Atascadero City Council considers trees, escrow and fire

ATASCADERO The Atascadero City Council resumed normal sessions Sept. 11 after a light summer schedule.

With no formal public hearings on the agenda, they heard management reports from the Community Development Director, City Attorney, and Fire Chief on items in progress before recessing to closed session.

City Council candidates attended the meeting as well, weighing in to a larger degree than usual with questions on consent calendar items and getting more of an idea as to what the job entails.

Mayor Tom O’Malley expressed appreciation for their interest, given that, “at least two of you will be doing this regularly at some point. Believe me everyone up here knows how difficult campaigning is.”

Community Development Director Phil Dunsmore gave notes on the the City’s Native Tree ordinance update which was listed as having no fiscal impact to the City, but had been designed with the interests of saving staff time in processing permits.

Councilman Charles Bourbeau said that he was “very pleased” with the results and the reduction of application fees for the public, who would have otherwise had tree removal requests processed through the Planning Commision.

In addition to computerized indexing of permits, Dunsmore noted that care guidelines for native species and a listing of “Heritage Trees,” would be part of the final ordinance.

In addition to the trees of note listed, private property owners have the option to request trees on their property be listed.

City Attorney Brian Pierik then explained for the Council and visitors that escrow for $610,000 was being budgeted for the City to purchase property at 6009 Del Rio Road, from the Arnold family, based on an appraisal of $600,000.

The Council discussed a provision in the purchase agreement which would have given the option to extend a tenant lease on a home on the property which is now vacant.

The home would need to be demolished before planned use of the site, “to meet the need for traffic improvements brought about by nearby development.”

Pending a review of the site noted City Manager Rachelle Rickard, “the Fire Department is always looking for training opportunities.”

Finally, Fire Chief Casey Bryson gave an update on the proposal to hire a new firefighter to flesh out the standing two engine companies available for deployment.

Currently the Department fills staffing shortages brought on by vacation and unexpected time off with overtime, but a FEMA and Homeland Security grant would net the City approximately $30,000 in savings by paying the salary of a new recruit for 75 percent the first two years and 33 percent in the third.

This would be the sixth grant of the kind received by the department for equipment or staffing totaling $700,000 through the years, he said adding that, having recently gone through the hiring process earlier in the year, they still have a shortlist of approved applicants.

All items received unanimous votes to proceed as planned.


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