Monterey County Board of Supervisors
Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District
California Coastal Commission
State Parks and Recreation
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
United States Forest Service
30th District, State Assembly
17th District, State Senate
United States Congress​


1:00​ IX.​NEXT MEETING ON: August 9, 2013 (Please note date change)

​ (10:00 a.m. Pfeiffer Conference Room, Big Sur Lodge)

​2013 Dates

​November 1, 2013


Here are the minutes from the last meeting in October :


The meeting was called to order by Supervisor Dave Potter, at 10:20 am. Roll call and introductions were made. Attendees are: Congressman Sam Farr, Supervisor Dave Potter, Tim Short (USFS), Aileen Lowe (Caltrans), Laura Lawrence (County Planning), CL Price (California State Parks), Kirk Gafill (Chamber of Commerce), Rob Carver (CPOA), and Dick Ravich (Resident of Big Sur).

Supervisor Potter introduced former Coastal Commissioner and Santa Cruz Supervisor Mark Stone. He is currently running for the office of Representative of the 29th Assembly District.

. Minutes:
– Minutes of July 20, 2012 were approved as written.
. Public Comment on Non-Agenda Items:
– Bill Nye: A fundraising golf tournament will be held on November 10, 2012 to benefit the Central Coast Veteran’s Cemetery. Donations can be made through The culverts along the Old Coast Road are being replaced; the road will be closed during the week from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm through October 26th.
– Ken Eklund: The next Big Sur River Watershed Plan stakeholders meeting will be held at the Big Sur Station on November 14, 2012 from 10-12:00 pm.
– Martha Karstens: Gave a heads-up to everyone about an upcoming bike ride for disabled riders on October 23, 2012. The ride will follow Highway 1 from the Carmel Mission Inn to Cambria. The Big Sur Fire Brigade and others have been meeting to strategize how to handle planned road closures in case of emergencies. Sheriff Scott Miller stated that they will be staging a car on the south end of the closure in case of an emergency; a resident reserve officer will also stay overnight.
– Rick Hutchinson from CALFIRE: encouraged residents to pay the invoices for State Responsibility Area (SRA) fire prevention fees that started showing up in the mail 2 weeks ago in order to avoid paying fines. The Howard Jarvis Tax Association has filed a lawsuit over the fees. Congressman Sam Farr commented that the fees should be going to first responders; in many cases, CALFIRE is not the first responder. Rick also noted that the Air Resources Board will require permits this year for burning.

. Rocky Creek Viaduct Update: Ken Dostalek, Project Manager, Caltrans
– Construction on the viaduct started after Labor Day; construction is estimated to be completed in the fall of 2013.
– The viaduct is 600 feet long with 9 supports (2 abutments and 7 columns or “bents”.)
– The drilling is going slower than anticipated; construction of the piles, pile caps and girders will finish at the end of January 2013.
– The changeable message sign at the Carmel River Bridge will be used to identify road closures. The contractor anticipates some overnight closures (10 hours at a time) will be necessary, but they are working to do as much as they can without closing the road.
– Project information is available on the Caltrans website.
– Congressman Farr stated that the design of the viaduct doesn’t seem to be consistent with the Coast Highway Management Plan.
– Supervisor Stone commented that a bridge recently built in Mendocino County has a more aesthetically-pleasing design. Aileen Lowe said she would look into it.
– Supervisor Potter stated that the site is challenging for construction and that they have come a long way with the design of the viaduct. The design of the rail is dependant on the required safety measures.
– Ken stated that Caltrans can revisit the rail design in the future but due to the short time period for design and construction, Caltrans had to go with a rail design that had already passed safety review.; Aileen stated she would bring back information to the community about railing designs.


Dick Ravich (Resident of Big Sur):
– Big Sur Fire Brigade Strategic Planning is moving ahead.
– The Brigade’s water tender needs to be replaced; they are starting a fund to raise money for the replacement.
– The Big Sur Coast Land Use Plan (BSCLUP) update will be coordinated through the LUAC; the public is encouraged to participate.
– The River Run will be held on October 27, 2012 at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
– The Bal Masque will be held at Nepenthe on October 31, 2012; there will be no Caltrans road closure that night.
– Still working to get high speed internet to the community. Ailene Krebs helped prepare a grant proposal. Hughes, Xcede and DISH are the options available.

Kirk Gafill (Big Sur Chamber of Commerce):
– Business levels are at or near record levels; there have been a lot of foreign visitors to the area.
– Caltrans road closures are challenging to businesses and residents and expressed appreciation to Caltrans communication of upcoming closures.

Rob Carver (CPOA)
– CPOA’s Annual Meeting will be held on November 19, 2012 at the Grange; the BSCLUP update is the topic.
– A public workshop on the Coastal Trail will be held in January.

Laura Lawrence (RMA Planning Department):
– Project list is available. If you would like to receive it electronically before the meeting, please use the sign up sheet in the back.
– The RMA is looking into the issues created by public events in Big Sur—issues such as parking, garbage, noise, commercial public events on private lands, and live music.

Dave Potter (Monterey County Board of Supervisors):
– It is election season; he will be focusing on the run-off between now and November 6th as much as he can. Supervisor Potter will be returning to Boston on Monday and will remain there until the election to be with his mother who is ill.

Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks District: absent

California Coastal Commission (CCC): absent

Aileen Lowe (Caltrans):
– Thanked the community for their participation; communication for the Caltrans projects is complex.
– Caltrans will continue to try and accommodate requests for no road closures.
– Tim Gubbins has been appointed the new Director for Caltrans District 5.
– $500 million worth of projects are going on in the District right now.

CL Price (State Parks):
– A redesign of the entrance to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is going on now. It is estimated to be completed in March 2013.

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: absent

Tim Short (USFS):
– This is his first BSMAAC since he was permanently hired; he has moved into the new district office in King City.
– The new office will be dedicated on November 1st; the building is constructed of straw bales.
– He is working on establishing office hours for Big Sur.
– Sherry Tune is now the Forest Supervisor in Mendocino County; she said she misses our meeting.

27th District, State Assembly: absent

15th District, State Senate: absent

28th District, State Assembly: absent

Congressman Sam Farr (United States Congress):
– The construction on the roads in the community is a result of Stimulus funds and will end eventually.
– Proposition 30 is a “make or break” for California.
– The debt limit needs to be raised again; implementing cuts and taxes will take too much money out of the economy.
– Congress and Senate have a lot of work to do before the end of the year; there is a lot of division between the two. He predicts they will “kick the can down the road” again.
– Government has been hit the hardest in California when it comes to jobs.


Next meeting is scheduled for February 1, 2013 (canceled). The meeting was adjourned at 12:20 pm.


Working Group for the issue of Short Term Rentals and Events to be held Wednesday, May 22 from 1-2 pm, Salinas Government Center, Monterey Room, 168 Alisal, salinas. For additional information contact Dave Potter’s Office, 831-647-7755.

BSMAAC Meeting Friday May 17th

This Friday, starting at 10 am at the Conference Center at the Lodge in the Big Sur Campground, a meeting (one of four per year) is shaping up to be one that will be very well attended by those on both sides of the issue regarding rentals in Big Sur.

Should we save our very limited housing for local community, or should property owners be allowed to rent out their guest houses/caretaker cottages/trailers to those looking to vacation here for a weekend, a week, or a month?

I have been contacted by a number of people on both sides of this issue regarding my position and requesting that I post something supporting one side or the other. I can see both sides, have mixed feeling about both sides, so declined to do so. I will be happy to provide a balanced and unbiased forum for both sides, after the meeting, but will not favor one side over any of the others.

This post is just to inform readers about the issue and the meeting. If one wants to get an idea about the magnitude of the issue and get a bit of information about short-term rentals, just go to (vacation rentals by owner) and pursue some of the 59 places offered for rent in this large, geographically, but small population community. It is quite the eye-opener.

See you at the meeting, where I hope we can be respectful of differing opinions.