Paso Robles mayor scolded over conflicts of interest

March 20, 2024

Paso Robles Mayor John Hamon


Paso Robles Mayor John Hamon received a warning from state regulators in February for violating political rules about conflicts of interest, according to a California Fair Political Practices Commission’s Feb. 13 warning letter. A determination that ended one of two complaints accusing the mayor of conflicts of interest.

Last month, the commission determined Hamon violated Section 87100 of the Political Reform Act, which prohibits a public official from making, participating in making, or in any way attempting to use his official position to influence a governmental decision in which he has a financial interest. On Feb. 5, 2019, Hamon voted on short-term rental regulations while having interest in a short-term rental property, in violation of conflict of interest laws.

However, the commission determined that Hamon was unaware as the beneficiary of short-term rental property he had a conflict of interest. In addition, after a resident complained about his conflict of interest, Hamon sought advice from the city attorney regarding the conflict. Because of these two factors, the commission elected to slap Hamon with a warning letter rather than a fine.

Two weeks after his first violation, Hamon again violated the Political Reform Act, this time with the help of then City Attorney Iris Yang. The Act requires public officials with conflicts of interest on an agenda item to “identify the interest, recuse themself, and leave the room.”

However, on Feb. 19, 2019, Hamon recused himself but did not inform the public why nor provide details about his conflict of interest, a second violation of the Act.

As a councilman and now mayor, Hamon is required to file a statements of economic interest, which needs to include his interest in the short-term rental property. The commission also determined Hamon failed to disclose his financial interest in the rental in his statement of economic interest, a third violation of the Act.

“This letter serves as a written warning,” the commission says in ita letter. “The information in this matter will be retained and may be considered should an enforcement action become necessary based on newly discovered information or future conduct. Failure to comply with the provisions of the Act in the future will result in monetary penalties of up to $5,000 for each violation.”

On Jan. 27, activist Julie Tacker asked the California Fair Political Practices Commission to look into a potential conflict of interest regarding Hamon voting on the selection of a new fixed-base operator (FBO) at the airport. Hamon leases several properties at the airport, and then subleases some of the property to others.

The FBO also leases property from the city at the airport which the FBO subleases to others, creating the alleged conflict of interest.

Hamon responded to Tacker’s complaint by stepping off the FBO Ad Hoc Committee, while reporting the city did not think he had a conflict of interest.

“The city does not believe Mayor Hamon’s leasehold interests create a conflict of interest under the Political Reform Act or other provisions of state law,” according to a March 5 staff report. “To have a conflict it would need to be reasonably foreseeable that the FBO contract would have a material financial effect on Mayor Hamon’s existing leasehold interest.”

City Attorney Elizabeth Hull sent a letter on March 6 to the Fair Political Practices Commission asking for advice on the conflict. In her letter, Hull describes what the FBO does, but fails to include that the FBO is tasked with leasing property that it then subleases, according to the Airport Minimum Standards document.

“The city owns the Paso Robles Municipal Airport, and currently contracts with a private fixed based operator to operate at the airport and provide aeronautical services to the public such as fueling, hangaring, tie-down and parking, aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, and other related services,” Hull says in her letter.

Hull goes on to say that while Hamon may have a personal interest in the costs of general aeronautical services at the Airport, the FBO agreement will have no financial effect on Mayor Hamon’s leasehold interests.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

hill billy politics

I think the comments are too hard on the Mayor. If he doesn’t practice being a crook now he won’t have the back ground he needs if he decides to run for the Board of Supervisors.