A rough Draft Land Use Plan is currently in the works

ATASCADERO — Atascadero is currently in the middle of putting together its General Plan Update. Here is what the city has done so far and their current plan to move forward.

“Cities are required to keep their General Plan up to date, the state requires that,” said Community Development Director Phil Dunsmore. “Our General Plan was last updated in 2002. The typical time frame for updating the General Plan is about every 20 years, so we’re definitely due.” 

Around three years ago the item was brought before the City Council to initiate the process of getting the funding to move forward in creating the new General Plan Update. The city then hired MIG, Inc. out of Pasadena. They’ve been working with the city for the last year and a half.

“For the majority of that time we have been spending our time doing what we call Existing Conditions, which is a full analyzes of all of the city’s infrastructure, all the city’s road system, all the city’s land use plan, and all the city’s policies. And basically putting all that together so we understand the template we’re working from,” added Dunsmore.

At the same time, the City of Atascadero has provided the community with plenty of outreach in both neighborhoods and at city events to make sure that the people who live there have a say in how things move forward. The city started its outreach with a booth at the 2022 Colony Days celebration and has gone forward since then, most recently with a General Plan Project Public Workshop on Oct. 14 at the Pavilion on the Lake.  

“We had an all-day workshop and we invited the public to come in and look at the information that we’ve gathered and [share] their thoughts about the future of Atascadero and where we should go,” Dunsmore continued. “Primarily from a land use perspective. A lot of this activity is really centered around zoning and land use and what people can do with their property and how our city should grow from a population perspective, how our city should grow from a resource perspective.” 

He also added that every facet of the city has a say in how the General Plan will end up. Where the original workshops were more about what people wanted to see for the future of Atascadero, now the workshops are more about what the city has and the city’s ideas using the community’s feedback so far and getting feedback from there.

“Our last workshop was a number of surveys and exercises. We kept the surveys open online for about a month trying to get information on specific ideas about what could change in certain areas. And what the potential is for change along certain districts. Along El Camino Real, along Highway 41, and along Traffic Way,” continued Dunsmore. “And what could change in the neighborhoods around that so that we can accommodate helping in business and economic development over the next 20 years. Where are we growing and how can we be successful and have a good balance of jobs and housing in our community? So that’s what we’ve looked at so far.”

The consultant team will be meeting the first week of Dec. with city staff to go over everything that the community put into the most recent surveys and with all of the information that’s been gathered so far a very early draft of the Draft Land Use Plan (called Draft Alternatives) will be drawn up. The document will be shared with Atascadero residents to see what the team has come up with using their own ideas.

“It [the rough draft] is going to come along with some statements. It’s going to come along with some maps that have colors on them,” said Dunsmore. “This isn’t going to resolve in substantial changes to our community. For the most part, it’s ‘stay the course.’ Stay sustainable, stay healthy, stay economically successful, and continue to supply the housing that we need.”

The city has even encouraged several of the teachers at Atascadero High School to create a curriculum based on the General Plan Update so the students can come up with their own plans and give their feedback to the city. The city will be receiving this year’s student’s final feedback on Friday, Dec. 8. Dunsmore added that it’s important to include everyone in the community, no matter who they are in creating the General Plan Update.

“At the end of the day it’s the community’s plan and we can help guide them along with what will work and what won’t work, but we want the community to tell us what they want,” stated Dunsmore.

The Public Works department has plans to go before the City Council in March of 2024 with the rough draft.