Operational Area

"...The Monterey County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution establishing Monterey county as the Single Operational Area and Operational Area Authority for the purpose of coordinating inter-jurisdictional emergency management activities during disasters within Monterey County in 1995. Following the establishment of the Monterey County Operational Area, the county, and all incorporated cities, special districts, and public benefit non-profit corporations desiring to participate in the Operational Area Authority, the unified emergency management authority of the Operational Area, will be required to approve a Memorandum of Understanding, and adopt all stipulations contained therein...


The County Government will function as the designated Administrating Agency for the Operational Area. This responsibility and Authority will extend to both operational management, as well as to day-to-day administration of all Operational Area issues and activities. The Office of Emergency Services will fill this role."

Resolution No. 95-480

Approved 10/24/1995

Submitted by Harry B. Robbins Jr. , Acting Emergency Services Manager

In accordance with the California Emergency Services Act, the Monterey County Operational Area is an intermediate level of the State’s emergency management organization; the operational area encompasses a county’s boundaries and all political subdivisions within that county, including special districts. The operational area facilitates and/or coordinates information, resources, and decisions regarding priorities among local governments within the operational area. The operational area serves as the coordination and communication link between the local government level and the region level.


SEMS is used to manage multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional responses to emergencies in California. SEMS consists of five hierarchical levels: Field, Local, Operational Area, Region, and State. SEMS incorporates the principles of the ICS, the California Disaster and Civil Defense Master Mutual Aid Agreement (MMAA), existing discipline-specific mutual aid agreements, the operational area concept, and multi-agency or interagency coordination and communication. Under SEMS, response activities are managed at the lowest possible organizational level.


Monterey County is located on the north-central coast of California. The adjacent counties are Santa Cruz to the north; San Benito, Fresno, and King to the east; and San Luis Obispo to the south. The Pacific Ocean borders the County to the west. At its northernmost boundary, the County lies 92 miles from San Francisco, and at its southernmost boundary, the County lies 222 miles from Los Angeles on U.S. Highway 101 (US 101). The County occupies an area of 3,324 square miles and has 100 miles of coastline, two coastal ranges (the Santa Lucia and Gabilan Mountain Ranges), and two valleys (the Salinas and Carmel Valleys). Areas along the coast experience a Mediterranean-like climate that is characterized by moderate temperatures, a winter rainy season, and cool dry summers. Further inland, temperatures are more extreme and rainfall is considerably less.

OA-map-imageToday, the agriculturally rich County includes 12 incorporated citie sand several small unincorporated towns and communities. Unincorporated communities include Big Sur, Blanco, Bolsa Knolls, Camphora, Carmel Valley, Chualar, Coburn, Cooper, Del Monte, Denvir, East Garrison, Elsa, Fort Romie, Gabilan Acres, Gorda, Harlem, Jamesburg, Jolon, Lockwood, Lucia, Martinez Corner, Mascorino Place, Metz, Moss Landing, Nashua, Posts, Prunedale, Robles Del Rio, San Ardo, San Lucas, Santa Rita, Spence, Spreckels, Spreckels Junction, Sycamore Flat, and Welby.

The cities are often grouped into two classifications: the valley cities consist of King City, Gonzales, Greenfield, Salinas, and Soledad; the peninsula cities consist of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Del Ray Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Sand City, and Seaside.


Many of the hazards that exist in or adjacent to Monterey County have the potential for causing disasters exceeding any one jurisdiction‘s capabilities to successfully respond, making centralized command and control and the support of the County and its departments and agencies essential.

Coastal Erosion

Dam Failure