THIS IS NOT A HARDSHIP STORY..this is a TRUE BIG SUR STR STORY.
My name is Don Herington , I am 65. I was born at Fort Ord. I am a 4th generation Coast. I started working when i was 17 from Big Sur to Monterey, all over the Penisula as a Gardener, Landscaper, Carpenter, Painter, Artist. and for 45 years it was pretty much a hand to mouth existence.
But this is not a Hardship story for I was lucky.I bought some land in Palo Colorado in the 60's back then it was called the "Guetto of the Coast." I have built and designed about 15 very low foot-print homes for low income people in this area. Some owners still live in them and some are long term rentals and I know of 3 that are short term residential vacation rentals(STR). I made many friends this way.
On my own land I did long term rental for 12 years. After the last renter nearly burned the house down I let it sit vacant for 7 years. And then 4 years ago I was ushered into the 21st century when a 90 year old friend and client gave me a "top of the line apple lap top computer". Friends and neighbors encouraged me to start up Vacation Rentals since I had 2 vacant cabins. I received a lot of help and blessings.
Visitors love my place because it is so Non-Commercial. You have to hike up a steep hill to get to it. For the first time in my life I am able to donate money to the Fire Brigade and other causes as well as hire local people to help me. I now have money to pay for fire and liability insurance and to keep making improvements on my land and houses and pay my son to help me. Ha!
Eco Tourism has become a big hit around the world because it has helped a lot of indigenous cultures hold onto their homeland by generating income. Check out the win-win situation in the Pyrenees.
Big Sur is ripe for Eco Tourism. It is a natural evolution and has no negative environmental impact. There is no Development. The Homes are already here.
The people living in them are long time residents, and as we all know the Tourists are not going to go away. With all the big fancy vacant homes and gated communities I feel like we are all that is left of the indigenous people.
John Herrington was the first whitey to attempt a homestead in Big Sur. He was married to a Costanoan. They applied for a homestead. It was some where above Partington Ridge Their first home they built was destroyed by wildfire. 10 years later their 2nd home was destroyed by wildfire.
His wife was killed by a spooked horse when they were trying to escape the fire. John gave up and moved to Hollister, re -married and started a Hotel there. Perhaps if they were here today they would laugh at the notion that Big Sur's character could be destroyed or they might say that it was ruined when the Highway 1 went in. Their 140 acres went back to the State and later became part of the Ventana Wliderness.
Perhaps the only downside of STR is, you may have to see a stranger on your road. I have many great stories about meeting strangers in Big Sur. Meeting strangers in Big Sur can be a really really good thing. I would like to tell you my story. I was down on the road when a young man in a VW van stops and says: "Wow! this place is really cool. You wouldn't happen to know of any places to rent." [Sound Familiar?}. I liked his vibe and I said: , "I don't know of any off-hand but I am having a party this weekend and you are welcome to come by and ask my neighbors." He did come to the party and found a place to rent way upon Long Ridge. Three years later he and his wife bought 180 acres on Dragon Back ridge and he comes to me and tells me to pick out any spot on his land that i would like to have. He gave me a piece of his land!
Ironically I picked out a knoll with beautiful oaks and Madrones that I had walked many years ago and fantasized living there. I built a round house with windows all around because of the phenomenal views. I now have long term renter living there. We are all strangers in Paradise whether for 2 days, 40 years, or a hundred years.
Banning STR's will only make the problem worse. People will do it underground and the County does not have the resources for that scale of enforcement. Also banning creates a sort of war mentality. of "US Against Them!" If you are worried about STR's spreading like wildfire then, the best solution is for everyone concerned to join minds and come up with new ordinances and restrictions to be written within the permitting process as did San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and Pacific Grove, where by the way, it did not spread as people feared.
This will aid the County enforcers and narrow things down to which rentals are problems and which are healthy for our community. Please be frank and clear about what you would like to see written into an ordinance , For instance, I would like to see only so many rentals per neighborhood Please express whatever it is that concerns YOU! . Please take time to give it a lot of thought because STR's can be a great aid in
holding the fabric of our community together.
Monterey County Supervisors are giving us a chance to empower the people who actually live and work here and love being here and sharing it with the rest of the world. To me! THIS IS ENLIGHTENED GOVERNMENT AND I WANT TO THANK OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS FOR THEIR ASSISTANCE IN THIS MATTER. Trust is essential though. Laws that are written must be very carefully crafted not just only for Big Sur but for all of Monterey County, for she is beautiful from one end to the other.