Jeff Haferman, neighborhood activist and Ph.D weatherman, says Monterey needs to serve its citizens.
Thursday, August 29, 2002
Photo by Randy Tunnell.
Photo: Jeff Haferman became familiar with the City Council while pursuing his own issues as a downtown homeowner.
Whenever he can, Jeff Haferman rides his bicycle to work- a mountain bike with the knobby tires traded out for a set of slicks and a yoke-shaped handle. He lives in a historic Victorian house on Monroe Street in Old Monterey and he works about three miles away at the military weather station at Monterey Airport, known as the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center.
Haferman has lived in Monterey since 1997 and says he plans to stay. Having made himself known to the city council and staff over the years for various matters, he''s now running for a seat on the council. He says he is doing so to ensure that Monterey follows what he believes is a reasonable, prudent course. He''s essentially doing it on his own with a little help from his friends.
"My campaign is purely grassroots," he says, standing in a guest bedroom and office that double as his campaign headquarters and bicycle garage.
Haferman, 38, holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. He got involved in city issues almost as soon as he moved here from Washington DC, where he and his wife were both working for NASA. They''d visited Monterey and liked it. When the congestion around Washington got to be too much, he applied for an opening at Fleet Numerical and got it. He analyzes weather satellite imagery for the Pentagon. His only local political experience has been as the vice president of the Old Town Neighborhood Association.
From the balcony off the front of his house he can gaze out over the city and across the bay to Seaside. He also has a good view of the traffic light at Monroe and Franklin, which he has been lobbying the city to remove. He says it has increased traffic in his neighborhood and that it''s unsafe because it encourages people to speed up to make the green. He says the traffic light is not a campaign issue.
Nor, he says, is his standing application for a city permit to build a garage. A Monterey pine that Haferman says is diseased with pitch canker seems to be holding up the process. The fact that his home, built in 1870, is registered as "historic" also complicates matters.
"I started going to meetings because of this house," he says, holding a loose ornamental knob known as a finial from his balcony rail. "We have to fix this."
As with so many other cities, Monterey''s political tension rises from pressures to develop or not develop, to cater to business or residents, visitors or locals. Haferman does not take sides.
"I like Monterey for what it is but the issues that concern me have always been more from a resident''s perspective," he says.
Haferman is very uncomfortable with the city''s plans to build a new $16-to-$20 million city hall.
"What I do have a problem with is we''re in a lousy economy right now. We''re in a recession. We are going to have a $4 million budget shortfall next year and $4.2 million the following year."
Likewise he considers the list of variances the city will have to grant itself to build the city hall symbolic of its relationship with citizens.
"To me it just doesn''t make sense that they ask for so much and in comparison a lot of people have been turned down for much, much less."
Haferman proposes a series of forums to outline just what can be done about Monterey''s public school funding problems. The renovation of the State Theater into a performing arts center is also a top priority. He wants to see traffic and safety given more attention. As a bike rider, he would encourage alternative forms of transportation if elected councilman. The city''s plans to do away with a bike lane on Sloat Avenue to make room for more auto parking have him disappointed. When he tells other bicyclists about the threat to the bike lane, they are equally saddened. "They just shake their heads," he says.