Grumblings about a gallery glut have wafted through Carmel for several years. Gallery critics claim that some tourists shy away from the city because they're not much for art and might want to buy other things--such as, heaven forbid, a T-shirt. Another ordinance bars stores from displaying those in their windows.So what do you do about "too many" art galleries? Set up a[nother] cartel, of course.
In October, the council approved an "urgency ordinance" banning any more art galleries.You can't make up stuff like this.
It may seem extreme, but this is also the place that, a few years ago, banned for-profit walking tours. It once vigorously debated the sale of ice cream cones.
The urgency ordinance would be lifted only when tough--some say, virtually impossible--restrictions on new galleries take permanent effect.
Carmel, where real estate agents post fliers for $2 million homes, has never tried to cast a wide net for tourists. For years it has been vigilant against creeping tackiness.Why 32? Would it be in the public interest to add a 33rd or would the public interest be adversely affected if there were only 31?
It wants tourists to eat at restaurants, not on the streets, but relented only after a 1 1/2-year battle with a cafe owner who mounted an initiative in order to serve soup.
In 1986, Mayor Clint Eastwood successfully fended off the move to bar ice cream cones on the street. Last month, the city told the owner of a clock store to forget about selling watches: They're jewelry and only 32 jewelry stores are allowed to operate.
This job never gets boring. Policy makers do the darnedest things.