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September 27, 2013 / Linda Hartong

Carmel’s City Hall

“The Chief Executive of a republic is expected to govern in the public interest and not for his own enrichment or that of his family and friends. The art of governing consists simply of being honest, exercising common sense, following principle, and doing what is right and just.”

Thomas  Jefferson

Ah, if it were only that simple to decide what is right and just. In June 1920, The City of Carmel-By-The Sea adopts an ordinance declaring it is to be primarily a residential city, wherein business and commerce are subordinated to its residential character.  


It is only after being in Carmel for 20 some years that I realize the incredible amount of work and good will it takes to keep this tenuous balance between residential and commercial interests.

Until 1946, the City conducted business from rented space in the Philip Wilson Building.

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 8.55.09 AMGoogle Earth

In 1946, the city council accepted an offer by All Saints Church to buy the church, rectory, parish hall and 2 vacant lots for a permanent city hall. No changes were made until 1953, when architect George Wilcox reworked the building. Other additions were added later resulting in this “dignified shingled complex of steeply-pitched projecting bays”- Kent Seavey.


The current city hall blends in with its residential neighborhood. 


And the struggle to balance “the art element” with the “business element” continues.

When I google “who was the first mayor of Carmel?” I am surprised to find that Clint Eastwood pops up. Although I am sure he was not the first mayor, he may have been the first to put Carmel on the map. 


Google Images

He only served one term and ran because City Hall had stymied his development plan for the Eastwood Building. 

He did get his building and much more in the process.


“We got things built- beach walkways,


A library annex which had been waiting 25 years and so on. I approached it from a business point of view, not a political one.”- Clint Eastwood


He also made it easier to renovate property, got a tourist parking lot built and remodeled The Mission Ranch, preserving the precious landscape it was on from being used for 80 condominiums.



When we move to Carmel, Sue McCloud is mayor. 



She holds that position for 12 years as Carmel’s leader and then retires.  She deals with the issues of the future of the fire service, regional water problems, the proposed sale of the Flanders Mansion and a tough economy. A former CIA Agent, she is a mayor faced with many controversial issues. 

How does one keep diversity of shops and restaurants in a town only 1 mile square? 


How does one decide which buildings are historically significant

IMG_9319and which can be altered


or demolished.

How does one satisfy residents who want home mail delivery while others like things just the way they always have been, with residents dropping by the post office to turn the antique brass knobs on their antique oak mailboxes?


Today I am again heading to city Hall. The door to the council chambers is open


And I take a moment in chambers.


Back out, I head to my usual spot in  Community Planning and Building. 

I take time to enjoy the new landscaping funded by a grant made by Constance Meach Ridder. 


The railing resemble tree branches


A patio outside the door is a great spot to take a moment to enjoy the fountain and beautifully planted garden. 



And of course, being Carmel, there is a hitching post for your dog.


I am in the door and up to my usual window where Margi Perotti , Code Enforcement Officer and Leslie Fenton, Administrative Coordinator, kindly take time to find the folders of homes and businesses I am blogging about.




They deal with problems about a parking space.

Resolve issues on signage.

And handle Building Permits. 

Among 1,000 other issues. 

Carmel’s newest Mayor, Jason Burnett, happens to be here today and we have a short chat.


Google Images

35-year-old Burnett lists his home phone on the city Web page, and passes out business cards with his cell phone number.

“Burnett is a native of Carmel Valley, the son of two Monterey Bay marine biologists who helped found theMonterey Bay Aquarium and used him as the model to size the exhibits to child’s eye level.

His grandfather is David Packard, co-founder of Silicon Valley tech giant Hewlett-Packard.

After a month in the mayor’s chair, he’s already started making good on his campaign promises of more transparency in city government. In May, he held his first monthly roundtable meeting with residents, and he gave council members the power to put items on the agenda, rather than vetting them through the mayor’s office first.

“The reason we don’t have mail delivery in Carmel is because this town is designed to create community at places like the post office, so we take care of each other,” he said.

Burnett has enlisted “Fast Food Nation” author Eric Schlosser, to help establish an outdoor food market in Carmel with the local growers and fishers from the area.

“We live in this incredible bread basket, and we don’t have a farmers’ market!” he said.

It’s one of the first things on his mayoral to-do list.”

SFGate: San Francisco Bay Area – News,Bay Area news, Sports, Business, Entertainment, Classifieds – SFGate

Coincidentally I have just posted my article  on CARMEL BY THE SEA CERTIFIED FARMERS MARKET | Once upon a time..Tales from Carmel by the Sea and so get lots of unexpected “atta girls”.


So to all  mayors, councils, and citizens – Thanks for all your efforts to keep Carmel primarily residential while trying to let business and commerce prosper. Not easy but certainly worth your efforts.

Protected Trees

crmel 946           IMG_3364                       IMG_3592

A Pristine Beach

IMG_3008       Image 11   31c1a8e48c0a11e2bd9022000a1fa522_7


A Thriving Culture


Forest Theater


The Golden Bough


 Sunset Center

The Sunset Theater


The Carl Cherry Center


The Carmel Art Association  


  Public works of Art

Two Public Libraries


Diversified shopping tucked into charming courtyards

Image 12

and Preservation of Historically Important architecture



Leave a Comment
  1. Jacqueline Newton / Sep 27 2013 1:08 am

    Linda I enjoy your post so very much, you are a Great Help in my once in a while tours! Call me when you are in town 831 236 8600. Next week is filled with events, am thankful for that! Would love to have lunch with you!

    Avec amitie’   JACQUELINE


  2. Carol / Sep 27 2013 1:21 am

    Wonderful piece. Love how you always bring out what is so uniquely special about Carmel– both in photos and words.


  3. A. Robertson / Sep 27 2013 3:10 am

    First “real” mayor: Perry Newberry, 1929. He left a long legacy fighting for Argyll Campbell’s “Magna Carta” which you quoted about being primarily a residential city. But the spirit behind that was Frank Devendorf and Frank Powers.

    Andrew Robertson

  4. heyjude195430Jude / Sep 27 2013 3:44 pm

    I spent some time in Carmel several years ago and I loved it very much. Interestingly, I live near a sister city that is patterned after Carmel. Fairhope, AL is a beautiful seaside town near Mobile, AL. I hope to move to Fairhope in the near future. I enjoy looking at your pictures and envisioning a similar home place in Fairhope. Thank you for your beautiful blog. Jude

  5. Linda Floyd / Sep 27 2013 5:01 pm

    Hi Linda,
    Thanks for the delightful article…reminds me why we love living here!
    Linda Floyd
    Biddlestone Cottage

  6. Von / Sep 27 2013 5:23 pm

    Hi Linda,
    Wonderful blog…so interesting. You are lucky to have a little piece of Carmel…it’s heaven!

  7. lynn momboisse / Sep 28 2013 5:13 pm

    I agree your post reminds me why I love living here!!! Thank you Linda

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