Marty Satow was primed to welcome guests to his Tehama estate in Carmel Valley during Car Week in 2018 for parties featuring luxury BMWs on his large circular driveway, including future models like the BMW 8 Series Convertible and the BMW X7. He leased his home to a company called Octagon, which in turn was promoting it as the “BMW Villa” for the week.
Then management at Tehama—which includes owner Clint Eastwood—caught wind of the plan. Tehama officials told Satow commercial events were not allowed under the community’s covenants, conditions and restrictions. Anyone who approached the gates on those dates would be turned away.
“I was never going to do a party like what they thought,” Satow says, adding that parties in Tehama during Car Week are common. “It was blown out of proportion.”
A day before the first gathering, Satow filed a lawsuit asking a judge to allow the events to move forward. According to court documents, Tehama contacted the Monterey County Resource Management Agency, and in turn an RMA official informed Satow he would need a use permit. Without enough time to get one, he scaled the events back. Monterey County Superior Court Judge Susan Matcham ruled that two parties could move forward, with limits on attendance and other factors. A smaller version of the first party went forward. Then BMW officials, feeling “harassed,” Satow says, took the final party to another estate off Laureles Grade.
That same week in Pebble Beach at the “Rolls Royce Villa,” another private residence, county officials investigated after neighbors complained about parties there, says Freda Escobar, RMA services manager in charge of special event permits. An administrative citation was issued on Aug. 28, stating that “non-property owners” were staying at the home, making it an unpermitted short-term rental. The owner, a woman from Saratoga, was fined $4,800.
On Aug. 13 of this year’s Car Week, Escobar says complaints are coming in daily and there’s not enough staff to handle all of them. “We’re reactive, not proactive,” she says. Decisions about which complaints to prioritize are made based on “life, health and safety.”
Escobar was placed in charge of special event permits by RMA Director Carl Holm after the Monterey County Board of Supervisors determined in 2016 that the county should update its permitting process for large events. Escobar leads monthly special events task force meetings open to the public with various agencies involved, like California Highway Patrol, to discuss upcoming events that range from large races at Laguna Seca to nonprofit fundraisers.
A questionnaire on the county website helps applicants determine if permits are needed. It asks a series of questions about attendance numbers, traffic impacts, parking, alcohol, food, music and temporary structures. Depending on their answers, applicants may be directed to apply for permits for things like portable bathrooms, roadway encroachment or alcohol.
Satow requested last month that a judge dismiss his suit; it’s scheduled for a hearing on Aug. 20. “It put a lot of stress on me, a lot of headache and heartache. It’s not about the damages, we just want peace.”