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My vision of Carmel is one where we understand our past and our present, and then plan our future. It is a future where we all work together as our founders did, to protect, preserve and enhance what we value: the relaxed, outdoor lifestyle, and a vibrant, community oriented downtown that reflects both our geographical and historical place.

(Please Read On!)

A hundred years ago, Carmel began as an artist colony with a love of nature and a sense of community.  When our founders began to develop the land, they took extraordinary steps to protect, preserve and enhance the natural environment. This foresight – the reverence for our trees, the strict zoning requirements, the subservience of our homes to the forest – has worked well.  Look what we have achieved: a vibrant downtown, a residential community that is diverse and architecturally significant, and an arts scene – both performance and fine – that reaches far past the village.

But a half century ago, things began to change: roads were improved, cars became larger and more numerous, and the population of California exploded, making Carmel easier to reach by many more people. Cellphones and the internet became ubiquitous, spreading Carmel’s reputation even more widely.  And bit by bit, the pressures on the things that make Carmel special have begun to increase.  Some new homes don’t have a connection to their surroundings because their future owners have no connection to the village.  (There are even rumors of a home on Scenic that is to be torn down and replaced by a swimming pool!)  The traffic and parking in downtown can be hard to tolerate at times. Construction activity in the residential area has intensified, disrupting neighbors’ lives and everyone’s walks.

As the Bay Area gets more crowded, the pressures facing our way of life will only intensify.  There is nothing that we can do to reverse the population trend, as we can’t stop forward motion, but with planning, we can proceed in a direction that allows us to protect our unique, forested residential environment, and maintain and improve our connection to downtown.  We can encourage local outdoor recreation – hiking, golfing, biking – which will in turn bring not only longer term guests that appreciate the slower nature of life and recreation that we are so well equipped to provide, but new resident homeowners as well, those that want to spend every day in our village rather than every twelfth weekend.

These visitors and new residents will, in turn, foster businesses that reflect the true, unique nature of our community. While the virtual shopping world dominated by Amazon and others will continue to grow, our downtown’s physical world will shift to be more service oriented than goods oriented. If our downtown is to remain vibrant and relevant, the downtown experience should reflect our values and our region.

In order to chart this course, we should survey those close to us.  We can identify similar issues in nearby communities, such as the influx of visitors to Big Sur that impacts that region’s isolated beaches and trails, impacting the sense of quiet reflection that had been the norm until recently.  We should understand how the employees of our downtown district come from the larger community around us, and how we can support them.  We will educate ourselves on current movements towards greener and more ecological travel which may have a different set of wants and needs than what Carmel currently provides. 

We will learn both the good and the bad from our surveys, and then armed with that knowledge, we will head down the best path that we can imagine, allocating not only our financial resources, but also our goodwill and our people, to move forward.  We must stand up and protect our community, because if we don’t, the future will simply happen to us. 

My vision of Carmel is one where we understand our past and our present, and then plan our future. It is a future where we all work together as our founders did, to protect, preserve and enhance what we value: the relaxed, outdoor lifestyle, and a vibrant, community oriented downtown that reflects both our geographical and historical place.


Paid for by Jeff Baron for City Council 2018
FPPC #1406039
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