My name is Felix Bachofner. Bachofner is a Swiss name from the Middle Ages meaning “community oven caretaker.” I think the name is quite fitting for someone dedicated to public service. [Bachofner is pronounced with emphasis on the first syllable “Bach” (like the composer), “off” (like a switch) + “ner” . . . but feel free to call me by my first name!]
I was born to immigrant parents in Los Angeles and spent most of my youth in Southern California. Language and education were dominant themes in our home. I learned English and Swiss German concurrently from birth, and High German and French by the time I was 16 thanks to the support of my parents, a lot of studying, travel and a great public school district.
At about 8 years of age (sometime during the third grade) I learned that good cities are planned and around the same time also got hooked on the concept of public service.
I later moved to Washington, D.C. to study at Georgetown University. From Georgetown I earned a degree in International Politics with a specialization in Security Studies. While there, most of my colleagues were interested in the nuclear threat from the Soviet Union. I saw that threat as dwindling and spent most of my time thinking, researching and writing about non-conventional (and even non-military) threats such as terrorism and global health issues. Major events of the last dozen years seem to have demonstrated pretty good foresight on my part and that I might have made a good foreign policy analyst and advisor.
The education I acquired focused heavily on strategy which (ultimately) led smoothly to a career in marketing. While I wanted to serve our communities through public service, I had discovered during the course of my studies I did not want to become a government employee right out of college.
Before, during and after college I was a technical theater consultant and designer focusing predominantly on lighting and special effects design. During this time I also had my first involvement running non-profit organizations (in this case a small theater company). The company utilized mostly student talent and was so successful the University subsumed it into its then meager theater arts program. It continues to operate and flourish today, and with its inclusion, the theater arts program at Georgetown is now much larger and more successful.
Arriving on the Monterey Peninsula in 1990, I started to work as an account executive and entertainment editor for a small (now defunct) newspaper. That employment allowed me to meet a broad group of Peninsula business owners and residents and was the perfect introduction to our community.
Also in 1990, I discovered Monterey’s beautiful Golden State Theatre on Alvarado Street. I was one of 5 founding board members of State Theatre Preservation Group (STPG) and served as chair from 1995 until 1998. We were ultimately not successful in acquiring the theater for the community, but generated so much interest that an out of town investor, Warren Dewey, decided in 2004 to buy the Golden State Theatre, move to Monterey and renovate it. Completed, the theater was put into daily operation and showed both films and live acts for a number of years before being leased to a local church for a short time. As of 2014, the theater is under new ownership and is once again actively presenting a wide variety of live entertainment programming.
In 1991 I started a full service marketing firm with emphasis on applying technology to advertising, design and public relations efforts. During the early years of my business (and again in 2000) I also taught technology courses for several quarters in the evening division of Heald Business College (Salinas campus) and helped develop curricula that were used in the larger multi-campus system.
In 1993 I again turned my attentions to education and joined a local committee of interviewers for Georgetown applicants. I’ve been chairman of the committee for twelve years (since 2004), which inspires me to take a fairly deep look at school and student performance across the tri-county area each year.
In 1994 I turned my attention to community planning and joined the Seaside Planning Commission by unanimous vote by the Council. I served until 1999 — two years as chair (1997 and 1998). I’m proud that Seaside has begun to incorporate (however slowly) the ideas that I brought to and championed before the commission and council including mixed use development, specific area plans and increased public and recreational areas and open space.
For the last decade I have tried to bring good development to Seaside and other communities through private development efforts. This has included working on acquiring and improving my own properties here in Seaside and representing clients in other communities — not only in a public relations capacity, but also from time to time as a development consultant. Even on the private side it can be a slow process (particularly when one does not have a lot of capital), but I am inspired by many examples that private enterprises can frequently accomplish what public entities can not (for example, see Warren Dewey above).
For the past eight and a half years I have once again applied my skills in the public sphere. Before becoming Mayor I attended every City Council meeting for more than 26 months and was the only one in attendance to consistently demand answers to important questions our past council equally consistently failed to ask. I focused my line of questioning and comments predominantly on the parallel concerns of City finance and property development.
While Seaside Mayor from December 2010 until 2012 I continued on the same course. I had a perfect attendance record at Seaside council and Redevelopment Agency/Successor Agency meetings. Not one other council or staff member can say the same. Indeed, since leaving office I continued to attend every regular council meeting. This continued for a record six-plus years (75 months total). Only in the past two years did I take a break and miss (only) 2 council meetings.
In Seaside we have experienced decades of problems stemming from continued weak planning and aesthetic standards. Erosion of private property rights and inflexible development policies and an emphasis on “redevelopment” and misguided City involvement has often benefited the few at the expense of the many.
From 2010 to 2012 my efforts began to change this situation. The development pace picked up correspondingly (notwithstanding a recession, they increased to the fastest level in at least the prior 25 years) as did the quality of our City’s financial picture.
Unfortunately, during the past four years there has been a return to many of the heavy handed, unwise policies of the past.