City Manager Jim Lewis gives a storm update after last week’s wind and rain

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero City Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 6 p.m. The hybrid meeting was held in the City Council Chambers.

The evening’s Agenda passed unanimously. The Consent Calendar also passed unanimously after Mayor Heather Moreno asked for an update on item two, Proclamation of Existence of a Local Emergency Related to the Early February 2024 Storms.

“The community faired very well in the last storm as far as our areas of flooding that we were aware of. Traffic control right away. We didn’t have any major tree limbs drop in the right of way or powerlines block right of way,” said City Manager Jim Lewis. “We did staff up, so I want to give credit to the police and fire department for staffing up and preplanning so we could run the calls. Our public works team had a crew running, keeping culverts flowing, being right on top of things. The work that that team had done to preplan helped. So we faired really well.”


He added that late last week, the city did have a failure on San Marcos Road, close to where the road needed to be repaired after the 2023 storms.

The night’s only Public Hearing was the Appeal of the ARCO Canopy Signage Use Permit at 9590 El Camino Real. Community Development Director Phil Dunsmore gave the presentation on the item.

“This is regarding the new fuel station that just opened up on the south end of town at El Camino, in between Montecito and Santa Rosa; it’s a really nice ARCO station,” Dunsmore said. “They did actually come in for approval of signs, as often these gas stations do. They always need a little bit of extra signage, and we guided them through a process, but through a course of events, here we are tonight on appeal on some of that signage.” 

The property has Commercial Tourist Zoning on the site, across the street is Retail Zoning, and adjacent to that on the hill is a Multi-Family Zone.

The Design Review Committee (DRC) was presented with the item on July 19, 2019, and again on Sept. 19, 2019. The DRC endorsed the project without color banding or a light strip on the ARCO canopy. In September of 2022, ARCO then applied for a use permit for a light strip on the canopy, which the public hearing officer denied. It was not appealed within 14 days. 

“So what we told is that they could still reapply. Our code allows you to reapply, so sometime later, they reapplied again,” Dunsmore said. “At that point and time as a director, I decided to bump that up to the Planning Commission level. We had already denied this thing, and to save the whole process of going through appeal, hey, let’s just bring it straight to Planning Commission, which is an option we have in our municipal code. So we did that for the commission last November 2023 and made a recommendation to not have this color banding. Not have this light strip, but the Planning Commission gave a compromise and said, ‘You can have your color banding on the canopy, but no light strip.’ So they gave them half of the approval.”

The appeal for the City Council meeting was brought forth because ARCO wanted both the color banding and the light strip on their canopy due to ARCO branding purposes and being able to see the fuel station more easily, even though the station cannot be seen from the freeway.

After deliberation and Public Comment from a resident who lives across the street from the gas station stating that the lights are already very bright coming from the station, it was decided to move forward with the original allowances given by the Planning Commission last November.

“I would be willing to make a motion to recommend Draft Resolution A affirming the Planning Commission’s approval of an Administrative Use Permit to allow increased signage at 8590 El Camino Real,” stated Moreno.

This allows for the ARCO to put up color banding but not light strips.

The vote passed in a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Charles Bourbeau voting no.

The next Atascadero City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m.