ATASCADERO — The regular meeting of the Atascadero City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 11, was packed in more ways than one.
The now-former Mayor Tom O’Malley and Councilman Brian Sturtevant were given City awards of recognition for their long service and contributions to the community as well as picking up honors from the office of California Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham and County Supervisor Debbie Arnold.
“I have to tell you he’s done a wonderful job working for your community the entire time I’ve been on the Board,” Arnold noted, in summing up a long list of the committees and outside entities O’Malley served on during his 16 years of municipal office.
While noting that a great deal of community life and civic service is in the relationships you form along the way, O’Malley yielded much of his speaking time to a lifelong friend, Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, who attended to show his support.
With a working relationship since 2002, Martin said, “I didn’t know what it was like to be a true hands-on public servant until I was reintroduced to Tom O’Malley.”
While the only official bit of business for the outgoing Council to attend to was the swearing in of successors, a quick change had to be made to the agenda to make sure that the City’s elected Treasurer Gere Sibbach was recognized for swearing in.
Like Mayor Heather Moreno, Sibbach ran unopposed for his seat. However, as he’s been in the post since 2014, his re-election drew less attention than her move up from the Council.
After taking the oath of office Sibbach thanked the people that allow him to work in the post, especially his family, and noted his style of service, “I stay in the background for the most part, but I do sometimes pipe up and annoy a few people.”
After the swearing in of Moreno as mayor and new Councilwomen Heather Newsom and Susan Funk, Moreno took easily to the role of officiant, allowing attendees a few moments to cheer for their candidates and navigating official business after a break for refreshment.
On the agenda after convening the Council heard a staff presentation on allocation of Community Development Block Grant funding totaling $180,960. While much of the money was spoken for in capital projects, the Council did have a decision to make in splitting $19,205 between proposals for youth extracurricular activity grants and funding for the ECHO Homeless shelter programs. While the staff recommendation had been to allocate $10,000 of those funds to ECHO they compromised toward a more even split of $9,800 for the homeless services organization and the remainder for youth programs.
That was all after hearing from public commenters who brought back the issue of a nighttime warming center for the homeless. While several members of the public asked the new Council to reconsider a rejection of a proposal to open the Armory building for the purpose with City support, they also excoriated Councilwoman Roberta Fonzi for her views on the matter in an editorial explaining her rationale on the decision.
Although the Council did not have any interest in reagendizing the matter, Mayor Moreno noted that “the vote two weeks ago was one of the hardest we had to take in my six years on the Council. It was not a simple matter at all.”
In the time since though she noted, herself and members of the Council and City staff had worked with the applicant for that project and understood he was on the cusp of securing an alternative solution.
As the Council ended the evening by accepting new committee assignments, Funk took over the role of the City’s representative on San Luis Obispo County’s Homeless Oversight Committee. Councilman Charles Bourbeau will continue his involvement in the issue, however, joining Funk on a new ad-hoc subcommittee of the Council, initially formed at his request to explore options for the warming shelter.