Council adopts a resolution that recognizes the importance of Galaxy Theaters and Colony Square to downtown

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero City Council came together on Tuesday night for a lengthy meeting covering three main topics, the adoption of the Atascadero Wildland Urban Interface Fire Map Area, updating the clarifications in the Title 9 Planning and Zoning Amendments and adopting a resolution recognizing the importance of Galaxy Theaters and Colony Square.

The meeting began with a few updates from the City Manager before bringing on Atascadero Fire Captain Casey Bryson to present the updated fire maps. The State has mandated that a fire severity map be adopted by the City that requires structures built-in “Very High Severity” or “High Severity” be built to the more fire resilient Wildland Building Code standards.

The City of Atascadero had never officially adopted a map that meets the State requirements and has instead used a much older San Luis Obispo County Fire Hazard Severity Zone Map. The new map is a combination of the old county map and the new State map spliced together to make the most sensible map for the City.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

“We really felt that this was the time to implement our own map that really does what we have already been doing,” Bryson said. “It does increase the building standards for that one small piece, but it really meets the intent of the State mandate to adopt a map which we have never done. We are adopting a map that we feel is the best for Atascadero.”

Next, the Council dove into a long discussion about Title 9 Planning and Zoning Amendments that began with Community Development Director Phil Dunsmore’s presentation. In 2020, the State passed a list of new laws that affect portions of the City’s zoning ordinance, including updates to density bonus regulations, accessory dwelling unit standards and fence and wall height standards.

Altogether, the Council reviewed 15 total items, adjusting some, for example, the allowed height for a multi-family home in a residential zone and approving staff recommendations on others. Other topics included agricultural uses in a residential zone, scrap, and junk accessory use, covered parking for multi-family residential, mortuary services, gate setbacks and height limits, Design Review Committee expiration, corner lot clarification, and more.

The night’s final management report surrounded Galaxy Theaters and the Colony Square that the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted. Due to the shutdowns’ economic hardships, the Theater has paid no rent, and Que Pasa has paid limited rent. The portion of Colony Square that is occupied by the Theater and restaurant is owned by Jeff Nelson.

The lack of rent payments from the businesses has affected Nelson’s ability to keep up with mortgage payments, and the lender is currently working towards foreclosure on the property. The foreclosure is seen as unwarranted by Nelson since the Theaters closure and non-payment of rent is temporarily beyond his control.

Nelson is seeking to delay the foreclosure and is seeking support from the City and its citizens. The Council was in agreement as to the importance of Galaxy Theaters and Colony Square as a substantial contributor to the success of the downtown and adopted the resolution.

In late December 2020, Federal legislation was enacted that provides grant funding for severely impacted venues, including Galaxy Theaters LLC, which can be the basis for making up missed rent and other expense payments and an economic life raft to reopening of the theaters. According to the meeting Tuesday night, all parties are currently cooperating to seek federal grant funding and encourage anyone with knowledge or experience to reach out to the City.

To view, this or any meeting in its entirety, visit Atascadero.org.