Local Code updates are discussed in light of new California requirements

ATASCADERO — Atascadero City Council met on Tuesday, Sept. 28, for their regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m., following a closed session with nothing to report.

Regular session began at 6 p.m., and the agenda was approved 5-0.

A video presentation was played in which city employees were recognized and honored for their work. Bonnie Williams was recognized first. Williams has been working for the city since 2012, and the first person residents usually see at the front desk at the recreation center. Lara Christensen, our Deputy City Manager and City Clerk, was recognized. Steve Tirotta was recognized as an essential member of the animal care staff and one of two Lead Zookeepers at the Charles Paddock Zoo. Chris Robinson, a Fire Captain and Paramedic, and Tom Little, a full-time Fire Fighter, both with Atascadero Fire Department, were recognized. Director of Administrative Services Jeri Rangel was recognized, who has been with the city since 2001. Bob Mollé is a Police Lieutenant with Atascadero Police Department who has been with the city for 25 years was recognized. These City employees were called up on the steps of City Hall to shake hands with City Council, and recognized for their dedication to the community.


The Consent Calendar was approved 5-0.

Updates from City Manager Rachelle Rickard were presented as follows:

  • Atascadero Job Fair will be held Wed. Sept. 29 3-6 p.m. at Sunken Gardens. More information at Atascadero Chamber of Commerce website: atascaderochamber.org
  • Colony Days Parade and Festival will be held this weekend. The parade starts on Oct. 2 at 10 a.m. and is immediately followed by the festival. For more information, please visit colonydays.org
  • Creek Cleanup Day was on Sat., Sept. 18 in which over 60 volunteers participated.
  • Showdown Cornhole Tournament was held on Sept. 17-18 in which 80 teams 160 participants competed. Approximately $6000 in proceeds were raised for Boys and Girls’ Club and Boy Scout Troop 51.
  • Cal Poly architecture students toured Atascadero’s Historic City Hall last week.
  • Volunteers from Atascadero Rotary volunteered and donated paint in order to repaint the Senior Center.

Mayor Moreno opened the meeting to Community Forum.

Greg Grewal called in to inquire about the efficiency of Atascadero’s water supply.

Greg Auslan called in to inquire about briefing residents on new Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) ordinances, laws, and regulations which are supposed to go into effect Jan. 1.

Public Comment was then closed, and Director of Community Development Phil Dunsmore led a discussion in response to the State of California’s new Code Updates regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU). Effective Jan. 1, the changes to the State Code will take effect, which has prompted the council to consider updating the City Code in order to prevent discrepancies. The conversation was focused on analysis of where new State Code affects existing local Code and what portions of local Code Council may consider changing.

The topic was then opened to public comment.

One caller brought up a problem with the way the ADU Code interacts with the current Planned Development Overlay number 7, which makes it impossible for him to create an ADU on his property. The caller asked Council to take a look at that and consider making a change.

Another caller asked for clarification regarding using an ADU as a vacation rental.

Public comment was closed, and Council discussed the issue more in-depth with Director Dunsmore.

Lot size, health and safety criteria, identification of high fire zone areas or areas with no emergency access, owner occupancy, short-term rentals, size of the ADU, the difference between ADU and Jr. ADU, parking, structure setbacks, review timelines, impact fee limits, and delayed enforcement were the topics which were brought up during the discussion.

The next step is for Staff to draft updates to Code and submit them to the Planning Commission for review and comment. After a thorough discussion of each of these areas, Council directed Staff to begin drafting updates to local Code.

The following is a brief summary of the direction provided to Staff by Council:

  • On properties with a septic system, a standard of 1-acre minimum would remain in place, but if there is an exception that can be easily identified, it will be up for consideration.
  • Fire Hazard Zones require additional analysis from Fire Chief in order to identify hazardous areas and areas with limited road access.
  • Local Code will go along with the state on not allowing new ADUs to be used as short-term rentals but would leave existing short-term rentals alone (existing prior to January 2020 per the State Code).
  • Staff was directed to inquire as to whether additional setbacks can be required for ADUs over 1,000 sf.

The next agenda item was the Labor Agreements and Salary Schedules for Fiscal Years 2021-22, 2022-23, and 2023-24. 

Administrative Services Director Jeri Rangel presented a summary of the current salaries and recommendations for a variety of City employees. The City currently has 137 full-time budgeted positions. Rangel reported that an extensive salary survey found that the City of Atascadero is the lowest paying City in the entire County.

For Fiscal Year 2021-2022, it is estimated that these catch-up salary adjustments will cost approximately $1.5 million. Each of the additional years is expected to cost an additional $650,000 – $700,000.

The item was passed 5-0.

During Council Announcements and Committee reports Councilmember Funk proposed an individual determination. In light of the El Camino Homeless Organization’s (ECHO) Long Walk Home, which raised approximately $40K and that this year is ECHO’s 20th Anniversary, she recommended a proclamation to proclaim Sept. 30, 2021, El Camino Homeless Shelter Day. She also noted that the 2021 Colony Days’ King and Queen, Mike and Charlotte Byrne, are the original founders of ECHO.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:53 p.m., and the next Atascadero City Council Meeting will take place on Oct. 12 at 6 p.m.