The budget will also increase by $30,000

ATASCADERO — Last week, at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 14, the council unanimously passed a motion that will benefit campsite debris removal. Part of the motion moved all funds for the debris removal from the Public Works Department Parks Division to the Atascadero Police Department (APD), who are already in charge of the cleanups. It will streamline the process and keep things moving smoothly.

“The actual function of coordinating the cleanup efforts, and all the oversight that is entailed with that, is with the Police Department,” said APD Police Chief Dan Suttles. “Therefore, when it comes to  approving the expenditure of funds, the current method would require that Public Works verify the completeness and quality of work that [to that point] they had not been involved with. By having the Police Department carry the budget, we can simply approve expenditures based off the intimate knowledge we already have of each job completed.” 

Right now, the APD is teaming up with third-party vendors to conduct the removal of campsite debris. Meaning that now, the APD doesn’t have to go through the Public Works department to pay the invoices for the work done on the sites. 


“This saves valuable staff time, which allows our Public Works staff to focus on their primary functions,” added Suttles.

The motion also added $30,000 of the city’s General Fund Reserves to the already existing $50,000 budget. Going forward, the APD will have $80,000 a year to continue providing the community with its cleanup efforts.   

A Town Clean Up APD 2
Campsite after debris removal. Photo provided by APD.

“Having the increase in the budget means we will be able to continue to provide the level of service we have been so far this year (this fiscal year, as we are discussing budgets),” Suttles said. “We are cognizant to stay within our budgetary limits. Therefore, if funds are not available, then the service would be at risk.” 

Approximately four to five cleanups occur every month, though the exact numbers change from month to month. The funds go directly to campsite debris removal, as the Atascadero City Council intended, and it has been a successful endeavor.

“Having these funds available makes debris removal possible,” continued Suttles. “I believe that without these efforts, there would be a significant difference in the aesthetics of our city. These cleanups do make a difference.” 

The cleanups are part of the City of Atascadero’s much larger outreach program. That program combines the Outreach for Underrepresented Residents Team (OUR Team), which is made up of local law enforcement officers, county behavioral clinicians, and members of local outreach organizations. Together, all of these entities provide support and resources to Atascadero’s unhoused population.

The actual campsite debris cleanups are just a small part of what the city provides the unhoused in a huge collaboration to get people back on their feet, but every step helps the community as a whole.

Feature Image: Campsite before debris removal. Photo provided by APD