Big Sur vs. Big Brother (copy)

CBP provided this image of tower similar to the surveillance tower that was proposed. 

Following pressure from residents of Big Sur, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is abandoning plans to situate a surveillance system with a tower at the Lucia Ranch property on the South Coast, according to an email received Sept. 14 by the office of Monterey County Supervisor Mary Adams. 

The email was sent by Larry Simon, a California Coastal Commission staffer who serves as a liaison between state and federal authorities on coastal planning issues. 

“This morning U.S. Customs and Border Protection withdrew its negative determination for deployment of a portable temporary tower surveillance system at Lucia Ranch, Big Sur, Monterey County,” Simon wrote. “CBP has decided not to pursue implementation of this project at Lucia Ranch. As a result, this negative determination and the associated public hearing has been withdrawn from the Coastal Commission's October 2020 meeting agenda.”

The proposed deployment of the surveillance tower was part of an effort to improve the detection of illegal activity offshore. 

Concerns about privacy and impacts to the viewshed in Big Sur drove Big Sur residents, including former Congressman Sam Farr, to organize in opposition when the plan for the tower was disclosed in May.

Asaf Shalev is a staff writer at the Monterey County Weekly. He covers the environment, agriculture and K-12 education, as well as Seaside, Marina, Sand City, Big Sur and Carmel Valley.

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