Council discusses plans to develop the El Camino Real Corridor

ATASCADERO — Atascadero City Council met on Tuesday, Oct. 12, for their regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m., following a closed session with nothing to report. The agenda was approved 5-0, and presentations followed.

Councilmember Charles Bourbeau read a proclamation recognizing October 2021 as National Domestic Violence Action month, Mayor Heather Moreno read a proclamation recognizing Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, as National Hispanic Heritage Month, and Councilmember Mark Dariz read a Proclamation Recognizing Oct. 3 to 9, as Fire Prevention Week.

Atascadero Fire Chief Casey Bryson and Battalion Chief David Van Son spoke and thanked council members on behalf of Atascadero Fire Department.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

The Consent Calendar was approved 5-0, and the meeting moved on to updates from Atascadero City Manager Rachelle Rickard.

Lake Perimeter Clean-Up Day is Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Volunteers can meet at 8:30 a.m. in front of the pavilion to register. Bring gloves, loppers, a hat, and water and help clean up unwanted brush along the path to improve the viewshed. Coffee and donuts will be provided.

Residential Waste Drop Off will take place from Saturday, Oct. 23 to Oct. 30 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Atascadero Chicago Grade Landfill. Atascadero Residents can get rid of extra household waste for free. Please contact Waste Management at (805) 466-3636 or visit the local office to request your voucher.

City Manager Rickard announced a variety of fun Halloween activities in town this year.

Mark Russo Sr. is once again putting on a Spooktacular Haunted House featuring a “Lights, Sights and Frights Show” every night from 7:00 p.m. until about 10:00 p.m. through the rest of October at 7720 Cortez Ave.

The Haunt will host a haunted house at 5805 El Camino Real where “18 Rooms of not-so-pleasant fairy tales, legends, and nursery rhymes are represented in the worst possible way”. Buy your tickets online at thehauntinatascadero.com.

On Saturday, Oct. 23, from 5:00-8:30 p.m., the Charles Paddock Zoo will host their Zoo Boo event. “Join us at the zoo for carnival games, Halloween activities, a haunted house, and tricks and treats! Put on your best costume and bring the whole family to a not-too-scary night at the zoo!”

Downtown Trick or Treat will be taking place on Entrada Ave. for a safe, family-friendly event on Halloween, Oct. 31, from 3:00-6:00 p.m. The event is free to attend and will feature candy hand-outs from local businesses, a hay maze, food and beverages from local restaurants, costume contests for various age groups, a pet costume contest, a bounce house, and more!

There are a couple of Road Rehab Projects currently underway, including work on San Marcos Rd. from San Gabriel to Portola Rd. and San Gabriel Road from HWY 41 to San Marcos Rd. At least one lane will be open for traffic during construction operations. Delays of up to 15 minutes should be expected. Residents will be allowed access to their homes, and Bonita Rd. will be open to allow access to San Marcos Rd. and the surrounding neighborhoods. Please use any alternate routes if possible and drive carefully. This road project should be completed by the end of October.

The 3rd Annual Central Coast Craft Beer Festival Oct. 23, from 12:00-4:00 p.m. at Sunken Gardens, hosted by the Central Coast Brewers Guild. The Festival will feature 50+ craft breweries from Monterey to Ventura counties, as well as live entertainment by local reggae band Resination, The Voice semi-finalist Will Breman, and DJ Hecktik. A variety of food trucks and plenty of great vendors will be on-site, and there are multiple price levels of entry including VIP and Designated Driver options. This is a 21+ event, and tickets are available online at visitatascadero.com.

Community Forum was opened and closed with no members of the public opting to speak.

A single management report was given by Director of Community Development Phil Dunsmore, who presented The El Camino Plan, which is “the result of an 18-month study of the potential to reshape and enhance the El Camino Real corridor to better serve and support the residents and businesses of Atascadero.”

The project goals are to:

  • Assess commercial areas
  • Quantify the market potential
  • Identify possible niches or commercial nodes
  • Provide recommendations for land use and development
  • Describe strategies and funding mechanisms
  • Describe Atascadero’s role and potential as a commercial destination

The El Camino Plan does not just focus on Downtown, but the entire El Camino Real Corridor, separating the corridor into the North End, Downtown, and the South End. Community outreach efforts highlighted public interest in the following areas

  • Economy and Vitality
  • Character and Place
  • Mobility Options
  • Quality of Future Development
  • Downtown as an Anchor

The Document was completed in March 2020 and contains concepts and suggestions for future development standards, ideas for land use and zoning along the corridor to enhance both economic development and housing opportunities, and potential enhancements within the right-of-way to increase bicycle and pedestrian safety and mobility.

From this plan emerged the following economic strategies:

  • Encouraging infill development and reuse of existing underutilized sites
  • Focusing on place-making and commercial consolidation for vibrancy at key nodes
  • Targeting the Commercial Park Zone for business parks and employment centers
  • Investment in the public realm to create a pedestrian-friendly, and aesthetically pleasing environment
  • Prioritizing opportunity areas and developing standards and zoning for a streamlined development process
  • Modifying uses in existing zoning districts to ensure compatibility
  • Encourage consolidation of parcels to create master-planned development sites
  • Ensure code enforcement of activities along the corridor that degrade the aesthetic and economic environment

“This plan is a foundation for future city action,” said Dunsmore, who reiterated that the El Camino Plan is not a policy book, but more of a reference, a source of inspiration, and a “recipe book for the future.”

Council reflected and gave input on the El Camino Plan with an extensive conversation covering far too many topics to relate here, but interested parties can watch the archived meeting at slo-span.org/static/meetings-ATASCC.php.

After the discussion, Mayor Moreno opened up Public Comment, and caller Geoff Auslen called in to express a few concerns regarding the talk of incentivizing relocation for certain businesses downtown as well as the need to consider trends that are happening out of state that may be coming this way. He commended the Council on doing a great job tonight and addressing most of his concerns during their discussion.

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:06 p.m., and the next City Council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 26, at 6:00 p.m.