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.