Monaco billionaire strikes deal to grant public access to Big Sur property with breathtaking views

Bixby Creek Bridge, completed in 1932, spans Bixby Canyon on the Big Sur coast along California Highway 1.
Highway 1 drivers along the central coast will soon gain public access to an iconic Big Sur property under a deal struck between the California Coastal Commission and billionaire owner Patrice Pastor.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
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Drivers and Big Sur visitors will soon gain access to more breathtaking views of the rugged bluffs of Highway 1 along California’s Central Coast under a recent deal between state regulators and a Monaco billionaire to open a renowned piece of cliff-side property to the public.

The California Coastal Commission and Rocky Point owner Patrice Pastor landed an agreement last month to open the 2.5-acre seaside parcel to the public in exchange for clearing violations related to unapproved construction and property changes made by the former owners.

Pastor’s real estate company, Esperanza Carmel, purchased the Big Sur property, most notably the site of the since-shuttered Rocky Point Restaurant, for $8 million in 2021, according to the Mercury News, with plans to open a high-end 166-seat restaurant and 14-room inn with views of some of California’s most beautiful terrain.


But Pastor inherited a slew of issues with the land, including investigations by the coastal commission into infrastructural changes made to the “environmentally sensitive habitat” by its former owners without approval. The owners also had limited public access to the land with “no trespassing” signs and locked gates, according to the Mercury News.

The cliff-side restaurant, about 10 miles south of the charming coastal town Carmel-by-the-Sea, boasted panoramic views of the awe-inspiring scenery along Highway 1, where visitors could “catch a glimpse of playful sea-otters, dolphins, seals, and many whales as they migrate up the coast.” It closed in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The commission agreed to clear violations and any potential fines if Pastor committed to making property improvements and guaranteeing development rights to the surrounding bluffs. He also agreed to replace the “no trespassing” signs with those signaling public access, and said he would improve trail access and add bathrooms and significant parking space. The agreement was signed May 17, the Mercury News reported.

“This coastline is one of the true treasures of California, with breathtaking and fabulously dramatic views,” said Lisa Haage, chief of enforcement for the California Coastal Commission. “We worked hard to craft a deal that would provide amenities for visitors and residents alike, including trails, picnic tables and even public parking and restrooms.”

Pastor, a billionaire from Monaco who has in recent years purchased several properties in Carmel, bought the Big Sur land with ambitions to develop the property and open a restaurant, inn and visitor center. The agreement is limited to clearing the violations and guaranteeing public access, but could eventually make it easier for Pastor to earn approval for the redevelopment plans.

Esperanza Carmel did not return requests for comment.

The coastal commission is expected to formally approve the agreement during its June 14 meeting in Morro Bay.