The Destination Stewardship Plan (DSP) is available to review
at bigsurdsp.com. The County of Monterey, The Visitors Bureau and
CABS have supported the development of this draft management plan
for the Big Sur Coast. Comments on the plan can be made at the above
website until July 6th at 3pm.
It is my impression that this document is largely the product of Beyond
Green Travel (BGT) with agency input, particularly the Coastal
Commission. The steering committee of local residents are not
responsible for this plan.
I was impressed by the BGT’s investigation but the bulk of the
management solutions left me cold. These planners paid only lip
service to the Big Sur LUP that has protected this coast for decades.
From the Big Sur LUP: “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 coast) if not individually, then collectively.”
“…all developments must harmonize with and be subordinate to the
wild and natural character of the land.”
In the 1960’s, highway one through Big Sur was named both a state
and a federal scenic highway and was more recently designated an All
American Road, defined as a place of such beauty that the highway has
become a destination unto itself. People come to see this 70 miles of
unchanged, natural beauty.
The solutions offered by the DSP to Big Sur’s overcrowding are new
attractions which will bring more people and more cars and will alter
forever the experience of this wild coast.
The Bixby New Trail Loop and Overlook will move the car and
pedestrian congestion to the south side of Bixby. The Pfeiffer Shuttle
will attract more people and where will the parking lot be? A North
Shuttle and a South Shuttle (what have been the results of the shuttles
at Yosemite? more problems) Also, a local shuttle for visitors and
guests who don’t want to weather the crowded highway (a new tour,
more people, another parking lot). This plan would create our own Big
Sur transit system: signs, shuttle stops, groups of waiting riders here
and there, shuttles zipping by regularly clad in sustainability
advertising. Does this feel urban yet? Does this feel like the LUP’s goal
“all development must harmonize…”? There’s more. A visitor center
(“educational and interesting”) will attract still more people. Where
will we put this building and its parking lot? The only place that has
been discussed in recent years is the Naval Base. A more significant
blot (scar) on the critical viewshed is hard to imagine.
In my opinion these are not solutions to Big Sur’s congestion; they are
invitations to greater congestion and overuse of the area and the
gradual dismemberment of the Big Sur Land Use Plan, a document
broadly recognized as the gold standard of all such plans.
In recent years, on peak use days, the Big Sur coast attracts more than
10,000 cars a day exceeding the carrying capacity of highway one. The
resulting congestion reduces public access and the quality of visitor’s
experience. We do not need more attractions.
The DSP promotes the development of Big Sur with total disregard for
the fundamental goals of its Land Use Plan.
We must solve Big Sur’s traffic and overcrowding problems without
destroying its treasured beauty. The highway has points of congestion
that need to be addressed: by reservation only or closure. Without
adding eyesores and management nightmares to the wild coast,
any additional bathrooms need to be contained to the existing four
commercial zones, the state parks or the forrest stations. A critical
issue is the need to regulate traffic entering Big Sur. Transportation
studies and the Land Use Plan itself recognize that eventually Big Sur’s
popularity will overwhelm the limited carrying capacity of highway
one. We have arrived at that point. In order to maintain high
accessibility and the quality of the visitor’s experience the traffic
entering Big Sur needs to be regulated. Politically, this is not easy.
However, it may be the only solution if the inspiring wild beauty of the
coast is to remain a national treasure for all to see.
Again, please take a moment and make your comments on this plan
by July 6th here and please share this with anyone who you feel may
also be willing to speak up for the future of Big Sur (comments can be
made by Big Sur residents and non Big Sur residents).
Thank you for taking the time to read this email and continue to be a
voice for the Big Sur coast.