City Council presented with General Plan Update

ATASCADERO—The Atascadero City Council met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 9, at 6 p.m. The hybrid meeting was held in the City Council Chambers.

At the top of the meeting, both the Agenda and the Consent Calendar passed with a unanimous vote.

Fire Chief Casey Bryson addressed the council with a Public Hearing on Weed Abatement Hearing of Objections.


“This is basically the second piece of our weed abatement process and just kind of as an overview, to start off, wildfires are a major here in our community. This is a whole community issue, so this is one part where we all help, and we jump in,” Bryson said. “Weed abatement is probably the most critical component of our fuels management program. It basically gives us the opportunity to create a fuel break between neighborhoods. So we require a 100-foot cut of weeds around each house and 50 feet on the property line.”

He stated that this helps keep fires small if they were to start. Atascadero has 11,169 parcels which they inspected visually in mid-March. At the April 11 meeting, the council declared weeds a nuisance.

“That allows us to make those inspections and send out notices,” added Bryson. “We actually mailed 5,655 this year, which is nearly 2,400 more than we have in years past. So a lot of our community received a notice.”

The notice is a courtesy notice and does not mean that the property owner has a violation, but on that date, they had weeds or potential for weeds. The extra rain in March meant more people got notices.

The motion to approve the staff’s recommendation to authorize the Fire Chief to proceed to perform the necessary weed abatement work passed unanimously.

The council then moved on to a Management Report for the Appointment of James R. Lewis as City Manager. Current City Manager Rachelle Rickard gave the presentation.

“I am very excited and very honored tonight to present a draft contract for city manager for Jim Lewis,” she said. “Jim is an amazing leader. He’s dynamic; he’s caring. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jim here at the city for eight years, from 2004 to 2013, and with him as another city manager here in the county. He’s been the city manager for the City of Pismo Beach from 2013 to today, and he is willing to come and be our city manager here in Atascadero,” stated Rickard.

Lewis has been a resident of Atascadero since 2004 and loves the community. He’s a part of Boy Scouts and Kiwanis in Atascadero. 

“It’s a huge honor and privilege to be considered for city manager of my hometown,” Lewis said. “Thank you, it’s really wonderful and to have seen for 10 years the great staff, and your leadership, and what’s happened here. I want to be a part of it. I don’t want to watch it anymore. I want to get in and serve alongside great people and look forward to it.”

“Before we take the vote, I just want to say that this was a unanimous and enthusiastic decision by this council. We are pleased to be welcoming home a very highly decorated homeboy (in the best sense) to lead us,” stated Councilmember Susan Funk.

The motion to confirm Jim Lewis as Atascadero’s new city manager passed unanimously. Rickard will continue to be Atascadero’s city manager until July 1.

The council was then presented with the General Plan Update Project. This was a discussion topic where the council gave feedback on General Plan Vision and Guiding Principles.

Those Guiding Principals are:

• Community Character And Form

• Economic Development And Fiscal Health

• Mobility and Circulation

• Public Services And Infrastructure

• Safety and Resiliency

• Parks and Recreation

• Conservation and Open Space

• Community Health and Engagement

The main change made when going through the Guiding Principals was to dissolve the section of Conservation and Open Space throughout the rest of the key points, and to remove Community Health and Engagement unless points could be added to those above.

For a more in-depth look, go to the city’s comprehensive website on the General Plan:

The next Atascadero City Council meeting will be held on at 6 p.m.

Feature Image:

Jim Lewis (third from left, back) is shown with his family and Atascadero City Council members after being announced as the next city manager, during the City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 9. Contributed Photo