Caren Ray favors developers over residents

October 15, 2018

Councilwoman Caren Ray


Caren Ray, candidate for mayor of Arroyo Grande, says one of her “visions” for the city is to take the uncertainty out of development; making it easier for developers to get their projects through the process.

No one likes a laborious process; but at what cost? As I see it, her ideas would discourage public participation and would cost you, the citizens, to have less say in what types of developments would be in Arroyo Grande’s future.

Ray confidently throws around terminology that sounds pretty good, but if you knew what she’s suggesting, one should be concerned. She cites “enterprise zones, pre-zoning and form based code” as solutions to the gridlock that developers might find themselves in when they come to the city for project approvals. She suggests these changes would amount to “pre-approvals upfront,” verses achieving approvals or denials on the “back end” after the public has had its say.

She describes these alternative land use principles as a way of expediting the process. In fact they would. Resulting in little, to no, public input. In some cases removing the public voice that shapes each project as it makes its way through the community development pipeline.

An enterprise zone is generally something one might see in a blighted area that is recovering from a natural disaster. This zone sometimes results in relaxed regulations and reduced taxes, special financing, or incentives that encourage businesses to rebuild in the area and hire locally. These perks would only apply to that zone. Arroyo Grande is neither blighted nor suffering from a disaster.

Pre-zoning would be applied to areas in the county that might be annexed to the city in the future. The new zoning of the land would come into effect at the same time the annexation is complete.

Arroyo Grande barely has the water resources to sustain itself, why would it consider annexing more land for new development? Maybe Ray has her eye on annexing Oceano? It has plenty of water and meets blighted criteria.

Form Based Code is a regulation, not just a guideline, adopted into city law. This type of development code provides predictable results by using physical form, rather than separation of land uses, as the principle for the code. So the developer can build a structure that meets the code, but the public no longer has much of a say in it or a way to tweak it before its built.

Calling herself a “wonk” for policy, Ray wants to “represent” the citizens of Arroyo Grande – sounds to me like she wants to do all the talking, rather than be your voice.

George Bailey

Dump Caren Ray!

Immoral, Unethical, Corrupt Politican.

We deserve better.

Vote Jim Hill as AG Mayor.


George Bailey


From the comments here, it’s easy to conclude that Caren Ray is just another whacky,  ultra-liberal progressive politician who sells normal taxpayers out to greed and corruption.

It is important that we cast ballots on Election Day, November 6, to reject opportunistic hucksters like Ray and SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon. These two are about as bad as it gets and we deserve better leaders here on the Central Coast.  Ray and Harmon both worship Adam Hill, and their brand of politics is about self-enrichment, payoffs and idealogical hardball.

Like Harmon, Caren Ray has an unethical gene which renders her unfit for public office, and we need and deserve leaders with trust and integrity.  In Arroyo Grande, incumbent Mayor Jim Hill has shown that he will put the people’s business first, and he has the character and integrity to lead the people of Arroyo Grande.

Dump failed progressive politicians.

George Bailey


Little Jimmy Paulding is a Hill wanna be—definitely one to steer clear of. 

Let’s give Mayor Hill someone to work with, not someone who’ll join Barneich and Ray to tie his hands at every turn. 


Fellow residents of AG: Please pay attention and see who Caren Ray really represents!  Certainly not all of us who love our village and want to have public input on how development will impact our quality of life and WATER resources. Caren Ray’s slogan should be BUILD, BUILD, BUILD. Please vote to ensure that Caren Ray is NOT the next mayor.

bobby N

I have never heard Ray say any of this, and I doubt it would impact the process in any positive way  Nevertheless, the author’s well known dislike for Ray would havevanyone questioning the article. If Ray did say this, there are a lot of misinformed points that need correction. Sorry for the long post, but this is just sad. 

Enterprise zones are in no way associated with disaster or blight areas. This is an argument to distract the reader. These are a tool used to encourage a particular type of development that is desired by a city but is not occurring due to market forces. For example a city wanting to relocate it’s automobile dealerships or encourage high tax revenue businesses such as car dealerships or hotels. It is also tool for redevelopment where the market is not making it happen. When you hear people on the city Council say things like we can only approve what the market is requesting and not force things to happen, an enterprise zone is a tool to encourage different things to happen. It might be an ideal tool for the East Grand Ave corridor redevelopment. It is certainly not a tool of disaster stricken areas. In fact the largest enterprise zone in our county is in Paso Robles making up much of their thriving downtown. (

Pr-zoning is a means of planning and nothing more than that. It does not result in any changes but prevents unwanted outcomes that we’re not planned for. If the county decided to allow a project on the border of Arroyo grande we could well get stuck with whatever the county does and we have before. There is an example up on the top of Stage Coach where a county development ended up having to use city water and sewage because they got approved but ultimately the service was in adequate. There is also a recent example above the high school where a subdivision approved by the county has now caused nothing but trouble for the city. Had the city pre-planned the outskirts of its jurisdiction then the county would’ve been informed of the city’s intent and desire and we could’ve had a say. Planning is just that, planning for the future, not a scary to use as a tool to manipulate opinion.

Form based code is a very complex idea that certainly can’t be described in this small space. ( Simply put, it is an alternative way at looking at development standards that allow for creative flexibility as opposed to stringent boxes that must be adhered to that may not allow for better projects or design. In no way do they remove any public approval processes that city has in place. This is another false argument. The recent AG City Council action to remove the ARC in the city of is an example of something that happens to remove public comment from a process. That vote to dissolve the traffic commission, the historic resources committee and the ARC was voted for approval by Mayor Hill and voted against by Caren Ray. From that simple vote alone it is clear that she values the right of the citizens to be a part of the process, more so than the mayor or the rest of the council.

It seems in this case our opinionated writer has such a great bias against the candidate that it overwhelms thoughtfulness and the best interests of our city

Ted R

Hell no. bobby n, you spew mind poison.



We will have to agree to disagree on the definitions of these planning principles.

(BTW, Paso has some real blight and these tax breaks and incentives may be just what they need for redevelopment). As for one very important correction; the ARC was NOT dissolved — they met last just night. It was the Parks & Recreation Committee that was dissolved along with the historical and traffic commissions. The Mayor explained why he felt these costs could be cut very succinctly. Each of these Commissions deliberations are boiled down into one-line recommendations and the citizens that aren’t satisfied with those show up at the Planning Commission or the City Council meetings making their case again. IMO, it’s actually a time saver for the public. I have seen public engage very early and then burn out on the process because they’ve paraded before different approval bodies over and over and by the time the project makes it’s way all the way to the actual decision makers, they’re over it. That’s truly unfortunate.


People Of AG , You were Warned about this Woman Long ago … She is a teacher Enough said, Over and over you have been warned .. about people like this .. it all started back with Anderson… She was appointed … then Tony got voted out , You shoved Chucky Baby’s daughter in there on and on and on… Loonies come on in we will put you in office …  Sorry you Bought it paid for it .. Loved and the list goes on …  Sorry .. thats life … 


There’s a classic example of Ray’s ‘make it easier for developers’ sitting on Courtland near Grand Ave.  High density, ‘workforce’ housing…it’s an eyesore, and Ray turned a deaf ear to nearby residents pleas for sufficient on-site parking.

Oh, and where’s the commercial project everyone is hoping will hide at least some of the housing?  Wasn’t the developer supposed to pay a fine for not building within a specific time frame? 


Caren Ray lies to face and says it is workforce housing, yet it is selling at around $630,000. What work force is buying them?, maybe public sector. As I said before I’m guessing Nick Tompkins is hoping Ray becomes mayor and/or at least Paulding and Storton win a seat, that way he will have three votes, with Ray and Barneich and will not have to build it or possibly build more housing.

the situation

Am I the only person who notices that Caren’s husband is the architect for all the big developers in this area?

bobby N

Please enlighten us. I heard he is an employee of a large company in SLO, but I have never seen his name on any AG projects. 


Randy Russom is actually NOT ‘an employee’ of that large company. That architecture firm is employee-owned, . so he’s a co-owner at RRM.

His name IS on one particular project in AG . . .

bobby N

Interesting, which job? I know that company did not do the one on cherry. 

Isn’t that company a long time company with a couple hundred people. If it’s technically employee owned, what is that, 1/4 of one percent? Ownership sounds more like wishful thinking. 

bobby N

Sorry, didn’t see the link. So 130 employees each sharing a tiny piece. The website says it started the transition, not that it was employee owned. Good luck to all of them, that is a rare thing to see a company do. 


“. . . sounds to me like she wants to do all the talking, rather than be your voice.”


Having watched her “performances” at the city council dais – especially when it came to public speakers before the council, there was no *listening* by her. She was all bloviation or all dismissiveness, depending on who was before her. When extremely concerned citizens tried to get the City of AG to take more action and interest in the illegal goings-on at the water treatment facility, Caren Ray not only gave the cold shoulder to those speakers (in fact, she was downright rude and condescending, emulating her mentor and hero Tony Ferrara’s footsteps), she was absolutely derisive in her opinion of the Grand Jury results on the subject.

Caren Ray is proud (her word) of her campaign support from area developers.

If only she was that proud to represent ALL of Arroyo Grande, but she’s not.

She plays to an audience of one small faction (developers and the old Tony Ferrara guard, ie Judith Bean, Jim Guthrie, et al) and you know that by the location of her signs and the financial support in her campaign coffers.

She can take her *vision* for AG back where she found it. She does not speak to, nor for, the majority of AG residents, period.

Mayor Hill – an honest person doing a thankless job for a great town, with no ulterior motive. Something Ms. Ray cannot say for herself.


I laughed out loud when I read the quote on Ray’s latest shiny mailer from Judith Bean “Our city needs a mayor who is smart, hardworking, and fair…”

Earth to Bean, our current mayor possesses all those qualities. Hands down Hill is head and shoulders above Ray!

Prior to Hill our leadership was more concentrated on distracting us with flowers, fauna, trees and public art (all very nice things) while corruption ran rampant.

Re-elect Jim Hill AG Mayor.