Big Sur LUP

The LUP published below is here for the purpose of providing quick links to sections when appropriate.

Please download the entire LUP Here and the Implementation Plan Here.

The LUP published below is here for the purpose of priding quick links to sections when appropriate.

Please download the entire LUP Here and the Implementation Plan Here.







The plan contained in these pages is the Land Use Plan for the Big Sur Coast segment of Monterey County’s Local Coastal Program. This plan supersedes the Monterey County Coast Master Plan adopted in 1962 and in effect for twenty two years. As the primary component of a certified Local Coastal Program, it will provide development standards to guide the actions of all State and local agencies. Under the provisions of the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act, actions by all federal agencies must be submitted for review by the California Coastal Commission. The Coastal Commission will rely on the certified Big Sur Coast Land Use Plan for guidance when reviewing federal projects for consistency with the policies of the California Coastal Management Program.

This plan has been prepared to carry out the requirements of the California Coastal Act of 1976. The Coastal Act places emphasis on environmental protection and public recreation and access. Therefore, these were three important considerations used to formulate this plan.


The Big Sur coast of Central California is over seventy miles in length and stretches from the Carmel area on the north, south to the San Luis Obispo County line near San Simeon. Perhaps the largest single coastal planning area in California, the Big Sur region is also among the most geographically distinctive.

The western slopes of the Santa Lucia Mountains, reaching an elevation of 5,200 feet at Cone Peak, drop precipitously to the sea. Much of the coast is bounded by sheer cliffs. Great offshore rocks punctuate the dramatic meeting of land and sea. Beaches are few; strong currents, waves, and cold water make swimming hazardous. Nearly fifty separate streams flow down the mountains to join the sea. Several of these, such as the Big Sur and Little Sur Rivers, Big Creek, Garrapata Creek, and Salmon Creek, have substantial year-round flows and support anadromous and resident game fish. The Big Sur coast is rich in plant and wildlife diversity. Coast redwoods are found in the cool, moist canyons. The Santa Lucia fir and many other rare plants are present. Mountain lion, an occasional black bear, deer, and many smaller terrestrial animals and birds make Big Sur their home. While the California sea otter refuge runs the length of the coast, the otter is only a small part of the diverse spectrum of marine wildlife.

The climate in Big Sur is mild. Although the winters bring some of the heaviest rainfall in California, the summers are long and dry. Coastal fog is typical in summer mornings near the shore; inland and at the higher elevations temperatures can get quite high. Fire danger is ever present in summer and can be extremely hazardous for residents.

The rugged mountainous terrain of the Big Sur coast has had a profound effect on historical use of the area and will continue to serve as a limitation on the kinds of activities that can be carried on and the scale of development. Natural constraints to development include availability of water, difficult access, unstable soils on steep slopes, and dangers of fire and flood.

The scenic qualities and the natural grandeur of the coast which result from the imposing geography, the rich vegetative compositions, and the dramatic meeting of land and sea are the area’s greatest single attraction to the public. Big Sur has attained a worldwide reputation for spectacular beauty; sightseeing and scenic driving are the major recreational activities.

Although it has remained a rural area where sturdy pioneering families still carry on ranching, Big Sur’s residents have also achieved acclaim for their cultural contributions. Many well known writers, artists, and artisans have been inspired by the coast’s dramatic vistas and timeless solitude. A strong community identity continues to attract new residents and also contributes to tourism. Today, tourism and private residential development are the strongest trends affecting management of the area.

Approximately half of the planning area’s 150,000 acres are within the Los Padres National Forest and the Ventana Wilderness. Nearly 9,000 acres are contained within units of the State Park System.

Approximately 55,000 acres are in private ownership.


Past planning has been conscious of the unique qualities of Big Sur. Soon after the construction of Highway 1 in the late 1930’s, the County drew national attention when it successfully prevented construction of a service station advertising sign and won a landmark case, securing for local government the right to use its police power for aesthetic purposes.

Beginning in 1959 and continuing until 1962, the County worked with local residents and consultants to develop a master plan for the coast. This plan, known as the Monterey County Coast Master Plan, has been recognized as both innovative and far reaching and has enjoyed the support of the people in the area. Closely following adoption of the Coast Master Plan, the County took the unusual step of inviting the federal government to study Highway l for designation as a national scenic parkway. Although the Federal study was never undertaken, the County published a report entitled, Wonderful One, and expressed its concern for the protection of the national interest along the Big Sur coast.

The County recognizes that even the best planning in time grows outdated and needs to be revised. Today’s standards for environmental protection were unknown ten or fifteen years ago. What were thought to have been adequate parcel sizes for private land holdings at the time of the 1962 Master Plan are now understood to be too small to ensure the protection of the coast because excessive development could occur. Use of Highway 1 has grown beyond expectation. Pressures for new residential and commercial development, as well as increased public acquisitions and access, are now being felt along with a steady increase in recreational development and use. In an effort to respond to these emerging problems, the County has undertaken several new planning programs in recent years. These began in 1970 when the County joined with Santa Cruz County to the north and San Luis Obispo County to the south in the development of the Tri-County Coastline Study.

This innovative plan preceded the passage of Proposition 20, the California Coastal Initiative of 1972, and reflected the three counties’ deep concern to improve the stewardship of the central coastline. This plan was set aside when Proposition 20 established the California Coastal Commission and charged it with the preparation of a master plan for the State’s coastline. Monterey County once again took the initiative by becoming one of ten jurisdictions in the State to conduct a special pilot planning program in cooperation with the Coastal Commission. The pilot study report, prepared by a consultant to the County in cooperation with local citizens and a broad range of public agencies, made strong recommendations but also identified areas where additional planning seemed needed. Thereafter, following passage of the California Coastal Act in the fall of 1976, the County developed a comprehensive work program to guide preparation of the Big Sur Coast Local Coastal Program.

The work program identified issues to be resolved and outlined research and planning tasks. A comprehensive series of background reports prepared by the County summarized available data, studied coastal issues in the context of the California Coastal Act, and recommended County policy changes needed to meet the requirements of the Coastal Act. The reports have been widely circulated and reviewed both within the community of Big Sur and outside by interested individuals, groups, and public agencies. Based on the reports’ recommendations and on the responses to them, this plan has been prepared.

A great deal of useful information supporting the plan is provided in the background reports but could not be included in this document. The background reports can be consulted concerning the justification for policies or for detailed information about Big Sur’s natural and human environment, but should not be considered authoritative.

The County adopted Protected Waterways Management Plans for the Little Sur River and Big Sur River in 1983. These provide authoritative resource data and analysis, identification of potential land use conflicts and goals, objectives, policies and recommendations for each watershed. These Protected Waterways Management Plans are incorporated by reference in this Plan. In general, the goals, objectives, and policies of the Little Sur and Big Sur protected waterways management plans are more specific and detailed statements of land use policy for these two waterways than the L.U.P. However, in the event of conflict between either waterway plan and the L.U.P., the most environmentally protective goals, objectives, or policies shall prevail regardless of the source.


Public participation in development of the plan has been extensive. A Citizen Advisory Committee appointed in 1976 by the Board of Supervisors held numerous meetings to provide direction for the plan and related studies. These meetings were often well attended by residents of the area and the general public. A series of town hall meetings were held in Big Sur at important points in the process to elicit the views of the entire community. Public agency participation included frequent and close working relationships with virtually every agency with an important role on the coast. Numerous presentations by State and Federal Agency personnel were made to the community.

The plan has specifically been prepared to conform to the purposes and spirit of the California Coastal Act. Its proposals are intended to resolve the difficult issues that face Big Sur’s future.

The major features of the Plan are to:

Guide all future planning decisions for County and State agencies, and set direction for the U. S. Forest Service in its planning.

Show the kinds, locations, and intensities of land uses allowed, therefore, serving as a basis of zoning and other implementing actions.

Present policies concerning land development and environmental protection and management.

Call for management of Highway 1 and all other governmental activities on the Coast.

Set forth detailed review procedures for all applications based on a permit review process.

Set forth a system for coordinating the actions of all involved government agencies.

Provide an environmental resource management data base to support the plan and future planning decisions and provide for the periodic updating of this information.

Identify the urgent need for financial assistance to the County in preserving Big Sur’s natural resources and cultural heritage. Funds are specifically needed to protect scenic views and to provide public access.




The Big Sur Coast Citizens Advisory Committee in providing guidance to the County established the basic philosophy and goals upon which this plan is based. In its report to the County entitled, Philosophy and Goals for Planning, the Committee stated:

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.

Quality should have precedence over quantity of any permitted uses, whether residential, recreational, or commercial. Any new development should remain within the small-scale, traditional and rural values of the area, rather than to introduce new or conflicting uses.

Land use planning and management policies should be directed towards maintenance and restoration of Big Sur’s remaining rural and wilderness character. Without compromising its character or depleting its resources, the area should be accessible to as many as can be accommodated.

The special cultural characteristics of the Big Sur Coast should also be recognized as a primary resource. Man’s presence along this coast continues to reflect a pioneering attitude of independence and resourcefulness; the environment has been a special nurturing ground for individual and creative fulfillment. The community itself and its traditional way of life are resources that can help to protect the environment and enhance the visitor experience.

From these philosophic concerns the following basic goal was defined by the Citizens Advisory Committee:

“To preserve for posterity the incomparable beauty of the Big Sur country, its special cultural and natural 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.”

The County recognizes that the comprehensive preservation ethic expressed by these statements will require special vigilance and determination by all persons, public and private, whose actions affect the


future of the Coast. New and innovative planning tools are needed. Coordination among the numerous governmental agencies with a role on the coast has taken on a new urgency. The plan makes a number of recommendations requiring actions by both the County and other agencies. These recommendations must be vigorously pursued to make the plan a success.


To accomplish the major goal of the plan, five basic objectives and policies are defined to guide all future public and private use of the coast.

1. Natural Resources

The overall direction for the future of the Big Sur coast is based around the theme of preserving the outstanding natural environment. The County’s objective is to develop and effectively carry out a constantly improving system for managing man’s use of the natural resources of the Big Sur coast for the long-term benefit of both visitors and residents.

The County’s basic policy is to take a strong and active role in the stewardship and safeguarding of Big Sur’s irreplaceable natural resources. Where there are conflicts, protection of these national resources is the primary objective with definite precedence over land use development.

2. Coastal Scenic Resources

Recognizing the Big Sur coast’s outstanding scenic beauty and its great benefit to the people of the State and the Nation, it is the County’s objective to preserve these scenic resources in perpetuity and to promote, wherever possible, the restoration of the natural beauty of visually degraded areas.

The County’s basic policy is to prohibit all future public or private development visible from Highway 1 and major public viewing areas.

3. Highway 1

Highway 1 traversing the Big Sur coast is a special road of great local, state, and national significance. It was built by the public primarily for scenic travel and recreational enjoyment and over the years has been managed with this purpose always in mind. In light of the public’s great need for recreational opportunities, this original objective has become even more important.

Monterey County’s basic policy is to take a strong and active role in guiding future use and improvement of Highway 1 and all categories of land use related to and dependent on the highway. The County’s purpose will be to maintain and enhance the highway’s aesthetic beauty and to protect its primary function as a recreational route. The highway shall remain a two-lane road and provide walking and


bike trails wherever feasible. In order to maintain the highway’s benefit to the public as a scenic recreational travel experience, the County will pursue legislation to restrict and regulate slow moving vehicles during peak travel hours.

4. Land Use and Development

The County’s primary land use planning objective is to minimize development of the Big Sur coast in order to preserve the coast as a scenic rural area where residents’ individual lifestyles can flourish, traditional ranching uses can continue, and the public can come to enjoy nature and find refuge from the pace of urban life.

The County’s basic policy is that future land use development on the Big Sur coast shall be extremely

limited, in keeping with the larger goal of preserving the Coast as a natural scenic area. In all cases, new

land uses must remain subordinate to the character and grandeur of the Big Sur coast. All proposed

uses, whether public or private, must meet the same exacting environmental standards and must not

degrade the Big Sur landscape.

5. Shoreline Access

The County acknowledges the increasing public demand for access to the Big Sur coast and wishes, in

the spirit of the California Coastal Act, to accommodate this legitimate desire. However, in doing so, the

County recognizes an ever greater commitment to preservation of the fragile natural environment. A

range of additional concerns appear as well, including the need to ensure public safety and to protect the rights of property owners. Therefore, it is the County’s objective to develop an optimal plan for public access that accounts, in a balanced way, for all these considerations. Because preservation of the land in its natural state is the highest priority, the County’s basic policy is that all future access must be subordinate to this objective. Care must be taken that while providing public access, that the beauty of the coast, its tranquility, and the health of its environment, are not marred by public overuse or carelessness. Visual access should be emphasized throughout Big Sur as an appropriate response to the needs of visitors. Visual access to the shoreline should be maintained by directing future development out of the viewshed.

It is the intention of Monterey County to review both the plan policies and local development at 5-year intervals to determine what, if any, changes in the plan or its implementation may be desirable or necessary.




The Big Sur coast has a rare heritage of scenic, natural, and cultural resources. The seventy-mile long coastal strip supports a diversity of plant, animal, and marine life found in few areas. The relative inaccessibility of the backcountry and the limited extent of man’s activities have helped to protect these resources and to maintain a local culture.

The Big Sur coast is in its infancy in terms of geologic time. This newness–characterized by extreme ruggedness of terrain and underlying instability–makes the area susceptible to geologic disturbance. The relatively small seasonal water resources that support the present population of animals, plants and humans dictate that management of the quality and flow of this water resources be a primary issue.

Development of the Big Sur coast has been limited by natural constraints and hazards such as the availability of water, difficulty of access, fire and flood potential, unstable soils, and seismic disturbance. However, as in other areas of high scenic and recreational value, neither natural nor man-made constraints have been sufficient to contain public and private development or recreational demands. The scarcity of choice land has resulted in use of inappropriate or hazardous areas. At peak summer periods, Highway 1 is approaching maximum carrying capacity and some recreational facilities are overused. Some species of plants and animals are already extinct or near extinction, and unique and fragile habitats are increasingly threatened. Accelerated land use and development will inevitably create new pressures and aggravate perennial problems: fires, floods, landslides, water and air pollution, depletion of water resources, and further destruction of plant, animal and marine habitats. Geologic hazards created by development activities are not only private matters, but affect the public in general. There is a need for limits in all areas of private and public development, in order to prevent overuse of resources. Maintenance of the quality of the natural experience along the Big Sur coast has precedence over the development of any permitted uses, whether residential, recreational, or commercial. New development should complement the area and its cultural traditions, rather than introduce conflicting uses.

The policies that follow are intended to guide the use and enjoyment of the coast and to afford an

essential degree of protection for the area’s natural environment.

The policies are based upon numerous background reports, analysis of a great deal of data, and the

advice of many agencies and knowledgeable individuals. Much of this material is contained in the

background reports. In addition to the text presented here, a series of maps have been prepared that

reflect available information on the location of various resources and hazards. Copies of these maps at

2000′ scale are available for public study at the Planning Department and in Big Sur at the County


Branch Library. Reduced scale versions of these maps are available in booklet form from the Planning

Department. Maps included cover:

1 — Viewshed

2 — Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas

3 — Agricultural and Forest Resources

4 — Hazards

5 — Recreation and Visitor-Serving Facilities

6 — Current Land Use

7 — Parcel Sizes and Land Ownership

8 — Existing Access Conditions

The County recognizes that inaccuracies may exist in these maps and no claims are made for their

complete accuracy. It will be the County’s intention to use these maps as constantly improving tools to

be shared with the public. As new or improved information becomes available, the maps will be revised.


There is longstanding concern for the protection of the scenic beauty of the Big Sur area. During the

early 1940’s, the County’s refusal to approve service station roadside advertising resulted in national

attention. A landmark court decision in favor of the County, upheld the right of local government to

regulate aesthetics through the police power. In the 1960’s, Highway One was designated as the first

scenic highway in California’s new State Scenic Highway System. Many other measures have been

taken by the County to preserve the outstanding visual qualities of the Big Sur area. These have

included, among other things, use of the Scenic Conservation zone, careful site, design and landscaping

control, and abatement of visual nuisance.

In spite of these controls, increased development has gradually encroached into areas of outstanding

beauty. In some cases this has been caused by poorly sited homes, or structures which have not been

designed to blend well enough with their surroundings. In other cases, highly visible roads have been

built on scenically sensitive mountainsides to provide access to new homesites or residential parcels. In

still other cases, public agencies have undertaken construction with little sensitivity to the land or to Big

Sur’s aesthetic values.


The aesthetic and scenic qualities and semi-wilderness character of the coast have received national and

even international acclaim. Accordingly, the issue of visual resource protection is probably the most

significant and far reaching question concerning the future of the Big Sur coast. A major premise of this

plan is that unusual action must now be taken to preserve the coast’s scenic beauty and natural

appearance. The strong policies set forth in this plan are intended to safeguard this critically important

resource. If carried out, they should assure the protection of the scenic magnificence of the area and

reflect the desire of the people of Monterey County and the Big Sur community to preserve their

heritage for present and future generations.

3.2.1 Key Policy

Recognizing the Big Sur coast’s outstanding beauty and its great benefit to the people of the State and

Nation, it is the County’s objective to preserve these scenic resources in perpetuity and to promote the

restoration of the natural beauty of visually degraded areas wherever possible. To this end, 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), and to condition all new development in areas not visible

from Highway 1 or major public viewing areas on the siting and design criteria set forth in Sections

3.2.3, 3.2.4, and 3.2.5 of this plan. This applies to all structures, the construction of public and private

roads, utilities, lighting, grading and removal or extraction of natural materials.

3.2.2 Definitions

1. Critical viewshed: everything within sight of Highway 1 and major public viewing areas including

turnouts, beaches and the following specific locations Soberanes Point, Garrapata Beach,

Abalone Cove Vista Point, Bixby Creek Turnout, Hurricane Point Overlook, upper Sycamore

Canyon Road (Highway 1 to Pais Road), Pfeiffer Beach/Cooper Beach, and specific views

from Old Coast Road as defined by policy

3.2.3 Critical Viewshed

A. Policies

1. In order to avoid creating further commitment to development within the critical viewshed all

new parcels must contain building sites outside the critical viewshed.

2. The best available planning techniques shall be used to permit development of parcels partially in

the critical viewshed. These may include clustering of structures, sensitive site design, design

control, transfer of development credits, and other techniques designed to allow development

on such parcels outside the critical viewshed.


3. 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.

Similarly, changes in the design, height, or bulk of proposed structures will be required where

this will result in an approvable project.

4. New roads, grading or excavations will not be allowed to damage or intrude upon the critical

viewshed. Such road construction or other work shall not commence until the entire project has

completed the permit and appeal process. Grading or excavation shall include all alterations of

natural landforms by earthmoving equipment. These restrictions shall not be interpreted as

prohibiting restoration of severely eroded water course channels or gullying, provided a plan is

submitted and approved prior to commencing work.

5. Where it is determined that a proposed development cannot be resited, redesigned, or in any

other way made to conform to the basic critical viewshed policy, then the site shall be

considered environmentally inappropriate for development.

6. The County will participate with other public agencies and private groups to secure adequate

funds to purchase critical viewshed parcels proposed for development or to secure for use by

restricted landowners, other developable land areas to which new development can be

transferred. The value of parcels, for purposes of establishing purchase price, shall not be

diminished by virtue of their location in the viewshed or by the policies of this section.

7. The general policy concerning replacement of structures shall be to encourage resiting or

redesign in order to conform to the Key Policy. Replacement or enlargement of existing

structures, or structures lost in fire or natural disaster within the critical viewshed shall be

permitted on the original location on the site, provided no other less visible portion of the site is

acceptable to the property owner, and provided the replacement or enlargement does not

increase the visibility of the structure. Replacement or enlargement of structures outside the

critical viewshed shall be permitted as long as such replacement or enlargement does not cause

the structure to intrude into critical viewshed.

8. Landowners will be encouraged to grant scenic easements to the County over portions of their

land in the critical viewshed.

9. The County encourages creative public and private efforts to restore the scenic beauty of

visually/impacted areas of the coast and will assist such efforts where possible.

B. Procedures For identifying whether A Proposed Project Would Intrude On The

Critical Viewshed.

1. All development applications shall require individual onsite investigations to determine whether

they would intrude on the critical viewshed. The proposed buildings shall be accurately


indicated as to dimensions, height, and rooflines by poles and access roads, by stakes with flags

which shall remain in place for the duration of the project review and approval process. Such

indications of the extent of development shall be recorded photographically with superimposed

representation of the proposed project. The standard for review is the objective determination

of whether any portion of the proposed development is visible from Highway 1 or the major

public viewing areas identified in the definition of the critical viewshed.

Visibility will be considered in terms of normal, unaided vision in any direction for any amount of

time at any season. Ocean views from Highway 1 shall not be obscured by artificial

berming/mounding or landscaping. Distant development, although in the technical line of sight,

will not be considered visible if sited and designed so as not to be seen from Highway 1 and

other major public viewing areas. Exterior light sources shall be prohibited if such light source

would be directly visible from the locations designated in Policy above. The critical

viewshed does not include areas visible only from the hiking trails shown on the Trails Plan

(Figure 3).

All new development not in conformance with the approved representations shall be removed.

3.2.4 Land Not in the Critical Viewshed

A. Policies

1. So that the visual continuity may remain undisturbed, the design and siting of structures, whether

residential, commercial, agricultural, or public, and access thereto, shall not detract from the

natural beauty of the undeveloped skylines, ridgelines, and the shoreline.

2. New applicants, when selecting a building site, must consider the visual effects upon public

views as well as the views and privacy of neighbors. The portion of a parcel least visible from

public viewpoints will be considered the appropriate site for the location of new structures.

New structures shall be located where existing topography or trees provide natural screening

and shall not be sited on open hillsides or silhouetted ridges. Sites shall not leave excavation

scars or slope disturbance. Structures and access roads shall be designed to minimize alterations

of the natural landform and to avoid, insofar as feasible, removal of healthy tree cover.

3. New development should be subordinate and blend with its environment, using materials or

colors that will achieve that effect. Where necessary, appropriate modifications will be required

for siting, structural design, size, shape, color, textures, building materials, access, and screening.

4. Landscape screening may be used wherever a moderate extension of native forested and

chaparral areas is possible. Other screening must be of similar plant or tree species.


5. Sites for new structures shall be selected to avoid the construction of visible access roads and

minimize the extent of environmental and engineering problems resulting from road construction.

6. New roads providing residential, recreational, or agricultural access will be considered only

where it has been demonstrated that the use of existing roads is not feasible, or that permission

for the use of an existing road is shown in writing to be unobtainable from neighboring property


7. New roads shall avoid steep slopes and shall be located along the margins of forested areas,

along natural land contours, or within existing vegetation. Road shall be aligned to minimize

removal of native trees, and constructed to minimum standards consistent with the requirements

of fire safety and emergency use. Drainage and erosion control measures must be adequate to

prevent erosion. During road construction, side-casting of earth materials shall not be

permitted; all materials not used for on-site fill shall be removed from the area.

8. Television antennas shall be unobtrusive.

B. Procedures For Applying the General Scenic Resources Policies That Apply Outside

the Critical Viewshed.

All development applications shall require individual on-site investigations. The proposed dimensions of

buildings shall be accurately indicated as to dimensions, height, and rooflines by poles and access roads

marked by stakes with flags which shall remain in place for the duration of the project review and

approval process. The County shall determine whether the proposed development conforms to the

policies set forth in Subsection A of this section.

3.2.5 Exceptions to the Key Policy

A. Rural Service Centers

Development within the following Rural Community Centers–Big Sur Valley, Lucia, Gorda, and Pacific

Valley, as well as at Rocky Point Restaurant, Big Sur Inn, and Coast Gallery – provide essential

services to the community and visiting public, and shall be permitted under careful design and siting

controls as provided for in the County Zoning Ordinance (Title 20 of the County Code) and by Policy

5.4.3 of this Plan.

B. Essential Ranching Structures

Essential agricultural structures required by commercial ranching and agriculture operations that cannot

be feasibly located outside the viewshed shall be permitted under careful design and siting controls.

Examples include barns, fences, windmills, water pumps, water tanks, stockponds and corrals.

However, all aquaculture facilities will be subject to the same resource protection criteria and


environmental standards as other development. Such uses shall conform to all non-critical viewshed


C. Highway 1 Facilities

1. Public Highway Facilities.

Road capacity, safety and aesthetic improvements shall be allowed, as set forth below,

provided they are consistent with Section 4.1.1, 4.1.2, and 4.1.3 of this plan. Signs, guardrails,

and restrooms shall be of a design complementary to the rural setting and character of Big Sur,

with preference for natural materials. Protective barriers constructed by Caltrans should utilize

boulders or walls of rock construction. Public agency permanent highway signs should be

framed with unpainted redwood. All highway signs should be reviewed once every three years

by Caltrans to determine the need for their continued use. All unnecessary signs should be


2. Private Highway Improvements.

Private driveway entrances, gates, roadside fences, mailboxes, and signs shall be of a design

complementary to the rural setting and character of Big Sur, with preference for natural


D. Utilities

It is the County’s intent that utilities be installed underground. Overhead power or telephone lines will

be considered only where overriding natural or physical constraints exist. Poles will be placed in the

least conspicuous locations out of public, and where possible, private view. Exterior lighting will require

shielding to reduce its long-range visibility, and to cause the light source to not be visible. Further,

exterior lighting shall be downlite and minimal to reduce as much as possible light pollution. Transmitter

towers and power facilities must not appear in the critical viewshed. Water lines or underground

conduits should be buried or otherwise obscured by vegetation.

E. State Park Parking

In order to provide for parking and other low intensity support facilities for the State of California

system of parks on the Big Sur coast, flexibility in the basic viewshed policy may be permitted to allow

use of excavating, berming, and indigenous plant screening at Soberanes Point, Garrapata Beach, Little

Sur River Mouth, and Point Sur Lighthouse if no environmentally suitable site is available that meets the

critical viewshed criteria. Other new parking facilities shall be provided at off-highway locations rather

than on the Highway One shoulder. The creation of new parking lots between Highway One and the

ocean shall be avoided wherever possible to avoid detracting from scenic coastal views. This policy

shall also apply to new units within the system that may be opened to the public. Parking and support


facilities existing at current facilities shall be removed from Highway One whenever the necessary offhighway

parking is provided. New off-highway facilities shall be designed, to conform to viewshed

policy if located in the critical viewshed (except for necessary entrance ways, which cannot be

hidden from Highway One), and to policy 3.2.4 if located outside the critical viewshed. Existing

facilities shall be brought into conformance to the greatest extent possible. Land acquired for viewshed

protection shall not be developed for parking or visitor serving facilities. Parking facilities for Soberanes

Point, Garrapata Beach, and Little Sur River Mouth shall be located on the east side of Highway One

and be completely out of the view of the Highway through the use of excavation, indigenous forestation

and berming techniques which shall obscure all vehicles and facilities. Restroom facilities shall be

located with the parking facilities. For public safety at Soberanes Point, Garrapata Beach, Little Sur

River Mouth, and any new units on the east side of Highway One connecting the parking and beach

areas are highly desirable. Parking shall be provided for a maximum of 75 vehicles at these facilities.

F. Rocky Point Area Vacant Parcels

Existing vacant residential parcels in the critical viewshed between Highway 1 and the sea, from (and

including) the southernmost existing residential parcel on Rocky Point, to the northernmost developed

residential parcel on Kasler Point and from the southernmost developed parcel north of Abalone Cove

to the northernmost developed parcel south of Garrapata Creek shall be permitted to be used for

residential purposes subject to policies of Section 3.2.4 of this plan and the following standards.

Additional standards shall include keeping driveways as narrow as possible, avoiding paving where

practical and consolidation of driveways; the use of roof and surface treatments, colors and materials

which will visibly blend with the surrounding environment; the use of berming and other measures

designed to minimize views of structures without blocking ocean vistas seen from Highway 1; prohibiting

the dumping of excavated materials over the coastal bluff, and additions, antennae, night flood lighting,

or other improvements in view of Highway 1 without separate permit consideration; and dedication of

scenic easement over undeveloped portion of lot. Guest houses shall be attached to the main dwelling

except where they can be sited to better implement these policies.

G. Otter Cove

Existing vacant residential parcels in the critical viewshed in the Otter Cove Subdivision seaward of

Highway 1, south of Malpaso Creek, shall be permitted to be used for residential purposes subject to

policies of Section 3.2.4 of this plan.

Additional standards shall include keeping driveways as narrow as possible, avoiding paving where

practical and consolidation of driveways; the use of roof and surface treatments, colors and materials

which will visibly blend with the surrounding environment; the use of berming and other measures

designed to minimize views of structures without blocking ocean vistas seen from Highway 1; prohibiting

the dumping of excavated materials over the coastal bluff, and additions, antennae, night floodlighting, or

other improvements in view of Highway 1 without separate permit consideration; and dedication of


scenic easement over undeveloped portion of lot. All guest houses shall be attached to the main


H. Coastal-dependent Uses Exception

Coastal-dependent uses, natural resource management needs, and certain necessary public facilities as

specified below are permitted provided that in each case there be a finding that no reasonable

alternative exists, that no significant adverse visual impacts will result, and that all such uses are in

conformance with Scenic Resources Policy 3.2.4 and all other policies. The exceptions are limited to:

a. Removal of non-native trees;

b. County road improvements in keeping with Policy 3.2.5.C-1;

c. Minimal public access improvements on the beach along shoreline lateral accessways,

such as litter collection facilities and rustic stairways;

d. On-shore navigational aids (lights, radio beacons, weather stations) needed by the

commercial fishing industry; and

e. Improvements to Pacific Valley School.

f. The joint U.S. Forest Service-State Parks-Caltrans administrative site in Pfeiffer-Big

Sur State Park.

3.2.6 Recommended Actions

1. The County shall explore all sources of funds – County, State and Federal – to compensate

property owners denied development permits due to viewshed restrictions. The County will

discourage any increase in Federal land ownership, management or control if such increased

Federal role would expose more of the Big Sur Coast area to deleterious activities. Examples

of deleterious activities are clear-cut commercial logging, open pit mining, oil and gas

development, overuse of environmentally sensitive habitat areas, or the taking of private

property for public use. The County will also support improved stewardship and management

of existing public lands, and where appropriate, consultation with the Federal agencies to insure

compatibility of land uses on both Federal and non-Federal lands. The Federal government will

be asked to adhere to the same resource conservation policies of the certified Land Use Plan

(LUP) as are applicable to other landowners.

The California Coastal Conservancy is requested to investigate and propose specific sources of

funds to compensate property owners denied development permits due to viewshed

restrictions. The Conservancy should devise and recommend to the County practical


mechanisms and procedures to make such funds available to affected property owners in a

timely manner.

Monterey County’s representatives in the California Legislature and the United States Congress

are requested to investigate and propose specific sources of funds for the County to use to

compensate property owners denied development permits due to viewshed restrictions. These

representatives are further requested to devise and recommend to the County practical

mechanisms and procedures to make such funds available to affected property owners in a

timely manner.

2. The California Coastal Conservancy should undertake a study to identify areas of the Big Sur

coast suitable for visual restoration and should propose specific measures to encourage

restoration. This study may be a cooperative effort between interested residents, groups, and

other agencies, the Conservancy, and the County. At a minimum, the study should:

– identify specific parcels unsuitable for development due to viewshed restrictions and

recommend means of avoiding development on the properties.

– prepare a map and list of specific developments, including roads that impact visual

quality and propose means of gradually reducing such impacts. This should include an

incentive program, including cost-sharing, for private landowners and residents to

voluntarily undertake such work.

3. Where no other feasible mitigation measures for eliminating the adverse visual impacts of new

development in the critical viewshed are available, the County may institute and utilize a Transfer

of Development Credits (TDC) system that will permit development credits for a parcel

determined to be developable except for the critical viewshed restrictions. Such credits may be

transferred at the owner’s option to a receiving parcel not in the viewshed and otherwise found

to be suitable for an increased density of development. The use of transferred credits will be

allowed as a conditional use under this Plan. However, the increase in residential density on the

receiving parcel shall not exceed twice that which is specified by Section 5.4 of this Plan, except

where: a) an environmental impact analysis reveals site suitability for more units; b) traffic

impacts will be mitigated through reduction in the number of driveway encroachments onto

Highway 1; and c) consistent with all other standards listed in this Plan.

Critical viewshed parcels protected under a TDC system shall be secured through enforceable

restrictions (e.g. scenic easement dedication), subject to County Counsel review and approval

of the applicable documents.

4. An effective and continuing program for litter control and abatement, including public education,

should be undertaken by Caltrans, the State Department of Parks and Recreation, and the U.S.


Forest Service. This program should include a regular schedule of litter removal along Highway

1 and on or near public beaches and selected viewing points.


Environmentally sensitive habitats are areas in which plant or animal life or their habitats are rare or

particularly valuable because of their special nature or role in an ecosystem. Environmentally sensitive

habitats are also areas susceptible to disturbance or degradation by human activities and developments.

Examples are riparian corridors and Areas of Special Biological Significance identified by the State

Water Resources Control Board; rare and endangered species habitat; all coastal wetlands and

lagoons; all marine wildlife haul-out, breeding and nesting area; education, research and wildlife

reserves, including all tideland portions of the California Sea Otter State Fish and Game Refuge;

nearshore reefs; tidepools; sea caves; islets and offshore rocks; kelp beds; indigenous dune plant

habitats; Monarch butterfly mass overwintering sites; and wilderness and primitive areas. The California

Coastal Act limits uses to those which are dependent on such resources; examples include nature

education and research, hunting, fishing, and aquaculture.

The Big Sur coast supports a wealth and diversity of environmentally sensitive habitats perhaps

unsurpassed in California. Many of these, especially in the marine environment, are in an essentially

undisturbed condition yet are endangered by changes in land use or offshore activities. Some sensitive

habitats already enjoy protection under laws guiding local, state, and federal agencies. Some sensitive

marine resources are protected by sections of the Fish and Game Code, the Federal Migratory Bird

Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. Wildlife

habitats are protected where they occur in legally designated areas such as the California Sea Otter

Refuge, and rare and endangered plants are singled out for preservation under State and Federal

legislation. Many of Big Sur’s terrestrial habitats, however, including sensitive plants, dunes, serpentine

rock associations, riparian corridors, coastal prairies, and grasslands are without adequate protection.

Essential roads are permitted in environmentally sensitive habitats provided that in each case there be a

finding that no reasonable alternative exists, that no significant adverse impacts will result, and that such

uses are in conformance with all other Plan policies. Essential roads are those which are unavoidably

necessary to provide a minimum level of access to an existing parcel, where no access road presently

exists and no reasonable economic use of the property is possible without such road. Reasonable

alternatives are those which would have less impact on sensitive habitats and the critical viewshed; or

would provide a more usable route for agricultural or visitor serving uses.

3.3.1 Key Policy


All practical efforts shall be made to maintain, restore, and if possible, enhance Big Sur’s

environmentally sensitive habitats. The development of all categories of land use, both public and

private, should be subordinate to the protection of these critical areas.

3.3.2 General Policies

1. Development, including vegetation removal, excavation, grading, filing, and the construction of

roads and structures, shall not be permitted in the environmentally sensitive habitat areas if it

results in any potential disruption of habitat value. To approve development within any of these

habitats the County must find that disruption of a habitat caused by the development is not


2. Where private or public development is proposed, in documented or expected locations of

environmentally sensitive habitats, field surveys by qualified individuals or agencies shall be made

in order to determine precise locations of the habitat and to recommend mitigating measures to

ensure its protection.

3. The County shall require deed restrictions or dedications of permanent conservation easements

in environmentally sensitive habitats when new development is proposed on parcels containing

such habitats. Where development has already occurred in areas supporting sensitive habitat,

property owners should be encouraged to voluntarily establish conservation easements or deed


4. For developments approved within environmentally sensitive habitats, the removal of indigenous

vegetation and land disturbance (grading, excavation, paving, etc.) associated with the

development shall be limited to that needed for the structural improvements themselves. The

guiding philosophy shall be to limit the area of disturbance, to maximize the maintenance of the

natural topography of the site, and to favor structural designs which achieve these goals.

5. Public access in areas of environmentally sensitive habitats shall be limited to low-intensity

recreational, scientific, or educational uses. Access shall generally be controlled and confined to

the designated trails and paths. No access shall be approved which results in significant

disruption of the habitat.

6. To protect environmentally sensitive habitats and the high wildlife values associated with large

areas of undisturbed habitat, the County shall retain significant and, where possible, continuous

areas of undisturbed land in open space use. To this end, parcels of land in sensitive habitat

areas shall be kept as large as possible, and if structures are permitted, they shall be clustered in

the least environmentally sensitive areas.

7. Land uses adjacent to environmentally sensitive habitats shall be compatible with the long-term

maintenance of the resource. New land uses shall be considered compatible only where they


incorporate all site planning and design features needed to prevent significant habitat impacts,

and where they do not establish a precedent for continued land development which, on a

cumulative basis, could degrade the adjoining habitat.

8. New development adjacent to environmentally sensitive habitat areas shall be allowed only at

densities compatible with the protection and maintenance of the adjoining resources. New

subdivisions shall be approved only where potential impacts to environmentally sensitive habitats

from development of proposed parcels can be avoided.

9. The County shall require the use of appropriate native species in proposed landscaping.

3.3.3 Specific Policies

A. Terrestrial Plant, Riparian, and Wildlife Habitats

1. Uses of sand dune habitats shall be restricted except for scientific and educational activities.

Particular attention shall be given to sites of rare and endangered plants. Recreational access

and associated facilities shall be directed away from dune habitats and focused on the beach

area. All management agencies shall prohibit off-road vehicle use in dune areas.

2. In serpentine rock associated habitats, land use activities shall be low intensity and designed to

ensure protection of habitat values.

3. Development or land use activities shall be sited to protect riparian habitat values. Development

adjacent to stream courses shall be restricted to low intensities and constructed to minimize

erosion, runoff, and water pollution. In order to protect riparian habitats, land use development

activities will not be permitted that will have the effect of diminishing surface flows in coastal

streams to levels that will result in loss of plant or wildlife habitat.

4. Setbacks of 150′ on each side of the streambank shall be required for all streams to protect

riparian plant communities unless a narrower corridor can be demonstrated to be sufficient to

protect existing vegetation and provide for restoration of previously disturbed vegetation.

5. Access routes including recreational trails and roads shall be sited to avoid significant impacts to

riparian corridors.

6. Recreational access to scientifically important terrestrial habitat areas maybe restricted when

necessary to protect the habitat.

7. Land uses in areas where natural grassland is found shall be compatible with the maintenance of

the habitat. Development shall be sited and designed to avoid disturbance or destruction of


grasslands. Compatible uses include managed grazing and low-intensity recreational and

residential uses.

8. Residential development shall be sited and designed to have minimum impacts on redwood trees

from soil compaction and other disturbances to tree roots. With similar considerations,

recreation should be encouraged as an appropriate use for redwood forests.

9. Commercial harvesting of old growth redwoods or rare or sensitive tree species is generally

inappropriate because of their scarcity, uniqueness, and scientific and educational value.

10. Monterey County encourages residents and public agencies to undertake restoration of Big

Sur’s natural environment by removal of exotic plants such as Scotch and French Broom,

Eucalyptus, Kikiyu grass, Vinca, Pampas grass, Gorse, and other non-native invasive species

providing such removal does not increase potential erosion problems.

B. Marine Habitats

1. Development on parcels adjacent to intertidal habitat areas should be sited and designed to

prevent percolation of septic runoff and deposition of sediment.

2. Alteration of the shoreline including diking, dredging, and filling, shall not be permitted except for

work essential for the maintenance of Highway 1.

3. Concentration of recreational development or recreational activities near accessible tidepool

communities shall not be permitted unless adequate management measures are provided to

prevent degradation of the sensitive environment.

4. Site design techniques intended to screen structures from view of Highway 1 shall not involve

major land modification that may impact adjacent marine habitats.

5. The coastal lagoons and estuaries of the Big Sur Coast shall remain undeveloped. Development

in the adjacent buffer area shall be limited to the minimum required to support low-intensity

recreational, scientific or educa-tional uses, as consistent with policy above. The

coastal lagoon and estuary buffer area shall, at a minimum, include all areas within 150 feet of

the landward extent of hydrophytic vegetation or the average high water mark if no such

vegetation exists.



Water is the lifeblood of both the natural ecosystem and all of the domestic uses on the Big Sur coast.

Numerous streams flow down the west slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Several of these streams are quite large, but the majority are relatively small. They all directly support

the wildlife and vegetative communities that make up the riparian environments enjoyed by the visitors

and residents alike. The groundwater storage basins, located in the upper portions of watersheds,

provide water of excellent quality for the spring and stream flows essential to the well-being of water

users on the coast.

Because many of the streams are small, development of residences, business, agriculture, and public and

private recreation and visitor-serving facilities can place excessive demands on the water available in

some watersheds. Overuse of the water supply can result in degradation of the natural environment with

losses of plant, wildlife, and fish habitats. Eventually, people dependent on the adequate supply of

quality water will suffer as private and community water systems fail. The drought of 1976-77

emphasized the critical need for a careful and conservative approach to planning that recognizes that

drought year flows are the controlling factor for all human and natural uses.

Most residents on the coast obtain water from natural springs, or divert water directly from a stream.

The most favored sites for development are those with dependable year-round water, either on the

parcel or close by. Yet, in some locations, the number of existing vacant parcels appears to exceed the

capability of available water supplies. Informal water systems have been developed to bring water to

“dry” parcels. Increasingly, property owners without a source of surface water on the property are

installing wells to pump for groundwater. In some cases, these wells are being constructed in

groundwater basins feeding springs that serve existing users lower down the mountain slopes. Such

wells can jeopardize spring supplies of existing users and should be discouraged.

Proper management of water resources encompasses more than just insuring adequate water supplies.

The protection of stream flows to maintain the natural environment is vital. The protection of water

quality through planning that considers stream setbacks, erosion potential, siltation, vegetative

maintenance, wildlife, scenic values, and other factors should be a part of all decisions concerning the

development of the Big Sur coast.

3.4.1 Key Policy

The protection and maintenance of Big Sur’s water resources is a basic prerequisite to the protection of

all other natural systems. Therefore, water resources will be considered carefully in all planning

decisions and approvals. In particular, the County shall insure that adequate water is retained in the

stream system to provide for the maintenance of the natural community of fish, wildlife, and vegetation

during the driest expected year.

3.4.2 General Policies


1. The County will take an active role in the conservation of Big Sur’s water resources and will

support and encourage the wise use and management of water resources by residents and

public agencies.

2. The County will require adherence to the best watershed planning principles including: stream

setbacks, stream flow maintenance, performance controls for development site features,

maintenance of safe and good water quality, protection of natural vegetation along streams, and

careful control of grading to avoid erosion and sedimentation.

3. Where watersheds are affected or are threatened by overuse of the water supply, the County

will use its land use regulatory authority to limit development in order to protect the public health

and welfare and to protect the natural values of the stream and its watershed.

4. The County will request technical assistance from appropriate public agencies as often as may

be required in order to make sound decisions concerning management and protection of Big

Sur’s water resources.

5. The County shall in concert with the State Department of Water Resources and the Division of

Water Rights, and the Department of Fish and Game, be responsible for cooperating with

residents to manage surface and groundwater supplies, and to implement the goals and policies

of this section. In approving new development, the County will require the monitoring of water

use and the observance of water conservation measures.

3.4.3 Specific Policies

A. Water Supply and Use

1. Applicants for development of residential, commercial, and visitor-serving facilities must

demonstrate by appropriate seasonal testing that there will be an adequate water supply for all

beneficial uses and be of good quality and quantity (e.g. at least 1/2 gallon per minute per single

family dwelling year round) from a surface or groundwater source, or from a community water

system under permit from the County.

2. Development of water supplies, or intensification of use of existing supplies from springs,

streams, wells, or community water systems shall be regulated by permit in accordance with

Coastal Act requirements. These permits shall be in addition to any required permits from the

County Health Department.

3. Applicants intending to utilize a water supply from a source not occurring on the parcel to be

served, shall obtain any necessary rights or permits to appropriate the water from the State

Division of Water Rights prior to receiving project approval from the County. The State is

requested to notify the County of all applications for appropriate water rights. The County’s


policy shall be to protest such applications that conflict with the protection of beneficial uses of

water including instream flow requirements. The County shall require riparian or groundwater

users applying for development rights to perfect and record their rights to the water to minimize

future conflicts. The County also encourages existing riparian users to perfect and record their

water rights.

4. Interbasin transfer of water: No new water system and no expansion of existing water systems

which transport water out of the watershed of any perennial stream shall be allowed.

Undeveloped parcels outside of the watershed of origin shall not be allowed to utilize

transported water. Permit applications shall demonstrate a suitable source of water not

requiring establishment or expansion of, or intensification of use, of an interbasin water transfer

system. Where no on-site surface water source exists, exceptions may be made for the

development of a primary residence on a vacant parcel served by a County-approved

connection to an existing water system — if the total number of existing/potential vacant

buildable residential parcels on such water system is four or less and as authorized in the Big Sur

River Protected Waterway Management Plan. Water system development or expansions

constructed or installed after December 31, 1976, without benefit of coastal development

permit will not be considered as “existing”.

5. Small public water systems and private water systems supplying more than one user shall

conform to the California Health and Safety Code, California Administrative Code, and County

Ordinance 2250 as administered by the County Health Department, consistent with other

policies of this section.

6. All applicants for permits to develop water shall base their proposed systems on the current

health laws and on the guidelines contained in “Guidelines for Applications, Appropriations,

Permits, Control and Protection of Water Supply, Storage Distribution, and Use”, on file in the

County Planning Department.

B. Rivers and Streams

1. The effects of all new development proposals or intensification of land use activities or water

uses on the natural character and values of the Big Sur coast’s rivers and streams will be

specifically considered in all land use decisions. Subjects to be addressed in such evaluations

include protection of scenic quality, water quantity and quality, wildlife and fish habitat, and

recreational values. Land use proposals determined to pose significant impacts to the natural

integrity of the stream must be modified accordingly. The County will request assistance from

the Department of Fish and Game as a technical expert on wild life and fish habitat and

mitigation measures.

2. In general, the high rate stream discharges during the winter should not be interrupted because

of their beneficial effects on the stream and its living community and on beach replenishment.


Therefore, any water diversions beyond the ordinary year-round entitlements must be consistent

with policy 3.4.3.B.7 and carefully regulated to avoid impairment of beach sand supply and

anadromous fish runs, and shall be limited to agricultural irrigation, and developments where the

primary function is the improvement of fish and wildlife habitat.

3. Water quality, adequate year-round flows, and stream bed gravel conditions shall be protected

in streams supporting rainbow and steelhead trout. These streams include: Garrapata Creek,

Rocky Creek, Bixby Creek, Little Sur River, Big Sur River, Partington Creek, Anderson

Creek, Hot Springs Creek, Vicente Creek, Big Creek, and Limekiln Creek.

4. The Big Sur and Little Sur Rivers are part of the California Protected Waterways system and

the State Legislature has requested the County to prepare individual management plans that set

forth criteria and guidelines for their protection. The County has worked cooperatively with

property owners adjacent to the Big Sur and Little Sur Rivers in formulating the management

plans. The goals, objectives and policies of these plans shall be followed in considering all land

use applications within the areas they cover consistent with the other policies presented here.

5. Channelizations, dams, and other substantial alterations of natural streams will be considered

generally inappropriate in the Big Sur Coast area. Minor alterations may be considered, but

only if: a) consistent with the protection of environmentally sensitive habitats; b) no substantial

interference with surface water flows, beach sand supply and anadromous fish runs will result; c)

the type of use is consistent with Policy 3.7.3.B-2 regarding floodplains; and, d) the project

incorporates the best mitigation measures feasible.

6. Priority for Wells Over Surface Water Diversions: Where groundwater is available on the site,

developments for the purpose of diverting surface water sources — perennial streams and

springs that feed perennial streams — shall be avoided. Wells and infiltration fields located

within or near a stream channel so as to tap stream sub-flow rather than groundwater will be

considered as stream diversion structures for the purposes of this policy. Exceptions will be

allowed only: a) for the development of a primary residence on a vacant parcel served by a

County-approved connection to an existing water system where no interbasin transfer of water

will result; b) for parcels which qualify as exceptions under LUP Policy 3.4.3.A-4 regarding

inter basin transfer of water; c) where groundwater well(s) would significantly deplete recharge

areas needed to maintain natural springs; or, d) where the use of groundwater, either on the site

or via a community system, is demonstrated to be infeasible and the adverse impacts of such

diversion are mitigated to the extent feasible.

Non-availability of groundwater shall be demonstrated by test boring to a reasonable depth,

unless it is demonstrated through surface geologic evidence or well-drilling data from adjacent

properties, that the presence of adequate ground water is unlikely. This policy should not be

read to prohibit instream uses which do not alter water quality or quantity.


7. Water Resource Verification: No substantial water use intensification (e.g., residential

subdivision with potential to increase number of households; residential or inn development of

more than one unit; restaurant, bar or other food service development or expansion; recreational

vehicle campground; development for commercial irrigated agriculture) shall proceed without

specific verification that adequate water supplies are available, and that the proposed

development will not adversely affect, cumulatively or individually, existing water supplies

needed for the maintenance of riparian vegetation and anadromous fisheries, or the supply

needed by existing users during the driest expected year. Such verification shall be supported

by a report, prepared by a qualified professional hydrologist on the basis of well logs,

stratigraphic profiles, and technical data as needed. The County shall consult with Department

of Fish and Game as to the adequacy of the report before allowing water use intensification;

and, if necessary, may at applicant’s expense engage the services of an appropriate independent

expert to review the report as well. In the case of water withdrawals from streams and springs,

water use shall be measured and maximum use levels shall be consistent with instream flow


C. Water Resource Study Area

1. The County encourages the restoration of streams and their immediate natural environment both

on public and private lands. Restoration projects may include: improvements to water supply

and quality, enhancement of water flows or water retained for in-stream uses, improvement of

fish habitat, installation of fish ladders, stream restocking, re-establishment or irrigation of

riparian vegetation, etc.

Alteration of natural streams shall be minimized by minimizing adverse effects of waste water

discharges and entrainment, controlling runoff, preventing significant depletion of groundwater

supplies and substantial interference with surface water flows, encouraging waste water

reclamation, and maintaining natural vegetation buffer areas that protect riparian habitats.

2. Establish a Community Water Resource Monitoring Program: The purposes of this program

are to determine the factual extent of water supply problems and riparian habitat impacts in the

water resource study areas; to provide for coordination with the Department of Fish and Game,

State Water Resources Control Board, U.S. Geologic Survey, County Flood Control District,

and other involved water resource agencies; to identify potential solutions (if needed); and to

detect water resource deficiencies which may arise in other watersheds. Maximum community

support and participation will be important to the success of the program.

Water resource study areas shall be designated by the County, subject to public hearings. Initial

designations shall include the following watersheds: Sycamore Canyon, Palo Colorado Canyon,

Castro Canyon, Mud Creek, Graves Canyon, Little Sur River and Big Sur River (including Post

Creek). The program will be supported with water data to be recorded by individual water


system owners/operators, as well as test wells and/or stream flow measurements conducted by

appropriate water management agencies.

Where significant water supply deficiencies are verified by the program, the County shall take

appropriate steps to curtail further intensification of development and to implement conservation

or restoration measures as needed to maintained instream flow requirements. In order to assure

that future development is coupled with a viable water resource monitoring program, a financial

contribution to the County proportional to expected new water use will be required from each

developer at the time of project approval.1/

3. Individual Water System Monitoring. In the water resource study areas, permits for public and

private water system expansion, new wells, and new stream and spring diversion developments

shall require measuring of water resource extraction. A table of monthly readings shall be

maintained by the water system operator. In the case of new wells, a well-driller’s log shall also

be completed and retained as a permanent record. Such information shall be made available to

appropriate water management or planning authority upon request for purposes of completing a

water resource study. All such information, if so requested by the water system operator, shall

be protected as proprietal information.

4. Encourage Watershed Self-Sufficiency: Priority shall be given to the consolidation of existing

mutual water systems or development of a new community water system in the Sycamore

Canyon watershed, for the purpose of developing a water source other than Sycamore Canyon

stream or the Big Sur River. Likewise, the development of a water source other than the Post

Creek headwaters shall be encouraged for the westerly portion of the Coastlands tract.

3.4.4 Recommended Actions

1. The State Department of Fish and Game, or other appropriate agencies should undertake

studies to determine instream flow requirements to maintain the natural environment on all of Big

Sur’s streams that support resident or anadromous fish populations. Such studies should enlist

the cooperation, participation, and guidance of local residents. The Department of Fish and

Game should file for necessary water rights to protect the fisheries resource.2/


Big Sur is rich in forest resources. The California Coast Redwood reaches the southern limit of its range

in the forested canyons of the south coast. Many other conifers are present also including large trees

such as Ponderosa and Sugar Pine and Douglas Fir. Many species of hardwood trees are found as

well. Oaks and madrones often dominate the drier slopes above the moist canyons. Many water-loving

hardwoods grow along the streams forming rich riparian zones.


At the same time, the commercial value of the larger conifers found both on public and private lands is

significant. While in the past, the limited extent of Big Sur’s forests and the difficult terrain discouraged

extensive harvesting, the dramatic depletion of more northern forests is escalating the demand for

timber, especially old growth redwoods.


1/ The required financial contributions will not be collected until the monitoring program is initiated

through implementation of this plan provision.

2/ The long-term objective of this policy statement is not intended to interfere with existing water

access rights in the Coastlands Subdivision.

In recognition of these forest values, the Los Padres National Forest was established to insure

protection and careful management of the resource. Public lands under Forest Service Management in

Big Sur total about 75,000 acres, slightly more than half of the planning area. Much of this area is in the

wilderness or reserve classification and tree harvesting is not permitted. The Forest Services overall

policy for Big Sur is to manage the forest for its scientific, recreational, and aesthetic values and to

permit only salvage cutting or harvesting necessary to maintain a healthy stand or to reduce fire hazard.

Regulation of the use of forest resources on private lands is the responsibility of the State Department of

Forestry. In the past, the County has not encouraged logging, but has regulated it through a use permit

process. To evaluate logging proposals the County has required Environmental Impact Reports to be

prepared, and has relied on the Department of Forestry for technical advice. This State agency

administers harvests according to the requirements of the Forest Practices Act of 1973 including its

special provision for southern forests. The California Coastal Commission, as required by the Coastal

Act, has designated some of the potential commercial forest area in Big Sur as Special Treatment

Areas. These designations provide for specific objectives and guidelines to be carried out by the

Department of Forestry, and consequently Monterey County, in administering any timber harvests. The

rules are aimed generally at protecting public recreation areas, scenic values, soils, streams and


In summary, the demand for harvesting of merchantable trees whether by timber operators from outside

the area or by local landowners can be expected to increase. At the same time, there is growing

pressure to preserve Big Sur’s environment in its natural or present state for aesthetic, recreational and

scientific purposes and as wildlife habitat. The concern that commercial harvesting could be highly

destructive to the environment has raised questions as to whether logging should be permitted at all, and

if so, under what regulations. These trends pose difficult issues for the County. They require that clear

policy be established concerning commercial harvesting, and that careful management be assured.

3.5.1 Key Policy

The primary use of forested land in Big Sur shall be for recreational and aesthetic enjoyment and for

educational, scientific, watershed, and habitat protection activities. Commercial logging of healthy old


growth redwood shall be considered an inappropriate use of a nationally significant resource. Limited

salvage and selective logging activities will be allowed to maintain the health of the forest provided that

all natural resource protection provisions of this plan are met.

3.5.2 General Policies

1. The regulations adopted by the Board of Forestry for Special Treatment areas generally provide

a high level of resource protection and shall be applied to all commercial harvests.

2. All cutting or removal of trees shall be in keeping with the broad resource protection objectives

of this plan. Specific policies, criteria, and standards of other sections of this plan shall govern

both commercial and non-commercial tree removal.

3. Restoration of native forest resources is encouraged for public agencies and residents as a

means of maintaining and enhancing Big Sur’s natural character. Removal of non-native tree

species is encouraged.

4. Landmark trees of all species shall be protected in perpetuity as significant features of Big Sur’s

natural heritage. The California Department of Forestry, scientists from research institutions,

and landowners should cooperate in the protection and enhancement of these resources and

their supporting habitat. Landmark trees shall be defined as visually significant, historically

significant, exemplary of its species, or more than 1000 years old.

5. Commercial harvesting of commercial timber species as well as oak and madrone will be

regulated by permit and must be in conformance with the policies of this plan carried out in

compliance with all applicable State and Federal laws, most notably the Forest Practices Act of

1973 with amendments, the California Environmental Quality Act, and the Special Treatment

Area Criteria for the Monterey County area adopted by the California Coastal Commission,

and the State Board of Forestry. Only state licensed timber operators may conduct commercial

logging operations.

6. The County will require that applicants for timber harvest permits first file and receive approval

from the California Department of Forestry for a Timber Harvest Plan (THP). The THP will

then be reviewed by the County for environmental impacts and consistency with the policies of

this plan. If environmental documents are required, they shall be and certified prior to Planning

Commission consideration of the coastal use permit. The Timber Harvest Plan will be required

to provide substantive consideration of alternative harvesting systems which have less

environmental impact, before tractor yarding is allowed.

7. The County will request advice and guidance from the State Department of Fish and Game,

Regional Water Quality Control Board and California Division of Mines and Geology, as

appropriate, in reviewing proposed Timber Harvest Plans. The County shall engage the


services of a registered professional Forester to review THP’s as needed. This will be at the

applicant’s expense.

8. In addition to compliance with forestry and soils resources policies, all developments, forest

management activities, and tree removal shall specifically conform to this plan’s policies

regarding water and marine resources, sensitive habitat areas, and coastal visual resources.

9. Division of coastal commercial timberlands into units or less than commercial size or their

conversion to uses which would preclude the primary uses listed in the key policy shall not be

allowed. Contiguous coastal commercial timberlands of 20 acres or more on any one legal

parcel shall not be divided into units of less than 20 acres, unless a binding agreement for the

joint management of the timberland resource as a single unit is effected prior to or conditionally

upon such land division. This policy does not apply to small-scale milling operations established

pursuant to policy, or to lands which are permanently precluded from timber harvest for

any reason–including the terms of a scenic easement in favor of a public agency or private nonprofit

conservation organization.

10. So long as required by state law, applicants for timber harvest permits must first file and receive

approval from the California Department of Forestry for a Timber Harvest Plan (THP). The

THP will then be reviewed by the County for environmental impacts and consistency with the

policies of this plan. The Timber Harvest Plan will be required to provide substantive

consideration of alternative harvesting systems which have less environmental impact, before

tractor yarding is allowed.

11. All timber removal under Monterey County jurisdiction within the Big Sur Local Coastal

planning area shall be processed as a County use permit item and shall not be exempted from

normal CEQA negative declaration or EIR process, whichever applies.

3.5.3 Specific Policies

1. Harvests proposed in watersheds which provide domestic water downstream of the proposal

shall be limited to removal of no more than 15 percent of the total merchantable timber in any

10-year period.

2. Soil or stream disturbance resulting from commercial timber harvest shall not be allowed

between October 15 and April 15. Erosion control programs shall be accomplished and

certified by the Department of Forestry by September 30 of each year.

3. All salvage or selective logging activities shall take place outside the riparian corridor except the

felling of trees. Felling and bucking shall not occur where trees, logs or debris could be

deposited in the stream. Where a tree might fall into or across a stream it shall be cabled so that

it falls at a right angle to the stream.


4. Road construction to accommodate salvage or selective logging shall be kept to an absolute

minimum. Applicants shall be required to evaluate the expected sediment yield or runoff

associated with each project and the secondary impacts on aquatic and marine resources.

Logging roads shall not impact the scenic view. Sidecasting of earth material shall not be

permitted during the construction of roads. All excess material shall be removed from the site.

Logging roads shall be constructed only in with the criteria set forth in Section 5.4.3.K-2.

5. Water quality sampling of suspended sediment and turbidity shall be required for any

commercial harvest prior to beginning of the operation and during at least one subsequent winter

with average or above rainfall when the proposed harvest area contains a stream or welldefined

stream channel. Costs of monitoring are to be borne by the applicant.

6. Applicants for timber harvest plans or use permits shall be required to certify through a qualified

biologist that the proposed commercial timber harvesting activity will contribute to the stability

and diversity of the forest and will be carried out in a manner that has no effect on

environmentally sensitive habitat areas or water resources. Applicants shall further demonstrate

through site investigation that proposed commercial timber harvesting does not impinge on the

critical viewshed and that the timber harvest shall be permitted only in those areas which can

show that the timber can be removed from the area without creating a safety or traffic problem

on a public road.

7. A cash deposit, bond or equivalent surety, payable to the County in an amount to be set by the

Board of Supervisors, is required to insure compliance with the State Forest Practices Act and

regulations and policies of this plan. Should the timber operator fail to correct any violation or

water quality problem due to the harvest within 15 days following receipt of notification to do

so, the County may correct the problem and charge all reasonable costs against the timber

operator’s surety.

8. Small-scale milling operations shall be permitted as part of logging operations subject to

compatibility with resource protection policies and the peace of adjacent land uses.

9. An insurance policy or other sufficient surety to indemnify the county for damages to county

roads and appurtenant structures should be required of every timber operator during the life on

the Timber Harvest Plan.

10. Areas where timber is harvested shall be zoned into a district which allows only low intensity

recreational uses and emphasizes the highest and best use of the land as being the continued

management of water, soil and trees for timber production.

11. In the upper Bixby-Turner Creek watershed, every effort should be made to explore potential

public acquisition of this scenic area for recreation and aesthetic enjoyment prior to the issue of

permits for timber harvesting.


3.5.4 Recommended Actions

1. The County should consider preparing detailed guidelines or a timber harvest ordinance to

regulate proposed timber harvest activities in furtherance of the local coastal program land use


2. Public agencies should fully explore the possible public acquisition of the upper Bixby-Turner

Creek watershed for recreational aesthetic purposes.



In the past, farming was practiced on a limited scale on the Big Sur coast. However, the lack of soils

suitable for cultivation, limited water supply and other factors do not support commercial farming.

Cultivation of crops can be expected to remain small scale for private use.

Since the 1800’s cattle ranching has been the primary agricultural activity on the coast. Today

commercial ranching takes place on a number of the larger properties and descendants of pioneer

families still carry on this traditional use of the land. The U. S. Forest Service administers substantial

range allotments in the Los Padres National Forest.

In addition to providing cattle for market, ranching has helped maintain the open grasslands

characteristic of the scenic landscape. Many of the large meadows found on the coast were created by

native grazing animals and have been kept brush free by cattle. The presence of livestock enhances the

rural western feeling of Big Sur and adds to visitor’s enjoyment of the area.

Increasing costs, high taxes, government restrictions, encroaching residential and public recreational

development and other factors make profitable ranching difficult today. Owners of traditional ranching

lands are compelled to consider other options for the use of their lands. Yet it is also acknowledged

that ranching remains an activity that can produce some return from land that otherwise may have few

economic alternatives. There is the feeling that it is desirable to perpetuate the ranching lifestyles both as

part of Big Sur’s heritage and for the public benefit.

The County and other agencies need to work cooperatively to support landowners in conserving grazing

lands. Careful land planning for large properties can result in the retention of ranching use while still

permitting other uses of the property. Agricultural conservation contracts, initiated by the property

owners, can in some instances, help reduce taxes and make profitable ranching more feasible. These

and any other means of assisting owners of large ranching properties in protecting their land for

agricultural use should be encouraged by the County.

3.6.1 Key Policy

Agriculture, especially grazing, is a preferred use of coastal lands. In locations where grazing has been a

traditional use, it should be retained and encouraged both under private and public ownership.

Williamson Act contracts, scenic easements, tax incentives, large lot zoning, and other techniques will be

encouraged by the County to promote and assist agriculture.

3.6.2 General Policies

1. All contiguous grasslands of 320 acres or more and those traditionally used for grazing use

should be preserved for such use.


2. Uses compatible with the retention of grazing, including hunting and some forms of low intensity

recreation, shall be encouraged as a means to assist maintaining land in agricultural use by

providing additional income to land owners.

3. Residential, recreational and other land use development shall not be sited on land suitable for

grazing unless an equivalent area of new grazing land is provided.

4. Residences and utility buildings and barns associated with agricultural uses shall be located to

conserve grazing land.

5. Subdivision of large ranching properties is generally discouraged. The configuration of new

parcels created through land divisions shall be designed in such a way to protect existing or

potential agricultural activities and grazing resources. In cases where large ranching properties

must be divided to accomplish other policies of this Plan, a binding agreement for the continued

management of the entire property shall be required. (See policy 5.4.3.M for related policies).

6. Public accessways shall be designed to avoid conflicts with agricultural use. Where public trails

must cross actively grazed areas a range of measures including signs, fences, berms, vegetation

screens, and prescribed burning to eliminate hazardous accumulation of brush, shall be applied,

as appropriate, to reduce conflicts to acceptable levels.

7. The County Farm Advisor should continue to assist landowners in developing grazing

management plans. Such plans should include rotation schedules, fencing programs, and other

techniques to enhance grazing activity.

8. The U. S. Forest Service and the State Department of Parks and Recreation should lease

grazing land to private individuals in order that such areas may continue in traditional agricultural


9. Where the Department of Parks and Recreation acquires title to land formerly in grazing use,

and where a lag of several years is anticipated before park development plans are implemented,

the Department should make every effort to lease the land for the purpose of continuing grazing

on the property.

10. The State Department of Forestry and the U. S. Forest Service should actively participate and

assist in developing prescribed burning programs for private and for public lands in order to

improve and maintain the grazing resource.

11. Landowners shall be encouraged to establish or expand agricultural operations, such as animal

husbandry, livestock breeding, aviaries, vineyards, tree farms, native plant farms, and seed



3.6.3 Recommendations

1. The County should seek long-term tax reforms that will permit agriculture lands to be assessed

and taxed on the value of their earnings, rather than their development potential.

2. In order to encourage protection of grazing lands and continued cattle operations, the County

shall explore all sources of funds – County, State and Federal – to compensate owners of

grazing land for scenic easements over their lands except those federal funds which would

increase federal land ownership, management or control.


The Big Sur Country presents an unusually high degree of hazards for both existing residents and new

developments. The rugged terrain of the Big Sur coast is in part the result of seismic activity associated

with movement of continental plates. The plates intersect at the San Andreas Fault which parallels the

coast some 40 miles inland. The series of faults paralleling the San Andreas account for the orientation

of the ridges, valleys, and the shoreline. The two principal faults in the Big Sur segment are the San

Gregorio-Palo Colorado Fault and the Sur-Nacimiento Fault which are both seismically active. Seismic

hazards include ground rupture, shaking, and failure. Seismic sea waves (tsunami) originating elsewhere

in the Pacific Ocean are not considered significant hazards on the Big Sur coast.

Geologic hazards are also induced or aggravated by human activities. Construction of roads and

building pads, in particular, can have disastrous consequences in terms of erosion or land failure. Extra

care is needed both by property owners and the County to insure that new excavation, road building

and construction is undertaken only where natural conditions permit, and that such activities when in

progress are carried out to the highest engineering standards.

Flood danger is very real in certain areas of Big Sur. The Big Sur and Little Sur Rivers have sizeable

flood plains and many other streams on the coast can be hazardous during high water. Structures within

known floodplains pose a life hazard to occupants during severe storms. Flood associated hazards

include devastating mud flows such as the 1972 disaster that wiped out the Post Office and ambulance

center, road wash-outs, and loss of septic tanks and leach fields. Flood damage to small water systems

or contamination of wells can result from high water, septic system failure, or stream-carried debris.

Road washouts isolate some properties and prevent the entry of emergency vehicles.

The entire Big Sur area is subject to fire hazard to life, property, vegetation, and wildlife. The hazard

varies locally and seasonally due to differences in fuel levels, weather, and topography, yet the risk to

life and property remains high due to remoteness from fire stations, difficult access, and water supply

problems. Public fire protection on the Big Sur coast is geared to forest fires rather than structural fires.

Response time from the Department of Forestry Station at Carmel Hill is lengthy due to distance and


slow-moving traffic on Highway 1 where the shortage of turnouts and shoulders makes passing difficult.

The volunteer companies at Garrapata and Big Sur, because of the shorter response time, provide

some structural fire protection.

While fires can start from natural causes, people pose the greatest danger. Carelessness by residents or

visitors during the long dry summers endangers the entire community. This danger will inevitably

increase as recreational use of the area increases and as more and more homes are built. Recreational

use of public areas, in particular, needs to be curtailed or closely supervised during periods of very high

fire danger. The value of public education cannot be over-estimated. The siting and construction of

new structures likewise needs extreme care to avoid endangering the occupants and the broader

community as well.

3.7.1 Key Policy

Land use and development shall be carefully regulated through the best available planning practices in

order to minimize risk to life and property and damage the natural environment.

3.7.2 General Policies

1. The Big Sur coast shall be considered as an area where projects may impact or be affected by

environmental resources of hazardous or critical concern. Most projects will therefore not be

eligible for the categorical exemption allowed under the California Environmental Quality Act.

2. As part of the development review process, all proposed development shall be evaluated for

conformance and be required to comply with adopted hazard policies applicable to the site in


3. All development shall be sited and designed to minimize risk from geologic, flood, or fire

hazards to a level generally acceptable to the community. Areas of a parcel which are subject

to high hazard(s), shall generally be considered unsuitable for development. For any

development proposed in high hazard areas, and environmental or geotechnical report shall be

required prior to County review of the project.

4. In locations determined to have significant hazards, development permits should include a

special condition requiring the owner to record a deed restriction describing the nature of the

hazard(s), geotechnical and/or fire suppression mitigations and long-term maintenance



3.7.3 Specific Policies

A. Geologic Hazards

1. All development shall be sited and designed to conform to site topography and to minimize

grading and other site preparation activities. Applications for grading and building permits and

applications for subdivisions shall be reviewed for potential impacts to on-site and off-site

development arising from geologic and seismic hazards and erosion. Mitigation measures shall

be required as necessary.

2. The lands within 1/8 mile of active or potentially active faults shall be treated as a fault zone

characterized by high seismic hazards until geotechnical investigations accepted by the County

indicate otherwise for either an entire fault zone or for any specific location with any zone.

3. All structures shall be sited a minimum of 50 feet from an identified active fault or potentially

active fault. Greater setbacks may be required where it is warranted by local geologic


4. Critical facilities, such as major transportation links, communications and utility lines, and

emergency shelter facilities, shall be located, designed, and operated in a manner which

maximizes their ability to remain functional after a major earthquake.

5. In those instances where critical facilities are located in or where they cross high hazard areas,

all reasonable measures shall be taken to insure continuity or quick restoration of service in the

event of earthquake.

6. New roads, bridges, and utility lines (either public or private) that cross active or potentially

active fault zones should be designed and constructed in a manner which recognizes the hazard

of fault movement. Water and electric lines should be equipped with shut-off devices or the

equivalent which utilize the best available technology for quick shut-off consistent with providing

reliable service.

7. All structures should be designed and constructed to: a) resist minor earthquakes with

epicenters on the closest potentially active fault without damage; b) resist moderate earthquakes

without structural damage, but with some non-structural damage allowable; c) resist major

earthquake of the intensity or severity of the strongest experienced in California without

collapse, but with some structural as well as non-structural damage allowable.

8. Structures and roads in areas subject to landsliding are prohibited a certified engineering

geology report indicates mitigations exist to minimize risk to life and property. Mitigation

measures shall not include massive grading or excavation or the construction of protective

devices that would substantially alter natural landforms.


9. Any proposed development within 50 feet of the face of a cliff or bluff or within the area of a 20

degree angle from the toe of a cliff, whichever is greater, shall require the preparation of a

geologic report prior to consideration of the proposed project. The report shall demonstrate

that (a) the area is stable for development; and (b) the development will not create a geologic

hazard or diminish the stability of the area.

10. New roads shall be constructed in accordance with the criteria set forth in Section 5.4.3.K-2.

11. Soils and geologic reports shall be required for all new land divisions and for the construction of

roads and structures, excluding minor structures not occupied by people, in areas of known or

suspected geologic hazards. Both potential onsite and offsite impacts shall be evaluated in the


Hazard areas requiring submission of such reports include the 100-year floodplain; landslide

areas and other locations showing evidence of recent ground movement; earthquake fault zones;

sites falling within the area of demonstration as provided in the Statewide Interpretive Guidelines

for Blufftop Development (as amended February 4, 1981); and any other geologic high hazard

area for which a geotechnical report is required by policy above. Such reports shall be

prepared by a soils engineer or registered and certified engineering geologist, as appropriate,

acting within their areas of expertise, based upon an on-site evaluation; the reports shall be

consistent with “Guidelines for Geologic/Seismic Reports” (CDMG Notes #37).

The California Division of Mines and Geology will be requested to assist the County in

reviewing the reports and resolving any disputes. The reports shall consider, at a minimum, the

following, as applicable to the site:

(1) Historic, current and foreseeable cliff erosion, including investigation of recorded land

surveys and tax assessment records in addition to the use of historic maps and

photographs where available, and possible changes in shore configuration and transport.

(2) Cliff geometry and site topography, extending the surveying work beyond the site as

needed to depict unusual geomorphic conditions that might affect the site and the

proposed development.

(3) Geologic conditions, including soil, sediment and rock types and characteristics in

addition to structural features such as bedding, joints, and faults.

(4) Evidence of past or potential landslide conditions, the implications of such conditions for

the proposed development, and the potential effects of the development on landslide



(5) Wave and tidal action, including effects of marine erosion on seacliffs.

(6) Ground and surface water conditions and variations, including hydrologic changes

caused by the development (e.g., introduction of sewage effluent and irrigation water to

the groundwater system; alterations in surface drainage).

(7) Potential effects of seismic forces resulting from a maximum credible earthquake.

(8) Effects of the proposed development including siting and design of structures, septic

system, landscaping, drainage, and grading, and impacts of construction activity on the

stability of the site and adjacent area.

(9) Any other factors that may affect slope stability.

(10) Potential erodibility of site and mitigating measures to be used to ensure minimized

erosion problems during and after construction (i.e., landscaping and drainage design).

B. Flood Hazards

1. The County’s primary means of minimizing risk from flood hazards shall be through land use

planning and the avoidance of development in floodprone areas. The development of flood

control projects to protect new development in the natural floodplain is not considered


2. All new development, including filling, grading, and construction shall be prohibited within 100-

year flood plains except as needed for outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, agriculture, and

similar low intensity open space uses, as well as bridges, water resource developments requiring

a streamside location, restoration activities pursuant to the Protected Waterways Plans, and

flood control projects where no other method for protecting existing structures in the floodplain

is feasible and such protection is necessary for public safety or to protect existing development.

C. Fire Hazard

1. The fire hazard policies contained in the Safety Element of the Monterey County General Plan

shall be regularly reviewed and consistently applied. The critical fire hazard map should be

updated continually as new and more specific information becomes available from the required

written assessments.

2. New developments shall be avoided in extreme wildfire hazard areas as determined by sitespecific



3. New development proposals or development inducing projects which would not be served by

adequate fire protection services, public or private roads, or water for fire suppression should

be limited to a low-intensity commensurate with such increased risk.

4. Roads serving new residential development shall be adequate to allow access by emergency

vehicles while permitting evacuation of the area by residents.

5. Monterey County should support and assist the efforts of the various fire protection agencies

and districts to identify and minimize fire safety hazards to the public.

6. Each development proposal shall be accompanied by a written assessment of adequacy of

access. The written assessment shall be prepared by the applicant and shall evaluate the project

in relation to Monterey County Subdivision Ordinance requirements, types of existing and

proposed roads, minimum road widths, and specific evacuation routes applicable to the parcel.

The assessment shall be submitted to fire officials for their review and recommendations.

3.7.4 Recommended Actions

1. All existing utility lines that cross active or potentially active fault traces should be examined to

determine their ability to survive fault movement in the amount likely to take place in the

particular location. Utility companies should institute orderly programs of installing cut-off

devices on these lines, starting with the lines that appear to be most vulnerable and those which

serve the most people. Adequate emergency water supplies should be established and

maintained in areas dependent upon water lines which cross active fault zones.

2. The County shall review and periodically revise the County-wide Disaster Contingency Plan.

All appropriate County and public agencies shall be included in all phases of disaster

contingency planning.

3. The guidelines contained in the cooperative federal/state FIRE SAFE GUIDE FOR

RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT IN CALIFORNIA, especially those pertaining to water

supply, fire hydrants, and other fire prevention and control features, should be considered by the

County for adoption as the basis for building standards in areas of moderate to high wildland fire

hazard potential.


The Big Sur area has a number of sites of historic and potential mineral resources which may be

proposed for extraction in the future. Gold mining in the Los Burros District has occurred in the past

and may be continued.


Significant conflicts arise in the watershed of the Little Sur River where substantial limestone deposits on

Pico Blanco lie partly inside and partly outside the Los Padres National Forest. In 1981 the U.S.

Forest Service approved a five-year Plan of Operations, 1981-1986, that allows the owner Granite

Rock to commence exploratory operations and the mining company has opened a quarry on the South

face of Pico Blanco within the National Forest boundary.

In 1982, in response to a petition by Granite Rock, Co., the California State Mining and Geology

Board classified these limestone deposits as a significant mineral resource (MRZ-2 area). The

Classification Report estimates they contain 640 million tons of limestone whiting, a non-strategic,

industrial chemical mineral. The State Mining and Geology Board has not designated the Pico Blanco

deposits as a mineral resource of regional or statewide significance.

Granite Rock also owns two easements across the El Sur Ranch connecting its limestone deposits to the

Old Coast Road, one of which — referred to in this Plan as the Dani Ridge access road — has been

developed for a haul road, while the other — which cuts across slopes on the north side of the South

Fork of the Little Sur River — has not been developed.

In 1973 the California State Legislature recognized the statewide significance of the Little Sur River

watershed’s “extraordinary scenic, fishery, wildlife, (and) outdoor recreational values” by including it in

the California Protected Waterways System and requested Monterey County to prepare a Protected

Waterways Management Plan to protect these values and the watershed’s “free-flowing and wild

status.” (Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 32 – Relative to the Little Sur and Big Sur Rivers, 1973,

and 1968 Cal. Stats. Chap. 1278 1.) Pursuant to this legislative request the Board adopted a

Protected Waterways Management Plan for the Little Sur River in December 1983 and incorporated it

by reference in this Plan.

Through adoption of the Protected Waterways Management Plan for the Little Sur River, the State has

recognized the statewide significance of the fish and wildlife habitat of this watershed. These resources

are also of national significance, and the County encourages the State to designate this area as a “coastal

resource of national significance”, as the term is used in Section 1455(i) of the federal Coastal Zone

Management Act, and to adopt as part of the state coastal Zone Management Act, and to adopt as part

of the state coastal management program” specific and enforceable standards to protect (these)

resources”, in accordance with Section 1455(i).”

Because of the extraordinary value of the natural resources of the Little Sur River watershed, the

conflicts arising from mining operations on Pico Blanco and the jurisdictional complexities arising from

the location of Pico Blanco limestone deposits partly inside and partly outside a national forest in a

California Protected Waterway within the California coastal zone, the specific policies of Subsection

3.8.4 are needed to guide the application of state and federal law and other policies of this plan.


Limited mining of sand and gravel for local use has taken place in the past from the stream beds of the

Big Sur and Little Sur Rivers. The Department of Fish and Game has reviewed and provided guidance

to some of these operations. Also, of considerable concern, is the potential development of the offshore

oil and gas deposits. In addition to these mineral resources there are also limited oil and gas reserves

located offshore on the Outer Continental Shelf. Proposals are being made by the Federal Government

to lease these reserves for exploration and development. Experience with offshore oil development has

repeatedly shown the inevitability of serious oil spills or other disasters that result in degradation and

destruction of the marine environment including extensive loss of fish and wildlife and damage to local

dependent industries. The Big Sur coast is the location of the California Sea Otter Refuge and

possesses extensive and undisturbed marine and intertidal habitats for fish, marine mammals, and birds.

Additionally, the coast is a scenic recreation area of great reknown. The County is deeply concerned

that these wildlife and recreation resources of national significance will be critically jeopardized by

exploration and development of off-shore oil and gas reserves and, accordingly, is in strong opposition

to the development of these reserves.

The following policies are applicable in any review by the County of development activities, whether on

federal or non-federal land. These policies are adopted pursuant to the California Coastal Act of 1976,

and the County’s general plan power and police power. All lands within the “National Forest” land use

designation (see Figure 1) which are subject to coastal development permit jurisdiction are subject to

the land use policies for the Watershed and Scenic Conservation land use designation.

3.8.1 Key Policy

Development of mineral resources in the Big Sur coast area must be carefully planned and managed to

ensure protection of the area’s important scenic, recreational, and habitat values. The County shall

evaluate any proposal for an increased level of extraction based upon a thorough balancing of the social,

technological, environmental and recreational values long recognized to exist on the Big Sur coast and

the economic values of any mineral deposit. In determining the value of a mineral deposit, the costs of

reclamation and mitigation of adverse impacts will be considered. The County opposes development of

any offshore or onshore oil and gas reserves that could adversely affect the scenic or habitat values of

the Big Sur coast.

3.8.2 General Policies

1. All mineral resource development shall be in keeping with the broad resource protection

objectives of this plan. The specific policies, criteria and standards of other sections of this plan

shall govern both onshore and offshore mineral resource development. Mining will not be

allowed in environmentally sensitive habitat areas such as riparian corridors, rare and

endangered plant and animal habitat locations, or wetlands. Mining activities and related

facilities such as roads, loading or conveyance facilities, shall not be permitted to be constructed

in the critical viewshed and shall be sited and designed to protect views to and along the ocean

and designated scenic coastal zone area.


2. The California Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975 (SMARA) establishes procedures

whereby mineral deposits can be classified as significant mineral deposits and designated as

having statewide or regional significance. In the event of classification the State Mining and

Geology Board publishes a Classification Report containing useful mineral information. The

County will recognize in this Plan such information pertaining to mineral deposits on the Big Sur

Coast and will emphasize the conservation and development of classified deposits. However,

pursuant to SMARA the County retains responsibility and broad discretion as lead agency to

regulate, approve or disapprove all proposed surface mining operations, including those

affecting deposits that have been classified as a significant mineral resource or designated as

having statewide or regional significance.

3. Alternative methods of mineral extraction which result in minimal environmental impact shall be

given substantive consideration before surface mining is allowed. Surface mining will not be

considered an acceptable practice where less environmentally damaging techniques are feasible

or in streams supporting anadromous fish runs unless it can be demonstrated that no adverse

impacts will result.

4. For purposes of this Plan the term “surface mining” is now used to mean “surface mining

operations” as that term is defined by the California Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of

1975, Pub. Res. Code ~2735. The following operations are excluded from this definition: (1)

the operations conducted by the California Department of Transportation to extract road

building materials for local use and (2) prospecting for, or the extraction of, minerals for

commercial purposes and the removal of overburden in total amounts of less than 500 cubic

yards in any one permit area or from any single mineral deposit or contiguous mineral deposits

that have been classified as a significant mineral resource by the California Division of Mines

pursuant to Pub. Res. Code ~2761(b).

“Mining”, as that term is used in this Plan, includes both surface mining and subsurface mining.

“Mineral development” is the broad term that encompasses both mining and onshore and

offshore exploitation of oil and gas resources.

5. Surface mining operations shall not be allowed in the following areas:

a. Surface mining operations shall not be allowed in areas susceptible to landslide, erosion

and other hazards such as proximity to earthquake faults, as designated on the Big Sur

LCP Hazards Map or in the “Seismic and Slope Stability Hazards” maps in the

Protected Waterways Management Plans for the Little Sur River and Big Sur River.

b. In order to maintain the long term productivity of soils and timberlands, mining within

Forestry Special Treatment Areas or other potential commercial timber lands shall not


be permitted except for subsurface workings which would not result in a conversion of

timberlands to other uses.


3.8.3 Specific Policies

1. Large-scale mineral development is not an appropriate use in Big Sur. The total amount of

proposed surface from any mineral extraction operation or aggregate of operations (including

quarry sites, tailings, overburden disposal sites, drilling pads, processing sites, roads) within any

watershed shall be the minimum necessary to support the operation. (For the purposes of this

policy, a watershed must be considered in its entirety, from the point where it drains into the

Pacific Ocean, inland to the limit of the coastal zone).

2. All permit applications proposing to conduct mineral exploration or extraction operations shall

be required to prepare an Environmental Impact Report, a quarry management plan and

reclamation plan, and must meet the requirements of the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of

1975 as implemented by the County Mining Ordinance herein incorporated by reference. The

County will request advice and guidance from the State Department of Fish and Game,

Regional Water Quality Control Board, and California Division of Mines and Geology, as

appropriate in reviewing proposed quarry management and reclamation plans. The County may

engage the services of geologic and biologic experts to review such plans as needed. This will

be at the applicant’s expense.

3. In addition to the requirements set forth in Monterey County Code Chapter 16.04,the required

quarry management plan or reclamation plan, must address at a minimum, all the following

elements as a condition of permit approval.

a. Cross section maps or plans of the land to be affected including the actual area to be

mined, prepared by or under the direction of and certified by a registered professional

engineer, or professional geologist with assistance from experts in related fields such as

land surveying and landscape architecture, showing pertinent elevation and location of

test borings or core samplings and depicting all of the following information:

(1) The nature and depth of the various strata of overburden.

(2) The location of subsurface water, if encountered, and its quality.

(3) The nature of the stratum immediately beneath the mineral deposit to be mined.

(4) Existing or previous surface mining limits.

(5) The location and extent of known workings of any underground mines, including

mine openings to the surface.

(6) The location of aquifers.


(7) The estimated elevation of the water table.

(8) The location of spoil, waste, or refuse areas, suitable plant growth material

stockpiling areas and, if necessary, stockpiling areas for other suitable strata.

(9) The location of all impoundments for waste or erosion control.

(10) Any settling or water treatment facility.

(11) Constructed or natural drainways and the location of any discharges to any

surface body of water on the area of land to be affected or adjacent thereto.

(12) Profiles at appropriate cross sections of the anticipated final surface

configuration that will be achieved pursuant to the applicant’s proposed

reclamation plan.

b. Procedures to retain soil or eroded material on the site, to prevent the discharge of any

water or runoff which would increase the natural level of turbidity in receiving waters,

and to control the circulation of particulate matter in the atmosphere. Water quality

sampling of suspended sediment and turbidity shall be required for any mining

operations prior to the beginning of the operation and during subsequent winters. Costs

of monitoring are to be borne by the applicant.

c. Measures to stabilize slopes and mine tailings such as hydromulching, seeding and other

appropriate measures; measures to prevent any increase in normal runoff, especially

during peak periods, from the site such as requiring dispersal or storage so that scouring

and erosion do not occur.

d. A soil survey of all the plant growth material within the permit area.

e. Measures to provide for the restoration of native plant species normally occurring in the

mined areas.

f. Measures to stockpile soil and spoils and provide for recontouring quarry sites to a

natural appearance.

g. Measures to regulate disposal of undesirable pollutants found in conjunction with mined

materials (such as heavy metals, mercury, in gold mines).

h. A phasing plan or other measures adequate to minimize the area of disruption during

active mining in order to alleviate such impacts as soil erosion, dust propagation, and

viewshed intrusion in areas not covered by General Policy #1. This phasing plan shall


include a detailed estimated timetable for the accomplishment of each major step in the

reclamation plan.

i. A transportation element which discusses alternative methods of transporting quarried

material. Haul routes and destinations must be specified.

j. Measures to maintain existing or historic recreational access over the property.

k. Measures to prevent impacts which would significantly degrade adjacent

environmentally sensitive habitats and parks and recreation areas.

l. A determination by the permit applicant of the probable hydrologic consequences of the

mining and reclamation operations, both on and off the mine site, with respect to the

hydrologic regime, quantity and quality of water in surface and ground water systems

including the dissolved and suspended solids under seasonal flow conditions and the

collection of sufficient data for the mine site and surrounding areas so that an assessment

can be made by the Board of the probable cumulative impacts of all anticipated mining

in the area upon the hydrology of the area and particularly upon water availability and


m. The use which is proposed to be made of the land following reclamation, including a

discussion of the utility and capacity of the reclaimed land to support a variety of

alternative uses and the relationship of such use to existing land use policies and plans,

the surface owner’s preferred use, and the comments of state and local governments or

agencies thereof, which would have to initiate, implement, approve, or authorize the

proposed use of the land following reclamation.

n. A detailed description of how the proposed postmining land use is to be achieved and

the necessary support activities which may be needed to achieve the proposed land use.

4. Annual report of activities by permittee. The operator shall annually file on the anniversary date

of the permit a notice of intent to continue mining operations and a map or statement that shall


a. The land affected during the preceding year;

b. The land to be affected during the coming year; and

c. Any land reclaimed during the preceding year.

5. Environmental protection performance standards. General performance standards shall be

applicable to all surface mining and reclamation operations. In addition to the requirements set

forth in Monterey County Code Chapter 16.04, each permittee shall be required at a minimum

to comply with the following standards as a condition for permit approval:


a. Mining trucks shall not be permitted on Highway 1 during peak recreational use periods

(7 a.m. until 10 p.m.).

b. Fill activities or improvements related to mining operations shall not be permitted in

active flood plains or stream channels.

c. Existing or historical recreational access to the shoreline, the Ventana wilderness area or

state parks shall not be prevented by mining operations.

d. Unless the County finds that no significant adverse affects on the following specified

habitat and recreational features will result, no mining which involves surface blasting,

operation of loud equipment, or similar disruptions of natural peacefulness and solitude

shall be allowed within close proximity of the following:

(1) Any State Highway 1 pullout;

(2) The Ventana Wilderness:

(3) Public recreation sites such as state parks, trails, campsites, and designated

scenic viewpoints;

(4) Known Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle and Peregrine Falcon nesting sites.

(5) Any California Condor roosting site.

e. Water quality sampling of suspended sediment and turbidity shall be required for any

mining operations prior to the beginning of the operation and during subsequent winters.

Costs of monitoring are to be borne by the applicant.

f. Construction or improvements of private roads required by mining operations shall meet

standards described in Section 3.5, 5.4.3.K, and other sections of this plan.

g. All surface areas, including spoil piles affected by the surface mining and reclamation

operation, shall be stabilized and protected to prevent or effectively control erosion and

attendant air and water pollution. The operator shall ensure that the construction,

maintenance, and postmining conditions of haul roads and access roads into and across

the site of operations will effectively control or prevent erosion and siltation, pollution of

water, damage to fish or wildlife or their habitat.

h. The mining operator shall ensure that explosives are used only in accordance with

existing state law and shall:

(1) Provide adequate advance written notice to local governments, adjacent

landowners and residents who might be affected by the use of such explosives

by the publication of the planned blasting schedule in a newspaper of general


circulation in the area by mailing a copy of the proposed blasting schedule to

every resident living within one-half mile of the proposed blasting site, and by

providing daily notice to residents in such areas prior to any blasting.

(2) Maintain for a period of at least three years and make available for public

inspection upon request a log detailing the location of the blasts, the pattern and

depth of the drill holes, the amount of explosives used per hole, and the order

and length of delay in the blasts.

(3) Limit the type of explosives and detonating equipment, the size, the timing, and

the frequency of blasts based upon the physical conditions of the site so as to


a. Injury to persons.

b. Damage to and the impairment of the use and enjoyment of public and

private property outside the permit area including, but not limited to,

California State Parks, the Ventana Wilderness Area and public access


c. Change in the course, channel, or availability of ground or surface water

outside the permit area.

i. To minimize visual, scarring, disturbed surface areas shall be restored through use of

indigenous vegetation so that no boundary is discernible between mined and unmined


j. Disturbed land shall be restored to a condition capable of supporting the uses which it

was capable of supporting prior to any mining, or higher or better uses approved by the

Board of Supervisors which may include agricultural, residential, recreational facilities or

fish and wildlife habitat.

k. Lands affected by surface mining operations which have been designated for postmining

agricultural purposes or wildlife habitat shall be restored to the level of productivity

equal to or greater, under equivalent management practices, than nonmined agricultural

lands or wildlife habitat of similar soil types in the surrounding area. For those lands

which are to be rehabilitated to indigenous grasslands, a diverse, effective and

permanent vegetative cover shall be established of the same seasonal variety indigenous

to the area to be affected and capable of self-regeneration, plant succession, and at

least equal in extent of cover and productivity to the indigenous vegetation of the area.

The level of productivity and cover attained on disturbed lands within the permit area

shall be demonstrated by the permittee using comparisons with similar lands in the


surrounding area having equivalent historical management practices and that are

undisturbed by mining, or comparable disruptive activities.

l. Reclamation activities, particularly those relating to control of erosion and prevention of

visual scarring, to the extent feasible, shall be conducted simultaneously with mining and

in any case shall be initiated promptly after completion or abandonment of mining on

those portions of the mine complex that will not be subject to further disturbance by the

mining operation. In the absence of an order by the Board of Supervisors providing a

longer period, the plan shall provide that reclamation activities shall be completed not

more than 2 years after completion or abandonment of mining on that portion of mine


6. A cash deposit, bond or equivalent surety, payable to the County in an amount to be set by the

Board of Supervisors, is required to ensure compliance with the Surface Mining and

Reclamation Act and regulations and policies of this plan. Should the mine operator fail to

correct any violation or water quality problem due to the mining operation with 15 days

following receipt of notification to do so, the County may correct the problem and charge all

reasonable costs against the mine operator’s surety.

7. Mining shall not be permitted in live stream channels or in locations where water quality or

wildlife could be adversely affected or in sand dunes. In other areas limited extraction of sand

and gravel for local construction purposes may be permitted under careful controls designed to:

a. Regulate instream and near-stream extraction so that maximum mitigation of adverse

environmental effects occurs.

b. Limit future insteam extraction to “safe yield” or annual replenishment levels.

c. Preserve soil resources and agricultural lands adjacent to the instream channels.

d. Maintain and enhance streambank stability while encouraging deposition, rather than

erosion of fluvial materials.

e. Preserve and enhance the growth of riparian vegetation.

f. Maintain groundwater supplies and quality.

g. Maintain surface water quality.

The Department of Fish and Game shall be requested to review all applications for sand and

gravel extraction and to provide recommendations to the County concerning protection of

wildlife habitat before the County approves the permit application.


8. Because of extraordinary risk to the Big Sur coast’s special wildlife and recreational values and

based on extensive evaluation of the Big Sur Coast, no sites have been identified which would

be either practical or appropriate for the exploration, extraction, or handling of petroleum or

related products either on-shore or off-shore. Therefore, such uses are not provided for in this

plan, either on-shore or off-shore in the area under the jurisdiction of the State of California and

Monterey County. This prohibition is especially designated to protect the California Sea Otter

State Fish and Game Refuge, the most sensitive watersheds listed in Section 3.2.3 Rivers and

Streams policy No. 3, or any watershed which empties into the Ventana Wilderness, a

designated Area of Special Biological Significance, a State Protected Waterway, State Fish and

Game Refuge, or onto a public beach or other public shoreline recreation area.

9. In the event an oil spill occurs on the Big Sur coast the responsible entities shall secure a permit

from the Board of Supervisors to determine appropriate measures to restore the damaged area

to its condition prior to the spill. Any such permit shall be applied for within 3 calendar days of

the spill’s impact on the Monterey County Coast. Any actions taken immediately following the

spill to limit or clean up the spill shall be evaluated as to their appropriateness and may be

modified as conditions of the subsequent permit.

10. The County asserts its jurisdiction over mining operations on Federal lands within or adjacent to

the Big Sur Coastal Zone to the full extent allowed by law. This includes the County’s permit

jurisdiction pursuant to its Surface Mining and Reclamation Ordinance and the California

Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975 and its coastal development permit jurisdiction

pursuant to the California Coastal Act of 1976 and the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act

of 1972.

The County shall establish mechanisms for consultation and comment upon mining operations on

federal lands. These mechanisms may include formal and informal review, cooperative planning

with federal agencies, development of memoranda of understanding, joint preparation of

environmental impact statements or assessments, coordination through state agencies such as

the Office of Planning and Research, and the like. These measures will be in addition to any

coastal development permit requirements which may apply in any individual case.

11. To assure protection of habitat and recreational values on adjacent lands, the County shall

consult with the affected public land management agency prior to approval of any mining activity

on any parcel adjacent to National Forest, State Park, or University of California Land and

Water Reserve lands, access roads or trails.

3.8.4 The Little Sur River Watershed and Pico Blanco Limestone Deposits


1. The upper watershed of the Little Sur River is classified as a natural waterway in accordance

with the analysis stated in the Protected Waterways Management Plan for the Little Sur River

(PWMP), pp. 64-65.

2. No new road may be developed nor may the capacity of any existing road the expanded in the

upper watershed of the Little Sur River unless its dominant purpose is to serve priority uses for

the Little Sur River watershed as determined by this Plan (Policy and PWMP

Objectives 1 and 10, pp. 66-67) and unless it conforms to all resource protection policies of

this Plan. This restriction is based in part on: (1) the prohibition on large scale surface mining

any place on the Big Sur Coast (Policy; (2) the policy “to retain significant and, where

possible, continuous areas of undisturbed land in open space use” in order to protect

environmentally sensitive habitats and wildlife values (Policy; (3) the determination by

the Forest Service that the existing Dani Ridge road provides sufficient access across the U.S.

Forest Service lands for Granite Rock’s present mining operations (U.S. Forest Service,

Environmental Assessment Report on approval of Granite Rock’s Operating Plan, 1981, p. 1),

(4) the determination that the upper watershed of the Little Sur River is a natural waterway

(Policy and (5) the conclusion in the PWMP that it is extremely unlikely that a new

road could be built in the upper watershed without causing severe damage to aesthetic,

ecological and recreational resources (PWMP, pp. 32, 46 and 51).

3. Because the North and South Forks of the Little Sur River are steelhead spawning habitat and

because they support old growth redwoods and other riparian vegetation that would be harmed

by siltation (PWMP, pp. 38, 27, 30 and 45), no new roads or expansion of existing roads shall

be allowed that would cause siltation to enter either riparian corridor or the waters of either

stream fork.

4. Because of the extraordinary scenic views of Pico Blanco from the Old Coast Road (PWMP,

pp. 51, 53, 83 and Objective 10, p. 67) views of Pico Blanco from the Old Coast Road are

included in the “Critical Viewshed” as that term is used in Policies 3.2.1 and 3.2.2 of this Plan.

For the purpose of this Plan, Pico Blanco is defined as that land form bounded on the South by

the South Fork of the Little Sur River, on the North by the North Fork of the Little Sur River

and on the East by the Ventana Wilderness Area. All other views from the Old Coast Road

shall be excluded from the Critical Viewshed except those views visible from Highway One.

5. With respect to any proposed development within the upper watershed of the Little Sur River,

the applicant must demonstrate as a condition for permit approval that the proposed

development, including the use of explosives, is consistent with Objectives 1 and 10 of the

PWMP (pp. 66-67) and that it will not affect adversely the following resources and their

resource value as identified in the PWMP:

o critical habitat for raptors (golden eagles and prairie falcons) including both nesting and

foraging habitat (PWMP, pp. 36. 38 and Figure 9, p. 37.)


o mountain lion habitat (PWMP, p. 37)

o riparian vegetation (PWMP, p. 37)

o water quality and Steelhead trout habitat (PWMP, pp. 1, 30-33)

o peregrine falcon

These specific environmental standards apply to the upper watershed of the Little Sur River in

addition to the standards set out in Policy that apply throughout the Planning District.

6. Existing mining operations on Pico Blanco on federal mining claims within the Los Padres

National Forest are deemed to constitute a first phase of operations that must be reclaimed in

accordance with the standards set out in Policy before any expansion of mining

operations related to the Pico Blanco limestone deposits may be approved.

For purpose of this policy, “Pico Blanco limestone deposits” refers to those deposits that were

classified as MRZ-2 or MRZ-3 areas by the California State Mining and Geology Board in

1982. “Additional surface disturbances” as used in this policy includes disturbances affecting the

Pico Blanco limestone deposits resulting from both expanded operations that are contiguous to

areas that have already been disturbed (e.g., the existing quarry site, access and exploratory

roads or disposal site) and those that are not contiguous to such presently disturbed areas.


The natural shorelines processes on the Big Sur coast have been rarely affected by man’s interference.

The dredging, filling, and diking of coastal waters and wetlands have not occurred in the Big Sur area to

any appreciable extent. Activities within this general category will be limited in the future to occasional

instances where a temporary dike would be required in conjunction with construction or maintenance

activities on Highway 1 or its numerous bridges. Cliff retaining walls also may be needed in limited

places where cliff retreat may endanger the roadway. Ports and transport facilities are not to be located

on the Big Sur coast and are considered in appropriate to the area. However, this prohibition shall not

pertain to fishing.

3.9.1 Key Policy

1. Blufftop setbacks shall be adequate to avoid the need for seawalls during the development’s

economic lifespan.


2. Boating facilities requiring onshore structures are not appropriate on the Big Sur coast. If a

harbor of refuge is required, it should be designed so as not to require onshore structures.

3. Where dredging or temporary dikes are required for essential work or maintenance of Highway

1, they should avoid disruption of marine and wildlife habitats and should restore the site to its

original condition as early as practical. Dredge spoils suitable for beach replenishment should

be transported for such purposes to appropriate beaches.

4. Shoreline, wetland, or blufftop projects, regardless of size, should have thorough environmental

review with an assumed preference of the “no project alternative”.

5. Permits issued by the State Lands Commission for projects on State tidelands shall conform to

the policies of the Big Sur Coast Local Coastal Program.


Monterey County’s historical heritage is rich and diverse. Prime examples of historic sites survive from

each of the major periods of California’s history. Historical settlement of the Big Sur coast was initiated

by the Mexican Government in the late 18th century through the bestowal of two land grants — the

8,949 acres Rancho El Sur, between the Little Sur River and what is now called Cooper Point, and

Rancho San Jose y Sur Chiquito, an 8,876-acre grant, bounded on the north by the Carmel River and

on the south by the Palo Colorado Canyon.

With United State’s occupation, unappropriated public lands in California became available to settlers in

parcels of 160 acres. Big Sur was initially settled by a number of homesteaders whose names are now

borne by well known topographic and natural features in Big Sur (e.g., the Pfeiffer’s, Charlie Bixby, Jim


The development of the tan bark industry in the mid-1870’s led to the construction of several landings

along the Big Sur coast. These landings were used not only for loading the bark, used in the

manufacture of tannic acid, but also for shipping prime redwood lumber. Among them was Godfrey

Notley’s Landing, near the mouth of the Palo Colorado Canyon, around which a thriving village sprang

up. Jim Anderson also had a landing, and there was another at the mouth of the Big Sur River. Perhaps

the most spectacular was Partington Landing. The Rockland Cement Company chose Limekiln Canyon

as its headquarters in the 1880’s in order to exploit a rich deposit of calcareous rock discovered in the

vicinity of the canyon. Schooners began to regularly frequent Rockland Landing to load limestone

bricks and deliver supplies. With the demise of the liming operation, the days of industrial enterprise

along the Big Sur coast came to an abrupt halt.


The discovery of gold near the head of Alder Creek led to the Big Sur Gold Rush of the 1880’s. The

Los Burros Mining District sprang into being with three stamp mills, and a boomtown named

Manchester mushroomed on Alder Creek. In its heyday, Manchester boasted four stores, a restaurant,

five saloons, a dance hall, and a hotel. By 1895 the boom had begun to fade.

As the 19th century drew to a close, more settlers came to live on the south coast. The two sons of one

of the original homesteaders, Bill Post, each homesteaded 160 acres, while various relatives acquired

tracts totaling another 640 acres. Their land stretched as far south as the site of the present-day

Nepenthe Restaurant. The ranchhouse still stands on Highway 1 at the top of what is now called “Post

Grade”. Big Sur’s original post office and its second schoolhouse were built on the Post Ranch.

The 20th century saw the emergence of recreation-oriented commercial development along the Big Sur

coast. For decades, the Big Sur country had been attracting hunters and fishermen. The start of the

resort business began with the Pfeiffer Ranch resort which catered to these sportsmen. The Hotel

Idlewild, located on the banks of the Little Sur River, soon rivaled the Pfeiffer Ranch for its business.

The one deterrent to the development of the south coast as a mecca for tourists as well as sportsmen,

was the hazardous road that had to be closed part of the year. The concept of a year-round scenic

highway originated with Dr. John Roberts, the founder of the City of Seaside.

Many of the original settlers were enraged by the devastation resulting from the highway construction.

Machinery blasted through the great cliffs, scarring granite promontories and defiling canyons and

waterfalls with debris. On June 27, 1937, the highway was completed at a cost of approximately

$8,000,000. A way of life had ended, and a new era began for the beautiful country.

The process of ensuring the long-term protection of Big Sur’s unique coastline was initiated by John

Pfeiffer in 1934 when he sold 706 acres to the State for the nucleus of the 822-acre Pfeiffer Big Sur

State Park. The Lathrop Browns, who purchased Saddle Rock Ranch, later donated the 1,700 acres

which now constitutes Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The 21-acre John Little State Park originally part

of the State property sold to Milton Little, was donated by Elizabeth Livermore. Francis Molera,

granddaughter of Juan Baustista Roger Cooper, placed 2,000 acres in trust for Andrew Molera State

Park. The generosity of these pioneering families has been a lasting contribution to the preservation of

Big Sur and the people of Monterey County and the State.

3.10.1 Key Policy

It is the policy of the County to protect, maintain, and where feasible, enhance and restore the cultural

heritage of the County and its man-made resources and traditions.

3.10.2 General Policies


1. New development shall, where appropriate, protect significant historical buildings, landmarks,

and districts because of their unique characteristics and contribution to the cultural heritage of

the County.

2. The County shall provide for the mitigation of site and artifact disturbance in County-approved

projects through the careful surveying of project sites and the consideration of project

alternatives to preserve significant cultural resources.

3. The County shall maintain an identification survey and inventory program of historical sites and

shall maintain a registry program to protect and preserve historical land-mark sites and districts.

4. Designated historical sites shall be protected through zoning and other suitable regulatory means

to ensure that new development shall be compatible with existing historical resources to maintain

the special values and unique character of the historic properties.


The Big Sur coastal area of Monterey County is considered to be one of the most significant

archaeological regions in California. At the time of Spanish contact, this area was occupied by three

distinct aboriginal tribal groups — the Esalens, Costanoans, and Salinans. Investigations of the

immediate coastline of Monterey County have revealed a very high density of shell middens. Areas

adjacent to the immediate coast are not as well known although they are thought to contain a high

density of sites. A number of these inland sites likely have significant archaeological value such as those

identified in the vicinity of the Post Ranch (near Big Sur River), Big Sur Valley, and Pacific Valley.

Several Esalen, Coastanoan, and Salinan sites in the Big Sur area have religious value to local Native

Americans. These include Junipero Serra Peak and Slates Hot Springs. Numerous pictograph sites

discovered on the coast may also have religious significance.

Currently known sites are mapped and on file with the California Archaeological Site Survey District at

Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. To protect the sites, these maps are confidential. However, the

Monterey County Planning Department maintains contact with the Survey on all development projects

affecting archaeologically sensitive areas.

At the present time, urbanization and unrestricted public access are the principal sources of destruction

or damage to archaeological sites. In 1973, the California State Archaeological Task Force estimated

that 50 percent of all recorded sites and 79 percent of all known sites in Monterey County had been

destroyed. Direct threats to remaining sites from urbanization include: grading; construction of

residential, commercial, and industrial structures; construction of paved surfaces; water projects; cattle

grazing; plowing; and off-road vehicle use. Threats posed by public access are related to vandalism, the


development of recreational sites (e.g., campgrounds, trailer parks) near archaeological sites, and the

development of public roads and trails which inadvertently provide access to areas of archaeological


3.11.1 Key Policy

Big Sur’s archaeological resources, including those areas considered to be archaeologically sensitive but

not yet surveyed and mapped, shall be maintained and protected for their scientific and cultural heritage

values. New land uses and development, both public and private, should be considered compatible

with this objective only where they incorporate all site planning and design features necessary to avoid

or mitigate impacts to archaeological resources.

3.11.2 General Policies

1. All available measures, including purchase of archaeological easements, dedication to the

County, tax relief, purchase of development rights, etc., shall be explored to avoid development

on significant historic, paleontological, archaeological, and other classes of cultural sites.

2. When developments are proposed for parcels where paleontological resources or

archaeological or other cultural sites are located, project design shall be required which avoids

or substantially minimizes impacts to such cultural sites. To this end, emphasis should be placed

on preserving the entire site rather than on excavation of the resource, particularly where the site

has potential religious significance.

3. Because of the Coastal Zone’s known abundance of paleontological resources and

archaeological and other cultural sites, no sites or development shall be categorically exempt

form environmental review in the Big Sur Local Coastal Plan.

4. Whenever development is to occur in areas having a probability of containing archaeological

sites, the Site Survey Office or a professional archaeologist shall be contacted to determine

whether the property has received an archaeological survey. If not, such a survey shall be

conducted to determine if an archaeological site exists.

5. When sufficient planning flexibility does not permit avoiding construction on paleontological,

archaeological or other types of cultural sites, adequate preservation measures shall be required.

Mitigation shall be designed to accord with guidelines of the State Office of Historic

Preservation and the State of California Native American Heritage Commission.

6. Off-road vehicle use, unauthorized collecting of artifacts, and other activities other than

development which could destroy or damage paleontological, archaeological or cultural sites

shall be prohibited.




Designated in 1965 as the first State Scenic Highway in California, Highway 1 along the Big Sur coast is

the basic access route to the area. It traverses the length of Big Sur connecting two other major

recreational areas, the Monterey Peninsula and the Hearst Castle at San Simeon in San Luis Obispo

County. The Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, a lightly-used County road crossing the Hunter-Liggett

Military Reservation and the coastal range, provides the only other access route to the seventy-mile long

Big Sur coast from inland areas.

The major population centers of California, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Los Angeles Area, and the

large cities of the Central Valley, are less than a day’s drive from Big Sur. The Monterey Peninsula,

Salinas, Santa Cruz, and San Luis Obispo are one to two hours away. The accessibility of Big Sur to

these centers has a major impact on the demand to visit Big Sur and the resulting traffic congestion on

Highway 1. Visitors from other states and foreign countries who are attracted to Big Sur’s scenic beauty

also contribute significant amounts of traffic along Highway 1. At present, an estimated 2.9 million

people visit the Big Sur coast annually and demand is predicted to double over the next 20 to 25 years.

The traffic on Highway 1 is predominantly recreation oriented. Recreational traffic is estimated to

comprise 95% of all trips during the peak summer months. The remaining 5% consists of residential

traffic and a small volume of commercial and agricultural traffic. Driving for pleasure constitutes the

major proportion of recreational traffic along the Big Sur coast that originates from outside the area. It

accounts for about 70% of the recreational traffic volume during the peak summer months. Internal

local trips within Big Sur consist of about 65% recreational trips and 35% residential trips during a

summer month. During this same peak period, passenger cars are estimated to account for about 91%

of the traffic on the highway north of Big Sur Valley; trucks account for 2%; buses, campers, motor

homes, and vehicles with trailers make up about 5% of the traffic; and motorcycles account for 2% of

total traffic.

It is expected that Highway 1 cannot accommodate anticipated demands by traffic during peak use

periods if recreational use continues to increase along current patterns. At present, Highway 1 north of

the Big Sur Valley is able to handle average annual daily traffic volumes of 4,500 vehicles at Caltrans

Level of Service D. Level of Service E is attained during summer peak use periods when traffic reaches

8,300 vehicles per day. South of(the Big Sur Valley, conditions are similar. Average annual daily traffic

reaches 2,600 vehicles per day corresponding to Service Level D. Peak use volumes reach 4,700

vehicles per day producing Service Level E conditions.


Activities or development that could generate significant volumes of truck traffic such as potential

logging, mining, or other commercial operations could have detrimental effects on traffic conditions and

could reduce the vehicle capacity of the highway.

Public transit to and through Big Sur is available only on a very limited basis by buses operating along

Highway 1. Public bus service from downtown Monterey to Nepenthe south of the Big Sur Valley is

provided by Monterey Peninsula Transit during the summer. Bus service between Monterey and San

Luis Obispo with two round trips daily was recently put in operation by Coastlines, a privately owned

transit company. Private tour buses operate along Highway 1 on a charter basis, transporting groups of

visitors to various places in Big Sur and to Hearst Castle in San Luis Obispo County. Scheduling of bus

service in the past has not fully met resident needs nor offered visitors adequate flexibility in travel times.

Bus service needs to be expanded in order to become a viable transportation alternative. Increases in

ridership and increased subsidies are necessary to expand service and meet the differing transit needs of

both residents and visitors.

Bicycling along Highway 1, with its narrow lanes, blind curves, and heavy traffic, can be hazardous for

inexperienced or careless cyclists. These conditions and the long steep grades, and strong winds

discourage bicycling along the coast. However, experienced bicyclists on cross-country trips or day

tours do use the highway in low numbers. Improvements to the Bicentennial Bicycle Path would provide

increased safety for bicyclists and motorists on Highway 1.

The very characteristics that make Highway 1 such an interesting driving experience also create traffic

safety problems, particularly during congested periods. Slow-moving vehicles, numerous access points

to the highway from private roads or recreational areas, roadside parking, and unpaved turnouts cause

traffic to slow down, effectively reducing the traffic capacity of the highway and limiting access to Big

Sur. Improvements consistent with the character of the two-lane scenic highway are desirable to

increase its safety and traffic capacity.

Local roads in Big Sur are private except for a few County roads and access roads to public trailheads

and recreation areas. Palo Colorado Road carries both residential and recreational traffic and has the

highest use of any road intersecting Highway 1. It has inadequate capacity to meet significantly

increased recreational and residential traffic demands. Considerable volumes of traffic turning onto or

off of Highway 1 in the Big Sur Valley occur at entrances to campgrounds, shop parking areas, and

Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park. Sycamore Canyon Road, a private one-lane road over which the U. S.

Forest Service holds easements for public access to Pfeiffer Beach, is carrying traffic during peak use

periods that exceeds its safe capacity. This is leading to conflicts between recreational and residential

traffic. The Old Coast Road and Nacimiento-Fergusson Road experience low volumes of traffic which

are accommodated without congestion problems and no future capacity problems are envisioned.

A primary transportation objective of the Coastal Act is to maintain Highway 1 in rural areas as a scenic

two-lane road and to reserve most remaining capacity for the priority uses of the Act. The limited

capacity of Highway 1 to accommodate local and recreation traffic at a level that reserves reasonable


service and emergency use and also allows motorists to enjoy the beauty of Big Sur’s scenic coast is a

major concern. Because traffic volumes along sections of Highway 1 are at capacity during peak

recreational use periods and because future demand for recreational access is expected to exceed the

capacity of the highway, the capacity of the highway is a major constraint on the long range

development of the coast. How the road capacity can be increased without damage to the intrinsic

values of Big Sur and how capacity is allocated between visitor and local use is a major challenge.

A closely related issue is what can be done to effectively manage use levels of the highway between

Carmel and Cambria, particularly as needed to protect the priority uses of the Coastal Act. This

appears necessary to insure that acceptable service levels are preserved so that the highway can meet

its essential functions as the sole transportation and emergency route up and down the coast, and as a

safe, pleasurable scenic and recreational travel facility.

Studies supporting this plan have reached several important conclusions concerning future planning and

management of Highway 1. One conclusion is that because the vast majority of traffic on the highway

during congested peak use periods is recreational driving originating outside of Big Sur, efforts to reduce

highway congestion by limiting land use development within Big Sur itself can have only marginal effects.

Unless there is substantial change in current recreational use patterns and volumes, significant decreases

in peak period traffic congestion will only be achieved through physical regulation of the highway

including limitations to visitor access at its north and south ends.

A second important conclusion is that management of Highway 1 should attempt to optimize rather than

maximize visitor use levels on the highway in relation to other user needs and planning objectives for the

coast. As an objective, the maintenance of an acceptable minimum level of service and corresponding

maximum traffic volume standard for Highway 1 traffic must satisfy several criteria. A reasonable level

of traffic volume must be accommodated that reflects current recreational and residential use patterns,

future demand for access to Big Sur, property rights of landowners, and resource protection goals

aimed at preserving the natural character and beauty of Big Sur.

The encouragement of land uses that help redistribute traffic volumes to non-peak periods is a desirable

approach to reducing traffic congestion on the highway. Development and management policies that

encourage a more even distribution of traffic flow would result in an overall increase in access to Big Sur

and place fewer constraints on the amount of recreational and residential development that could be


Finally, study has shown that the aesthetic qualities of Highway 1 are eroding. This is the result of both

private and public development in the scenic viewshed, and visitor overuse within the highway right-ofway

itself. Gradually, many informal, unsurfaced and unsightly pullouts have developed along the

highway. The level of careless public use is resulting in a serious problem. Non-native and invasive

plants are spreading along the highway to the detriment of the scenic beauty. In keeping with the stature

of Highway 1 as the preeminent scenic drive on the California coast, considerably greater attention and


funds need to be allocated to its maintenance in order to preserve, restore, and enhance its aesthetic


4.1.1 Key Policy

Monterey County will take a strong and active role in guiding the use and improvement of Highway One

and land use development dependent on the highway. The County’s objective is to maintain and

enhance the highway’s aesthetic beauty and to protect its primary function as a recreational route. The

highway shall remain a two-lane road and shall include walking and bicycle trails wherever feasible. In

order to protect and enhance public recreational enjoyment of Big Sur’s unique natural and scenic

resources, recreational traffic should be regulated during congested peak use periods.

4.1.2 General Policies

1. Improvements to Highway 1 shall be undertaken in order to increase its service capacity and

safety, consistent with its retention as a scenic two-lane road.

The highway capacity improvements detailed in the following policies are essential for the

maintenance of existing service levels for the benefit of Coastal Act priority uses and residents

alike. In light of the anticipated traffic increases on the Coast Highway, the County shall review

the traffic levels after five years and determine what capacity improvements have been

implemented or planned and what additional solutions may be necessary and feasible.

2. A principal objective of management, maintenance, and construction activities within the

Highway 1 right-of-way shall be to maintain the highest possible standard of visual beauty and


3. Existing levels of service on Highway 1 during peak use periods are unacceptable, particularly

from June to August between 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Therefore, in order to restore

reasonable traveling speeds for residents and visitors, to protect emergency use of the highway,

and enhance the quality and enjoyment of the scenic driving experience, reductions in peak use

period traffic should be sought. A combination of actions, including public education and

regulation of Highway 1 use during peak periods, shall be undertaken to achieve an improved

service level.

4. To conform to the Coastal Act, most remaining capacity on Highway 1 shall be reserved for

coastal priority uses: recreation and visitor-serving facilities, the military, agriculture and other

coastal dependent uses.

5. In order to enhance public access to the Big Sur coast and to reduce traffic congestion, an

improved level of public bus service is encouraged. Monterey Peninsula Transit, other public


carriers, and private and public recreational facilities are requested to participate in reaching this


4.1.3 Specific Policies

A. Road Capacity and Safety Improvements

1. The County requests that, in order to maximize vehicular access to the Big Sur coast the width

of Highway 1 be upgraded to a standard of 12-foot lanes and 2 – 4-foot shoulders where

physically practical and consistent with the preservation of other coastal resources values. A

program of constructing left-turn lanes, and other improvements shall be undertaken to improve

traffic capacity and safety.

2. The County requests that appropriate areas along Highway 1 be designated by Caltrans for

construction of paved turnoffs for slow-moving vehicles. The turnoffs should be signed to notify

approaching vehicles in time to pull over. The California Slow-Moving Vehicle Law, California

Code Section 21665, should be enforced during peak traffic periods.

3. Pedestrian and traffic hazards which result from on-shoulder parking at unsafe locations shall be

corrected wherever possible, with priority being given to congested recreational attractions such

as the Garrapata Beach-Soberanes Point area, the Andrew Molera State Park frontage, and

River Inn. New facilities, both publicly-owned and commercial, must have adequate and safe

off-shoulder parking before they are opened to public use. Existing facilities shall not be

expanded unless the standard of adequate and safe parking is met. On-shoulder parking

should not be allowed where safe shoulder width or sight distances can not be achieved, or

where important seaward vistas will be impaired. Caltrans is requested to initiate a program to

carry out this policy; emphasis should be placed on the construction of parking areas with

designated entrances and exits, at suitable locations as identified in cooperation with the County,

U.S. Forest Service, Department of Parks and Recreation, and local citizen advisors.

4. The number of private roads and recreational access road entrances off Highway 1 shall be

limited whenever possible for traffic safety and management purposes. The County shall require

new developments to demonstrate that the use of existing public or private roads is either not

feasible or that easements for use cannot be obtained before it approves construction of a

separate entrance to Highway 1.

5. Sycamore Canyon Road and Palo Colorado Road should be maintained at a level that resident

and visitor traffic can safely be accommodated. Improvements to the width or alignment of

these roads shall only be approved when negative visual and environmental impacts will not

result and where the improvements will not adversely impact adjacent residents. Pedestrian

access shall be provided where feasible. Priority uses shall not be precluded on these roads by

non-priority developments.


6. The traffic bottleneck at Hurricane Point should be corrected as the highest priority for Caltrans’

efforts on Highway 1 within the Big Sur L.C.P. area

B. Aesthetic Improvements

1. Undesirable parking locations identified pursuant to policy 4.1.3.A.3, as well as those which

must be phased out under habitat or visual resource restoration programs, shall be retired from

service when alternative safe facilities are in place. The placement of boulders or other methods

should be used to prevent inappropriate public access or parking in such areas. Native

vegetation that does not obscure the public view should be re-established on bare areas.

2. Specific attention should be given by the State to eradicate non-native plant species that are

contributing to a decline in the natural beauty of Big Sur. Pampas Grass, Kikuyu Grass, Broom,

Eucalyptus and other species should be removed and replaced with native plants.

3. Where consistent with scenic protection and other resource management policies, public

restrooms should be provided at major destination points including the Rural Community

Centers, major public viewing areas adjacent to Highway 1, and State and National Forest

developed recreation sites. Trash receptacles should be considered and a program of litter

abatement shall be undertaken.

4. The County requests that an overall design theme for the construction and appearance of

improvements within the Highway 1 right-of-way be developed by Caltrans in cooperation with

the State Department of Parks and Recreation, the U. S. Forest Service and local citizens.

Design criteria shall apply to roadway signs, fences and railings, access area improvements,

bridges, restrooms, trash receptacles, etc. The objective of such criteria shall be to ensure that

all improvements are inconspicuous and are in harmony with the rustic natural setting of the Big

Sur Coast. The special report by local citizens entitled, Design Standards for the Big Sur

Highway, on file at the County Planning Department, should serve as a guide and point of

departure for Caltrans and other public agencies in developing a design theme for Highway 1

and in making improvements within the State right-of-way.

C. Traffic Regulation and Coastal Priority Uses

1. To comply to Coastal Act policies concerning the allocation of limited highway capacity to

coastal priority uses, 85 percent of the capacity of Highway 1 under improved road conditions

and managed traffic shall be reserved to serve recreational travel, service trips to public and

private recreation and visitor-serving facilities, use by military vehicles, and coastal-dependent

agriculture. To implement this policy, the land use regulations of this plan limit future residential

development to a level that will utilize not more than 15 percent of highway capacity at buildout.


2. Proposed new or expanded public or private recreation and 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.

3. Proposals for commercial mining or logging, that may produce heavy truck traffic, shall submit

with their application, a traffic component evaluating potential conflicts with recreational and

residential use of Highway 1 and County roads, and describing how such conflicts can be

avoided. In general, the County will not approve applications requiring use of heavy trucks on

Highway 1 during peak recreational use periods.

D. Public Transit

1. A program should be initiated by Monterey Peninsula Transit or other public carriers, in

conjunction with the Department of Parks and Recreation, the U. S. Forest Service, and the

County to expand bus service and provide bus stops at appropriate access points to recreation

areas, trail roads on Highway 1, and visitor-serving facilities.

2. Development of new recreation areas and visitor-serving facilities or expansion of existing

facilities shall be planned to maximize opportunities for access by bus. Applicants shall

cooperate with Caltrans and transit authorities to provide bus stops in convenient proximity to

the proposed recreational facility. Other improvements or services such as shelters, pick-up

service from the transit stop, access trails that may be necessary, etc. shall be provided as part

of the recreational facility proposal.

3. Monterey Peninsula Transit or other public carriers, in conjunction with resident representatives

should plan bus schedules to improve service for residents.

4. An expanded education and promotion program should be implemented in cooperation with

other recreation agencies operating in the County, to provide information on Big Sur bus service

and recreational areas that are accessible by bus.


1. Caltrans should conduct Origin and Destination Studies of traffic on Highway 1 along the Big

Sur coast on a regular basis in order to provide up to date information on trends in recreational

and residential use of the highway.

2. Monterey County, San Luis Obispo County, and Caltrans should cooperate to evaluate the

impacts of proposed developments on Highway 1 traffic conditions. The program should

coordinate the planning and phasing of development generating significant traffic impacts in the


two counties in order to insure that an equitable share of remaining Highway 1 capacity is

allocated to each area according to appropriate priority uses.

3. Consideration should be given to regulating vehicular access to Pfeiffer Beach on Sycamore

Canyon Road during peak use periods. A temporary gate at Highway 1 operated by the Parks

and Recreation Department is a possible approach. A shuttle service between Pfeiffer-Big Sur

State Park and Pfeiffer Beach should also be considered.

4. The County requests that Caltrans, in cooperation with Monterey and San Luis Obispo

Counties and the U. S. Forest Service immediately begin a program of management of

recreational use of Highway 1. The objectives of this program shall be to enhance public access

and enjoyment of the Big Sur coast and the safety of Highway 1 by ensuring that service

capacity at no time falls below Level of Service E or a minimum driving speed of 35 miles per

hour and that Levels of Service D and C be obtained wherever the basic design of the highway


The following management actions in addition to the improvements listed in Section 4.1.3 A.

above, shall be completed as part of this program. Caltrans is encouraged to complete

additional studies as needed to determine specific features of this program.

a. A system of unobtrusive traffic signs advising travelers of traffic congestion on Highway

1 and suggesting alternate routes should be installed by Caltrans as a step in reducing

undesirable peak period traffic congestion.

b. Roadside visitor information centers should be established near the north end of the Big

Sur coast and at San Simeon at the south end. These centers should provide information

on road and traffic conditions, recreation opportunities, visitor accommodations and

facilities, coastal access locations, and the environmental responsibilities of the public.

c. Progressively stronger traffic regulation measures should be implemented if traffic

congestion seriously affects access and travel conditions. The program should start with

the placement of automated traffic conditions and route option signs. If traffic continues

to increase causing unacceptable Highway 1 service loads, then the flow of traffic into

Big Sur should be regulated by devices such as signal lights.

d. Use of Highway 1 by slow-moving vehicles should be regulated during peak hours of

peak traffic days in order to increase highway capacity to accommodate future growth

in Big Sur coast travel demand. This can be accomplished by requiring slow-moving

vehicles that are holding up traffic to pull over consistent with State law and may, in

addition, require special State legislation to be adopted that will permit access controls

to be established at certain critical times.




The history of development in Big Sur reflects the changing demands for use of the land. Subsistence

ranching, logging of redwoods, harvesting of tan bark, and mining of limestone and gold provided a

livelihood for early residents. While life was extremely rugged in these early years, there was a

population of nearly 1000 people by the 1880’s largely supported by these basic industries. The

mountainous terrain, numerous deep canyons, and lack of roads made travel difficult and slow. Most

local products were shipped out by sea on the small coastal trading vessels that brought supplies to the

isolated coast’s residents. Palo Colorado Canyon, Notley’s Landing, Bixby Creek, the Big Sur Valley,

and Partington Canyon were early centers of activity. Around the turn of the century, limited

recreational use of the coast began to take place. The Big Sur Valley could be reached by stage from

Monterey and camping in the redwood groves grew in popularity. Hunting and trout fishing were also

popular and some local residents supplemented their income by guiding sportsmen from the cities.

Today the tan bark and limestone industries have ceased. Gold is still mined on a limited basis in the

Los Burros region and a few trees are harvested along the coast. Ranching continues as the major use

of the large private holdings and contributes much to the character of Big Sur. Public recreation and

private residential development are by far the strongest land use trends today.

Single family residences comprise a major developed land use on private land. This occurs either in

rural residential clusters in areas where development has historically been concentrated, or scattered

along Highway 1. Many of the larger parcels are used for cattle grazing. Commercial uses, including

restaurants, grocery stores, and service stations are generally concentrated in the Big Sur Valley. Small

visitor-serving commercial areas include Lucia, Pacific Valley and Gorda, and a few isolated businesses

along Highway 1. Recreational uses include public and private campgrounds, visitor accommodations,

restaurants, State Park units, and the Los Padres National Forest. The U. S. Forest Service has offices

and other facilities in the Big Sur Valley and at Pacific Valley. State Parks and Recreation manages its

units in Big Sur from offices in the Big Sur Valley. Caltrans has maintenance facilities in the Big Sur

Valley and at Gorda. There is a U. S. Naval Station at Point Sur, and the Coast Guard operates the

lighthouse atop Point Sur. A variety of public and quasi-public uses serving the local community are

located in the Big Sur Valley. These include the Big Sur Grange Hall, Captain Cooper Elementary

School, churches, the County library, and Post Office. Another elementary school is located at Pacific


There are approximately 1100 parcels in private ownership on the Big Sur coast, ranging in size from

less than an acre to several thousands of acres. Approximately 700 parcels are vacant, and 370 parcels

are occupied. Many have more than one unit on them, either residential or commercial. Small parcels


of 2.5 acres or less are generally located near the highway or in one of several areas subdivided in the

past for residential purposes. Palo Colorado Canyon, Garrapatos Redwoods, Rocky Point, the Big

Sur Valley, Coastlands, and Partington Ridge are among the areas having the greatest number of

developed parcels.

Approximately half of the Big Sur coastal zone is in public ownership by the U. S. Forest Service, the

State Department of Parks and Recreation, the U. S. Navy, the U. S. Coast Guard, and the University

of California. If public acquisitions now contemplated or in progress are completed, approximately

60% of the coast will be publicly owned. Some of the private lands have scenic easements or deed

restrictions which limit the level of development.

5.1.1 Residential Land Use

The 1976 mid-decade census recorded approximately 800 housing units, of which about 600 were

permanent single family dwellings. A large proportion of these home are located in the several

residential areas listed. These areas have generally been developed to a level where the natural

environment is perceived to have been significantly altered, and where residential use is very apparent

on the land. The size and density of these residential areas varies, but in all cases, they are more densely

developed than surrounding lands. They contain a significant number of subdivided and residentially

zoned lots in close proximity, yet do not contain resources or land use activities which generate

significant employment services for the public. While there are historic expectations that buildout of

these areas would proceed, a number of areas are not suitable for full development of all existing parcels

because of conflicts with the broad objective of this plan – particularly the protection of water and

scenic resources or limited capacity of local roads.

Restoration projects, discussed under the implementation (section of the plan will be needed in several

of the areas to reduce developmental potential or to provide improved water supplies.

The significance of the residential areas for planning purposes is that they have the capacity, to some

extent, to accommodate additional residential demand. Unlike the larger properties or commercial

centers, they are not well suited for commercial agriculture, commercial, or visitor uses; use of these

areas, to the extent consistent with resource protection, should continue to be for residential purposes.

Residential areas include: Otter Cove, Garrapata Ridge/Rocky Point, Garrapata and Palo Colorado

Canyon, Bixby Canyon, Pfeiffer Ridge, Sycamore Canyon, Coastlands, Partington Ridge, and Buck

Creek to Lime Creek. The Big Sur Valley, Lucia and Gorda also have significant residential use,

although the primary function of these areas are community service and visitor-serving commercial


5.1.2 Housing


The mid-decade census provided considerable information concerning the need for low and moderate

income housing on the coast. Of the housing units in the area, 17% were vacant due to being second

homes. Only 1.3% were vacant and available, at that time, for sale or for rent. The census revealed

that less than half of the occupied units were owner-occupied and that of all the units, 91% were single

families. The census also estimated a median household income of $9,785. A transportation study

inventory revealed 423 persons employed in the area, one third in eating, drinking, and lodging places,

and one third in government (military, Forest Service, etc.). Building Inspections Department records

show the average cost-of construction for a single family unit on the Big Sur coast, the unincorporated

Peninsula area, and the Carmel Valley, was $36,000 in 1970 and rose to $107,000 in 1979. This

factor alone precludes low and moderate income persons and median income households from

homeownership. The 1970 housing inventory identified 215 “Substandard” units and 109 units as

“Conservation Feasible” in the Big Sur area. These figures indicate that some households may need

assistance to meet the national and state goal of “a safe, decent, and sanitary house.”

A serious housing shortage exists for employees in Big Sur, particularly in the visitor industry. Because

there is little housing available, employees have at times been forced to camp-out, live in cars, or move

in with friends. The shortage of affordable housing has also made recruitment of skilled employees

difficult. Several factors affect solutions to the housing problems: the costs of land and housing

precludes the use of traditional housing assistance programs; and year-round employment is not at a

high enough level to support traditional single and multiple family housing projects. Employee housing

provided by an employer must be a primary source of affordable housing in the area. Caretaker

housing, which has traditionally provided shelter for many long-time residents and employees, will also

continue to be an important element of the affordable housing supply.

5.1.3 Recreational Uses

As a recreation area of regional, national, and international importance, Big Sur attracts about 2.9 million visitors annually. The accessibility of Big Sur to several nearby population centers is a major factor contributing to its high visitation. The basic recreational resource of Big Sur is the visual beauty of its striking landforms and unspoiled landscape. The mountains, forests, creeks, rivers, and ocean shoreline combine to offer diverse recreational opportunities. The artistic and rustic lifestyle for which Big Sur is known creates an attractive cultural setting that complements the natural character of the area.

Recreational activity is concentrated along the coastal strip: on beaches, rocky shoreline, public parks and forest lands, campgrounds off Highway 1, and various visitor-serving facilities. The major recreational pursuit is pleasure driving and sightseeing along Highway 1. Other Big Sur recreational activities include picnicking, sunbathing, beach and tide pool exploration, surfing, scuba diving, fishing, hunting, nature study, hiking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding, and hang-gliding.

The Big Sur Valley has numerous camping, lodging, dining, and other visitor-serving facilities and is a focal point for recreational activity and services in Big Sur. The Big Sur River, the beach at the river

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mouth, the redwoods in the valley, and Pfeiffer Beach are major natural recreation resources in the area. The coastal area north of the Big Sur Valley is intensely traveled by visitors passing through or sightseeing. People stop at numerous turnoffs to view panoramas of the coastline. The major beaches at Garrapata, Little Sur River, and Point Sur are currently in private ownership and are not formally open to the public, although there is significant public use of Garrapata and Little Sur River Beach.

The Department of Parks and Recreation is currently negotiating to acquire Garrapata Beach. The Little Sur River Beach and the Point Sur Beach have been proposed for acquisition. The backcountry of the National Forest is accessible in the northern area of Big Sur at Bottchers Gap at the end of Palo Colorado Road.

The Los Padres National Forest occupies much of the area south of the Big Sur Valley. The National Forest is a major hiking, backpacking, and camping area. Several trailheads offering access to the backcountry and the Ventana Wilderness are located off Highway 1. Several beaches including Sand Dollar Beach, Mill Creek Beach, and other smaller pocket beaches are scattered along the southern Big Sur coast within the boundaries of the National Forest. Hiking trails are scattered throughout the Ventana Wilderness and the National Forest backcountry. Day use facilities are provided at Mill Creek, Sand Dollar Beach, Willow Creek, and Pfeiffer Beach.

5.1.4 Commercial Uses and Private Visitor-Serving Facilities

There is little current demand by residents for development of commercial facilities in Big Sur. Residents normally shop in the Monterey area. Visitors do create demand for convenience goods and recreation-oriented supplies and services. Local artisans work in Big Sur, usually at small shops in their homes.

Privately-operated, visitor-serving facilities constitute the major commercial activity on the Big Sur coast. The Big Sur Valley is an historical and geographic area of residential and commercial development with a distinct community identity. A chief recreational destination point, it provides a variety of commercial and public services on a year round basis for area-wide residents and the visiting public, as well as functioning as a social center for activities and entertainment. Lucia, Gorda, and Pacific Valley offer more limited services along the southern coast.

At present, there are eight motels, lodges, or inns on the coast providing a total of 168 rooms. Prices range from about $25.00 to $175.00 a night. Rustic cabins are available at two of the campgrounds.

The New Camaldoli Hermitage, run by a Benedictine Order, has 11 rooms which are available with the Hermitage’s permission for use as a retreat. Esalen, a nationally known institution, offers accommodations for 90 people enrolled in education programs. Private campgrounds with about 350 units constitute over half of the vehicle access campsites in Big Sur. All of the private campgrounds except Limekiln Beach Redwood Campground are located in the Big Sur Valley.


Twelve restaurants seat about 1100 people. There are also nine grocery stores, seven gas stations, and few gift shops scattered along the length of Highway 1. Private facilities are typically of a small to moderate scale in harmony with the natural beauty of Big Sur.

5.1.5 Other Activities

In addition to ranching, several industries based around the use of natural resources have historically been located in Big Sur. Logging and mining were among the first important economic activities in the area, although over the years, the level of activity has declined. During the last several years, renewed interest in the coast’s redwood forests has been expressed by several commercial loggers. As the scarcity and price of redwood increases, it can be expected that pressure to log in Big Sur will increase.

Aquaculture, the cultivation of fish and shellfish for food, is an industry that is growing rapidly in many

parts of the world. Several aquaculture operations have in the past been active on the coast. The

Garrapata Trout Farm at the confluence of Garrapata and Joshua Creeks and a commercial abalone

farm offshore from the mouth of the Big Sur River are among these. The Department of Fish and Game

presently operates a crab and abalone breeding and research facility at Granite Creek.

Gold mining in the Los Burros District is the focal point of present mining activity. Development of a

large deposit of commercial grade limestone near the summit of Pico Blanco Mountain in the Little Sur

River drainage has been proposed in the past by the owners of the property and may be proposed

again in the future.

Big Sur does not possess the characteristics essential to most industries engaged in manufacturing.

Neither the transportation system work force, nor market are adequate to support most manufacturing

and there is a lack of developable land for such uses.


Several key issues directly affect planning for the Big Sur coast. These issues concern the effects of

intensified land use and development on the environment and character of the coast and the effect on

public access to the area. Continued residential development and subdivision for residential purposes is

a trend at odds with the preservation of the coast’s natural, scenic, and rural character. The remaining

capacity on Highway 1 at peak use periods to serve further land development is extremely limited. The

California Coastal Act states that remaining road capacity shall be used to serve coastal development

uses such as agriculture and coastal recreation and shall not be precluded by residential development.

Thus, availability of capacity on Highway 1 to accommodate further residential development or

subdivision is a major limitation to these uses.


The basic emphasis of the Coastal Act is clear: to protect the environmental quality and resources of

the California coast while making these available for the enjoyment of all of the citizens of the State. A

major challenge of this plan is to find a way to substantially curtail further commitment to residential

development resulting from subdivision or other land use intensification while also assisting landowners in

achieving the most sensitive possible development of existing parcels.

A second challenge of the plan is to encourage and to protect ranching as an important and traditional

use of the larger land holdings with significant grazing resources. How recreational uses and visitor

accommodations on such properties can be developed to help support agriculture is also an important


Finally, the plan must meet the Coastal Act’s goal of encouraging public recreational use and enjoyment

of the coast while ensuring that the very resources that make the coast so valuable for human enjoyment

are not spoiled. Undesirable impacts of recreation have been in evidence for some years and must be

corrected if Big Sur’s long term promise is to be fulfilled. Overuse of existing private and public

campgrounds, loss of riparian vegetation through trampling, erosion of paths, compaction of soil in

redwood forests, disruption of wildlife habitats, and increased fire hazards are a few of the problems

associated with current levels of recreational use. Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park is an example of a State

facility whose popularity and use is at or beyond its environmental holding capacity. Some private

campgrounds are similarly affected.

Visual impacts associated with recreation in Big Sur include littering, excessive numbers of parked

vehicles along Highway 1, and development of visitor facilities that are visually obtrusive from the scenic

highway. Residents of the coast are at times undesirably affected by recreational activities. There is a

clear need to protect the quality of local water supplies, for residents and visitors alike, and to minimize

the danger of fire hazard during high public summer use periods. The privacy of the residents of the

area should be protected as public access both to the shore and upland areas increases. Visitor safety

is also an issue because of hazardous cliffs and dangerous ocean conditions.

The location, intensity, and character of new recreational facilities needs to be cognizant of all of these

problems. Careful planning is needed to lessen, not increase, impacts associated with recreational

enjoyment of the coast.


This section describes the kinds, locations and intensities of land uses recommended for the Big Sur

coast. The capabilities of Big Sur’s natural environment and the capacity of the public service system to

support development are reflected in these proposals. However, all new development is also subject to

the policies of other sections of this plan concerning resource management, Highway 1 and other roads,

shoreline access and trails, and is subject to the plans and provisions for administration and


implementation. Thus, final determinations of the acceptability of development proposals and their

locations and densities on a parcel can only be made during the project review process, in consideration

of all elements of the plan.

5.3.1 Land Use Categories

Eight broad categories of land use are proposed for the Big Sur coast that reflect existing and traditional

land uses and the priorities of the California Coastal Act. In all categories agricultural land use is a

principal permitted use as provided for in Section 3.6 of this Plan.

1. National Forest

The U. S. Forest Service manages the Los Padres National Forest under a multiple use concept in

which conservation of plant and wildlife communities, protection of watersheds, maintenance of scenic

beauty, and low intensity recreation are principal land use activities. Forestry, mineral extraction and

grazing can also be practiced under careful controls. Land uses permitted in the Ventana Wilderness

portion of the National Forest are limited to backcountry recreation.

Non-federal development within this designation will be subject to the same development standards and

criteria as Watershed and Scenic Conservation category. Existing administrative and community uses

may continue to operate on National Forestland (e.g. Caltrans maintenance stations, local fire

suppression facilities, Pacific Valley School).

2. Watershed and Scenic Conservation

Protection of watersheds, streams, plant communities, and scenic values is the primary objective.

Principal uses in this category include agriculture/grazing and supporting ranch houses and related ranch

buildings. Recreational facilities permitted in the Outdoor Recreation category including rustic inn or

lodging units, hostels; forestry, mineral extraction, aquaculture and related facilities; and rural residential

and employee housing associated with any of these uses are secondary, conditional uses that will be

considered on their individual merits. Where on-site dining facilities are allowed for the inn units, they

must be limited to that which is needed to serve on-premises overnight guests.

The following criteria shall apply to rustic inns, lodging units, hostels and employee housing: suitability

for recreational uses of the parcel (5.4.3.C-1); ability to avoid adverse impacts on adjacent habitats and

agricultural activities ( and 3); adequacy of access (5.4.3.D-9) and water supply (3.4.1 and

5.4.3.N-1); and ability of a proposed visitor-serving facility to support or assure the long term provision

of open space and agricultural uses (5.4.3.C-6).

3. Resource Conservation


Protection of sensitive resources, plant communities, and animal habitats and important archaeologic

sites is emphasized. Only very low intensity uses and supporting facilities compatible with protection of

the resource are allowed. Appropriate uses can include carefully controlled low intensity day use

recreation, education, and research. Two types of Resource Conservation areas are shown on the plan

map. State Park Environmental Camping facilities and other low intensity facilities are allowed, but only

where it can be demonstrated that no significant adverse impact on the resources will result.

Coastal Strand and Wetlands – Applies to shoreline and intertidal areas, coastal wetlands, the

lower reaches of major riparian corridors, and floodprone areas.

Forest and Upland Habitats – Applies to environmentally sensitive forest habitat, and grass,

scrub, or chapparal ground cover, rare and endangered plant or wildlife habitats and upland

riparian areas. It also applies to public or private reserves or open space areas set aside for

resource preservation or research.

4. Outdoor Recreation

Low intensity recreational and educational uses that are compatible with the natural resources of the

area and require a minimum level of development to serve basic user needs and necessitating minimal

alteration of the natural environment are appropriate. Such uses are defined as trails, picnic areas,

walk-in camping, tent camping where the campsites are separated from one another, and supporting

facilities. Campgrounds are limited to a maximum of 60 spaces. These are considered to be principal

allowed uses.

Minimal necessary housing and maintenance facilities and moderate intensity recreational uses defined as

tent platforms, cabins, RV campgrounds (up to 60 units per site), parks, stables, bicycle paths,

improved restrooms, and interpretive centers are allowed as secondary and conditional uses. On-site

dining facilities may be allowed, but only to the extent needed to serve on-premises overnight guests.

Hostels and campgrounds over 60 spaces may be appropriate as well.

Such secondary and conditional moderate intensity uses are allowed provided that they be allowed in

undeveloped park units only where it is infeasible to locate them in the existing developed park areas

and only where strict conformance to viewshed protection policies can be achieved.

5. Recreational, Visitor-Serving Commercial, Public and Quasi – Public Uses

To respond to the needs of the traveling public, recreational and visitor-serving facilities which may

include restaurants, grocery or general stores, local arts and crafts galleries, inns, hostels, service

stations, RV campgrounds, and moderate intensity recreation are the principal permitted uses.

Secondary, conditional uses include administrative, management and maintenance facilities for public

agencies, fire stations, clinic and ambulance services, community halls, churches, post office, library and



6. Rural Residential

Rural residences are considered a principal use on vacant parcels where applicable resource protection

policies can be met. Secondary uses appurtenant to rural residences include garages, work or storage

sheds, and art or craft studios.

7. Military and Coast Guard

This category applies to the U. S. Naval Station and Coast Guard Station at Point Sur and the Navy

property at Granite Creek leased to the California Department of Fish and Game. Coastal dependent

development is the principal allowed use, with public agency facilities and moderate intensity recreation

uses (as specified in Section as secondary uses.

As provided by the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA), lands subject to

exclusive federal jurisdiction, such as the Naval Facility at Pt. Sur, are not subject to Coastal Commission

or County jurisdiction. However, when federally owned lands are opened to non-federal

development, such developments are subject to coastal permit requirements. Accordingly, the land use

designations shown for federal lands are for the purpose of regulating future non-federal development, if

any. Federal projects on excluded lands will be addressed by the federal consistency process as

provided by the CZMA.

5.3.2 Land Use Map and Summary of Land Use Proposals

The land uses described in the preceding section are to be located on the Big Sur coast as shown on the

proposed land use map. Eight separate land use patterns are shown on the map’s legend and an

additional designation is used for the four rural community centers.

Overall, the map reflects current land use patterns, with traditional centers of commercial, recreational,

and residential activity remaining as the recommended areas for such uses in the future. Most of the

land on the coast is rural and undeveloped as part of the Los Padres National Forest or large privatelyheld

ownerships. The emphasis on these lands has been on minimal use and careful stewardship. These

basic uses are proposed to remain over most of the area as indicated by the broad use of the

Watershed and Scenic Conservation designation and the National Forest designation. The Watershed

and Scenic Conservation category permits a number of land uses including ranches, rural residences,

low intensity recreation, rustic visitor accommodations, and under careful controls, forestry, mining, and

aquaculture. The development and resource policies of the plan will guide landowners in assuring that

development is compatible with protection of the area. At the same time, the flexibility that this category

permits provides an opportunity for landowners to obtain a reasonable return from the land.

Two Resource Conservation categories are shown on the map. The lagoons at the mouths of the Big

Sur and Little Sur Rivers, and the riparian areas along the lower reaches of the two streams are


classified as Wetlands and Coastal Strand. Numerous other areas along the coast, particularly shoreline

and intertidal areas need the strict protection required by the Resource Conservation classification but,

because of imprecise data on the locations and extent of these areas, they are not shown on the map.

They will be managed instead through the application of the plan’s various resource policies. The plan

shows the Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve as Forest and Upland Habitat in recognition of the research

and preservation purposes to which this State-owned property is devoted.

The Outdoor Recreation category is applied to Molera State Park and the recent Garrapata acquisition,

in order to provide recreational opportunities while ensuring the areas remain in a natural state. The

major beaches on the coast, Garrapata, Little Sur, Point Sur, Pfeiffer, and Sand Dollar, are also

included in this category to protect their primitive and natural character. In addition, uses permitted in

this category are encouraged on appropriate sites within areas shown on the map as Watershed and

Scenic Conservation. Large private properties in particular, can be developed to provide enjoyable low

intensity, outdoor recreation opportunities for the public in a scenic and natural setting. Proposals for

such uses will be considered on any suitable property.

Activities and facilities described in the Outdoor Recreation category are currently available at several

public and private locations including Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park,

Limekiln Creek, Kirk Creek, Mill Creek and Plaskett Creek, which are reflected on the land use map.

A number of privately-operated improved campgrounds are located in the Big Sur Valley.

Otter Cove, Palo Colorado Canyon, Bixby Canyon, Sycamore Canyon, Pfeiffer Ridge, Coastlands,

and Partington Ridge areas are designated principally for Rural Residential use because they contain

numerous comparatively small parcels, generally unsuitable for other kinds of development. While the

land use map reflects the rural residential character of these areas, further subdivision is not generally

appropriate and full buildout of all existing parcels may be unwise in view of the limitations of the natural

environment. Recommendations in Section 5.4 of the plan, point to the need for careful study of each

of these areas to avoid undesirable cumulative impacts resulting from continued residential development.

In all cases, residential development proposals for individual parcels will be considered on their merits

in accordance with applicable plan policies.

The Military Land use designation is used at three locations, Granite Creek, the Point Sur Coast Guard

Light Station, and the U. S. Navy Station just south of Point Sur.

A special land use classification, called Rural Community Center, is depicted by a dotted line

circumscribing portions of the Big Sur Valley, Pacific Valley, Lucia, and Gorda. This is intended to

illustrate the approximate areas within which a variety of land use activities are now carried on. The

plan proposes that these areas continue to provide a spectrum of functions for both the visiting public

and for residents of the adjoining rural areas. Major categories of land use activities appropriate are

those found in the Outdoor Recreation; and Recreational, Visitor-Serving Commercial, Public and

Quasi-Public classifications. Residential development can take place in this category in the Big Sur

Valley at 1 dwelling unit per existing vacant parcel or as employee housing although the limited available


developable land urges that other more essential uses should have preference. In the portions of the

Lucia, Gorda, and Pacific Valley areas delineated as Rural Community Centers, residential development

should be avoided altogether, again, because of limited available land.

The locations of any of these uses within the Rural Community Centers is not a major concern and can

best be determined upon review of individual, specific proposals. In general any use allowed in any

zone is appropriate for Rural Community Centers.

5.3.3 Summary of Development Potential

The plan permits development on existing vacant or partially developed parcels based on conformance

to the standards of the plan. It is estimated that there are 800 such parcels and that approximately 100

new parcels could be created through subdivision. The plan also permits up to 50 caretakers houses.

Expansion of lodging facilities in the Big Sur Valley, Lucia, Pacific Valley and Gorda is possible to some

extent. Up to 50 hostel units can be constructed. Employee housing may also be constructed to serve

commercial visitor-serving facilities and State and Forest Service facilities. The inn unit density

standards are expected to hold inn development to less than 300 new units.

The policies that follow establish a slope density formula as the determinant of potential residential

development. A conversion factor is available in the Watershed and Scenic Conservation land use

designation that permits potential residential units to be developed as inn units at the rate of two inn units

per residence (up to a maximum of 8 per parcel), thereby establishing potential buildout for this major

land use category.

Consequently, long range development of the coast will depend upon the choices made by landowners

over time. A strong response to demand for visitor facilities will result in a reduction in residential

construction potential. For example, if 100 additional residential units are ultimately approved for

development in the Watershed and Scenic Conservation area, this could result in 100 residences. It

could also result in 50 residences and 100 inn units, or no residences and 200 inn units, etc. While this

is only illustrative, it shows the relationship of visitor-serving facilities and residential development based

on the conversion factor. An important condition of the plan is that property can be devoted to either

residential or visitor-serving overnight accommodations, or a combination of both, but that density

credit cannot be applied for both uses from the same acreage.

The plan is flexible concerning the siting of new development, allowing a range of land use proposals to

be made at any particular location. Yet the plan’s resource protection standards, and slope and road

requirements, are stringent, ultimately causing new development to be sited on the most physically

suitable locations and limiting buildout to a level that can be accommodated on those sites that can meet

all of the plan’s requirements.


Table 1 summarizes the major categories of development according to the locations at which the use

could take place and provides standards to guide the density at which campgrounds can be clustered on

the site. No limitation is established in the plan for the number of campsites that could be developed.





5.4.1 Key Policy

Future land use development on the Big Sur coast should be extremely limited, in keeping with the larger

goal of preserving the coast as a scenic natural area. In all cases, new land uses must remain

subordinate to the character and grandeur of the Big Sur country. All proposed uses, whether public or

private, must meet the same exacting environmental standards and must contribute to the preservation of

Big Sur’s scenery.

5.4.2 General Policies

1. All development and use of the land whether public or private shall conform to all applicable

policies of this plan and shall meet the same resource protection standards.

The Big Sur River and Little Sur River Protected Waterway Management Plans are

incorporated by reference into this plan. The goals, objectives and policies of the plans shall

apply in those areas, as will all provisions of this plan.

2. Development of any area of Big Sur will be limited to uses for that area illustrated on the plan

map and to the use intensities described in the text. Uses not shown on the plan map or

described in the text will not be permitted.

3. Agriculture, passive recreation, and rural residential uses traditionally established in Big Sur are

the most appropriate activities on private lands.

4. Land divisions in general are discouraged and are especially inappropriate on large ranches.

5. Existing parcels of record are considered buildable parcels and are suitable for development of

uses consistent with the plan map provided all resource protection policies can be fully satisfied,

there is adequate building areas of less than 30% cross slope, and they are not merged by

provisions elsewhere in this plan.

6. Many types of land use found in other locations in the County are inappropriate to the Big Sur

coast and are in conflict with the rural environment, the protection of natural resources, and the

general peace of the area and are not therefore provided for in the plan. Among these uses are

intensive recreational activities such as tennis, golf, cinemas, mechanized recreation, boating

facilities, industrial development, manufacturing other than cottage industry or art production,

on-shore or off-shore energy facilities, large scale mineral extraction or mining, oil extraction,

commercial timber harvesting, and any non-coastally dependent industries.



In general, any land use or development of a character, scale, or activity level inconsistent with

the goal of preserving the coast’s natural, undeveloped beauty and tranquility will not be


7. Where areas are designated for watershed restoration in accordance with the procedures

specified in Policy 3.4.3.C-2 of this plan, the County shall consider the objectives of the

proposed restoration activities and limit development in such areas accordingly, regardless of

the land uses proposed for the area in this plan.

8. It is the policy of Monterey County that lands in excess of thirty percent cross slope, located

east of Highway 1, shall not be developed. Those portions of a parcel in this area that have a

cross slope of thirty percent or more shall receive a density of one dwelling unit (d.u.) for 320


The calculation of residential development potential on property east of Highway 1 will be

based on the following slope density formula:


Under – 15% 1 – 40

18 – 30% 1 – 80

Over – 30% 1 – 320

Property west of Highway 1 may be developed at a density rate of 1 d.u. per 40 acres.

9. The following density standards for inn unit development are designed to allow up to 300 new

visitor-serving lodge or inn units on the Big Sur Coast, based on protection of the capacity of

Highway One to accommodate recreational use, the avoidance of overuse of areas of the coast,

and the need for development to respect the rural character of the Big Sur Coast and its many

natural resources.

The number of visitor-serving lodging units on any one site is limited to 30, reflecting the small

scale character of the special Big Sur community. Two or more facilities on the same property

shall not be contiguous (minimum separation 400 feet). As specified in Table 1, the maximum

inn unit density in the Rural Community Centers shall be one unit per acre, with a minimum

parcel size of ten acres. In other locations where inn unit development is allowed in the land use

designations, the number of allowable new inn units shall be two lodging units for each potential

subdivision lot that is permanently retired by action of the applicant. An applicant must

determine from Policy, above, the allowable residential density on land that can be

further subdivided and then multiply that density times two to determine the allowable number of

visitor-serving units. However, the maximum inn unit density allowance for any one ownership

in the Watershed and Scenic Conservation land use designation shall not in any event exceed a



net of 8 per existing parcel, which may be aggregated into clusters up to the maximum per site

specified above.

10. Open space approved as a part of a development proposal shall be secured by a scenic

easement, assuring its retention in perpetual open space or agricultural use.

11. Before any development (other than agricultural improvements and a hostel at the Pt. Sur

lighthouse) is approved for the area adjacent to Naval Facility Pt. Sur, the Commanding Officer

shall be consulted to insure that the proposed development will not constitute a hazard to

military security. The area is defined as that area bounded by Highway One on the east, the first

ridge south of the facility, and the Pt. Sur Lighthouse access road on the north, including the Pt.

Sur Lighthouse Reservation and extending perpendicularly to the seaward limit of the coastal


12. Off-site advertising signs shall not be allowed.

Advertising signs only allowed in connection with commercial or visitor-serving uses, to a

maximum 35 square feet. 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.

Caltrans should not allow any private signs or advertising structures within the state right-ofway.

13. A coastal development permit must be obtained for the removal of trees and other major

vegetation. However, in the Big Sur Coast area the following will not be considered as removal

of major vegetation:

a. Removal of non-native or planted trees, except where this would result the exposure of

structures in the critical viewshed;

b. Removal of hazardous trees which pose an imminent danger to life or property, or

threaten contagion of nearby forested areas, subject to verification by the County or

California Department of Forestry;

c. Thinning of small (less than 12″ diameter) or dead trees from density forested areas,

especially as needed to reduce unsafe fuel accumulations adjacent to existing occupied

buildings; and,



d. Prescribed burning, crushing, lopping or other methods of brush clearing which do not

materially disturb underlying soils.

Selective removal of trees may be permitted where consistent with the Forest Resources

policies of this Plan, provided that no impairment of the critical viewshed or degradation of

environmentally sensitive habitat will result. Where the removal of trees is part of a stand

improvement project or similar long-term management effort, the submission of a Forest

Management Plan for the site will be encouraged by the County; approval of such plans

pursuant to a coastal development permit will obviate the need for multiple permit requests on

the same site.

5.4.3 Specific Policies

A. National Forest Lands

1. The County strongly supports continued management of the Ventana Wilderness in strict

adherence to the provisions of the Wilderness Act.

2. The County requests that the Forest Service give special attention in its planning and

management of the Los Padres National Forest to the protection of the natural environment

from recreational overuse and to the protection of adjacent residents from fire hazard and

water pollution resulting from recreational use.

3. The County will consult with the U.S. Forest Service prior to the issuance of a coastal

development permit for any parcel adjacent to the National Forest lands, roads, or access trails.

4. The “National Forest” land use designation may include some lands not currently managed by

the U.S. Forest Service. Non-federal development within the “National Forest” land use

designation will be subject to the policies for “Watershed and Scenic Conservation”. Lands

added to Los Padres National Forest outside the certified “National Forest” designation will not

be redesignated without Plan amendments.

B. Agriculture

1. Agricultural resource protection policies presented in Chapter 3 provide the basic framework to

guide agricultural activities and shall be considered in all development applications where

existing or potential grazing land is concerned. Management of agricultural operations should be

particularly sensitive to the protection of water quality and vegetation in riparian areas.



2. Aquaculture activities are considered agriculture uses and are generally compatible with the

goals of this plan. Processing facilities will be carefully considered to assure compatibility with

the area.

C. Development of New or Expanded Recreation Facilities

1. Development of recreation and visitor-serving facilities at locations suitable for such use is

preferred over other types of development in Big Sur because of Big Sur’s national significance

as a recreation area.

2. Maintenance of the rustic, outdoor recreational character of Big Sur is emphasized. The

expansion and development of recreation and visitor-serving facilities in Big Sur shall be of a

scale and nature that is compatible with the natural and cultural character of the area while

offering opportunities for visitors to experience and enjoy the beauty and inspiration that the Big

Sur environment presents. Intensive recreational uses or facilities are not appropriate and shall

not be permitted.

Compatible scale and character shall include limiting the number of visitor accommodation units

as specified in and shall limit such structures to two stories in height, subject to site

constraints. Intensive visitor-serving projects (those over 5 units) will be required to enhance

and/or provide public coastal recreational opportunities consistent with Coastal Act Sections

30212.5 and 30222 and all Plan policies.

The provisions of this policy shall apply to policy 3, below, as well as all other relevant Plan


3. The Soberanes Point, Garrapata Beach, and the Little Sur River areas should be planned for

low-intensity, day-use recreational development with minimal provision of facilities. The scenic

and natural resources of these areas should be preserved in a natural state.

4. Historical resource areas can offer interesting and attractive recreational opportunities for

visitors to Big Sur. These areas shall be preserved for public recreational and educational use.

5. The County encourages expansion and development of public and private recreation and

visitor-serving facilities within existing areas of development. Accordingly, new development, or

expansion of existing recreation and visitor-serving facilities in the Big Sur Valley, and at Lucia,

Gorda, and Pacific Valley is generally acceptable provided resource protection policies can be


6. Undeveloped areas in Big Sur shall be preserved for low intensity recreational use such as

hiking and camping and nature study. Only minimal alterations of Big Sur’s existing natural

environment and recreational character shall be allowed. Development of low intensity



recreation uses and visitor-serving facilities are encouraged on the larger properties where this

will assist in providing economic uses of the land and in meeting Coastal Act objectives for

public recreation.

7. Recreational and visitor-serving facility expansion and development proposals shall be evaluated

on an individual basis. All proposals must demonstrate consistency with the land use plan and

environmental, visual, design and traffic constraints. Visitor-serving facilities may be approved

on any size parcel meeting the standards listed in Table 1 and large enough to allow for the

construction of needed employee housing, provide adequate sewage disposal and parking, and

otherwise, satisfy the policies of this plan. Additional criteria for inn unit development include:

a. Must have direct access to public road (not including Sycamore Canyon or Palo

Colorado Roads), or common driveway with permission of the other owners;

b. Deed restrictions must be recorded to preclude rental or subdivision of the inn units as

separate residential dwelling units.

No portion of acreage necessary for one facility shall be credited to a different facility. For

example, pursuant to Table 1, a 25-acre parcel in a Rural Community Center could have 25 inn

units, or 50 RV campsites or 10 inn units and 30 RV campsites.

Inns shall provide at least one parking space per room. Free-standing restaurants (not part of

an inn) shall provide at least one space per four seats or per 100 sq. ft. of both open and

enclosed dining area, whichever is greater. In addition, adequate and separate employee

parking shall be provided.

New free-standing restaurant development shall be limited to the Rural Community Centers and

the sites specified in Plan policy 5.4.3.E-1. The maximum size for such new restaurant

structures shall be that amount of space needed for a 120-seat enclosed dining room facility.

Elsewhere, restaurants shall not be larger than required to serve the maximum size inn allowed

on the parcel (generally, at the ratio of two seats per inn unit). Expansion of existing restaurant

buildings shall be limited in scale to that which is in character with Big Sur, not to exceed a 10%

expansion in area or an area sufficient for 120 dining room seats, whichever is greater.

8. Projects for new or extensively expanded recreation and visitor-serving facilities shall provide

low-cost recreational facilities as part of the development. The establishment of low-cost

hostels in Big Sur is encouraged as part of a comprehensive hostel system for the California


9. Applicants for commercial developments shall submit a profile of the number of expected

employees. The profile shall indicate, in general ranges, the income of the prospective

employees and other information that would allow for an assessment of the employee housing



needs to be created by the development. An employee housing plan shall be submitted that

indicates how the employer shall, as part of the development or otherwise, satisfy all, or a

substantial portion of, the housing needs of the employees.

10. The County requests that State and Federal agencies prepare long range recreational

development plans for areas under their jurisdiction. The County requests that these plans

contain traffic components describing the portion of Highway 1 capacity required to serve the

proposed recreational development, including public transportation potential. The County will

seek to assure that approval of these plans will be made jointly and on a cooperative basis, by

all agencies involved in the management of Highway 1. Environmental assessments will be

required for all such proposals. Development of public and private recreational facilities will be

phased as part of a recreational growth management program based on available highway

capacity. Development standards for approval of recreational facilities and visitor-serving

facilities on government lands shall be identical to those applied to private developments in Big


D. Recreation Management

1. Management of recreation uses in Big Sur shall emphasize the enjoyment of the natural scenic

environment and shall preserve the rural, wilderness, and inspirational qualities for which the Big

Sur coast is famous. A high standard of resource protection is required to maintain the valuable

resources of the Big Sur coast in perpetuity.

2. Additional funding should be allocated by the State and Federal governments to manage and

maintain existing public recreation areas before more public land is opened to recreational use

by these same agencies.

3. Management policies for Outdoor Recreation areas shall be to limit levels of use in

environmentally sensitive areas and redirect recreational activities to other areas able to support

anticipated use with minimal environmental impacts.

4. Pleasure driving along scenic Highway 1 is a major recreational activity. Public transit service to

the coast should be expanded. Local transit service within Big Sur should be initiated to serve

the visitors of State Parks, Los Padres National Forest facilities, and private recreation and

visitor-serving facilities.

5. The Department of Parks and Recreation and the Forest Service should reserve a portion of

campground capacity for visitors arriving during non-peak traffic hours in order to distribute

Highway 1 traffic destined for these areas more evenly throughout the day.

6. The County will cooperate with Caltrans, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Forest

Service and San Luis Obispo County in establishing roadside visitor information centers near



each end of the Big Sur coast. These centers will be for the convenience of travelers, will assist

in reducing unnecessary traffic on Highway 1, and will help coordinate operation of private and

public recreational facilities. The determination of appropriate information center sites will be

coordinated with Caltrans as part of the Plan implementation.

7. Caltrans shall provide additional roadside restroom facilities located south of Big Sur Valley to

serve visitors and the traveling public, consistent with viewshed and resource protection criteria.

The determination of appropriate restroom locations will be coordinated with Caltrans as part

of the Plan implementation.

8. Improvements to the Bicentennial Bicycle Path shall be completed where feasible and the route

shall be properly signed and marked to alert drivers and provide bicyclists extra protection.

9. Adequate public access shall be provided to recreational areas but all appropriate management

measures should be used to discourage trespass site design and facility mangement should

discourage trespass onto adjacent property.

10. Surfing and scuba diving are not encouraged due to hazardous conditions. Development of

special facilities for these uses would be inappropriate.

11. The Forest Service may designate appropriate areas in the vicinity of Pacific Valley for hanggliding

and shall provide supervision to discourage hang-gliding in areas that could endanger the

safety of hang-gliders and the public. Hang-gliding from private property shall be allowed only

upon prior approval of the owner.

12. Off-road vehicle recreation its not an appropriate use in the Plan area.

E. Commercial

1. Development of new commercial uses serving community and visitor needs be directed to the

existing Rural Community Centers of the Big Sur Valley, Lucia, Gorda, and Pacific Valley.

Several commercial uses including the Rocky Point Restaurant, Big Sur Inn, and Coast Gallery,

are currently found outside the Rural Community Centers designated on the land use map and

these are considered conforming uses under the plan. However, gasoline service stations,

general stores, or similar highway-oriented commercial structures shall not be allowed outside of

the rural community centers.

2. Westmere, well known as the site of a lodge serving visitors to the northern portion of the Big

Sur Coast, may re-establish the historic use as a lodge of 24 units that reflects the historic

character of the site in design and scale. A specific development proposal for Westmere may

request additional units subject to the limitations set forth in this Plan. In order to meet policies

for the protection of the critical viewshed, the new lodge should use the original site which is



hidden from public view. Overall visual restoration of the surrounding area, under the same

ownership, should be carried out as a condition of the development of the lodge and public

access to the beach at Rocky Creek should also be provided.

3. Commercial development shall carry out the rustic character of Big Sur both in size, scale,

activities, and design.

4. Large scale commercial facilities that are unlike the existing character and size of facilities in Big

Sur shall not be permitted.

5. Cottage shop industry, defined as small-scale manufacturing of artistic or craft items, is

encouraged as a traditional activity in the area. It shall be treated as an appropriate home

occupation in any areas where residences are permitted and shall not be restricted to areas

designated for commercial uses.

6. Commercial facilities shall be aimed at serving both local residents and the visiting public.

Businesses intended to serve solely local residents are discouraged. No minimum site standards

are established for commercial uses but adequate physical area to meet parking requirements

and natural resource concerns must be available before existing businesses can be expanded or

new facilities can be approved.

7. Existing commercial facilities are encouraged to expand and improve existing buildings as a

desirable means of meeting growth in demand. Scattered commercial uses not in Rural

Community Centers may expand existing secondary uses provided such expansion is small in

scale and clearly subordinate and incidental to the primary use.

8. Renewal of use permits for existing commercial uses or the establishment of new uses will

require careful consideration of the impact of the use on surrounding land from a good neighbor

point of view. Particularly where commercial activities are in proximity to residences, care must

be taken to ensure that noise or visual modification do not affect the peace and tranquility of

existing neighbors.

9. New commercial uses or expansion of existing uses will be evaluated for their impact on traffic

safety and highway capacity in the area. Parking shall be screened from public views from

Highway One and should in no event create hazards for motorists or pedestrians.

10. Commercial development which would enhance recreational use of public lands existing nearby

by providing specific physical improvements (e.g. trail links, interpretive facilities) or

management (e.g. ranger, fire control, contribution of funds to a public management agency), or

development which includes specific improvements to public access to the shoreline and the

surrounding lands shall be preferred.


11. Existing and permitted visitor-serving uses will be protected from encroachment by incompatible

uses (such as residences) which might hamper their future ability to expand or improve

consistent with 5.4.3.E-7.

Conversion of existing low cost overnight accommodations to other uses, unless replaced with

comparable facilities, will not be permitted.


F. Public/Quasi-Public

1. A range of public and quasi-public services are present in Big Sur and serve both the local

community and visitors. These include, or have included in the past, churches, two elementary

schools, volunteer fire protection, County library, post office, Big Sur Grange Hall, ambulance

service, State Park and Forest Service management facilities, and public agency radio

repeaters, flood monitors and navigational aids. These should continue to be concentrated in

the Big Sur Valley, Pacific Valley, Lucia, and Gorda but should be upgraded based on present

need and future growth.

2. In general, improvements should be made in the level of public services available in Big Sur.

Permanent buildings should be constructed for the U.S. Post Office and the County Branch

Library. Other facilities needed include a fire station to protect against structural fires and to

augment the volunteer companies, a public meeting hall to reduce pressure on the Big Sur

Grange Hall, and an emergency clinic with ambulance service. Where practical, such uses

should be clustered or co-located to minimize impacts.

3. The existing elementary schools in the Big Sur Valley and at Pacific Valley are expected to be

adequate for some time. Increased classroom needs should be accommodated at these

locations rather than new sites.

4. Like other uses, public and quasi-public uses must meet strict resource protection and

environmental criteria. Such facilities shall not be constructed in primary floodplains.

G. Rural Residential

1. Subdivision of large undeveloped or agricultural properties for residential purposes is strongly

discouraged. Clustering of residential units on large undivided properties at this rate is preferred

to subdivision creating separate parcels.

2. Development in designated rural residential areas shall continue to be limited to residential uses

in order to protect residents from unwanted intrusion by other incompatible activities and

because neither available vacant land, water, nor roads are adequate to support more intensive


3. Reconstitution of parcels or mergers may be required for any area of the coast where past land

divisions have resulted in parcels being unusable under current standards or where cumulative

impacts on coastal resources require limitations on further development. Parcel mergers shall be

based on the following criteria:

(a) The minimum buildable parcel shall be one acre;


(b) Each parcel must contain a suitable septic and drainfield location on slopes less than

30%, and must be able to meet Regional Water Quality and County stream setback and

septic system requirements; and

(c) Each parcel must conform to all Plan policies for residential development on existing


4. Merger provisions shall apply to Garrapatos Redwoods Subdivision.

H. Residential Subdivision

1. Subdivision of land for residential use is be preferred in areas which are in proximity to existing

developed areas able to accommodate further development. “Developed areas” shall mean

those areas indicated as such on the land use plan map as Rural Residential or Rural Community

Center. Subdivisions of land not in proximity to existing developed areas should generally be

discouraged until a development pattern for the surrounding area has been established and the

proposed subdivision is shown to be compatible with that development pattern. The County

shall adopt guidelines in the implementation of this plan for determining the relevant surrounding

area of a proposed subdivision and the establishment of a development pattern for the

surrounding area.

2. Subdivision layouts shall be encouraged that vary from conventional subdivision standards if the

proposed innovations in design better meet the policies and intent of the Coastal Act and this


3. Density rates, as specified in policy and Table 1 shall not be meant to define the

minimum lot size where clustering is proposed. However, restrictions shall be applied to ensure

that the density rate is not exceeded by additional divisions of the original parcel, and in no event

shall any new parcel be less than one acre in size.

4. Resubdivisions and lot line adjustments are encouraged when no new developable lots are

created and when plan policies are better met by this action.

5. Non-contiguous parcels shall be included within the scope of the resubdivision policy. Lots

served by Highway 1 north of Hurricane Pt. may be retired in favor of increased density south

of the Point.

I. Low and Moderate Income Housing

The County is required by State laws mandating the Housing Element of the General Plan, to provide

programs to increase the availability of low and moderate income housing. The following policies which


are based on the goals of the adopted County Housing Element reflect those actions that will be most

effective for the Big Sur coast.

1. The County shall protect existing affordable housing in the Big Sur coastal area from loss due to

deterioration, conversion or any other reason. The County shall:

a) Require replacement, on a one-for-one basis, of all demolished units which were

affordable to low and moderate income households. However, prior to demolition of

any residence, an historical evaluation shall be made to determine if the structure has

historical significance. Historically significant structures shall not be demolished.

b) Promote rehabilitation and weatherization of housing units owned or rented by low and

moderate income households.

c) Study relaxation of building code requirements and if appropriate adopt minimum

building code regulations for the rehabilitation of older housing units.

d) Replacement affordable housing units shall be retained as low and moderate income

units through deed restrictions or other enforceable mechanisms.

2. The County shall encourage the expansion of housing opportunities for low and moderate

income households. The County shall:

a) Work cooperatively with Big Sur residents desiring to construct hand-made houses of

original design, utilizing native materials. The County encourages this as a contribution

to the coast’s culture and will assist residents in insuring these designs meet minimum

necessary health and safety standards.

b) Require that as a condition of all permits related to additions to existing public or private

visitor facilities or the construction of new facilities that employee housing be

constructed on-site, or in the immediate vicinity, and be made available to low and

moderate income employees in accordance with Policy C-9 of this section. Such

housing must be provided prior to or concurrent with the proposed development, and

must be permanently linked to the visitor-serving use through appropriate binding

guarantees. Maximum size per newly-constructed employee housing unit (other than

dormitories) shall be 850 square feet. The maximum number of such new housing units

shall not exceed one per inn unit or one per six restaurant seats.

c) Encourage the use of caretaker’s accommodations as an appropriate means of

providing affordable housing for caretakers, ranch hands, convalescent help, and

domestic employees. Applicants for detached care takers’ residences shall demonstrate

a need for the unit as part of the development review process. Detached caretaker’s


residences shall not exceed 850 square feet in size. Subdivisions shall not be permitted

to divide a principal residence from a care taker’s residence. Only one caretaker’s unit

shall be allowed on the parcel. All such units shall be considered as part of the

residential buildout allowed by this plan.

A total of 50 such units may be allowed in the area of the Big Sur Land Use Plan.

d) Additional agricultural employee housing is permitted at the rate of one

dormitory/bunkhouse per ranch, consistent with all other Plan policies.

J. Second Structures

1. Detached or attached guest rooms are not to be equipped for permanent living and are not

considered residences. They shall be permitted at the maximum rate of one (either attached or

detached) per parcel or one (either attached or detached) for each principal residence providing

the constraints of the parcel and other plan policies permit. Furthermore, detached guest rooms

shall be located in close proximity to the principal residence, share the same utilities except

where prohibited by public health, contain no kitchen or cooking facilities, and be to 425 square

feet. Conditions shall be implemented by CC & Rs or other legal restrictions, including

revocation provisions for non-conformance. Subdivisions shall not be permitted to divide a

principal residence from a guest room.

2. Studios and other small non-residential and non-commercial accessory structures such as tool

sheds, workshops, or barns may be permitted on any size parcel provided the constraints of the

parcel and other plan policies permit. None of these units shall ever be used for habitation

purposes. For structures whose design does not preclude habitation, legal restrictions shall be

applied in the same manner as described in Policy 5.4.3.J-1 above.

K. Private Roads Outside the Critical Viewshed

1. New private roads may be permitted only where:

a) The proposed new road is appropriate for the establishment, continuation or expansion

of Coastal Act priority use: or

b) The proposed new road is essential for basic residential access, and no reasonable

alternative exists; or

c) The proposed new road provides a superior alternative to an existing road in carrying

out the policies of this Plan.


2. New private roads shall meet the following criteria, in addition to meeting all other resource

protection policies of this Plan:

a) Such roads shall be able to accommodate emergency vehicles, particularly fire

equipment, while permitting residents to evacuate the area.

b) Appropriate planting of exposed slopes and submittal of detailed drainage and erosion

control plans shall be conditions for issuance of a permit for such roads.

c) A qualified biologist shall certify that any environmentally sensitive habitats present will

not be harmed.

d) A qualified engineer shall certify that potential erosion impacts from road construction

shall be adequately mitigated (i.e., the proposed road construction will not induce

landsliding or significant soil creep, nor increase existing erosion rates). Mitigation

measures shall not include massive grading or excavation or the construction of

protective devices that would substantially alter natural landforms.

e) New roads across slopes of 30 percent or greater shall not be allowed unless:

1. No feasible alternative exists;

2. The proposed design of the road on balance better achieves the overall

resource protection objectives of this Plan.

3. The County shall require 12-foot width for roads serving new residential development, including

both minor subdivisions and isolated single-family dwellings. Narrower residential roads should

be allowed only where adequate turnouts are provided at frequent intervals to the satisfaction of

the Department of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service, where applicable. Greater roadway

widths may be necessary to accommodate clustering of residential units, or where nonresidential

use is permitted, provided that all criteria of Policy 2 above are met. The standards

for private rural roads set forth in the County’s Subdivision Ordinance should serve as guidelines

for road requirements.

L. Big Sur Valley

1. Special attention shall be given to the Big Sur Valley as the community center as well as a center

of recreational activity on the Big Sur coast. Policies of this plan concerning recreation and

commercial development, public and quasi-public uses, hazards, and traffic shall be carefully

considered in all development proposals in the Valley. Of special concern for sites having

highway frontage is whether the highway access is unsafe for the principal use, and for parcels

without frontage, whether the access is unsafe for the principal use and the site is of adequate

size to accommodate a viable principal use.


2. Outdoor Recreation, Recreation and Visitor-Serving Commercial uses, and Public and Quasi-

Public uses, shall be the principal uses in the Valley since the available space for these necessary

activities is very limited. Residential development will be considered appropriate on sites not

suitable for these uses.

3. Offices and related service buildings of the Department of Parks and Recreation and the U. S.

Forest Service shall be grouped together on an integrated site with permanent, aestheticallypleasing

buildings. Parking areas for these facilities, and the existing trailhead parking lot for the

Ventana Wilderness, shall be screened from public view to the maximum possible extent

through careful siting and the use of vegetative screening.

4. Visual emphasis for development in the Big Sur Valley should be on tasteful, rustic design using

natural materials and careful siting of structures to meet scenic protection objectives rather than

the criteria of non-visibility. This policy variation is needed because of the importance of the

area as a recreation destination point and because development is already visible.

5. Traffic congestion, recreational overuse with associated environmental impacts, increased levels

of activity and noise, and limitations on available water to serve new or expanded uses, all point

to the need for special care in planning for the growth of the Big Sur Valley. County policy will

be to avoid construction of sewer systems and treatment plants to serve development in the Big

Sur Valley, unless pollution of the Big Sur River requires this step.

6. The 100-year floodplain of the Big Sur River poses considerable limitations on development in

the Valley. No additional permanent structures shall be permitted to be built in the floodplain.

Campgrounds or similar outdoor recreational uses are most appropriate in this hazardous area.

7. The County encourages both public and private interests to undertake work to restore riparian

vegetation, improve stream channel conditions, and reduce impacts of concentrated use along

the lower Big Sur River. These needs are discussed more fully in the management plan for the

Big Sur River which will serve as an additional guide to development and use of the lower river

area. The management plan for the Big Sur River is on file at the County Planning Department

in Salinas.

8. The Big Sur Valley policies apply only in the Rural Community Center and Outdoor Recreation

land use designations.

M. Development of Large Properties and Ranches

1. The development of properties of 320 acres or greater, for uses other than agricultural

structures or a single residence, shall require submittal of an overall development and

management plan for the property. The plan shall indicate all long range uses contemplated on


the property. Areas proposed for development of residences, visitor-serving facilities or low

intensity recreational uses shall be clearly delineated and areas to be retained for grazing, and

open space and habitat protection, and public access shall be indicated. All proposed roads

shall be shown. The plan shall contain a description of how development will be phased over


2. Because agricultural and recreational uses most closely conform to the priorities of the Coastal

Act, the County encourages plans that emphasize these uses. The County will assist private

landowners of large properties in the preparation of development plans that increase the viability

of agricultural and recreational uses and that will help sustain the property in an undivided state

over the long term.

3. Residential subdivision is discouraged in favor of clustering residential uses at locations on the

property that create minimal disruption of existing or potential agricultural uses, and that retain

the balance of the property in an undivided interest between the new owners.

4. Owners of large properties are encouraged to take advantage of tax benefits that can result

through working with non-profit conservation agencies or trusts, such as the Big Sur Land Trust,

the Nature Conservancy, the Trust for Public Lands, and the California Coastal Conservancy.

The County will assist large property owners in voluntarily securing agricultural, conservation,

and scenic easements on their property to reflect the low intensity development appropriate in

rural areas.

N. Water Resource Study Areas

1. Applications requiring development or intensification of water use shall be permitted in

watershed study areas designated in Section 3.4.3 only as provided by the policies of that


O. Recommendations

1. The County recognizes that full development of vacant parcels in the rural residential areas may

be undesirable or unfeasible because of various resource limitations. Detailed planning review

of areas with known or anticipated problems should be completed within the next few years in

order to assist residents and property owners in finding acceptable solutions. Master

environmental impact statements are one tool that could be used. In the Sycamore Canyon and

Pfeiffer Ridge areas, for example, studies should be directed to resolving fire protection, water

supply, and traffic congestion issues. Palo Colorado Canyon appears to contain more vacant

parcels than the available water supply can serve.




Shoreline accessways and upland trails are essential components of the public access system on the Big

Sur coast. Both are important to the public enjoyment and appreciation of Big Sur’s scenic qualities and

wilderness character.

Many of the most suitable locations for physical access are already in public ownership or have been

traditionally used by the public. These areas need to be protected and managed for continued public

use and enjoyment. The lack of adequate management of existing access areas has led to a decline in

the quality of natural resources as well as the visual experience and has created hazards to public safety

and danger of fires. Additionally, increasing incidents of vandalism and damage to resources from public

use have contributed to private landowners’ reluctance to permit public use of trails through their

property. While new locations may be suitable for access and the opportunities for increasing access

must not be lost, provision of adequate management must be a requirement to any additional access.

This plan sets forth policies and actions to protect, provide, and manage public access in order to

enhance the visitor experience while assuring preservation of the coast’s environmental quality. The

intent of these recommendations is to use the existing system as much as possible, and to improve

existing but deteriorated trails, where needed, to provide more evenly distributed access. This approach

minimizes both the visual and environmental impacts associated with construction and use of new trails

and the conflicts involved in providing a new trail access through a multitude of private ownerships.

Cooperation between the County, public management agencies, local landowners, and the community

are essential to the implementation of the Access Element.

The following discussion provides more detailed information on shoreline access and upland trails.

6.1.1 Shoreline Access

The public’s right to shoreline access is ensured by the State Constitution and provisions of the

California Coastal Act. In the past, the County and other public agencies have sought to provide

access, where suitable, along the Big Sur coast. The visual experience has been the most traditional and

most dominant form of access along the coast. Therefore, preservation of visual resources is an

overriding goal in planning for Big Sur.

The spectacular scenic quality of the Big Sur coast is, in large part, due to the rugged topography and

undeveloped nature of the area. Steep cliffs and bluffs lead to rocky shorelines punctuated by seasonal

pocket beaches. A few wide sandy beaches are concentrated in less steep terrain along the coast. In


general, access to most of the shoreline is difficult and hazardous. Access destinations of suitable size,

safety, and distance from sensitive habitats are found irregularly along the coast. Much of the coast is

suitable only for visual rather than physical access.

Approximately half of the shoreline is in public ownership. Presently the following locations in public

ownership provide shoreline access: Andrew J. Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Beach, Partington Cove, J.

P. Burns State Park, Kirk Creek, Mill Creek, Sand Dollar Beach, Jade Cove, Willow Creek, Cape

San Martin, and Alder Creek.

The following sites are in private ownership with existing public use, although the legality of such use is

not always clear: Malpaso Creek, Garrapata Beach, Rocky Point to Rocky Creek, Bixby Creek,

Hurricane Point, Little Sur River, Little Sur to Point Sur, Swiss Canyon, Fuller’s Beach, Big Creek,

Gamboa Point, and Vicente Creek. A private campground is operated at Limekiln Creek, with beach

access available for a fee. The shoreline from Soberanes Point to Garrapata Beach and the Little Sur

River is slated for acquisition by the State Department of Parks and Recreation.

In northern Big Sur, the area between Malpaso Creek and Molera Park experiences heavy visitor use:

the highest incidence of public access over private lands occurs here. In central Big Sur, from Molera

Park to J. P. Burns Park (16 miles), there are four public coastal access points. This area experiences

the greatest concentration of camping and overnight use. The coast between Anderson Canyon and

Limekiln Creek (14 miles) is for the most part privately-owned, and is characterized by extremely steep

topography that limits access. The major portion of the south coast, from Limekiln to the San Luis

Obispo County line (2l miles), is in the National Forest with various improved access points. In general,

unrestricted shoreline access exists on these lands.

Access trails outside of the National Forest tend to be informal and hazardous. Parking lots are

provided at the State Park units and developed Forest Service beaches. Parking is available at two

scenic overlooks, Abalone Cove and Vista Point, both of which are paved turnouts maintained by

Caltrans. At the other shoreline destinations, parking is available only at unpaved pullouts.

Many access sites along the coast have experienced degradation from unmanaged use or overuse.

Unplanned and unmaintained trails have led to trampling of vegetation, soil compaction, and visual

scarring of the bluffs. Problems of litter and sanitation occur at beaches in private ownership with

frequent public use. The impact of all of this is the lessening of the quality of the recreational experience

for the visitors, as well as degradation or the natural resources of the coastline.

Though the County recognizes the increasing public demand for access to the Big Sur coast, it also

recognizes the importance of preserving the fragile natural environment. A range of additional concerns,

including the need to ensure public safety and to protect the rights of residents and landowners must be

resolved. County’s objective then, is to plan for public shoreline access and ensure balance between

these considerations.


The proposals in this chapter are aimed at meeting these many requirements. Combined with an active

implementation program, they should do much to effect an optimum degree of public shoreline access.

Beyond the policies presented here, the Shoreline Access background report makes recommendations

for specific improvements needed at various access locations. These should be used as a guide by the

County and other agencies when actual improvements are initiated.

6.1.2 Trails

Trails provide both recreational opportunities for the hiker, equestrian, and bicyclist, as well an

alternative form of transportation to recreational areas. Public access to scenic and remote areas not

served by roads can be obtained sometimes by trail. Most of the trails in Big Sur are located within Los

Padres National Forest. The general policy of the Forest Service is to permit public access throughout

the forest, and there is a network of maintained trails and backpacking camps. Some of the trails and

dirt roads leading into the forest, cross private lands, and do not currently have full public right-of-way

through these sections.

Today there are fewer miles of maintained trails than in former years. Over time, many traditional trails

have been abandoned or closed to public use. Some of the trails in the National Forest are not

maintained because they cross private lands with no legal rights-of-way. Prior to the construction of

Highway 1, a trail existed along the length of the Big Sur coast, along the present alignment of the

highway. The Old Coast Road is part of this early coastal trail.

According to the Big Sur Unit Forest Management Plan, over 100 miles of trails exist within the Big Sur

portion of the Los Padres National Forest. Hiking is the major activity, but hunting, fishing, and

horseback riding are also popular. Portions of the Ventana Wilderness are also located within or

adjacent to the Coastal Zone. The Forest Service is concerned that overuse has damaged wilderness

qualities in portions of the Ventana Wilderness through overuse of existing access along the Big Sur

River. The Forest Service is encouraging the provision of additional access points or trails into the

wilderness to help alleviate this problem.

Andrew Molera, Pfeiffer-Big Sur and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Parks contain trails within the park units.

In addition to providing pedestrian circulation within the parks themselves, some of these trails could

assist in providing improved access to public forest lands east of the highway.

In the section of the coast from Malpaso Creek to the Big Sur Valley, the Los Padres National Forest

boundary is several miles east of Highway 1. At present, trail access to the National Forest from the

highway is through private lands. Some trails have informal rights-of-way used by the U.S. Forest

Service and there are a few trails which have historically been used by the public. Access through

private lands is often arranged between the landowners and organized groups, particularly hiking or

nature study clubs.


The idea of a Pacific Coast trail system along the length of the California coast is not new. The State of

California Trails Plan recommended such a trail network, and the Monterey County Trails Plan

proposed this for the Big Sur area. Specific alignments have never been developed. A continuous trail

system in a north-south direction would offer a unique recreational experience for both the coastal

visitor and resident.

The only existing trails paralleling the coast are in Molera State Park, along the beach or adjacent bluffs,

and the Coast Ridge Road. The Coast Ridge Road is a jeep road which begins near Ventana Inn south

of the Big Sur Valley, and extends to the southern boundary of the County with a few interruptions.

Several trails connect Highway 1 to the Coast Ridge Road along its length.

There is an overall need to improve the coastal trail system, including increased trail access to the

National Forest particularly to relieve areas of existing overuse. Where improvements are made, they

should be coupled with a management program to protect affected public and private resources.

The Trails Map illustrates the trails that are recommended to provide major links to public lands. Only

major trails are shown. Other trails exist on private lands but may not provide links to public recreation

areas. In some cases, provision of new trails may pose problems with respect to acquiring rights-ofway

or conflict with private land use. These are not shown on the map.

The corridor concept reflected on the proposed Trail Plan is often used in planning trails in preference to

precise trail alignments. In cases where no trail presently exists, planning for trail corridors preserves

flexibility to determine the most suitable alignments for trail improvements at the time such opportunities

become available. In all cases, including were specific trails already exist, the corridor concept reflects

the need to consider the interrelationship of the trail and its use by the public and adjacent existing or

proposed land uses. By planning for the trail as a corridor the range of possible impacts can be

anticipated and properly considered.

Some public trails exist in Big Sur within the State Parks and National Forest that are not shown here.

These are trails which are not major corridors or do not have trailheads in the coastal zone. They can

be easily found in Park and Forest Service maps, and trails guide for the area.

Trails through future park lands should be provided only after the land is acquired and opened for public

use. For public trails presently crossing private lands, State Parks and Recreation or the Forest Service

should obtain full legal rights-of-way, including management and maintenance arrangements.

Some trails are open to organized groups on a reservation basis only, such as the loop interpretive trail

now owned by the State as part of Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve. The plan proposes that this

practice continue and be expanded as a means of ensuring protection of sensitive natural resources or

avoiding undesirable conflicts with private uses while still accommodating public access. Private trails

can be opened to the public on a fee basis in conjunction with low intensity recreation facilities allowed

on private lands. Trails easements may be required as part of the subdivision or zoning process where


appropriate. In some instances, private trails may be opened to the public through trail easements.

These should be pursued where the trail would be of public benefit.


6.1.3 Key Policy

The rights of access to the shoreline, public lands, and along the coast, and opportunities for recreational

hiking access, shall be protected, encouraged and enhanced.

Yet because preservation of the natural environment is the highest priority, all future access must be

consistent with this objective. Care must be taken that while providing public access, the beauty of the

coast, its tranquility and the health of its environment are not marred by public overuse or carelessness.

The protection of visual access should be emphasized throughout Big Sur as an appropriate response to

the needs of recreationists. Visual access shall be maintained by directing all future development out of

the viewshed. The protection of private property rights must always be of concern.

6.1.4 General Policies

1. Overall, the best locations for public access to the shoreline, public lands and along the coast

are already in use or have been used in the past. Major access areas, whether in public or

private ownership, shall be permanently protected for long term public use. These should be

improved and managed properly by designated public or private agencies before new locations

are opened.

2. Other areas suitable for public access should also be protected for such use. At such time as

new access is provided, or existing access is formalized or increased, an appropriate public

agency must assume management responsibility for public use, or agreements concerning such

responsibility must be reached with landowners.

3. Access should be discouraged as inappropriate where it would be inconsistent with public

safety, military security or the protection of fragile coastal resources. The County and other

public agencies should cooperate with landowners to develop effective methods to direct access

to appropriate locations.

4. Visual access should be protected for long term public use. The development of scenic

viewpoints in conjunction with accessways or where physical access is not appropriate is


5. Bluff top and lateral access is appropriate in many areas along the coast. These opportunities

shall be protected for long term public use, subject to adequate management programs, the

development of which is an implementation activity.

6. Trails should be located in areas able to sustain public use without damage to natural resources

or other conflicts. Therefore, new and existing trails should be sited or rerouted to avoid safety

hazards, sensitive habitats, and incompatible land uses.


7. The provision of new access or formalization of existing access is to be guided by detailed

management plans, including implementation responsibilities. These should include community

ideas and desires to guarantee quality land preservation, be consistent with Coastal Act policies,

and must attempt to positively resolve access conflicts with residential land uses. It is the

County’s policy to work closely with local citizen advisors and public agencies in planning for

access and management.

8. Access for scientific study of the shoreline or upland areas should also be made available, and

the County encourages private landowners to permit such access if requested. Scientific use of

public or private lands, particularly where specimen collecting is intended, should be in conformance

with policies in Section 3.3 of this plan. Where appropriate, scientific access

easements will be required for new developments in areas needing study as defined by the

Environmentally Sensitive Habitat section of the Plan.

9. In providing for access, the County seeks to ensure that the rights of residents and property

owners, including their peace, privacy, safety, health, and property are not jeopardized by

unmanaged, inappropriate (as defined in policy, or irresponsible public access.

6.1.5 Specific Policies

A. Shoreline Access Priorities

1. The first priority shoreline access locations are those major access areas presently in active use.

These areas should be retained for long term public use. They should be improved and

managed properly consistent with an approved management plan before new locations are

opened to formal public access by their owners. Priority 1 areas are: Doud Acquisition, Little

Sur Beach, Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Beach, Partington Canyon and McWay Canyon in Julia

Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Limekiln Creek, Kirk Creek, Mill Creek, Pacific Valley (B), Sand

Dollar, Jade Cove, Willow Cove, Alder Creek and Villa Creek.

2. The second priority for improvement of public accessways should be placed on areas that have

ample beaches, minimal public safety hazards, and either absence of sensitive habitats or

habitats that can be protected from adverse impacts. Priority 2 areas are: Kasler Point, Rocky

Point (B)*, Palo Colorado (B), Bixby Creek, Point Sur, False Sur – Swiss Canyon, and

Gamboa Beach.

3. The third priority for improvement of public accessways should be placed on areas that have

attractive destinations where safety hazards or resource conflicts can be mitigated, and with

potential for improved parking. Priority 3 access areas are: Otter Cove, south Palo Colorado

area shoreline (B), Rocky Creek, Hurricane Point (B), Castro-Grimes, Anderson Landing area

(including John Little State Reserve), Dolan Creek area, Big Creek beach, Lopez Point (B),

Lucia and Wild Cattle Creek.



* (B): Bluff top access only.

4. Some areas of the Big Sur coast are not appropriate (as defined in policy for

formalized public access. Until further studies justify the need and suitability for access to the

shoreline at Wreck Beach, Coastlands, Grimes-Partington, Dolan Creek canyon, Vista Point,

Vicente Creek, and Salmon Creek, such access should be discouraged.

B. Providing and Managing Shoreline Access

1. The County will work with appropriate agencies toward acquisition or other methods to secure

legal access to those areas identified as priorities 1, 2 or 3 which do not have formal access


2. The County will require provision of shoreline access, where appropriate, as part of

development applications. Permit conditions will include either dedication of accessways

through the donation of land, easements, or the payment of in-lieu fees.

Dedications of access easements or offers thereof to an appropriate public agency or private

foundation will be required in all locations fronting the shoreline as a condition of new

development (except those developments listed in Section 30212(b) of the Coastal Act) unless

vertical or lateral access is found to be inappropriate due to conflicts with fragile coastal

resources, military security, or public safety or adequate access exists nearby or agriculture

would be adversely affected. Trail easements and offers shall be as specified by Policy

or where a specific location is known, no less than 10 feet in width. On dry sand and rocky

beaches, lateral access easements or offers to dedicate such easements shall be required over

the entire beach area to the toe of the coastal bluff, or absent such bluff, to the first line of

terrestrial vegetation. Easements or dedications shall be free of prior liens or encumbrances,

except for tax liens. All such dedications or offers shall be subject to review by County Counsel

prior to recording. Only those forms of shoreline access (vertical, lateral, blufftop, visual) which

are suitable for the site need be required. Suitable forms of access for the most prominent

locations along the Big Sur shoreline are listed in Table 2 of this Plan. Offers must be for a

period of 25 years, but access will be developed and opened to public use only in accordance

with Plan policies.

3. Where access is inappropriate as defined by the Plan policies, the County will use all available

means to discourage use of these areas and direct public access to other areas.

4. Siting and design of development proposals which protect shoreline access will be required in

the permit process. Modification to a project may be required if access cannot be otherwise

protected. Accessways themselves may have to be rerouted or improved when formally

dedicated in order to avoid hazards or to protect resource areas.


5. Where the County is advised that an accessway is being closed by property owners, a

determination will be made whether the accessway is identified in the access plan. If the access

if found appropriate, the County will work with the parties concerned in an effort to maintain

the access in public use.

Under State law, development cannot interfere with the public’s right of access to the sea where

acquired through historical use or legislative authorization, including but not limited to the use of

dry sand and rocky coastal beaches to the first line of terrestrial vegetation. Where such public

rights will be preserved through dedication of an alternative access route, the substituted

location must be at least equivalent in usefulness and area served as the original routing.

6. The County will work with local, state, and federal management agencies landowners to ensure

that accessways obtained through acquisition, dedications, and permit conditions are adequately

managed and maintained. A management program will be required before accessways are

opened to the public. The County will encourage such programs to be sponsored through

private as well as public means.

C. Providing and Managing Trails

1. Trail corridors shown in the Trails Plan Map are recommended as public access routes to public

lands or other destinations. Where trails already exist, alignments should remain the same,

except where rerouting would be feasible to reduce adverse environmental or visual impacts.

The siting of new trails shall require field inspection and environmental review.

2. The Trails Plan Map recommends a continuous trail system along the Big Sur coast. In

developing this trail, lands already in public ownership or proposed for public acquisition should

be used wherever possible in preference to private property. The shoulders public roads should

be used where essential to bridge gaps where a trail elsewhere is not feasible because of

hazardous conditions, terrain, or existing concentrations of development. This occurs along

sections of Highway 1, the Old Coast Road, and Sycamore Canyon Road. In general, sections

of the trail along the Highway should be kept to a minimum to ensure the safety of pedestrians

and motorists.

Southward from Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park, the through coastal trail corridor along the existing

Coast Ridge Road, as shown on Figure 3, shall be considered as an interim location. A more

favorable route, seaward of Coast Ridge Road on U.S. Forest Service and State Park lands,

and entirely within the Coastal Zone boundary should be identified. Such revised location

should parallel the shoreline as nearly as feasible on existing public lands, considering the natural

contour of the land and the objective of connecting existing public trail segments; and shall be

subject to the individual approval of each landowner/management agency on the revised route.


3. The County shall require trail easements to be granted through private land in accordance with

the Trails Map as a condition to issuance of development permits, approval of land divisions, or

other approvals required from the County. The County encourages voluntary dedication of trail

easements on private lands. In general, the County will seek to arrange that such dedications are

made from the property owner to the State Department of Parks and Recreation or to the

Forest Service because these agencies are envisioned to have primary responsibility for

improving and managing the trails. Trail easements secured through Coastal Commission

permits and other locations should be used where appropriate as part of the system.

4. Where specific trail alignments have not been identified but where the property of concern is

within a trail corridor, a general offer of dedication will be required consistent with the standards

for trail corridors in the area. Precise trail alignments will be agreed upon at a future time

through cooperation between the landowner and the public agencies with responsibility for

constructing and maintaining the trail.

5. The County encourages the State Department of Parks and Recreation and the U. S. Forest

Service to acquire full legal rights-of-way across private lands in accordance with the Trail Map

where such rights do not presently exist.

6. The State Department of Parks and Recreation and the U. S. Forest Service are the primary

agencies responsible for trail planning, construction, restoration, maintenance, management and

liability. These agencies have a special responsibility to coordinate and assure continuity to and

through State and Federal lands. The County’s role will generally be confined to assisting in the

provision of access easements, and in the review and guidance of plans related to trails

construction and use management.

7. Except as necessary for shoreline access or for the trail corridor system (see Figures 2 and 3),

trails through future park lands should be constructed after the land is acquired and opened for

public use and not while still in private ownership. For public trails presently crossing private

lands, the County requests the California Department of Parks and Recreation or the U.S.

Forest Service to obtain full legal rights-of-way including management and maintenance


8. Caltrans should directly participate in any detailed trails planning that will require construction of

trailhead parking areas within the State highway rights-of-way.

9. Plans for new trail locations and plans to intensify use of existing trails shall be submitted for

review by the State Department of Fish and Game in order to assess the potential impact of

such use on sensitive habitats. The Department of Fish and Game is requested to participate

with other agencies in determining the most appropriate alignments for new trails and all provide

management guide lines where needed to minimize impacts to habitats.


10. Other agencies should review the plans for new trails or increased use of existing trails to

provide guidance concerning fire hazard, water supply protection and other considerations.

11. The practice of opening private trails to organized groups on a reservation basis is encouraged

in order to reduce conflicts between private and public use. Private trails can be opened to the

public on a fee basis in conjunction with low intensity recreation facilities allowed on private

lands. In some instances, private trails may be opened to the public through easements,

provided maintenance by a public agency were assured. Management and easement

arrangements should be pursued where the trail would be of public benefit.

12. The California Coastal Conservancy is encouraged to participate in trails planning and to

provide financing and general assistance to the agencies involved.

D. Public Safety Criteria

1. Public safety should be ensured wherever shoreline access is provided. In some locations the

presence of unavoidable hazards will preclude access from being provided. In other locations,

hand rails, stairways, bridges, warning signs, and other improvements should be used to reduce

risks. Closure of access areas during periods of extreme fire hazard or high seas may also be


2. In extremely hazardous areas where safe access to the shoreline is not feasible, existing trails

should be closed. In these areas, establishment and maintenance of visual access should be

emphasized as an appropriate response to the needs of the public.

E. Habitat and Resource Protection Criteria

1. In areas where habitat and resource protection is a major concern, studies should be conducted

to determine maximum acceptable levels of public use and methods by which resource values

can best be protected. The conclusions of these studies should be a basis for management

plans for each access location.

2. In locations of sensitive plant or wildlife habitats, access may be entirely inappropriate.

3. Private water supplies shall be protected by locating public access at an appropriate distance

from surface, spring, and well water sources.

F. Visual Resources Criteria

1. Future land use planning shall be compatible with the goal of providing visual access. To this

end, all new structures and ancillary facilities should be located outside of the public viewshed as

defined in Chapter 3.


2. Trails and access improvements including stairs, ramps, railings, restrooms and parking facilities

should be sited and designed in a manner compatible with the goal of strict viewshed protection.

In some circumstances, this may limit the establishment of access improvements.


G. Land Use Compatibility Criteria

1. New development shall not encroach on well-established accessways nor preclude future

provision of access.

2. Shoreline access shall be provided through or adjacent to existing or new residential areas upon

completion of a management plan that adequately resolves problems of noise, visual buffering,

trespass, general maintenance, minimization of fire hazards, protection of private water supplies,

parking and liability.

Development applications which contain required access shall have management plans

developed and approved as part of the permit process. Management plans may allow

measures such as the following to reduce access/residential conflicts:

a. minimum distance of 10 feet between an accessway and an existing or proposed

residential structure;

b. allow the use of fences or berms between accessways and residences or agricultural


c. limiting access to daylight hours; and

d. limiting activity to pedestrian or passive recreational uses.

3. Where accessways are proposed through or adjacent to land in agricultural uses, these uses

should be fully protected from disturbance. A full range of mitigation measures should be used

including buffer strips, berms, fences, controlled burning, and periodic closures.

4. Access to the shoreline shall be provided, improved, and managed at military and government

facilities where there are suitable destination areas except in those cases where maximum

military security is required. When high security requirements cease, access shall then be

provided. Before any area adjacent to the Point Sur Naval facility is opened to unescorted

public access, the Commanding Officer shall be consulted to insure that provisions to protect

military security are satisfactory.

6.1.6 Standards and Guidelines for Improvements to Accessways

The following standards for the location and design of accessways are meant to carry out access

policies through more detailed specifications. These apply to both public and private developments and

are based on the goals of providing access, consistent with protection of Big Sur’s unique visual and

natural resources. Criteria for the location, distribution and size of accessways shall require that they be


consistent with the need to preserve fragile coastal resources, military security and public safety, and be

appropriate for the site and intended use.

1. Management – Public or private agencies responsible for managing coastal accessways should

develop management programs before accessways are opened. Such programs should be

coordinated with the management of recreational destination points. Management of access

trails should address:

a) the need for seasonal restrictions, if any;

b) the improvements needed for trails, including stairs or ramps;

c) the proposed location, capacity, and construction of parking facilities if needed.

Existing and future access dedications shall be mapped and related management

recommendations listed as part of the implementation of the Plan.

2. Visual Appearance – Structural improvements to accessways should be kept to a minimum to

reduce impacts to viewshed and should be allowed only for safety purposes, or where essential

for protection of agriculture, fragile natural habitats, archaeologic sites, military security or

private development.

Stairways, ramps, and signs should be constructed of natural materials, or metal where

vandalism is a threat. Paint should be avoided to reduce maintenance problems.

Wherever possible, trails (except for trailhead signs) should be screened from the road to

minimize visual intrusion. Where natural topography requires that trail heads be located within

view of the road, methods such as berms planted with native vegetation should be used.

Grading or cuts required for safety or resource protection should conform to the natural

topography. Parking and other facilities such as restrooms should be sited or screened to

reduce visual impacts.

3. Trails – The width of trail corridors should be variable based on localized conditions of

topography, vegetation, wildlife habitats, scenic concerns, proximity to water supplies or

developed land uses. Corridors should generally be in the range of 50 to 100 feet in width but

should not be narrower than is reasonable to protect both public and private resource and uses

adjacent to the trail as well as protect local residents’ privacy and the public’s interest in a quiet

and scenic hiking experience.

All plans to improve existing trails or create new ones should ensure that environmentally

sensitive habitats are protected from overuse. Measures to prevent or reduce impacts should

be used, including:


a) non-improvement or elimination of access to remote fragile areas;

b) routing or re-routing of trails to avoid habitats;

c) design features to screen or separate trails and destination points from sensitive


d) revegetation projects, sediment basins, and other site features; and

e) restriction or redistribution of the number of access points into an area.

New trails should not be sited through or directly adjacent to wetlands. If any access is

provided, wood boardwalks or similar structures that minimize impacts to wetland vegetation

should be used.

Trails along stream corridors should be sited and designed to avoid impacts to riparian

vegetation, wildlife, and water quality. Measures include, but are not limited to, controlling

runoff and erosion, contouring and siting trails to conform to the natural topography, and

separating and screening from important riparian habitat areas.

Access trails to intertidal areas should be sited to spread the zone of public use rather than

concentrate it in a small area.

4. Parking and Facilities – Emphasis should be given to improving access on the east side of

Highway 1 suitable for parking near accessways or trailheads and, where feasible, pedestrian

access to the west side of the highway shall be provided. Such areas should be effectively

screened from the road through the location of site features, construction of berms, or planting

of vegetation screens.

The number of parking spaces provided should not exceed the capacity of the shoreline

destination as determined by its size, sensitivity of the resources, and the type and intensity of

use appropriate for the area.

Parking areas and turnouts should be designed and constructed in a manner which would not

contribute to slope failure or excessive erosion, and would prevent runoff and degradation of

water quality. Where feasible, porous surfacing materials which allow drainage should be used.

In areas where the public must cross traffic on a curve to reach a parking area, appropriate

warning signs should be posted. Grade separations should be considered, where needed for

safety and construction is feasible. If road width permits, consideration should be given to

installation of left turn lanes into parking areas.

Table 2: Site Specific Recommendations for Shoreline Access.

Figure 2: Shoreline Access Plan.

Figure 3: Trails Plan.




This plan is designed to implement the California Coastal Act. It is a local plan which shall direct

Monterey County in making land use decisions in the Big Sur area. The advice of local residents shall

be routinely sought in the administration of this plan. The County shall work with other levels of

government to secure their compliance with this plan; conformance by all public agencies, including

Federal agencies, is needed for this Plan to work as intended. Other levels of government shall be

consulted by the County regarding help, guidance, and resources to implement this plan. However, the

County shall have the primary responsibility for implementing the Big Sur Coast Land Use Plan and the

efforts of other State and local agencies shall be consistent with this plan and coordinated with the

efforts of the County. This plan will also provide guidance to the California Coastal Commission in its

review of Federal projects pursuant to the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act.

The County shall develop the structure necessary to establish a permanent and authoritative voice for

the residents of the community of the Big Sur coast, which shall ensure community participation in the

coordination and implementation activities necessary to carry out the mandates of the LCP.

7.1.1 Development Permit Process

Coastal Development Permits will be required from the County for development proposed on private or

public lands (except excluded Federal lands). To be approved, permit applicants will be required to

demonstrate conformance to the plan.

1. The proposal must be in conformance with the kinds of uses and use intensities permitted for the

specific geophysical area concerned. If a proposal does not meet this basic requirement, it will

not be processed further.

2. The second area of review, concerns conformance to the policies of the plan contained in the

Resource Management and Land Use and Development sections, and, if applicable, the Public

Access and Highway One/County Roads sections. In particular, the proposed project must fully

meet the objectives, policies, and standards for each applicable section of the Plan. If the

proposal is not consistent with these policies, it shall not be approved even though it may be

consistent with land use designations for the area. For example, applications for residential

development in an area designated for this use will not be approved if the parcel is entirely

within a 100 year floodplain or if inadequate water supply is shown to exist.

3. All proposals must fully meet any specific zoning provisions adopted to implement the plan.


4. All proposals must fully comply with the California Environmental Quality Act and meet the

environmental standards of this plan.

Applicants are responsible for providing all necessary information to support proposals as described in

the policies concerning development and resources. Where information is questioned or contested by

the County, the burden of proof rests with the applicant. Where additional information is requested by

the County, applicants are required to provide such information before further consideration by the

County will be given to the proposal.

The County will make a good faith effort to work cooperatively with landowners in the evaluation and

processing of development applications as expeditiously as possible. County staff will provide advice

and guidance to the public concerning interpretation of provisions of the plan. County staff will prepare

written reports supporting all permit recommendations. These reports will summarize the development

proposal, pertinent issues and information, and will describe how the proposal meets or does not meet

relevant provisions of the plan. The report will contain recommendations on whether the proposal

should be approved, approved with conditions, or denied. Permit reports shall be made a permanent

part of the record and copies shall be available for public review prior to formal consideration of the


7.1.2 Plan Revisions

The Local Coastal Program will be updated over time as need dictates. Formal amendment procedures

will be used to accomplish changes to the plan or its implementation ordinances. Because the plan is a

Local Coastal Program prepared under the California Coastal Act, any changes made must be

consistent with the Act. The California Coastal Commission must approve future changes or

amendments to the plan. This plan shall be automatically reviewed after three years of utilization to

determine the effectiveness of the implementation procedures.

7.1.3 Appeals

Appeals to the Coastal Commission may be made, consistent with provisions of the Coastal Act, when

individual or group believes the County is not acting in conformance with the plan. The appeals

procedure is described in the California Coastal Act.

7.1.4 Public and Agency Participation and Coordination

The County will cooperate with all other government agencies on matters of mutual interest concerning

the Big Sur coast. The format for coordination is described in the implementation section. The County

will provide technical or policy advice to other agencies as requested and will seek advice on technical

or policy matters from appropriate agencies as the need arises.


The County will provide a mechanism for advice and comment from appointed community

representatives on permit matters and on all long-range decisions affecting planning and management of

the coast. The general public is encouraged to attend and participate in County public meetings and

hearings concerning administration of the plan or processing of development applications.


Implementation of the Plan will require the County, and in some cases, other jurisdictions, to develop

and adopt ordinances, procedures, or agreements in addition to the Land Use Plan in order to carry out

the Land Use Plan map and policies. The major implementation measures that the County should adopt

are described here.

7.2.1 Zoning Ordinance Changes

A. Rezoning

Rezoning of the Big Sur coast will be necessary to reflect the land use plan. In accordance with State

laws, the uses, densities and locations of zoning revisions must be consistent with the Land Use Plan

Map and policies. Zoning should be adequately flexible to permit the range of uses and densities

provided for in the plan.

The Monterey County Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance No. 911) should be amended to delete use of the

combining Coastal Zone (CZ) district, and to add general coastal zone regulations and separate coastal

zone districts as set out above. The general regulations will incorporate and refer to Coastal Act (Public

Resources Code Section 30000 et seq.) policies. They will also incorporate provisions of the

Monterey County Zoning Ordinance for Design Control districts (Section 25) and Scenic Conservation

Districts (Section 23,3c), for appeal (Section 32), and enforcement (Section 35), and provisions of the

Subdivision Ordinance (Ordinance No. 1713) for appeal and for enforcement (Section 10).

Some suggested zoning districts include:

CZ-WSC Coastal Zone Watershed and Scenic Conservation District: Includes residential

development, low intensity recreation, agriculture, and forest and watershed


CZ-OR Coastal Zone-Outdoor Recreation District: Includes moderate use

intensity recreation.


CZ-RCC Coastal Zone-Rural Community Center District: Includes residential

development, visitor-serving and recreation support areas, and quasi-public


B. Development Permits

All development in the coastal zone will be required to obtain a development permit from the County

that will be approved based on demonstrated compliance with the plan and all its provisions. Some

forms of development, similar to that exempted in the Coastal Act, may also be exempted from

obtaining a coastal permit from the County. Final action on coastal permits will be taken by the Board of

Supervisors for standard subdivisions; all other development will be considered by the Planning

Commission subject to Board appeals.

C. Site Plan Review

Projects applying for a coastal permit will undergo a comprehensive site plan review to determine the

consistency of the proposed project with the plan. The applicant will be permitted flexibility to develop

in any manner which is consistent with any of the variety of uses and densities included in the particular

zoning district, and which meets the performance standards set forth in the land use plan.

D. Performance Standards

Environmental performance standards are incorporated in the Big Sur Land Use Plan in the form of

specific policies designed to protect riparian and forest areas, wildlife habitats, and other sensitive

environmental concerns. As the carrying capacity of the coastal areas are determined through

improvements in the data base and available information, the policies will be refined to include quantified

performance standards.

E. Minimum Size of Parcels

The minimum size of parcels permitted in land subdivision will be based upon the necessity to prevent

harm to the existing natural uses of the land.

The Watershed and Scenic Conservation District will permit subdivision at a density rate of 40 acres or

more per parcel as a means of deterring further development from harming the rural character of the

land. Larger minimum parcel sizes will apply on steeper lands. In addition to one residential unit

permitted on such parcels, certain other coastal priority uses will be permitted in accordance with the

land use plan.

Existing legal lots of record which are smaller than the stated optimum size in the new zoning district will

be permitted to develop in a use consistent with those included in the new zoning district as long as the

proposed project meets the performance standards of the Land Use Plan.


Parcels will be permitted to be subdivided on the basis of density standards of the plan. A review of the

land according to local coastal program performance standards may demonstrate that a lesser intensity

of development is appropriate. If such review demonstrates that the particular parcel will support a

higher intensity of use, the applicant may develop at the higher density upon purchase of development

credits from other parcels in the viewshed.

7.2.2 Government Coordination and Local Participation Framework

A framework or structure for improved coordination between the numerous government agencies

involved on the Big Sur coast should be developed to resolve issues of mutual concern. For example,

careful planning and usage of the Big Sur coast due to the limitation of highway capacity is a

responsibility shared by Monterey County and San Luis Obispo County. Assurances are needed that

development contemplated for the San Simeon coastal area does not adversely affect access to the Big

Sur region as a whole. A means of providing continuing and enhanced participation in decisions about

the coast’s future is also needed and should be made available to the residents of the area. The County

should take a lead role in developing these structures.

One alternative is a joint powers agreement entered into by the U. S. Forest Service, the Coastal

Commission, the State Departments of Fish and Game and Parks and Recreation, Caltrans, Monterey

and San Luis Obispo Counties, and other entities as deemed necessary, in order to form a Big Sur

Council with the power to plan and coordinate implementation activities, and to acquire land and funds.

This may be a workable approach to government coordination, although it has two drawbacks: there

are no assurances that the various entities would agree to the purposes to such an agreement; and there

may be lack of funds available to support acquisition and management. In view of acquisition needs

along the coast, this is a serious deficiency.

The Memorandum of Understanding is another possible agreement which can bring the various entities

together to coordinate planning and implementation efforts. If no joint acquisition effort is planned, the

memorandum of understanding may be more desirable than the joint powers agreement because it does

not mandate the financial responsibility legislatively required in the joint powers agreement.

Because the U.S. Forest Service owns 75,000 acres in the Big Sur Coast Planning Unit–roughly one

half the total area–and because the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 excludes all lands

subject to exclusive federal jurisdiction from the California coastal zone, special means should be

developed to assure that the planning and management of these federal lands is coordinated effectively

with the implementation of the Big Sur Coast Local Coastal Program. The memoranda of

understanding and joint powers agreements, referred to above, are not likely to be a sufficient means to

accomplish this coordination because the U. S. Forest Service’s discretion is tightly circumscribed by

federal statute. The County, therefore, requests its representatives in the United States Congress to

explore the need for federal legislative authorizations and mandates to the U. S. Forest Service to assure

that its management and administration of Los Padres National Forest lands is effectively coordinated


with the implementation of the Local Coastal Program on private lands and lands owned by the State

and County.

7.2.3 Big Sur Coast Data Base

Following adoption of the plan the County will use all available information about the natural and cultural

resources of the Big Sur coast developed in the planning process in its review of development

applications and in other actions relating to the management of the coast. This body of information will

be supplemented or updated from time to time as new information is available to the County.

The background reports and written responses to them are the foundation of the data base. This can be

supplemented by information provided by property owners during the course of development

applications or by other agencies in their individual activities. The information will be maintained in the

County Planning Department and as far as possible in the County Branch library in Big Sur. Maintained

as a collection of information in a central location, the data will be readily available to the public, other

agencies, and County officials. During review of any projects or activities on the Big Sur coast, the

County Staff is required to review available and pertinent information and include it in recommendations

about projects or activities in the area.

All existing information will be integrated with the Planning Department’s present data base and included

in the department’s information. At least once a year the County staff shall prepare a summary and

bibliography of new information received during the preceding year.

7.2.4 Merger

Merger of contiguous substandard size lots held by the same owner is an appropriate mechanism in

areas designated as restoration areas in which development of individual legal lots of record would harm

the existing natural uses. The County should create a combining zone which, when applied to the

selected areas, will cause such undersized lots, when contiguous and held by the same owner, to merge

to the minimum size permitted by the existent zoning.

7.2.5 Transfer of Development Credits (TDC)

TDC’s comprise a system that will assist the owners of lots restricted in their residential development

potential by viewshed policies contained within the plan. They provide an economic/planning incentive

under which density credits can be reallocated within certain boundaries. Additionally, the use of this

technique is intended to encourage the transfer of residential development potential from large ranch

parcels in order to maintain the viability and stability of agricultural operations.


7.2.5.A Key Policies

1. To provide owners of “critical viewshed lots” fair and real opportunities to build in Big Sur.

2. To provide incentives for preservation of large ranches in agricultural operations, and

permanently protect their viewshed.

3. To provide economic compensation in the form of density credits for lots rendered unbuildable

due exclusively to LUP Viewshed policies.

7.2.5.B General Policies

1. Any non-critical viewshed parcel in Big Sur is a potential “receiver” site provided development

proposed for it meets the LUP’s development and siting standards and the TDC program rules

for obtaining additional density.

2. “Critical viewshed lot” owners would have the right to transfer residential development potential

from such restricted parcels and to build two units elsewhere in Big Sur or transfer two

development for each lot retired subject to the criteria of LUP policy

3. Large ranches would have the option to cluster their credits to non-critical viewshed sites east of

Highway One, to apply for development within the rules specified in the LUP, transfer density

credits to their property, or any combination of these alternatives.

7.2.6 Conservation Easements

Conservation and Scenic Easements and Williamson Act Contracts provide tax benefits when such

enforceable restrictions on the use of land limit the amount of development on a parcel.

While Conservation and Scenic Easements are in use now in the County to mitigate adverse

environmental impacts, the County should adopt a clear policy directing the requirement of these

easements for the varied resource protection uses encouraged in the plan. County land use regulations

such as zoning and subdivision ordinances should contain these requirements as well as others

authorized by State legislation, such as restrictions on future use, and length of the term (at least 10

years) with automatic renewal. Each deed dedicating open space should include the particular findings

upon which the open space easement is based.

The County should also consider having the Coastal Conservancy, because of its legislated resource

protection role on the coast, named as grantee of the open space easement. Alternatives could include

continuing the County as grantee but contracting out enforcement to a nonprofit agency such as the

Coastal Conservancy, or giving the grantor a choice of grantees from a list of appropriate nonprofit



State legislation permits Williamson Act Contracts to be executed for reasons very similar to the ones

for which Conservation and Scenic Easements are permitted. While it is generally thought that property

tax advantages of Williamson Act contracts have been lost in the passage of Proposition 13, the

contracts remain a viable enforceable restriction along with open space easements. Consideration

should be given to decreasing both the present minimum acreage requirement from 40 acres to 20 acres

and the length of such contracts from the present 20-year term to 10 years.

Conservation and Scenic Easements are the appropriate vehicle which could be made available for

coastal resource protection. They are different from Williamson Act Contracts in that they must be in

perpetuity. Conservation easements should be included as a requirement in coastal permit applications

in areas containing wildlife habitats, wetlands, and other resource areas and particularly in scenic areas.

7.2.7 Restoration/Acquisition

Restoration projects refer to those activities that the County, in cooperation with coastal residents and

other agencies, can undertake in an effort to mitigate undesirable impacts of existing development or

commitment to development on the quality of the coastal environment and its resources. Examples of

areas that require restoration in order to meet the environmental standards of this plan have been

described in various sections of the plan. For instance, some areas of the coast committed to

development – by virtue of the existence of many small undeveloped parcels created for residential

purposes – appear to lack adequate water to serve continued development without entailing extremely

adverse impacts on the natural environment. There are also isolated examples where natural

ecosystems have been impacted, frequently from recreational overuse. Portions of the lower Big Sur

River riparian area have been seriously degraded and need restoration work. In other areas, past

development has resulted in structures or buildings that are highly visible and obtrusive to the quality of

the natural environment. In some cases, road construction has left highly visible scars. Installation of

utility poles has also resulted in the erosion of the visual quality of Big Sur. Perhaps most serious, are

the undesirable impacts on the beauty of the coast resulting from continued residential buildout in certain

areas having numerous small, vacant parcels. Finally, even natural events, such as landslides, mudslides,

or lightning caused fires, result in changes or damage to the landscape and its resources. Such events

may necessitate remedial action if environmental quality or scenic beauty is to be restored.

A variety of restoration techniques are available, and the County should support and encourage these.

A. Private Voluntary Action

Individual landowners are encouraged to voluntarily undertake those activities on their property which

can help mitigate the types of environmental or visual problems discussed in this plan. In many cases,

simple landscape screening or repainting of a structure would do much to restore scenic beauty in highly

visible areas. Screening of private roads as needed would also be beneficial. Private work, in some


cases, is needed in riparian areas to alleviate impacts to streams. In other areas, improved control of

erosion or soil loss from sites during rain storms would help protect water quality in coastal streams.

B. Action by Other Government Agencies

All other government agencies are requested to undertake needed coastal restoration work in their

areas of jurisdiction in order to realize the objectives of this plan. State Parks and Recreation, Caltrans,

and the U. S. Navy, in particular, are requested to work toward the restoration of environmental and

scenic qualities of lands they manage.

C. Site Planning

The County can achieve necessary restoration on private and State lands by requiring such work as a

condition of permit approval. This technique should be used within reason whenever possible.

D. Transfer of Development Credits (TDC

TDC’s should be encouraged to avoid new development on critical viewshed lots and on large ranches.

E. Acquisition

Acquisition by a public agency of privately-held land may be beneficial as a restoration project where it

reduces the commitment to development created by the presence of many small undeveloped parcels.

In certain instances, acquisition may be the only reasonably effective tool for avoiding problems relating

to viewshed development. This plan proposes that acquisition be used as a means of avoiding

development on highly scenic viewshed parcels for which no other planning remedy can be found.

Acquisition can be carried out by Monterey County, by various State agencies, such as Parks and

Recreation or the California Coastal Conservancy. The County should take a favorable posture toward

acquisition of undeveloped viewshed parcels that are totally within the viewshed. The County should

invite purchase of these parcels by State agencies and, in particular, should support the assistance of the

Federal Government through the U. S. Forest Service in acquiring such parcels within their boundaries

either in fee or simply through the purchase of development rights or easements.

Because the County lacks sufficient funds to compensate landowners for not developing undeveloped

parcels in the critical viewshed and because the County lacks funds to acquire scenic easements over

large parcels, it hereby requests its representatives in the California State Legislature and the United

States Congress to seek state and federal funds to assist the County and be administered by the County

in the implementation of the Local Coastal Program and, where necessary, to compensate landowners

for protecting the agricultural and scenic resources of the Big Sur Coast.


The County shall seek necessary acquisition funds through the Land and Water Conservation fund or its

successor agency, by making every effort to ensure that the implementation of the Big Sur L.U.P. is

placed high on the list of priorities of the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).

F. Coastal Conservancy Projects

The Coastal Conservancy has been established with a broad range of powers and capabilities, all aimed at the conservation of important coastal resources. The Conservancy can perform planning studies, purchase land for various purposes, consolidate small parcels into larger more desirable parcels, and can resell them on the private market to “rollover” and regain its capital outlay. The result of this process is to overcome the environmental concerns resulting from poor lot configuration or excessive numbers of parcels in important restoration areas. The Conservancy should work cooperatively with the County on restoration programs by nomination of potential Conservancy projects and participating in the development of the project.

G. Nonprofit Private and Public Conservancy Foundations

Private organizations should assist in the conservation of important natural and cultural values. These organizations can purchase land in fee or simply acquire easements to avoid development in sensitive areas. Monterey County should support and encourage the activities of these organizations in Big Sur.

7.2.8 Enforcement Program

Monterey County’s Local Coastal Program will be only as effective as its enforcement. Several recommendations for a more effective enforcement program will follow.

All County departments engaged in activities in the coastal area should be informed about the Local Coastal Program and should refer any possible violations to the Planning Department for investigation.

Planning staff should be increased in order to provide more onsite review of proposed development and more explanation to applicants about permit restrictions. Extra planning staff is also needed to perform regular inspection of continuing coastal permit conditions.

Because of the County Counsel’s role as advisor in planning matters, violations of the subdivision or planning ordinances will be referred to the County Counsel’s Office rather than to that of the District

Attorney when such follow-up is deemed necessary by the Planning Department. In addition, land use violations in the coastal areas should be punished by imposition of civil penalties provided for in the Coastal Act, rather than by current misdemeanor prosecution.

The County also has a duty to pursue legal remedies against persons who illegally use open space or similar easements granted to the County. The County must not only enjoin such misuse, but must also seek recovery of damages for such misuse.


Jurisdiction problems which may arise when the County attempts to enforce the Local Coastal Program on State lands can be precluded by requiring State consent to County inspection as a condition of approval for coastal permits granted to State agencies. Federal agencies will be requested to submit an enforcement program as part of a Memorandum of Understanding among agencies involved in the Big

Sur Local Coastal Area.



DEVELOPMENT: Except where specifically specified otherwise in this Plan, shall be as defined by

Section 30106 of the California Coastal Act.

EXISTING DEVELOPMENT: Means all projects legally developed as of December 31, 1976, or later if approved under a coastal development permit where such permit is required under the law.

EXISTING PARCEL: Means a separate legal parcel recorded as of December 31, 1976, or later if approved under a coastal development permit. Does not include parcels recorded without benefit of coastal development permit where such permit was required by law prior to 1977. Parcels crossed by public road or highway rights-of-way will not be considered to have been “subdivided” by such a road or highway. Except where a legal determination by the County (or by the Commission on appeal of a permit application) concludes otherwise for a particular ownership, contiguous U.S. Lots which have been patented or aggregated under a single ownership will be considered as a single parcel for

Subdivision Map Act purposes.

FRAGILE COASTAL RESOURCES: Means in the Big Sur Coast area, exposed cliff faces, all environmentally sensitive habitats, and significant archaeological and paleontological resources which would likely be exposed to vandalism.

NATURE ENVIRONMENT: As used in the Public Access Key Policy (Section 6.1.3) is

synonymous with “fragile coastal resources.”



If any provision of the Plan is held by a court of

competent jurisdiction to be invalid, void, or

unenforceable, the remaining provisions shall

remain in full force and effect.