1. April 3, 2019: ASCA Committee updates efforts to obtain High-Speed Internet service for Arroyo Seco Citizens.
In an effort to improve the living conditions and services available to the Arroyo Seco community, ASCA decided, about 6 months ago, to investigate rumors, circulating for years, that Comcast, AT&T or Verizon had plans to install high speed internet in Arroyo Seco. The most important factor in obtaining truly high-speed internet would be that it would provide significant additional communication capabilities in the event of medical, weather or fire emergencies, especially if they were available at the Fire Station/Community Center. Consequently, ASCA Directors Erich Rauber, Peter Garin and Philip Coelho formed a committee to reach out to Comcast, AT&T and Verizon and determine whether there was any substance to these rumors. After considerable effort to penetrate the cloak of secrecy practiced by these organizations, the committee concluded that these large companies do not, and may never, have any plans to install high speed internet in Arroyo Seco as they view the population as too small to justify their costs and unlikely to grow substantially because of zoning restrictions.
As a consequence, the committee explored whether a locally based wireless internet service provider (WISP) could be formed that could setup and manage a reliable and affordable premium high-speed internet service for the Arroyo Seco population. If that was possible, the ASCA BOD could then decide whether they should have any direct involvement in such an enterprise. After some investigation of the set-up costs of such a venture, the risks of loss of money if it could not reach cash flow positive and the belief that potential local customers are likely less than 100, it appeared that this was too risky a venture to invest ASCA funds.
Nevertheless, we are all aware that internet service currently available in Arroyo Seco is slower and less reliable than most areas in California or other rural areas on the central coast or central valley.
During high traffic times, when we all need it the most, the very low upload and download speeds, the incurable latency that is intrinsic to satellites 22,000 miles distant from homes, and the limited data available for each account result in performance deficiencies that are both aggravating and expensive.
So, the ASCA committee moved on to investigate whether these important services could be obtained through private funding or government grants. It soon became clear that neither private funding nor government grants could be attracted until important infrastructure capabilities and competent management could be secured, and in order to secure them, a legal entity had to be formed to negotiate for them. For example, critical to creating a successful WISP is securing a “Site Use Agreement” to a mountain peak deep in Arroyo Seco Canyon that will allow line of sight (LOS) microwave communication between microwave towers located on that mountain peak and also adjacent to fiberoptic cables that travel down the Highway 101 corridor. Further, the microwave tower on the mountain peak had to be positioned within the canyon such that, with only one or two bounces off several smaller towers, the microwave content can reach essentially all those residents whose homes are adjacent to the Arroyo Seco Road and the Greenfield portion of the Carmel Valley Road in order to maximize the potential customer base.
Next, the ASCA committee members searched for, and located, an individual with the experience and executive skills to set up and manage a local WISP to provide the desired service. Gregg Garcia, currently serving as Director of Engineering (DOE) for Sonoma Media Group, LLC. Is an RF and Audio engineer, focused on RF and Computer technologies for the Radio Broadcast Industry for over 40 years, gained an interest in the project and the region and agreed to serve as President and CEO of the start-up company. Further, he would become the largest investor. Gregg was the Founder of Ruralnet Wireless in 2005, a fixed wireless broadband internet provider in Southern Arizona and parts of Northern California around Sacramento and the Sierra foothills. In response to Gregg’s commitment to the venture, Erich Rauber, Peter Garin and Philip Coelho agreed to form Arroyo Seco Wireless, LLC (ASW) and provide the required additional seed capital in return for smaller shares of the company. Peter Garin, who has had previous experience installing and servicing wireless networks and lives close by in King City, agreed to serve as General Manager of the field service operation and Erich Rauber, who maintains a residence in Arroyo Seco will serve as Secretary and Treasurer. Philip Coelho, who also maintains a residence in Arroyo Seco, will have no management position. Once ASW formed, the location of an appropriate mountain peak was identified and a “Site Use Agreement” was secured from Arroyo Seco land owner Cedo Gospodnetich.
Over the next 60 days the ASW management hopes to complete the build-out of the wireless system infrastructure, obtain a County Permit, and begin to identify those potential customers that desire the upgraded performance that their internet system will provide. Towards that end, they prepared the flyer below that explains what the service they will be offering:
2. Saving the Abbott Lakes
Participating ASCA members: Peter Garin, Erich Rauber, Paul Rauber, Philip Coelho
The Monterey County portion of Los Padres National Forest has experienced two catastrophic wildfires in the past 30 years, and fuel buildup in unburned portions of the forest and nearby watershed poses a palpable risk of another big one any day.
The Marble Cone fire in the Big Sur River watershed torched 178,000 acres in 1977. It remains the biggest wildfire in California history. The Soberanes fire, which burned from July into October last year burned 132,127 acres across the watersheds of the Big Sur, Little Sur, Carmel and Arroyo Seco rivers and at a cost of $230 million was the most expensive in state history.
But despite the size of those epic fires, much of the county ‘s mountainous interior has been fire-free for a long time, and hillsides are covered thick with dry chaparral and remain a source of constant worry for folks concerned about preparedness for fire suppression.
During the Marble Cone fire, firefighters were able to draw water from the Abbott Lakes on the forest’s edge in the Arroyo Seco canyon. Together, the upper and lower lakes cover seven surface acres and were able to supply hundreds of acre feet of water for fire suppression, swimming and fishing. Their beauty when properly filled is illustrated by this photo taken 40 years ago.
Photo 1: Abbott Lake in 1975
The geological record indicates that the Abbott Lakes were once in the Arroyo Seco river’s main stem, but long ago seismic upheavals lifted them above the stream bed. And although the lakes were expanded significantly by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Depression, a1893 photograph shows members of the Abbott family ice skating on their namesake lake.
Photo 2: Abbott Lake in Winter of 1893
“The CCC’s purpose was to put people to work and it had a lot of hands to do the digging’’ said Joan Brandorff, who was the U.S. Forest Service’s heritage and archaeological expert in the area for 40 years. Gilbert Handley, a long time Arroyo Seco resident familiar with the lakes and a frequent, energetic advocate for their resuscitation, said that the CCC workers, using drag lines, practically re-built them, along with the stonework on the lower lake outfall and shoreline.
CCC workers installed a pipeline that once brought fresh water from Rocky Creek – a tributary of the river that enters near Government Camp – to Abbott Lakes. That pipeline, clearly shown on a photo posted near the lower lake, was taken down during the Marble Cone firefight, reportedly because it posed a hazard to helicopters. But none of the local firefighters believe that was accurate and no one from the Forest Service owns up to responsibility for its disappearance.
Abbott Lakes were significant water source employed in fighting the Marble Cone fire, said Handley, who was both a firefighter and bulldozer driver at the time. “They took it right down to the mud.’’
Because of the prolonged drought that preceded the Soberanes fire, Abbott Lakes had dried up and were of no use as a water source in fighting the fire, according to Pete Harris, fire boss for the U.S. Forest Service’s King City district. Harris also said that the Forest Service would not need water from the lakes to suppress fire in populated areas of the Arroyo Seco canyon. The current water sourcing strategy for fighting fires calls for either using water from the river itself (although the large size of present day fire-fighting helicopters make that a risky undertaking in the narrow river canyons) or trucking some from borings made in the area just beyond the Greenfield bridge, where the river goes underground into the so-called Arroyo Seco Cone.
Except for rainfall and a sulphur spring in the upper lake, Abbott Lakes have received no fresh water for more than 20 years. The Fairbanks Morse electric pump purchased and installed in the 1950s by the Southern Monterey County Sportsmen’s Association currently reposes at Salinas Valley Pump. It has been dismantled and apparently needs a new shaft and impeller. The Association has yet to decide how – or whether -- to pay the bill, now estimated at more than $5,000 to repair it. If the answer is yes and the river water starts moving up from the pumphouse to the lake via conveyances already in place, pumping will be limited to Dec. 15 to March 31, the season of high river flows.
Restoring the pipeline connection, should the occasion arise, figures to be a complex proposition, in part because a dozen state, federal and local agencies, including the California Department of Fish and Game and the National Marine Fisheries Service all have interests in Abbott Lakes. The Arroyo Seco’s fragile steelhead run and endangered species like the two-striped garter snake and the southern Pacific pond turtle are also considerations.
Despite these multiple agency complications, in 2015, the U.S. Forest Service launched the Abbott Lakes Restoration Project, which aimed to “re-fill the lower and larger lake to provide a year-round available water for use in emergency wildfire situations. It proposed to increase the lake’s storage capacity by removing tules and other vegetation taking up lake space by mowing and hand cutting. The project is still a bird in the bush. Lower Lake is a forest of tules and a mosquito breeding ground.
Photo 3: Abbott Lake, June 2017
District ranger Tim Short acknowledged in an interview that a separate item for funding the proposed restoration improvements at Abbott Lakes is not included in his agency’s current budget.
Whether the Abbott Lakes will be returned to their original beauty and utility is unlikely without the US Forest Service stepping up to repair the pipeline that once brought fresh water from Rocky Creek that they took down during the marble cone firefight and the repair of the pump installed many years ago by the Southern Monterey County Sportsman Association.
3. Developing and Executing an ASCA Strategy to Reduce Visitor Misbehavior, utilizing the website to:
Provide Links and phone numbers to facilitate ASCA members contacting authorities to ticket those parking in posted No Parking areas, littering, or defecating or urinating on our roadsides.
Provide Links and phone numbers to facilitate ASCA members to push the county to fill severe potholes that are dangerous to travelers and cars, place trash cans at key places along Arroyo Seco road with pickup service, place signs that list the penalties that can accrue to litterers, and mow grass alongside Arroyo Seco Road no later than June 1st each year.
To Schedule meetings between ASCA officers and the campground concession leaders to work together to control the littering and parking on private land.
To encourage ASCA members to Photograph and text pictures of offending automobiles directly to the on duty sheriffs.
4. Replace Millers’
Attract a friendly, quality, family-run restaurant/grocery store to locate and operate in Arroyo Seco as a replacement for Millers,
utilize the website presentation of the area to serve as an introduction to the region accompanied by an aggressive outreach by ASCA officers to identify potential businesses and individuals that possess the required skill set, personality, financing and motivation to open and operate this restaurant/grocery store in Arroyo Seco.
Assist the selected individual or business in obtaining the necessary county, state and city approvals to operate by throwing the full support of the ASCA behind their efforts.
Agree to hold as many ASCA functions as possible at their facility throughout the year.
5. Develop and execute strategy to augment the Fire and EMT Services capabilities of the Arroyo Seco Fire Station.
The ASCA is discussing how best to try to improve the qualified staffing at the Station with the full understanding that the solution will be difficult as the situation is complicated.
6. Develop and Execute strategy to improve the Arroyo Seco Road.
More rapid repair of the potholes
Trimming the grass and brush on both sides of the road as soon as the rains stop
Discouraging the littering of trash along the road and removal of the trash that occurs.