The Santa Cruz California Coastal Commission (CCC) Staff excluded the Big Sur LUAC (Land Use Advisory Council) from reviewing the applications by Ventana Inn (leaving the community at large blind to the proposals). The applications were presented to the Commission as immaterial amendments to the original 1982 permits based on its 1978 EIR. As there was no opposition the commission promptly issued the permits (December, 2016).
The public didn’t become aware of these projects until construction became visible nearly a year later. The Coastal Staff and the Monterey County Staff did not acknowledge any problem. As the CEQA review period for appeal had long passed, the public had no opportunity to object and comment on the many serious LCP inconsistencies in the permits.
The precedents established by these inconsistencies will threaten the viability of the Big Sur LCP and its long term goals set forth in the Coastal Act of 1975: Maximum public access and resource protection. This is unacceptable.
In their drive to maximize visitor serving facilities in Big Sur the Coastal Staff have ignored the fundamentals of the plan: Due to constraints of Highway capacity and the priority of preserving the natural beauty and rustic character of the coast all development must be limited to preserve highway capacity for scenic travel. (italics added).
THE ISSUE IN EIGHT BULLET POINTS:
• NO LUAC REVIEW
Coastal Commission policy has always been that the LUAC (Land Use Advisory Committee) will review all permits pertinent to it’s area of responsibility. The Coastal Commission issued the recent Ventana permits with no Big Sur LUAC review. This represents a failure of due process resulting in development inconsistent with the the Big Sur LUP. The permits must therefore be re-evaluated.
• NO TRAFFIC STUDY
Permit for new restaurant.
Proposed new or expanded public or private visitor serving uses shall be required to submit with their application, a traffic component which evaluates the anticipated impact to Highway 1 service capacity and makes recommendations on how conflicts can be overcome or mitigated. LUP: 4.1.3-C2.1
• NO HOUSING STUDY
Permit for new restaurant.
Applications for commercial development, including new or expanded recreation, restaurant and other visitor-serving facilities shall include an employee housing plan, to be required and submitted prior to the application being considered complete. 5.2 p.75 Coastal Implementation Plan
• BUILDING IN THE CRITICAL VIEWSHED
New gallery visible from Highway One and brightly lit at night.
LUP: 3.2.3.A.3 p.15: Where it is determined that an alternative building site on a parcel would result in conformance to the Key Policy then the applicant will be required to modify his proposal accordingly.
• REGISTERED NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
New entry wall and sign changes the defining character of the historic site and the development infringes on the critical viewshed. Historic site designation.
LUP: 3.2.1 p.14: …it is the County’s policy to prohibit all future public or private development visible from Highway 1 and major public viewing areas (the critical viewshed),
• LOSS OF AFFORDABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
Conversion of 15 campsites to high end visitors accommodation (glamping). Contrary to Coastal Commission Policy of preserving affordable accommodation.
PA-13.4: Any proposal that would result in a loss of campground spaces can only be approved if they are being replaced elsewhere. An exception to this provision may be considered if there are overriding resource protection reasons for the proposal that cannot be otherwise addressed and if there are no feasible relocation or replacement opportunities, based on an analysis of alternatives to the reduction of campground spaces. https://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2003/12/W7a-12-2003.pdf
Walls and signs are inconsistent with specific design criteria in the LUP. This allows for the use of only native materials.
LUP: 18.104.22.168 p. 86: The size, design, materials, and location of all signs should be in keeping with the local character, appropriate for the intended use, and be subject to the Development Permit Process. Materials shall be limited to those which are natural, including unpainted wood (except for lettering) and stone, whenever feasible. No exterior or interior neon plastic, moving, or flashing signs will be allowed.
The permits recently issued by the California Coastal Commission, with no local review, set precedents that threaten the preservation and public access goals of the Big Sur Plan and the California Coastal Act of 1974. These inconsistencies are not acceptable.
Update on the new Ventana entry wall and sign and other inconsistencies with Ventana permits issued by the California Coastal Commissions (CCC)
The Monterey County Historic Resources Review Board took comments (January 4, 2018) from Big Sur residents concerning the lack of local review for development permits issued to Ventana by the CCC. The board was also presented with clear evidence that the Ventana sign and wall recently built in front of the Post Homestead (National Historic Registry) is not the wall which the Historic Review Board approved for the project. The wall that was approved was a re-build of a historic low, drywall of native stone. The wall that has been built is a much larger, non-native stone, retaining wall and it was moved to the edge of the entry road. It was then backfilled to enlarge the food service area of the Homestead which is to be converted to a cafe.
TheHistoric Resources Review Board felt that the wall as built was not approved and significantly detracts from the character of the Homestead and the historic site.
This wall represents only one of five serious land use plan inconsistencies in the Ventana permits issued by the CCC in December 2016. Thankfully, the Review Board responded clearly and honestly to the inconsistency of the new Homestead wall. The CCC and the county have not been responsive to our appeals and complaints of these inconsistencies. Please help us take them to task, sign the Big Sur… Let it Be petition.
This is a more serious issue than it may appear, if not reversed this will set the president for future development. The petitions can be found at Fernwood Store, The Henry Miller Library here online:
We will take this back to the Coastal Commission with the community behind us.
CCC Staff report June 13, 2013:
With respect to signage concerns, Commission staff is committed to working closely with Ventana concerning the sign to be placed on Highway One, as well as signage to be placed within Ventana’s property on trails within Ventana, so that the approved signs accurately reflect the public’s rights to the property (and the limits thereof) and resemble and conform to current and proposed signage types in the Big Sur area.
The metal signs that are now installed do not conform to design standards.
The stated goal of the Big Sur Land Use Plan (LUP) is: ”To preserve for posterity the incomparable beauty of the Big Sur country, its special natural and cultural resources, its landforms and seascapes and inspirational vistas. To this end, all development must harmonize with and be subordinate to the wild and natural character of the land.”
No Local LUP Review
Coastal Commission policy has always been that the LUAC (Land Use Advisory Committee) will review all permits pertinent to it’s area of responsibility. The Coastal Commission issued the recent Ventana permits with no Big Sur LUAC review. This represents a failure of due process resulting in development inconsistent with the the Big Sur LUP. The permits must therefore be reevaluated.
From the Big Sur LUP:
- Avoiding Urban Patterns: “The scenic beauty of the Big Sur coast, and the opportunity to escape urban patterns, are prime attractions for residents and visitors alike. Man-made improvements detract from the near wilderness attributes of the area, if not individually, then collectively.” 2.1, LUP
- Critical viewshed (the aesthetics of Big Sur): All development needs to be subordinate to the natural beauty, and consistent with it’s historic rural and rustic character of its history (materials and scale).
- All new development not in conformance with the approved representations shall be removed.” 3.2.3.B-1 LUP
- Traffic: ‘Proposed new or expanded public or private visitor-serving uses shall be required to submit with their application, a traffic component which evaluates the anticipated impact to Highway 1 service capacity and makes recommendations on how conflicts can be overcome or mitigated.” 4.1.3-C2, L UP
Regarding the current development project at Ventana Inn:
- The permits recently issued by the California Coastal Commission, with no local review, set precedents that threaten the preservation and public access goals of the Big Sur Plan and the California Coastal Act of 1974. These inconsistencies are not acceptable.
- The absence of a traffic study requirement for this permit, in addition to no flagging, and a near absence of public process is not acceptable procedure, and betrays the LUP.
- Historic buildings are slated for demolition in the plan.
- Signage – Walls and signs in this project are inconsistent with required specific design criteria in the LUP. This allows for the use of only native materials, “no neon plastic”, etc.
- ’Glamping’ – Loss of affordable accommodations: The 1971-72 Ventana permit met the LUP requirement that low cost, overnight accommodation be provided to offset hotel units being planned. The current plan’s $350-450/night “glamping” units must revert.