The City budget is reviewed and approved after months of work

ATASCADERO — Atascadero City Council met on Tuesday, Jun. 8, for their regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m., following a closed session with nothing to report.

The consent calendar was approved, with item 2 pulled for discussion and 6 pulled for clarification. Item 6 was clarified with a term that said council committee, which was clarified from any committee connected to members to committees that council members serve on. With the correction, the item was approved 5-0.

Item 2, Title 9 Planning and Zoning Text Amendments Annual Code Update was discussed on the board for clarification on the terms “scrap and junk” and the rules around storing those on property. A call from Geoff Auslen stated that while the intent with the current council was understood, he worried that the language set forth could allow for different interpretations in the future.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

After discussion on the topic and advice from the legal counsel, it was determined that any change to the descriptions at this point would require that the item be brought back at the next meeting for a first reading before it could be approved. Due to this, Mayor Heather Moreno suggested that the council move forward with it as is, and they could make changes to clarify each year when it is brought back for review. The item was then approved 5-0.

Rachelle Rickard, City Manager, highlighted the upcoming events.

The Atascadero Lakeside Festival is launching passports to wine, which kicks off on Jun. 26 at 2 p.m. at the Atascadero Lake Park. The passport cost is $65 for early bird purchase until Jun. 18 and then $75 after that. The value of the wine passport is $500.

Several new businesses have opened in town, Bramble Pie Company on Entrada, MEA Winery and Tasting Room, on Traffic Way, Poisoned Apple Cider and Craft Tavern on El Camino, Colony Mash Brewing on El Camino, and Wild Fields kitchen will be opening back up on Jun. 17.

To help incentivize patronizing of local businesses, the Atascadero Chamber is promoting businesses with the Shop Local program, where customers who submit receipts totaling $100 or more from participating businesses will receive a $20 gift card to one of the businesses.

The ribbon-cutting at La Plaza is coming up, across from the Sunken Gardens, on Wednesday, Jun. 16 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. with a live band, some quick bites, and tours of La Plaza. It will be held during Farmer’s Market, which goes from 3 to 6 p.m.

Farmer’s Market Summer Sizzle series begins Jun. 30 and runs through Aug. 4, except for the Wednesdays that fall during the Mid-State Fair. Each event will feature a live band, with some wine, cider, or beer tasting, as well as tasty treats.

Public comment opened up for any items, not on the agenda. Many callers from the community called in to share their disappointment about the blue ribbons honoring police officers having been removed from around the town, with signs posted by the City.

After listening to the public comment, Mayor Moreno spoke, “What I really love is that we have so many people in our community that support, honor, and appreciate our law enforcement…here are a lot of ways that all of us can support law enforcement, volunteering, sending cards and letters, there are many ways,” She turned it over to the City Manager, Rickard, for an explanation to the callers.

Rickard began, “I really want to thank people for supporting our police department…every job at the PD are incredibly difficult jobs… they do a great job every day.” She then went on to explain that the City’s sign ordinance does allow them to take down signs that have been placed by the public, but they must do so in a manner that is consistent with the first amendment. Under the first amendment, in regards to any sign, the contents must be irrelevant. They cannot look at a sign and decide whether it is good or bad. If they allow signs that thank and praise the first responders, they must also allow signs that denigrate or demean the first responders. It was with the purpose of supporting the first responders that the City is not allowing any sign on public property. The council did encourage residents to place these blue ribbons on their private property as the police do drive the streets and appreciate seeing these mementos of support.

The meeting then moved on to the public hearings regarding the annual assessments for maintenance within three assessment districts. The goal is to keep the fees as low as possible while still fulfilling the needs of that specific community. One community, Woodridge (Las Lomas), is the only district that at this point does not have enough funding being paid to provide a buffer for the future repairs that will likely be needed within the next 10 to 20 years. One caller did call in asking that the fees be raised to help prepare and offset those future expenses, but without larger community support, that is not something the City can impose on the district.

The Atascadero Tourism Business Improvement District Confirmation of Annual Assessment and the Downtown Parking and Business Improvement report were made by Terrie Banish, and both were passed 5-0.

The budget was presented for review, with a focus on the increase of meetings in order to facilitate public involvement, as well as a highlight on what the D20 funds went towards. The recommendation was to review and adopt the budget, which passed 5-0.

Lastly, Dariz presented an individual determination requesting Council direction whether or not to have staff draft a proclamation recognizing First Responders for presentation at the Jun. 22, City Council Meeting. The council approved this 5-0, and it will be presented at the next regular meeting. Bob Masterson, the Chief of Police, spoke his thanks from all the first responders in the City on this item.

The City Council’s next meeting is a special meeting, Wednesday, Jun. 9, at 6 p.m. to discuss the Dove Creek Mini-Storage.

The next regular meeting will be held on Jun. 22 at 6 p.m., and links to the meeting and agenda can be found on the City’s website.