Esalen Institute in Big Sur will lay off 45 employees

The Esalen Institute will be closed until the end of July due to the bridge replacement and slides on Highway 1.
The Esalen Institute will be closed until the end of July due to the bridge replacement and slides on Highway 1.

The owners of Esalen Institute retreat center on the Big Sur coast have made their temporary closure official as of May 17, filing a state notice that says they will lay off 45 people employed there by July 4.

The retreat has actually been closed since February after major storms caused numerous slides to the south on Highway 1 and irreparable damage to the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge to the north.

The massive Mud Creek Slide has cut off access from San Luis Obispo County for months. Then, worsening conditions at Paul’s Slide near Lucia cut off the institute completely from the south, once access to even little-traveled Nacimiento Fergusson Road was not available.

Highway 1 at Mud Creek in Big Sur remains closed as “significant” amounts of dirt and rock continue to slide down the slope from above. This video taken from a Monterey County Sheriff's Office airplane shows the massive slide, which "went from bad

The New Age-oriented center typically offers more than 500 workshops to some 12,000 guests on a yearly basis. The institute is said to have a long-term lease on the stunning 27-acre property that overlooks the Pacific.

Esalen says on its website that despite the road issues, it will reopen at the end of July with a slate of workshops in August and through the rest of the year, according to Executive Director Ben Tauber. That date coincides with the estimated reopening of Highway 1 at Paul’s slide.

The state Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice offers no timetable on staff layoffs. The notice requires that employers give a 60-day notice to the affected employees and both state and local representatives prior to a plant closing or mass layoff.

John Lindt is the editor of Reach him at

We traveled up Highway 1 in Big Sur on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, to get an up-close look at the massive Mud Creek Slide, about 9 miles north of the Monterey County/San Luis Obispo County line. What Caltrans had hoped would take weeks to fix will pr

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