Jeff Norman's Open Letter to CPOA

An Open Letter to the Coast Property Owners Association; November 2003

Well, after letting my membership lapse for about 22 years, I rejoined the CPOA, along with many of my neighbors, at the meeting held at the Grange last month. The event was well-attended, well-run and very informative, and the debate between Lee Otter (of the Coastal Commission) and the representative of the Pacific Legal Foundation was fascinating.

As we all know, the Big Sur Coast is a complex place, with a tremendous diversity of properties, property owners, and residents. If we, as an organization, are to be truly representative of these, then CPOA must be able to respond to the variety of issues that affect both the membership as well as the resident non-members (i.e., the bulk of the community). Some of these issues are "big", such as the perpetuation of our community, the problem of affordable housing, and the numerous impacts associated with Highway 1. But when CPOA, for example, stridently demands policy changes in the Coast Highway Management Plan, in ways that have alienated the sponsoring agency (Caltrans), and thus limited the ability of CPOA to function in the public forum, then CPOA is not representing me. I don't believe that abrasiveness will gain our organization the standing we seek.

There are also "small" topics that affect individual property owners, and as a new/old member of CPOA, I'd like my organization to be flexible enough to consider these as well. We should not be elitist in our choice of issues to address; the concerns of renters, minorities, seasonal workers, even homeless people have an impact on the entire community. As the demographic gulf widens in Big Sur, with an escalating polarization of income generation amongst our neighbors, a valid CPOA must be able to respond to the problems of the poor as well as the rich.

There must also be a place in the CPOA hierarchy for dissenting opinion, and for verifying that the positions and priorities set by the officers and board represent the membership. In listening to all the voices on the Coast - both the pros and the cons - a better feeling for the answers to our shared, difficult questions can be obtained. I still believe that in diversity lies strength; we have plenty of the former in Big Sur - let's tap into it now, so we may obtain the latter. I'm looking forward to my organization accepting these challenges.

Jeff Norman


CPOA's Open Letter to Jeff Norman

An Open Letter to Jeff Norman; September 2004

Thank you Jeff for taking the time to publish your thoughtful letter regarding the October 2003 CPOA meeting. Following is a response to the many points you raised in your letter.

You mentioned that for CPOA to be truly representative of the community we should also provide a voice for the resident "non-members." Residents can be members of CPOA for the modest fee of $5.00 per year. We encourage both residents and friends of Big Sur to join. We have both a "friend" (lives out of the area) and a "renter" attending our planning meetings on a regular basis.

CPOA's board's position regarding the Coast Highway Management Plan was embraced by more than 70 of our members. They took the time to support our work by sending letters to CalTrans. At the time of this mailing we had approximately 90 members. So approximately 77% of our membership stated their support in writing. Yours is the only letter we received that did not support this position. CPOA encourages diversity of opinion and we encourage all opinions. In this case the preponderance of commentary from our membership spoke in favor of the work we were doing with the CHMP.

You questioned our outreach. CPOA mails out over 2000 flyers to enable us to reach every possible person in Big Sur and encourage them to attend our general meetings. Our e-mail list contains over 300 addresses and we send out an electronic version to those who have provided an e-mail address. Our events are open to all comers and we have, in fact, had a great diversity of attendees thanks to our outreach and word of mouth.

CPOA's board agrees that our organization needs to champion issues impacting both the rich and the poor. We should additionally add that many of the policy issues being tracked and championed or questioned impact employees, visitors, business owners and even the future viability of our community and the services it provides. The impact poorly worded or vetted policy has on our fragile community can be profound.

We hope that you will continue to provide us with your feedback and attend our monthly planning meetings and annual general meeting. The discussions are lively and the opinions are definitely diverse. A "one pony show" would not be of any value to our valuable constituency.

CPOA Board Members: Mike Caplin, Andy Nusbaum, Charly and Lisa Kleissner, Bill Nye, Mary Ann Jardine, Richard Costigan, Alan Perlmutter, Stephen Ryter, Rob Carver, Sam Goldeen





Coast Property Owners Association, P.O. Box 59, Big Sur, CA 93920
© 2004 by Coast Property Owners Association