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  • Alan Haffa

Dr. Haffa Speaks with Big Sur Residents

Alan Haffa takes photo of Big Sur coast at sunset.
Big Sur Sunset and Alan Haffa

Last night I had an opportunity to speak with residents of Big Sur and the Big Sur Grange. Driving down Highway 1 to the Grange, the beauty and unique character of the Big Sur coastline and community is apparent.

It is critical that we protect the natural beauty and the historic character of Big Sur as it is threatened by overtourism. The traffic on Highway 1 has more than tripled over the last few decades from 1.7 Million daily trips to 6 Million daily trips; we must take action to reduce the volume of traffic and one way to do that is to build more housing for those who work in Big Sur so that they don't have to commute as far. By putting the right types of housing in the right places, we can house the essential workers of Big Sur and preserve the quality of life of the community there. Another important issue related to housing is the prevalence of Vacation Rentals in Big Sur. There are about 1,200 housing units in the community but only half of them are occupied; the rest are either second homes or vacation rentals. We need a strong vacation rental ordinance that protects the neighborhood and preserves precious housing units for locals.

Wildfire prevention is another critical issue. We have to make it easier for private property owners to maintain their property and reduce fuel loads. We also need to work with the National and State Parks to ensure that they are maintaining fire breaks. Finally, we need to underground the utilities lines along evacuation routes so that in the event of a natural disaster people have a free path to escape without powerlines blocking Highway 1.

Finally, we need to address nuisance issues like illegal parking and camping along Highway 1, trash, and the need for more public bathrooms. In the city of Monterey, we have protected our environment, history, and quality of life for residents, and we must do the same for all of Monterey County, especially the Big Sur coast.

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