Tuesday, May 28, 2013



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.

Don Herington

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Big Sur Resident favors Short Term Residential Rental Legitimatization

To Monterey County Officials,
 I have lived in Big Sur for over 40 years.  I participated in the formation of the Big Sur Land Use Plan during the 1980's, and I would like to comment on the advent of short term rentals (STR).  

Principal to the Coastal Act and subsequently, our LUP, is the experience of the visitor to this Coast.  I have always felt that the visitor experience could be enhanced from the choices of staying in a resort or camping.  
Short term residential rentals has filled that need, and is doing so at minimal impact to our resources.  These experiences offer the visitor unique perspectives as to manifold beauty of the coast, as well as enlightening them to the elbow grease required to maintain a residence on this wild and lonely coast.

I do not engage in short term rentals at this point, but I am very much in favor of this process continuing, and welcome my participating neighbors to continue this activity.  

I hope that you feel as I do, and I trust that you will find a way to facilitate the legitimacy of STR's.  

Thanks, and best wishes,
 Lloyd Jones

Wednesday, May 8, 2013



Many people are under the false impression that VRBO's do not pay their Transient Occupancy Tax.  The fact is, a vast majority of VRBO's in Montery County DO pay their TOT.  Most others will gladly pay when permitted and provided a simple way to register & pay online. TOT paid to Monterey County by VRBO accommodations was well over 1 million dollars last year.   The County will receive much more when it provides a reasonable process to comply, like other California cities have done. Example cities would include Rancho Mirage,  Coachella,  Dana Point, and Santa Cruz.

2. PARTIERS NEED NOT APPLY: Our customers are mostly couples, families, or families traveling with friends. We do not cater to the partying crowd.  For the most part the VRBO/STR owner community is a responsible group that understands from the onset they are entering private homes for their vacations. VRBO operators screen for potential problems and have clauses in their contracts that not only dictate responsible behavior, but allow for guests to be evicted if the noise level, or other issues, cause a complaint.

3. Long Term Housing availability is not lessened by VRBO’s.
Finding “responsible” long term renters has always been fraught with potential pit falls for the private home owner. Therefore, housing in small communities has always been difficult to find. By making a decision to bring guests onto their properties and into their homes for short terms, private home owners are insuring they have control over how their property is maintained and how their guests behave locally. Workforce Housing is not the responsibility of the private home owner. When Pacific Grove recognized the economic value to the community that VRBO's provide in the way of jobs, improved curb appeal, and serving visitors, the numbers of STR's did not dramatically increase for two reasons.  1.  Running a vacation rental is a lot of hard work.  2. A STR owner takes significant financial risk, due to the uncertainty of occupancy. It’s just not a business that fits everyone.

4. SHORT TERM VS LONG TERM RENTAL?  Whether you own and operate a short or long term rental you are still a Landlord. As such, there should be no discrimination between those that rent their home out to two or more people for less than 29 days and those that rent their home for 30 days and more. They are both business’ that provide services, income, and jobs for the community.
VRBO's by definition, are located in and managed by the private sector. They are managed locally by private owners who are trying to make a living or defraying their home-ownership costs by offering a quality alternative for the vacationing public.

There is an illusion that VRBO’s are in it for the incredible money that is to be made. This simply isn’t so. The vast majority of VRBO’s started because the economy went into the worst recession since the Great Depression. Property values fell, IRA’s were destroyed and jobs were lost. There simply wasn’t another way to make a living. The VRBO business model is a demanding one that makes a mockery of an eight hour day, and involves personal sacrifice on the part of home owners. Only the very best survive by being gracious and responsible hosts. At an average of 60% occupancy, VRBO’s barely break even. Many VRBO owners are one and two bedroom homes owned by retired senior citizens trying to make it on Social Security. 

Some think that investors are going to buy up all of our housing and turn it into Vacation Rentals. Don’t ring the alarms just yet. Any Realtor that tells you that you should buy a property because it will pay for itself with vacation rentals is not painting a truthful picture.  If your goal is to defray some of your costs of home ownership then it might be a good plan for some people, but the hard work and lack of a guaranteed income make it an unsure enterprise and a poor investment idea for most.

7.  INCREASED ROAD TRAFFIC? WATER USE?  One concern shared by some in rural areas or gated communities is that VRBO’s are going to increase traffic and water use over that of Long Term Rentals.  When you stop and think that a Long Term Rental usually involves a couple with two cars and 100% occupancy, the truth emerges. Occupancy for VRBO’s run at close to 60%-70% and guests arrive in one car. There are, simply put, a lot of days when a VRBO sits empty. Another myth surrounding VRBO’s is they increase shared liability on private roads. Whether you offer a short or long term rental the liability is the same. No insurance company will differentiate between someone renting two days and someone renting 30 days.

8. VRBO guests are: Lastly, some would perpetuate the myth that the VRBO clientele is a careless, reckless, inexperienced crowd, ill-suited for inclusion in our communities. The fact is the VRBO clientele is you and I. There are firemen, policemen, and professionals from every walk of life. Writers, dancers, and veterans of war all deciding to experience the more intimate, serene and up close accommodations that VRBO’s offer. They are all from neighborhoods not so unlike your own, all with a sense of wonder about something new, and all cut from the same fabric as you.

Co-written by Christian Van Allen for BSBED  (Big Sur Board of Economic Development)  All rights reserved 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Short Term Rentals and Long Term Rentals in Big Sur

Short Term Rentals and Long Term Rentals in Big Sur.
Posted by Scott Parker
Although I know there have been short term rentals that have displaced 'long term rentals', I wonder what the actual number is. I doubt there are many.

Many short term rentals don't even have cooking facilities or enough square footage to make a comfortable dwelling for any length of time. Someone, I believe, is actually trying to put a number on that issue.

The other thing that makes me uncomfortable, is that I, as a landlord/short term rental person, should feel an obligation to rent to workers to improve business owners' efficiency or bottom line. I know it's selfish but my bottom line is more important to me than Nepenthe's, Post Ranch or Ventana's.

Frankly, for my self and my property, I find that the visitor's tend to be more respectful and less impact on my place than renter's (I have rented to numerous people long term in the past). And when there are no visitors we relish having the place to ourselves without having to serve anyone. And finally, I don't like the 'work force housing' moniker. It sounds a little too Hitleresque for me.

Why not just make an effort to provide just plain old housing for anyone seeking it. Housing is for people not just workers. I know the businesses need more housing for their workers but maybe just plain people who are artists, writers, people who work in town, or, how about someone who loves Big Sur and just wants to live here? I don't feel businesses or their proxies should be dictating the overall tenor of the community. The businesses are an important aspect of the community but Big Sur, to me at least, is not the sum of all the businesses as some might want to believe. I am not slamming the business community as I have had my own businesses. Just my 2 cents.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sorry to see him leave us.

So tragic to lose biologist, Mike Tyner due to a falling tree limb. He was such a gift to the Condors in the Ventana Wilderness and those he inspired.  We'll all miss you.

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 2011 Big Sur Road Closures

Check in for Big Sur Road Closures. According to Cal Trans they are trying to stop pedestrian traffic on the road so it's still Naciemento-F Road or 46.

Stay tuned for more info.

They are hoping to have the road open via ONE LANE by April 16th.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

1st Annual Easter Pet Parade Sat 4/3 in Carmel

Join us at the 1st Annual EastMinster PetShow.com Pet Parade Sat 4/3 at the Sunset Center in Carmel, CA 9th and San Carlos. 12 noon to 4pm. Costume Contest, Doggie Easter Egg Hunt, Costume Contest, Awards Ceremony, Silent Auction, Pet Products and Booths, Mr and Mrs Easter Bunny, To Benefit: SPCA, AFRP, POMDR and ACGSRescue of Hollister.

Blain Deaton and the Stingrays will provide live music (dog related theme songs),
Face Painting and so much more family fun. K9Sign Language Demo's too by Sean Senechal.

Adoptable Pets will also be part of the parade which will begin at Sunset Center and walk down the sidewalks of San Carlos to Ocean and turn around and travel back to Sunset Center. Please do not bring retractable leashes for your pets.

Sponsored by the EastMinster Animal Welfare Alliance and SocietyDog.com

see www.EastMinsterPets.com
Listen to the radio show at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/EastMinsterPetShow

Applications on line for Vendors/Booths. WE are looking for some food vendors. 831-238-6111

Friday, September 19, 2008


This website exists was to protect the interests of Big Sur Residents and Home Owners when it became apparent that only "certain homes and certain areas" were being protected from the fires and because those who stayed behind were treated to a police state by the County Sheriff. So the following article SAYS IT ALL!
Firemen wanted to help their hands were tied.

It was quite evident that something smelled from the top guns in charge of resources for the fires. No one has answered the question as to WHY...was the fire allowed to come over into the Valley behind Big Sur Station like it did when there were old dozer lines? According to old times...when in the past there were fires....dozers worked 24/7 and not only daylight hours.

The more "controversial postings" alleging mismanagement and lack of resources were "safe" to post here.
This article pretty much says it all! By the way...there are still more issues to address post-fire . So Start talking and posting!
When flames are on the way, buy a $120,000 bulldozer


Published: July 25, 2008

H E'S BEEN in Big Sur longer than anybody, so it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that Don McQueen wasn't about to let the Basin Complex Fire — or a sheriff's evacuation order — move him off his 70-acre property.

Besides being perhaps Big Sur's tallest resident at 6 feet 8 inches, the 79-year-old McQueen is also arguably its most experienced firefighter, having battled blazes since 1948. So when fire officials decided it was time for McQueen and his neighbors to leave Big Sur, he gave them an earful. Now, three weeks after he and his neighbors put up a desperate — and largely successful — fight to save their homes, McQueen still has a lot to say about the fire and the agencies in charge of managing it.

For starters, McQueen insisted the fire burned far more acreage than he believed was necessary.

"This fire was not a wildfire," insisted McQueen, who moved to Big Sur with his parents in 1939. "It started out as a wildfire and ended up being an uncontrolled burn monitored by the U.S. government."

While firefighting officials and ecologists generally agree wildfires play a necessary role in the life cycle of California's native vegetation, McQueen believes firefighting agencies should be fighting fires on their own terms, not Mother Nature's.

"I think they need to adopt the idea that it is a very bad idea to let a fire burn itself out in the summer," suggested McQueen, who along with his wife, Mieke, lives just east of Highway 1 near the Big Sur River Inn. "If you want to reduce fuel, do it in the winter."

Sons, Caterpillar come to rescue

McQueen has always been a man of action. When he was just 11, he built a cottage at Deetjen's Big Sur Inn. So when the recent wildfire started moving in his direction, he didn't waste any time. Realizing he and his neighbors needed to widen and improve existing fire breaks and had little time to clear acres of vegetation, he ordered a D-4 Caterpillar bulldozer, which he considered a bargain at $120,000.

"I have $2.5 million of equipment in my shop," explained McQueen, who once owned Torre Engineering, which for decades was involved in nearly every aspect of home, business and road construction in Big Sur. "Compared to losing my equipment and my home, $120,000 is nothing."

Quinn Company — a Caterpillar dealer located in Southern California — not only entrusted McQueen and his wife with the bulldozer (the company required no money down), but hand-delivered it to him in just 18 hours.
Meanwhile, McQueen called England to tell his two sons — Jonathon and Wade — about his dilemma. Both quickly boarded flights for California.

"I had to sneak them in," said McQueen of his sons, who weren't allowed into the evacuation area. "Jonathon is a very good equipment operator. Ten minutes after he got here, he was driving the bulldozer three times faster than me."

Residents, firefighters help each other

After the evacuation order was issued, a fire official came up to McQueen's house, presumably in an effort to convince him to leave.

"He said to me, 'I don't know what all you people's problem is,'" McQueen recounted. "'We're carefully allowing these homes to burn. You can build a new house at no cost with your insurance money.'"

"I couldn't believe a human being could say that," McQueen said.

Sometime during the fire, McQueen crossed Highway 1 to visit his business, Big Sur Campground and Cabins, which is located just across the pavement from the dirt road that leads to his home. His campground was filled with firefighters, and he was simply trying provide hot water so they could take showers. Unfortunately, a sheriff's deputy caught him straying from his property and scolded him. The deputy eventually let McQueen go, but the irony of the situation — that McQueen was being hassled for providing free services to firefighters — couldn't escape him.

"What I'd really like to emphasize is that a real tragedy happened when fire command and the sheriff decided that anyone staying here was under house arrest," McQueen said. "House arrest is what it is when you can't set foot on the highway. You're arrested on your own property."

As McQueen, his family and his neighbors fought the fire, hundreds of professional firefighters — strictly forbidden to assist locals — were stationed along Highway 1. While McQueen blasted fire officials for their leadership, he had nothing but kind words for the stranded firefighters.

"One guy told me he was ashamed," McQueen recalled. "He said, 'I was taught to put out fires, not let them burn.'"

Remarkably, when McQueen needed help maintaining his fire break, he received covert assistance from one of the grounded firefighters.

"One of the guys said, 'I can't sit here and watch what you're doing,'" McQueen remembered. "He went up there, parked his engine in a safe place, laid out over 4,000 feet of fire hose and started maintaining our fire breaks."

'This place could have been saved'

While McQueen's home survived, a neighbor's home burned to the ground. Not just any house, the building was constructed by Hans Ewoldsen in the early 1940s. Ewoldsen married Esther Pfeiffer, the granddaughter of one of Big Sur's first homesteaders. Hans and Esther are now deceased, and their descendants live outside the area.

"I get tears in my eyes coming up here," said McQueen as he surveyed the charred remnants of a home he'd visited since childhood. "Hans and Esther took such great care of this place. They raised their children here and most of their food here."

Curiously, much of the terrain immediately surrounding the house was unaffected by the fire.
According to McQueen, the house survived previous fires because "Hans and Esther stayed here."

"I was with them fighting the fire in 1960 that burned this canyon," he recalled. "You can see by all the stuff that's green that this house could have been saved. It's so sad. So many things were lost.

and there is more...Watch SuzNews here on You tube for a brilliant take on Big Surians and why we stay behind to protect home and hearth: Thankyou SUZ!! Past in the following URL. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smxolkjC5nA

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jack English Returns to Big Sur-article & video


UPDATES on the Fire Front, Soft Rd Closures, Food Specials

Sunday 7/26 While sitting at the Pebble Beach -Beach Club...it was evident that backfires and other fires were still happening in the Carmel Valley. Large smoke plumes noted. Fire has become and everyday occurence.

Sat 7/25 State Parks to Reopen Camping in Big Sur July 25
Location: Big Sur

Type of Notice: Official Notices

State Parks to Reopen Camping in Big Sur

BIG SUR - Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park will re-open for camping on July 25, 2008. The State Parks in Big Sur were closed recently as fire from the Basin Complex Fire moved through the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Andrew Molera State Park during different phases of the Basin Complex Fire. Refunds for campers who had reserved campsites in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground had been authorized up until July 24, 2008. While there are still significant areas of these parks closed because of fire damage, the majority of the visitor serving facilities were untouched by the fires. Valley View Trail in Pfeiffer Big Sur on the east side of Highway One and the trails on the west side of Highway 1 will be open to the public as well as The Big Sur Lodge, the campground and the swimming holes within the campground.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park will re-open the small parking area and the Waterfall Trail from the parking area to the overlook. All other park facilities east of Highway 1 will remain closed. “Ninety percent of our visitation to this park is due to this trail and the beauty it provides with the view of the waterfall and the Pacific Ocean,” said Mat Fuzie, District Superintendent of California State Parks Monterey District. Park facilities west of Highway 1 in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park will be open.
Andrew Molera State Park has served as the fire camp and Incident Command for the Basin Complex Fire and is still serving in that capacity but to a much smaller extent. “We are opening Andrew Molera as the fire response teams leave and allow us to open the park back to the public. The Day Use Parking Area is open as well, as are some of the trails to the beach on the west side of the Big Sur River” stated Fuzie.
“These parks are important to the community and the people of California,” Fuzie said. “We feel the essence of these parks is intact and opening them to the public at this time with the measures we have taken is the best course of action given our mission to provide quality outdoor recreation opportunities for the People of California”.
The State Parks department has issued a temporary closure order for those areas of the parks that are unsafe or off limits due to the impacts of the fire. Failure to obey the closure order is a misdemeanor violation punishable by fine or jail time. “It is very important for people to pay attention to the closure order for their safety and the safety of others, “ Fuzie said. “The firefighters and our employees did a wonderful job protecting the resources, but make no mistake, fire did come through here and there is good reason for these closures.” The trails that are to remain closed were damaged beyond immediate repair with tree hazards and ground stability issues associated with the damage. We expect to open the closed areas as repairs can be made. “
Maps of the closure areas and the posted order will be given to every camper as they enter Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and will be posted throughout all of the parks in Big Sur.
For information contact State Parks Big Sur Sector office (831) 667-2315

Contact Info
Big Sur Chamber of Commerce
Phone: 831.667.2100
Email: info@bigsurcalifornia.org

Posted 7/24/2008 03:57 PM

A week ago we noted: Tassajara is evacuated...only 5 people remain there. They are keeping the sprinklers on until the fire gets closer. Keep our neighbors in your thoughts and support them with your ACTIONS!

In BIG SUR: Remember that we are all still on a "soft" closure in Big Sur. Since tourists cannot yet come back to Big Sur, many employees are still without work.

Redwood Grill at Fernwood: Specials till the road opens (maybe Monday???)

To help locals celebrate local residents return to Big Sur, the Redwood Grill is serving Black Angus Burgers (or Buffalo, vegetarian or Turkey) for $7 - with fries. Also, Taquitos or Chicken Fingers for $3.95. Draft beer at the bar is $3.

Esalen Update: Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Word from the fire command this morning is that they are “done setting fires on Highway 1” as of today—meaning that even though fuel still remains in the canyons and along the road in our area (and spot fires still persist up the upper canyons and down toward Dolan Ridge), they are essentially pulling out from the southwest perimeter of the Basin Fire, leaving only a bare number here, in favor of a big push on the northern, more active end to try to keep the fire out of Carmel Valley.

For us at Esalen this means the active danger level has ratcheted down considerably—and yet it’s not all over yet. Our tanks survived another night, with 20 professional crew members working there till around midnight, clearing even further below the tanks and waterline in the area of yesterday’s burn, improving the firebreak under the bridge, and putting out spots in the lower canyon. This is another switch in their strategy, as they have now given up hope of achieving a complete burn in Hot Springs Canyon and right along Highway 1 under these recurrent marine layer conditions. Instead, they are apparently prepared to call a partial victory and move to more urgent concerns to the north (and elsewhere in the state).
(excerpt taken from Gorden Wheelers Blog..visit it at www.esalen.org
BIG SUR NOW notes: Fire could happen again, so stay prepared.

We are back on-line to keep you updated: Meanwhile the Coast Weekly has an article about the Curtis family that is worth reading. Note link will be provided under the Curtis family Debate link.

We appreciate all of your posts here and private emails and will continue to give you much needed updates and information.

Check back to this post today often as we will keep changing it. Meanwhile post your updates via comments on this post or under the other topics.

And Please support the Sat Night Fundraiser:
For Anyone : Big Sur Gallery Fire Benefit Location: Big Sur Gallery (Carmel)
Big Sur Gallery:Fire Benefit Saturday, July 12, 2008 3:00 to 8:00, Auction at 5:00
Proceeds to To benefit the Big Sur Fire Relief Fund

Auction of work donated by our local artists.
Food, wine, music, and art
All donations and proceeds from the auction
will be given to the Big Sur Fire Relief Fund, as will 10% of Gallery sales.

visit www.bigsurgallery.net

Contact Info: maxine keene Phone: 624 1172 Email: bigsurgallery@sbcglobal.net