Partington Ridge residents prepare
for long haul
Published: January 4, 2013
WITH THE only road to their
homes blocked by a rock slide, about 50 people on Partington
Ridge are finding creative ways to get to work and bring
supplies home. And they’re getting a helping hand from their
neighbors and government officials.
A section of Partington Ridge Road collapsed Dec 23, 2012, and
blocked Highway 1 for four days. While the main highway is now
open, it could take months to fix the private road they rely on,
Partington Ridge homeowner Jay Abbott is one of several people
coordinating the effort to repair the road and make sure those
living on Partington Ridge can make it to work as well as get
food and supplies. He provided The Pine Cone with an informal
census of his neighborhood.
“We have about 75 people who have homes on the ridge, and about
60 of them make it their full-time home,” Abbott explained.
“Fifty of them are there now and intend to stay.”
Of that group, about half are over the age of 60, he said.
To get food and supplies up and down the ridge, several
residents are traveling along a network of unofficial hiking
trails and private dirt roads.
“Two property owners have been kind enough to allow for a very
limited use of ATVs across their land,” Abbott said.
Also offering ridge residents help was Monterey County
Supervisor Dave Potter, who visited the site of the slide on New
“Dave brought with him his aide, Kathleen Lee, and four or five county officials to assess the situation and see what we need,” Abbott reported. “They were very helpful.”
Abbott said Potter’s office is looking into funding options for
the repair of Partington Ridge Road.
While Potter and staff visited the slide and surveyed the
damage to the road, Lee told The Pine Cone the county has no
intention of trying to fix it because it is owned by the people
who live along it.
Instead, she said county officials visited the site to help
residents assess their options. “For us, the overarching concern
is, ‘What are the residents’ needs?’ That’s where the county can
be most helpful,” Lee explained.
According to Lee, the county’s staff determined the hillside
above the private road “is relatively stable” and repairing it
might not require a county permit. But the work will take time
and be expensive nevertheless. Lee estimated the project could
cost between $500,000 and $1 million.
“It’s going to be extremely expensive,” Abbott agreed. “And
we’re not a bunch of rich people living here.”
More rain could seriously hamper any effort to remedy the
situation. “The great unknown is what the weather and the water
will do,” Lee added.
Residents have consulted with an engineer about fixing their
road, “but we haven’t selected a contractor yet,” Abbott said.
He said they’ve also received advice from other local road
And it’s way too early to estimate when the private road will
be able to accommodate vehicles — or even pedestrians. “The
situation is so fluid,” he explained.
Meanwhile, until the private road is fixed, those living on Partington Ridge will have to get used to living on what must seem like an island. “It’s going to be a hardship,” Abbott said.
Four residents who live on the ridge work at Deetjen’s Big Sur
Inn, which is located about three miles to the north. Deetjen’s
has gone to considerable effort to help the employees make it to
their jobs. “They’ve been very helpful coordinating their work
schedules and getting them to and from” the alternate access
route, Abbott explained.
Abbott also reported that Big Sur volunteer fire chief Martha
Karstens met with county officials this week “to come up with a
plan for how to handle emergencies.”
“We have six volunteer firefighters living on the ridge, and
two are emergency medical technicians,” Abbott noted. “Martha is
going to be coordinating with them. We feel safe.”
The situation on Partington Ridge has been complicated by the
absence of phone service on the ridge for “seven or eight”
homes. Abbott said AT&T has a crew working on the problem.
For now, Abbott is hoping the weather will stay clear long
enough so the private road can be fixed. “We need everybody to
pray for no rain,” he added.
Partington Ridge Road, which starts at Highway 1 and climbs
from about 200 feet above the surf to more than 2,100 feet,
became impassable Dec. 23, 2012, after falling rocks took out a
section of it. The same slide dumped boulders “the size of VWs”
on the scenic route, which was closed for four days.
According to Caltrans, the section of Highway 1 near Partington
Ridge Road “remains a very active repair and cleanup zone.”
Officials say motorists should be prepared for “rough pavement,”
“loose gravel” and short delays.