Next 2022 CRA Candidates Forum is Now Set for September 21st at the Carmel Woman's Club 

CRA’S 2020 CANDIDATES FORUM - Was Held Thursday October 1ST Online


This was CRA’s must-see event for all residents to get to know the 2020 candidates for our City Council and Mayor. Fred Bologna, our CRA President, welcomed everyone and introduced our former US House Representative Sam Farr, who moderated this Forum. This online event was open to the public and focused on resident’s topics of interest.

Your Mayoral Candidates Include: Incumbent Mayor Dave Potter and challenger Judy Refuerzo.   
Your Council Candidates Include: Incumbent Councilperson Bobby Richards and challengers: Karen Ferlito, Mo Massoudi, Graeme Robertson. (2 Council Seats are open this year).

Video Time             Topics Covered                                                          .

0:00           Fred Bologna & Sam Farr's Introductions Welcome, & Panel Format
2:30           Candidates - 2 minute self introductions
15:00         Balancing Village Charm with Visitors and Business
21:50         Affordable Housing Requirements
29:00         Outdoor Dining Program
36:00         City Planning & it's Commission
43:07         Beach Fires - what's next
49:40         Making Carmel Bike Friendly
57:10         Fire Prevention/Forest Management - encourage everyone to read in-depth article in Sept 25th PineCone HERE
58:10         Lightning Round - Candidates Visual ONLY Thumbs UP-YES or DOWN-NO on topics: CalAM Desal Plant, Short Term Rentals in Downtown and Residential Areas, Engagement with Second/Vacation Home Owners.
1:00:20     Ambulance Services

1:08:00      Policing in Carmel
1:15:00      Working collaboratively with other Carmel Boards & Commissions
1:22:40      Candidates Closing - 1 minute each
1:30:00      Fred's Reminders, Thanks and Sam's Closing Wisdom for Carmel

Engage with these candidates Online:
Dave Potter     Dave's WebSite, Dave's Email 
Judy Refuerzo  Judy's WebSite, Judy's Email
Karen Ferlito  Karen's WebSite, Karen's Email
Mo Massoudi  Mo's Email
Bobby Richards      Bobby's WebSite, Bobby's Email
Graeme Robertson  Graeme's Email  

And be sure to visit the CRA All-in-One Voting Resources here for information on tracking your ballots and much more on Voting in our Village, County and State.

Note: As an Organization, the Carmel Residents Association does not endorse any individual political candidate.  Although, CRA does and has supported specific legislation relevant to our Village.  

PineCone Oct 9, 2020      Article begins on Page 9 of this issue.


CRA candidate’s forum focuses on beach fires, village character public safety, affordable housing

By Mary Schley

 No one asked about Flanders Mansion

   ALL BUT one candidate for city office gave Cal Am’s proposed desal plant a thumbs down at a voter forum held by the Carmel Residents Association Oct. 1, and only the incumbents believe the issue of short-term rentals in the business district has been resolved. Most don’t think the ban on short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods is understood or enforced, nor do they think there is “adequate engagement” with those who own vacation homes here.

   Those were the results of a “lightning round” of thumbs-up-or-thumbs-down questions given to the two candidates for mayor and four contenders for city council during the forum, with only council challenger Graeme Robertson hoping for the eventual approval of Cal Am’s proposed desalination plant, and only Mayor Dave Potter and councilman Bobby Richards believing the limits they imposed on short-term rentals downtown are adequate.

Balancing charm and business

   Unlike the forum held by the Carmel Chamber of Commerce a week prior, last Thursday’s Q&A with candidates focused on many issues more relevant to residents. It was moderated by retired U.S. Rep. Sam Farr.

   Candidates, including mayoral challenger Judy Refuerzo and council contenders Karen Ferlito and Mo Massoudi, were asked how to balance “village charm, visitor appeal and business health with the Carmel residential community,” with Massoudi saying that preserving the town’s uniqueness and values accomplishes that goal, while Potter focused on his ad hoc committee of residents, business owners and government officials who regularly discuss the needs of residents and visitors.

   “That’s the kind of organization we need to plan for the future of Carmel,” he said. Refuerzo said those values aren’t at all at odds. “There isn’t really a conflict — we all work together, and we all want the same thing,” she said, because the charm that attracts residents draws visitors, too.

   Richards said the guidelines that preserve the city’s character, especially in the residential areas, need to be “unambiguous,” “strict,” and “followed.”

   “That’s why we’re so successful,” he said. “The tourists come because of our charm.”

   Robertson said he feels the existing council has “done an excellent job of pulling residents and businesses together to have a dialogue that I hope addresses everybody’s needs,” and that the newfound collaboration between the chamber and the CRA is beneficial, as well.

   The balance comes in ensuring locals are comfortable downtown, according to Ferlito. “We need a little more thorough planning process to incorporate the downtown dining program in a more village way,” she said. “We need to make people feel safe in the streets downtown.”

Affordable housing and planning

  On the question of state-mandated affordable housing, Potter and Massoudi said a project could be built in the north lot at Sunset Center, while Richards focused on convincing downtown property owners to convert upstairs office space into affordable apartments, and Refuerzo and Ferlito pointed to the new granny units popping up next to houses due to state laws requiring local planning departments to approve them. Robertson also noted that The Carmel Foundation provides more than 50 affordable units for seniors and agreed accessory dwelling units like those Refuerzo and Ferlito mentioned could be key, as well.

   When Farr asked what the candidates would do to help the city’s planning department and planning commission “achieve consistent design guidelines and enforcement in our residential neighborhoods,” all of them pointed to the fact the department is understaffed.

   “It’s one of the most vital departments for holding on to the character of this village,” Richards said, adding that planning staff are spending a disproportionate amount of time on parklets.

“We need to uphold guidelines in the residential and commercial districts,” Robertson agreed. “Without the manpower to do it, it’s going to be difficult to enforce.” Ferlito said part of the problem is the planning commission focuses too much on individual projects, which doesn’t leave much time for policy making, and she advocated for resurrecting the design review board to handle design applications and permits. “They are almost more of a permitting commission than a planning commission,” she said.

   Massoudi said he hopes that after the coronavirus pandemic subsides, the planning department can be fully staffed. He also lamented the construction of more homes “that belong in Silicon Valley” in place of older, smaller homes.

  Potter said he wants concerted efforts to find the right planning director and building official to replace those who left, and he said city hall should be reopened so people can meet with planners to discuss their projects — a point Refuerzo also strongly made.

  “Also, I like the variety of housing in Carmel,” she said. “I don’t want cookie cutter. I have a John Thodos house that I’m very proud of, so I like variety.”

  On the never-ending issue of beach fires, candidates were clear: Robertson and Massoudi are fine with having between five and a dozen “smoke less” pits on the beach for part of the year, while Potter said he wants to try out the most recent plan calling for five of the pits, which the council settled on before the shutdown. Refuerzo would rather have six to 12 of the caldrons — rather than the smaller pits — that the city purchased a few years ago at considerable expense, since they are better looking, larger and can be covered, and Ferlito and Richards said they want only propane fires.

   “Let people see it, try it, feel it, and maybe they’ll adopt it,” Richards said of propane pits, which they would have to supply themselves. “But if not, we can discuss it.”

   They were asked to talk about how the council and the city’s commissions and boards should collaborate, and to describe relevant experiences. Refuerzo, a member of the community activities commission since 2013, and Robertson said the former practice of having a council liaison connect with each board and commission makes sense, while Ferlito said the planning commission and forest and beach commission should hold joint meetings quarterly “to make sure they’re on the same page,” and should also meet with the council once or twice a year.

   Richards talked about his work with the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments and the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau — of which he was initially critical, but which came around to accept his feedback and later asked him to participate on the board — and Potter said his decades of experience in various political offices have taught him how such groups work. Massoudi said it’s important they all communicate with each other.

What they agreed on

  All the candidates said they like the idea of making Carmel more bike friendly, and on the subject of outdoor dining, they all agreed that dining outside requires some long-term planning, especially as the season turns to winter. Potter said he’d like to see outdoor dining areas closer to the restaurants, with the sidewalks cutting around them, so pedestrians don’t have to walk between the tables to get by.

   Similarly, they all agreed the city’s ambulance service should not be cut, as has been suggested by officials who have proposed reducing costs by parking it when it’s not fully staffed instead of paying overtime to keep it running. Since 2018, one of the six ambulance jobs has been vacant, and most of them called for filling it as soon as possible. “I don’t think you can turn around and complain about overtime if you haven’t hired a person,” Ferlito said. Refuerzo said the ambulance issue is what drove her to run for mayor, and Potter said he wants to sit down with the ambulance group to discuss how to cut expenses.

   They all said Carmel Police Chief Paul Tomasi and his officers and other staff are doing a great job of serving the city’s residents and visitors in thoughtful, respectful ways, contrary to the police forces in some larger cities that have garnered a lot of negative attention for using excessive force, which has impacted law enforcement’s public image as a whole.

During the lightning round, they were asked to show thumbs up or thumbs down — with no explaining — on four questions:

  • “Do you support the eventual approval of a Cal Am desal plant?” All except Robertson indicated no.
  • “Do you believe our short-term rentals in downtown have been resolved?” Potter and Richards noted yes, with all the challengers showing no.
  • “Do you believe our short-term rentals in the residential areas are understood and enforced?” Five said no, and Massoudi indicated he doesn’t know.
  • “Do you believe there is adequate engagement with Carmel’s second/vacation homeowners?” Again, everyone showed thumbs down.

   At the end of the forum, new CRA President Fred Bologna and Farr gave their closing remarks, and Farr urged everyone to vote. In Carmel, “a city that everybody knows about around the world, let’s demonstrate our civic responsibility by having the greatest turnout in the history of this town,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be nice to be up in the 90th percentile? No other city would have that.”

    The Monterey County Elections department has mailed guides and ballots to the city’s 2,612 voters — an increase of nearly 100 people over a few months ago — and Election Day is Nov. 3. A ballot drop box has been placed at Harrison Memorial Library in the garden at Lincoln and Ocean.


Carmel Residents Association
PO Box 13, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Ca 93921
[email protected]