Measure D-20 First Annual Report presented to Council 

ATASCADERO — Atascadero City Council met on Tuesday, Aug. 10, for their regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m., following a closed session with nothing to report.

Mayor Heather Moreno attended via Zoom while all other Councilmembers were in Chambers for the first time since last year. 

The meeting began with a unanimous vote to approve the meeting agenda.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Item A-3, which is the designation of the voting delegate representing Atascadero at the League of City’s Annual Conference, was pulled from the consent calendar to be voted on separately. The consent calendar minus item A-3 was approved by a unanimous vote.

Item A-3 was discussed, and the decision to change the voting delegate from Councilmember Susan Funk to Councilmember Mark Dariz was made based on potential scheduling conflicts. The item was then approved by unanimous vote.

The Council received updates from the City Manager, Rachelle Rickard:

  • This City Council meeting marks the Council’s return to Council Chambers, with both in-person and virtual attendees.
  • Rickard highlighted several new murals downtown, as well as several new businesses, including the “Block Shops” downtown, consisting of Negranti Creamery, Stellar + Sun Hat Co., and Ancient Owl Beer Gardens and Bottle Shoppe; Supremo Meat Market, Specs by Kyla Boutique Eyewear, and BB’s Fashion Boutique.
  • The Summer Concert Series continues Saturday, Aug. 14, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with the JD Project performing at Atascadero Lake Park Bandstand.
  • Movies in the Garden continues Saturday, Aug. 14, from 8 to 11 p.m. with Raya and the Last Dragon (PG) at Sunken Gardens. 
  • Cruisin’ Weekend kicks off with the 28 Annual Hot El Camino Cruise Nite on Friday, Aug. 20, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. and will be followed up by the 5th Annual Dancing in the Streets on Saturday Aug. 21 from 5 to 9 p.m.
  • The 5th Annual Atascadero Cornhole Tournament will be held Sept. 17 and 18 at the Ravine Waterpark in Paso Robles. Proceeds will benefit the Boys and Girls Club and Boy Scouts Troop 51.
  • All Atascadero events can be found at visitatascadero.com.

Community Forum was then opened to the public.

Geoff Auslen stated that “unfortunately our Police Department lost a K-9 last week,” referring to Pit von de Kreuzwiese, aka “Pit,” who had served the community of Atascadero since 2015. Auslen announced that fundraising efforts are underway between Atascadero Grocery Outlet, Kate and Geoff Auslen, Kiwanis Club, and the Elks Lodge in order to welcome a new K-9 into our department. Donations are welcomed and should be made to the Atascadero Police Department and should include a memo that it should be designated for “APD K-9”.

Tom O’Malley, President of Atascadero Kiwanis, announced the results of the 11th Annual Kiwanis Mayor’s Winemaker Dinner, which raised $50K for the El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO).

A quick video clip was shown of Mayor Moreno and O’Malley presenting the check to the President and CEO of ECHO, Wendy Lewis.

Lewis then spoke and thanked the Council and the Kiwanis Club for the “wonderful gift.”

Tom O’Malley, Wendy Lewis, and Geoff Auslen then invited the Council to take a picture with them holding the check, to which the Council happily obliged.

Peter Henson spoke next and offered “a belated thanks” to the Council for the resolution 2020-73, which states, “Atascadero will not tolerate racial bias.” The resolution erased racial covenants from property deeds.  

“While a resolution can not undo what was done…you folks needed to speak out and say, ‘that’s not who we are.’ Well done to you.”

He then went on to say, “I believe that keeping racism out of our town is at least equally important as dealing with it if it’s discovered.” He then gave his opinion regarding Critical Race Theory, stating, “if it is racist in nature…can we agree it does not belong in our school system?”

Henson asked the Council to inquire of all Atascadero Unified School District Board of Trustees as to their position on CRT and to make their positions public.

Mayor Moreno clarified that the City Council has no purview over the School District nor over the Board Members, but that “anyone individually is welcome to ask anybody individually any questions they want.”

The first public hearing of the night was opened in order to review an appeal to an accessory storage use permit at a residence on Cascabel Rd.

Rick Daravan had appealed his neighbor’s conditional use permit for a storage shed that was to be built five feet from his property line, citing visual obstruction of the view from a bedroom window, noise, and changing the characteristics of the neighborhood as reasons for the permit to be denied. He also asked that if the permit was not denied, that the five-year permit be reduced to two years.

Property owners Tim and Darcy Wetzler addressed the Council, stating that their project was relatively small compared to others in the neighborhood, was fitting with the characteristics of the neighborhood, would be used to store vehicles and not for noisy activities, and that their neighbor had his own shed five feet and eight inches off of his property line. Wetzler also stated that while he’d prefer a five-year permit, he would agree to two.

“Just as our neighbors have developed their property, we would like to develop ours,” said Tim Wetzler.

“We bought this property because it had property,” stated Darcy Wetzler, “we simply ask that we can use our property that we own.”

The Council agreed with the property owners that the shed fit in with the characteristics of the neighborhood and that it was in complete compliance with code. The Council asked if the property owners would agree to planting vegetation screening to reduce any noise and make the neighbor’s view more suitable, and the property owners agreed.

The permit was approved by unanimous vote, with a two-year time frame, and with the condition that the property owners would plant vegetation screening.

The second public hearing of the night was to confirm the cost of vegetative growth and refuse abatement, which was presented by Atascadero Fire Chief Casey Bryson. The total cost of weed abatement this year came out to $67,089.19 and was approved by the Council by unanimous vote.

Administrative Services Director Jeri Rangel then presented the Measure D-20 First Annual Report.  

Measure D-20 was approved by voters in November 2020 and became effective in April 2021. The report will show the process by which the budget is developed and performance metrics so that taxpayers can see what they are getting from the measure they voted on.

Council Announcements and Committee Reports were next on the agenda.

Councilmember Funk announced that the Atascadero Basin Ground Water Sustainability Drought Plan was available online for viewing and comment at atascaderobasin.com.

Councilmember Charles Bourbeau announced that the San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to direct their staff to begin withdrawing from the Joint Powers Agreement that makes up the integrated Waste Management Authority. Bourbeau stated that “this decision will have impacts on the city of Atascadero as well as all the cities in the county.”

Mayor Pro Tem Heather Newsom announced a Design Review Committee meeting on Thursday, Aug. 12 at 2 p.m., at which the newly revised plans for the Barell Creek Project will be looked at.

Councilmember Dariz had nothing to report.

Mayor Moreno announced that she attended a Regional Economic Action Coalition (REACH) Meeting at the end of July and reported that Paso Robles is looking at the potential of converting their airport to be used as a spaceport.

Mayor Moreno also brought up that the Council had been looking at the potential of commuter rail. She mentioned that the price had gone up and that “the price tag on that could be as high as a half a billion dollars,” and concluded that commuter rail would not be in Atascadero’s immediate future.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m. The next meeting of the Atascadero City Council is scheduled for Sep. 14 at 6 p.m. for open session, and the meeting agenda will be posted on the City’s website when it becomes available.