A Year of Growth, Connectivity, and Community
By Heather Moreno
The year 2023 brought remarkable growth, unforeseen challenges, and unprecedented opportunities to Atascadero. As your mayor, I find myself excited about the new year, eager to share my vision for 2024 — a vision that encompasses connectivity, community, and continued progress for our beloved city.
Building a Connected Atascadero
In recognizing that fast, dependable internet service is now a “fourth utility,” Atascadero is committed to expanding and improving our broadband infrastructure. The project underway will multiply internet speeds at a dozen city facilities by tenfold, a leap that saves taxpayers $500,000 over the next 30 years and serves as a catalyst for increased competition.
In an ever-connected world, this upgrade positions Atascadero with technological advancements, ready to embrace the opportunities of the future.
Charting the Future
We are in the final phase of General Plan 2045, our guiding roadmap for the next 20 years. This comprehensive plan serves as the blueprint for how our community will develop, addressing key issues such as housing, transportation, local amenities, and the preservation of Atascadero’s unique character. The community consensus gathered during open houses earlier in the year has provided invaluable input, shaping our priorities and goals.
As we delve into the details of the General Plan, I urge residents to remain engaged and take pride in the collective effort to make Atascadero an even more incredible place to live. This plan is not just a document; it is a testament to our shared commitment to building a future that honors our past while embracing progress.
The County’s Living Room
In 2014, the City Council, residents, and the local business community came together to set forth a 10-year vision “Atascadero is a beautiful and authentic city of outdoor recreation, culinary adventures, and welcoming hospitality. It’s a safe place where the arts and history thrive, and the diversity of experience, generosity of spirit, and small-town ambiance are here to be enjoyed by visitors and residents alike.” Today, we stand on the cusp of realizing those aspirations. Our downtown is vibrant, our local businesses are thriving, and our community continues to make Atascadero the destination of choice, all while preserving our small-town charm.
Atascadero is often referred to as a “bedroom community,” but I think we should reject that label in favor of one coined years ago by new City Manager Jim Lewis: Atascadero is the county’s living room, a place where folks want to hang out, spend the day, get away from it all, and connect with what truly matters most. There’s a reason you and I chose Atascadero to be our home — let’s keep it warm and inviting.
Addressing the Homelessness Crisis and Building Regional Partnerships
Our commitment to compassion and community extends to our unhoused residents. The Atascadero Police Department’s OUR (Outreach for Underrepresented Residents) Team, working collaboratively with ECHO and County Behavioral Health, is dedicated to connecting unhoused individuals with the support they need on their journey to permanent housing. With the lifting of COVID-era restrictions, ECHO can now operate at full capacity, and the expansion of their Paso facility strengthens a truly regional North County partnership to address homelessness comprehensively.
Priority Capital Improvements
We continue urgently needed work on priority capital projects that will enhance our infrastructure, safety, and quality-of-life. These include the exciting Downtown Infrastructure Enhancement Project (DIEP), rebuilding Fire Station #1, and a complete renovation of our wastewater treatment plant.
Construction on the DIEP will begin late spring/early summer, transforming over a half-mile stretch of El Camino Real between Highway 41 and Rosario Avenue — our core Downtown corridor — to improve pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist safety, and to promote vital Downtown economic development.
After more than 70 years, Atascadero Fire Department’s Fire Station #1 is in dire need of a complete overhaul. A needs assessment is underway, and concept design will occur later this year, to bring us a modern fire station that enhances public safety, sharpens response times, and improves the health and morale of our personnel.
The state implemented new demands on testing and treatment of wastewater, requiring us to significantly upgrade our wastewater treatment facility to meet these rigorous standards, as well as addressing existing deficiencies and capacity issues. Preliminary design will begin this spring.
My favorite thing about Atascadero continues to be the people. The city, residents, businesses, and nonprofits all come together to do important work and I will continue to champion that spirit and forge the partnerships that make things happen. To quote Donn Clickard, Atascadero is a “we” not “me” community.
As your mayor, it is an honor and a privilege to lead during these exciting times. My heartfelt prayer extends to each one of you — for health, happiness, and success in 2024. Together, let’s continue the good work that has made Atascadero the exceptional place it is today. May this coming year be a testament to our collective vision and commitment to a thriving, connected, and compassionate community.
ATASCADERO NEWS MAGAZINE
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