Draft ordinance for Objective Design Standards approved

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero City Council met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, June 11, at 6 p.m. The hybrid meeting was held in the City Council Chambers. Councilmember Heather Newsom attended via Zoom and due to a bad connection was absent for the second half of the meeting.

During his Updates from the City Manager, Jim Lewis gave an update on kicking off the El Camino Real Downtown Safety and Parking Enhancement Project on Monday, June 10. They’re currently working on putting in an updated sewer line. Sewer main replacement work started on Wednesday, June 12.


“They’ll work their way from south to north, beginning at the intersection of El Camino Real and West Mall,” said Lewis.

During Community Forum, residents came forward to invite and speak to the council about Atascadero’s first-ever Pride Festival, which will take place at the Atascadero Zoo Garden Events Center this upcoming Sunday, June 16. Members of the community, including youth, also asked that the council revisit last year’s proclamation to declare June Pride Month in Atascadero and make it official again this year. All three of the speakers also commented on the discrimination that the LBGTQ+ community faces.

Three speakers entered the meeting via Zoom to make statements in opposition to the Pride Festival, a proclamation, and the lifestyle they promote. One of them stated she was a local resident. Two of the three Zoom speakers went as far as to state a desire for “European standards” and white pride to be celebrated instead. Other statements of white pride were made by the last speaker before the livestream abruptly ended, with the Community Forum having under two minutes left. Atascadero City Council’s Community Forum lasts 30 minutes, and each speaker has three minutes.

As of Wednesday, June 12, both parts of the recording, including Community Forum, have been removed from the City’s YouTube Channel. At the time of going to press, the city has yet to respond to when it will be available to the public.  

Below is the official statement the City of Atascadero made on Wednesday in response to comments made by the public during the meeting and the reasoning behind suspending the live stream.

“Unfortunately, like many cities across the state, Atascadero experienced hateful and derogatory comments towards members of our community via the Zoom platform. The speech last night was painful and hurtful to the public, council, and staff and does not reflect the values of our community. However, because a topic was brought up by those supporting a proclamation and an event that were both arguably within the subject matter jurisdiction of the council, it opened the matter to comments from all, including those not in favor of it. We are a country of rights and laws, and while we were shocked and repulsed by the content of what a handful of speakers said, they have a right to speak.

Free speech, protected by the First amendment, allows those comments, however the Zoom link was temporarily suspended after a third commenter made comments disruptive to the meeting and not within the subject matter jurisdiction/purview of the City Council. The Zoom link was reinstituted as soon as possible.

Numerous social groups approach the City that want recognition or affirmation of their cause. In Atascadero, our priorities are on the services that local government commonly provides and that benefit all such as public safety, homelessness, housing, public infrastructure, and economic development.

The City of Atascadero is a loving community where people are appreciated, valued, and all are welcome.  We will continue to focus on serving, building community, and enhancing quality of life.”

When the live stream started up again, around 20 minutes later, the first Public Hearing of the night, Objective Design Standards, was already underway. The item included a first reading of the Draft Ordinance, establishing objective design standards, and updating existing development standards in Title 9.

“These objective standards are to be relied upon. An objective standard should really be one that you can read without having two different people interpret it differently,” stated Project Manager at MIG Genevieve Sharrow. “So often these have pretty specific measurements, such as 2 feet by 10 feet, or they could be a performance measurement.” 

State law says that the objective design standards should apply to all new multi-unit residential projects and any mixed-use projects that include at least two-thirds of the project as residential.

The city team also created a checklist with these design objectives, which have been used and tried by the city’s local architect. And the checklist worked well and the development community is excited to move forward with it.

After much deliberation and discussion, the motion passed unanimously with a 4-0 vote. Newsom was still not able to join back into the meeting.

The next Atascadero City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 25, at 6 p.m.