As the summer travel season reaches its zenith, apparently some Big Sur residents have hit their limit too.
A group calling itself “Take Back Big Sur” erected a large, Instagram-ruining sign on the famed Bixby Bridge over the weekend. The yellow sign with black font reads: “OVERTOURISM IS KILLING BIG SUR.”
Caltrans confirmed they received reports of a banner on Bixby Bridge, but by the time a maintenance crew arrived, it had already been removed by the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department.
“It is Caltrans policy that an approved encroachment permit is required to perform any activity in the state right of way,” said Caltrans District 5 public information officer Jim Shivers. “This would include parking for special events, parades, bike rides, signage or, in this case, a banner.”
It’s merely the latest volley in an ongoing battle against over-tourism in the scenic area. Over the last decade, tourism has ballooned along the perennially popular stretch of Highway 1 and, with it, terrible tourist behavior. Recently, it also probably hasn’t helped that HBO’s hit “Big Little Lies” features frequent sweeping shots of car drives over the bridge.
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Butch Kromland with the Community Association of Big Sur told KSBW that the influx of misbehaving tourists started becoming noticeable around 2005. As social media grew in popularity, so too did the misadventures.
“The barrier between appropriate and inappropriate behavior, that barrier has melted away in a lot of ways and I think that is a result of normalizing things in way via social media,” said Kromland.
Among the common complaints of locals are trampled flora and fauna, illegal camping and tourists wandering onto Highway 1 to take dramatic selfies.
In May, an anonymous local started the “Big Sur Hates You” Instagram account; it went viral. The account reposted Big Sur photos that showed posters breaking rules of decorum and occasionally the law. The photos were accompanied by captions like ‘Please don’t trample the wildflowers just for a photo opportunity’ and ‘You forgot the hashtag illegal camping.’
It has since been deleted.
Katie Dowd is the SFGATE Senior Manager. Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @katiedowd