The project will have at least one more round with the Planning Commission before going to the City Council
ATASCADERO — The main topic discussed at the Jan. 17 Atascadero Planning Commission meeting was the proposed Barrel Creek Project. The mixed-use project will be a blend of commercial, residential, and short-term rental properties. The proposed site containing 15.2 acres, is located on the west side of the 101 north of Del Rio Road and is situated across Del Rio from the Apple Valley development.
The Barrel Creek Project is currently proposing 20 residential lots, 40 apartment units, a 120-room hotel, 16 short-term cottage hotel units, and 53,000 square feet for commercial use.
“The project will provide additional, much-needed homes, a place for people on the north end of Atascadero to visit, improvements to the existing roads, including bike paths and sidewalks, and will create a buffer between Highway 101, its noise, and the rural neighborhoods to the west,” said Community Development Director Phil Dunsmore.
Talk about the site being developed has been on the table since approximately 2002, but the Barrel Creek Project itself was proposed and has been in the works since approximately 2019 but was put on hold due to COVID-19.
Scott Martin, an RRM Design Group architect who represented Developer Eric Tienkenat at the Planning Commission meeting, stated that the plan, if approved by the City Council, would take years to complete and that the commercial use parts of the project would be the first things to go in.
“We are at least a year from knowing whether this project will move into construction,” Dunsmore said. “Step one involves project review and approval, which is likely to continue for a couple of months. Next step would be for the applicant team to draft construction plans and start that review process which likely takes six months or more. They still need to acquire tenants and financing as well.”
Though plenty of Atascadero’s residents are excited for the proposed project to move forward and think that Barrel Creek is just what Atascadero needs from both a tourist and resident-based view, there are plenty of residents who also oppose the project as it is now.
Many residents who live close to the proposed project stated concerns over traffic, lighting affecting their own homes, and the amplified noise that comes with a commercial-use property. One resident even stated that she was worried about the short-term rentals going in so close to her property, where she also rents short-term to tourists.
“I am concerned that our neighbors most affected by the proposed Barrel Creek development who reside on Garcia Road and lower San Gregorio Road will have their rural quality of life affected by this development due to light pollution, reduction of wildlife habitat, and noise,” stated resident Katherine Morrison in an email sent to the Planning Commission.
“The city’s preference would be to concentrate most restaurant and lodging uses downtown and, secondly, allow commercial nodes to develop where there are freeway interchanges and flat land,” said Dunsmore.
It was decided after hearing public comment and questions from the Planning Commission itself that the item would be continued to the Feb. 7 meeting before once again being presented to the City Council.
“This project will reduce the distance people need to travel to take advantage of things to do, lodging, and other retail uses,” Dunsmore said. “Atascadero is currently underserved for such uses based on our population size, which is roughly the same as Paso Robles. Projects like this will contribute to bringing the community into balance. It will also help the city provide services such as police, fire, roads, and infrastructure if it brings in additional tax revenue that is currently being lost to other jurisdictions.”