October, 2004 update to this page
The Coast Highway Management Plan steering committee voted to adopt the final draft of the CHMP in March of 2004. Some of the changes requested by CPOA and the Big Sur community were included in the final draft, but many were not.
If you have a fast connection you can download the final draft here.
CalTrans did not reproduce for the steering committee public comments submitted on the CHMP by dozens of people from Big Sur, saying they were repetitive of CPOA's position and therefore did not justify separate acknowledgement. Over 70 Big Sur citizens took the time to submit detailed comments, and CPOA thanks you for your support.
One significant change requested by the local community which was not included in the final CHMP is that the future byways committee be comprised of a majority of residents of the areas through which the Big Sur All American Road passes. This is critical because the committee will be responsible for implementing the CHMP.
Many byways committees around the country are comprised almost entirely of local residents. CPOA believes the same should be true for the byways committee overseeing implementation of the CHMP.
CalTrans has said they will let the Big Sur Multi-Agency Advisory Council decide the composition of the byways committee. CPOA has requested that when the issue is addressed, a special meeting be held during non-working hours so residents can attend.
CPOA will inform the community by e-mail when this important issue is to be addressed. If you are not currently on our e-mail list, you can be added by e-mailing email@example.com.
The following was originally posted in February, 2004
In 1996 a handful of people worked to have Highway 1 through Big
Sur designated an "All American Road". Check
out the Federal
Register (pdf file) for the National Scenic Byways Program
which defines this designation. The Big Sur All American Road now runs from
the Carmel River on the north, to a few miles south of the San Luis Obispo
County line on the south. Or
On February 11th, 2004, after repeated requests from the Coast Property Owners
Association that CalTrans provide a map of the Big Sur All American Road boundaries,
CalTrans posted a map on its Coast Highway Management Plan (CHMP) web site. The
map appears to show the northern boundary of the Big Sur All American Road "corridor" extending
as far north as the uppermost ridge line on the north side of Carmel Valley.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Here is more background before
we move on.
All American Roads are part of the National Scenic Byways program administered
by the Federal Highway Administration.
There are good reasons to believe that this section of Highway 1 should
not have been designated an All American Road. For example, designation of
All American Roads are typically sought to obtain federal funding to allow
the carrying capacity of a road to be increased (e.g., by adding lanes) and
then to market the road to attract more visitors to increase tourist based
However, California Public Resources Code section 30254 precludes adding lanes
to increase the capacity of Highway 1 through Big Sur. Moreover, peak
use of Highway 1 in the Big Sur area is already at or near capacity. Marketing
to increase visitation would only jeopardize the quality of the experience
for the millions of visitors who currently find their way to the area each
Nevertheless, some 75 miles of Highway 1 are now designated the Big Sur All
Nomination of an All American Road requires that the proponents list "intrinsic
qualities" of the road and designation requires that a "Corridor Management
prepared with a vision of how the intrinsic qualities will be maintained or
About 1999, the California Department of Transportation began developing the "Coast
Highway Management Plan" (CHMP). The CHMP serves two roles. First,
it sets out a plan for how CalTrans will maintain the Highway 1 right-of-way
through the Big Sur area (the right-of-way is CalTrans's area of responsibility)
including such things as dealing with storm damage.
The CHMP's second role is to serve as a Corridor Management Plan for the Big
Sur All American Road. In that role, it expresses a vision for the Big
Sur All American Road "corridor".
CalTrans began the CHMP drafting process by forming a steering committee of
stakeholders, comprised of representatives from various organizations. CPOA
is one of the participants on the CHMP steering committee.
Over time, the steering committee developed guiding principles for the CHMP
and CalTrans drafted specific language.
The CHMP is organized into 4 documents. The primary document is the Corridor
Management Plan. There are several sub-documents, called guidelines,
that focus in detail on various subjects; namely, the Guideline for Corridor
Aesthetics, the Guideline for Vegetation Management, and the Guideline for
In October, 2003, CalTrans printed a draft of the CHMP and made it available
for public comment (the October '03 draft). CPOA
and numerous citizens in the Big Sur area submitted comments asking for changes. Most
of those changes were effectively ignored by CalTrans and the rest of the CHMP
Failure to address CPOA and citizen comments on the October '03 draft was the
subject of a Big Sur Multi-Agency Advisory Council discussion, and as a result,
CalTrans agreed to make changes to the CHMP. The steering committee asked
CPOA to provide detailed proposed language changes. CPOA complied with 24
pages of proposed changes to the October '03 draft.
In January of 2004, CalTrans released a "preliminary final draft" of the CHMP
(the January '04 draft). That document
also fails to incorporate most of CPOA's proposed changes. The January '04
draft will be in its 45 day public comment period until 5:00 pm, March 5th,
2004. You can request print
and CDROM copies of the CHMP documents by phoning Aileen Loe, CalTrans project
manager at (805) 549-3103, or email her at Hwy1_BigSur@dot.ca.gov. You
can also download the documents from www.dot.ca.gov/dist05/projects/bigsur/news.htm or
review them in libraries (see www.dot.ca.gov/dist05/projects/bigsur/news.htm for
a list of libraries).
On February 11th, 2004, with less than half of the public comment period remaining,
CalTrans posted a
map of the Big Sur All American Road corridor, showing part of Carmel Valley,
all of the Carmel Highlands, and essentially all of Big Sur as being within
the Big Sur All American Road corridor boundaries.
General Concerns CPOA has with the CHMP
CPOA's present concerns related to the CHMP can be grouped into four general
CPOA believes that the corridor boundaries as shown on the corridor
map exceed the area intended to be included within an All American Road corridor. Federal
regulations define the word "corridor" when used in the context of the Scenic
Byways Program: "Corridor means the road or highway right-of-way and the
adjacent area that is visible from and extending along the highway." Federal
Register, May 18, 1995, Vol. 60, No. 96 page 26759. The map provided
by CalTrans includes areas that are not adjacent to the highway, areas that
are not visible from the highway, and areas that are neither adjacent to nor
visible from the highway.
CPOA also believes that due to the failure to include a proper map with
the CHMP when circulated for public comment, the January to March 5th public
comment period on the CHMP is defective. Federal regulations require that Corridor Management
Plans include a map showing corridor boundaries: "The corridor management
plan must include at least the following: (1) A map identifying the corridor
boundaries and the location of intrinsic qualities and different land uses within
the corridor." Federal Register, May 18, 1995, Vol. 60, No. 96 page 26761.
CPOA is concerned about the effect the CHMP will have on communities
near the corridor, particularly the Big Sur community. The CHMP expresses a bias
against private residences visible from the highway. CPOA wants to ensure
that the CHMP does not encourage the continued buy out of private land in the
Big Sur area. Over one third of the private land remaining in Big Sur has
been acquired by public and quasi-public entities since 1986. The Big Sur
community has existed since before California became a state, but is being disappeared
parcel by parcel and ranch by ranch as public agencies and quasi-public organizations
buy up an average of about 1,000 acres of private land per year. CPOA
is working to end this process.
CPOA is also concerned about the effect the CHMP will have on the quality
of the visitor experience for the millions of people who visit Big Sur each
year. Big Sur is one of the few places of its kind left
where visitors are not overly managed, but are free to discover and explore
on their own. CPOA believes
the informality of the Big Sur experience should be retained. Similarly,
CPOA believes it is critical to avoid overcrowding on Highway 1 and that the
best way to do that is to not over-promote the area or substantially reduce
the carrying capacity of the highway.
Specific Issues and What You Can Do
CPOA is currently reviewing the January '04 draft of the CHMP. Given
that CalTrans failed to adequately address most of CPOA's proposed changes
to the October '03 draft, CPOA's
detailed comments on the October '03 draft may be used as a guide to
concerns with the January '04 draft until review of the January '04 draft
is completed. Please check out CPOA's detailed comments on the January '04
If you have not done so already, we urge you to provide CPOA with your
email address so we can email you CPOA's recommended changes
to the CHMP when they are completed. You in turn can then email your
feelings to CalTrans. Time will be short, and email is our most efficient
way to communicate.
Until such time as CPOA's review of the January '04 draft is competed, we urge
you to contact CalTrans and tell them that:
A proper map must be prepared that shows boundaries
of the Big Sur All American Road corridor and land uses within the
corridor, and that the corridor must include only those areas that
are visible from and adjacent to the highway (CPOA proposes a 400
foot wide corridor for aesthetic purposes), and
A new 45 day public comment period must be
provided commencing after the new map is included within the CHMP
that is circulated for public comment.
You can contact Caltrans by writing them a letter,
or by email.
Send emails to: Hwy1_BigSur@dot.ca.gov
Mail letters to:
||California Department of Transportation
||50 Higuera Street
||San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-5415
You can phone Aileen Loe, CHMP project manager
at (805) 549-3103.