XV. TRANSPORTATION/TRAFFIC — Would the project:
a) Cause an increase in traffic which is substantial in relation to the existing traffic load and capacity of the street system (i.e., result in a substantial increase in either the number of vehicle trips, the volume to capacity ratio on roads, or congestion at intersections)?
b) Exceed, either individually or cumulatively, a level of service standard established by the county congestion management agency for designated roads or highways?
c) Result in a change in air traffic patterns, including either an increase in traffic levels or a change in location that results in substantial safety risks?
d) Substantially increase hazards due to a design feature (e.g., sharp curves or dangerous intersections) or incompatible uses (e.g., farm equipment)?
e) Result in inadequate emergency access? f) Result in inadequate parking capacity?
Parking on HIghway by visitors to Point Lobos creates a dangerous situation for them and motorists. In many spots people have to walk on Highway 1 because there is limited room for the car to park, leaving no room to walk off the Highway.
Possible Mitigation: Park-It Program (TBA)
Park It! is making significant progress towards a long term solution. On the question of funding – the initial funding for Park It! comes from 5 groups – The Point Lobos Foundation, The Big Sur Land Trust, the Big Sur Marathon Foundation, California State Parks and the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District. On our behalf, MST has applied to the Air Resources District for a nearly $400,000 grant to set up a shuttle system next summer as a demonstration project that will lead to a long term solution. We are optimistic the grant will be approved. Regarding parking offsite, Marathon Flats the area currently used for Christmas trees and pumpkins, is owned by State Parks. That site can handle around 100 cars. We are looking to secure one or two other sites for another 150+ cars. We are also working hard to convince Cal Trans, the County and the Coastal Commission that the no parking area on the East side of Highway 1 near Point Lobos should remain permanent instead of just until the climbing lane project is finished. It really helps ! We greatly appreciate the support of the Carmel Highlands community. The Park It Team
During construction of the climbing lane from Rio Road to Carmel Valley Road there were frequent traffic backups of as much as 6 iles long. Residents of Carmel Highlands counted the cars and several counts came up with 100 cars per mile.
What part does STR play in the problem?
How much of the traffic are daytrippers passing through the area?
How much of the traffic are visitors staying in illegal STR’s in the Big Sur, Highlands, Carmel, Carmel Valley, and Monterey?
How much of the traffic are visitors staying in licensed hotels, B&B’s and campgrounds in the Big Sur, Highlands, Carmel, Carmel Valley, and Monterey?
How much of the traffic are employees commuting to work?
How much of the traffic are commercial deliveries?
How much of the traffic are construction and tradespeople commuting to a project site?
Visitors Already Saturate Existing Infrastructure:
Traffic, Gridlock, Coastal Access, Public Safety and Air Pollution
- The 6 vehicles per Short-Term Rental will add between 6,000 and 15,600 vehicles to an area already experiencing gridlock.
- This violates both the Carmel Highlands and Big Sur Local Coastal Plans.
- The gridlock is being experienced on an increasing number of days and times each year.
- Average speeds during gridlock have been 4 miles per hour in 55 mph zones. Between Yankee Point and Rio Road there are over 700 cars and trucks in this stop and go traffic. The traffic gridlock already being experienced represents a current threat to public safety because emergency vehicles are hindered, and persons needing to get to medical aid in their personal cars are virtually stopped.
- The traffic gridlock is now the largest air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions source in the Monterey area since the permitting of the Moss Landing Power plant – the largest fossil power plant in the Unites States. This is because gridlock slows traffic to 4 miles an hour in a 45 to 55 mph zone, resulting in 700 cars emitting carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, benzene and other pollutants because most catalytic converters require higher speeds (and temperatures to operate properly). [i]
- The area is already saturated beyond capacity with visitors here to visit our State Parks and other coastal resources. There are no more parking spaces, bathrooms, or other amenities to accommodate an influx of new visitors in Short Term Rentals.
- I have personally observed persons parked on Highway 1 going to the bathroom, and residents have found human feces and other human waste in sensitive areas that flow directly in to the ocean.
- Short Term Rentals presence will increase the existing gridlock, and exacerbate the damage to the coastline. In particular Point Lobos, Pfeiffer Beach/Sycamore Canyon and other public parks are often dangerously overcrowded, particularly during periods when Short Term Rental and Hotel occupancy rates are highest.
- Short Term Rentals will not increase visitor access, it will replace one group of visitors with another, while degrading the experience for everyone, all in violation of the Local Coastal Plans of both Carmel Highlands and Big Sur.
- Short Term Rentals will not make use of unused public property, rather it will be competing for space already being overused by visitors.
- Short Term Rentals will degrade visitor access to the Coast, while making the whole experience much less enjoyable as visitors compete for parking spaces, hiking trails, and view points are overcrowded.
- Increased traffic from Short-Term Rentals is in direct contradiction with the Federal Department of Transportation National Scenic Byways Program.
- The Big Sur Coast Highway was declared the first State Scenic Highway in 1965. In 1996 it was designated the first All American Road under the Federal Highway Administration National Scenic Byways Program. Its role in providing affordable, readily available coastal access to millions of annual visitors is recognized in the Big Sur and Carmel Highlands Land Use Plans. The mandate to protect the quality of the recreational driving experience is likewise addressed in the Big Sur and Carmel Highlands Land Use Plans. Management of the use and capacity of Highway I is essential to achieving the goals of the Big Sur and Carmel Highlands Land Use Plans to provide public access to the Big Sur Coast along this scenic route and the protection of the environment and quality of the visitor experience.[ii]
- Carmel Highlands is on the coast of the Monterey Marine Sanctuary, and includes highly precious coastal resources that includes Pont Lobos, and Big Sur. Most of Carmel Highlands uses septic tanks with leach fields, and does not have sewer service. Also most of Carmel Highlands relies on truck delivered propane. Most of the eastern half of Carmel Valley is on septic and truck delivered propane so the issues of intensification of truck traffic and nitrate loading from overworked leach fields extend beyond the Highlands.
[i] Catalytic converters do not work properly at such low speeds because of exhaust temperature related issues.
Point Lobos Parking Shuttle -Pilot Program
Elimination of Highway 1 Parking Coming Soon?!
A shuttle service is being championed by Monterey Salinas Transit,
…”Ernest Chung and others have worked tirelessly on this project, and it looks like they have a pilot program! Congratulations!
As most of you know, Monterey-Salinas Transit has submitted a grant application to the Monterey Bay Air Resources District for the Park It! Point Lobos Area Shuttle. The shuttle service is a key element of the summer 2019 Demonstration Project. Other elements of the project include offsite parking north of the Carmel River, a reservation system, and elimination of Highway parking in the vicinity of Point Lobos. We are thankful that MST is leading the effort to provide shuttle service during the demonstration.
Park It! is most appreciative of your overwhelming support of the shuttle grant application. We understand that many of your respective organizations have already expressed your support to the Air Resources District, including:
Big Sur Land Trust
Big Sur Marathon Foundation
Carmel Chamber of Commerce
Carmel Highlands Association
Carmel Meadows Homeowners Association
Carmel River Watershed Conservancy
Carmel Valley Association
Central Coast Lighthouse Keepers
Coast Property Owners Association
LandWatch Monterey County
Lobos Ridge Road Association
Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau
Point Lobos Foundation
Ventana Wildlife Association
We are also deeply grateful to Assemblymember Anna Caballero, Assemblymember Mark Stone, Senator Bill Monning, and Supervisor Mary Adams for their strong support. You maybe interested in reading their support letters which are attached. Please thank them, not only for their tremendous support of Park It!, but also their dedication to making our communities better for all of us.
To better understand the visitation pattern and numbers to Point Lobos State Reserve, our partner Point Lobos Foundation is commissioning a traffic and visitation study at the park. The study is scheduled to begin in August. Data from the study will be used for the planning of offsite parking capacity, requirements for the reservation system, and impact of eliminating parking along the Highway.
While we are planning for the demonstration project and what might make sense for subsequent phases, the east side of Highway I around Point Lobos is actually closed to parking during the construction of the Highway 1 Climbing Lane Project. We have all noticed a distinct improvement in traffic safety, a reduction in parking-related traffic congestion, and better emergency vehicle access to communities south of the park. It adds to our confidence that the Demonstration Project will work well. In fact, some of you have suggested maintaining the current “No Parking” zone while we work on a more comprehensive, longer term solution. We want to hear from you about your experience, and what you think would make good sense in the near and longer terms.
We still have much work ahead in order to pull off the demonstration project next summer. We are only able to continue our progress through the dedicated efforts of a small group of volunteers. But we can use more help. If you have expertise in public engagement, project planning and management, and coastal access and land use permitting, would you conside