Public addresses council on use of motorcycles in the riverbed

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero City Council met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. The hybrid meeting was held in the City Council Chambers. Councilmember Mark Dariz was absent from the meeting.

Before the official start of the meeting, Mayor Heather Moreno asked for a moment of silence in the council chambers for Atascadero’s first mayor, Robert “Bob” Wilkins, who passed away on Sunday, Feb. 25.

“I just wanted to give a moment of honor and reflection. Many of you may know that the first Mayor of Atascadero, Mr. Bob Wilkins, passed away just the other day,” Moreno stated. “He was a significant part of the incorporating of our city to have local control, particularly over emergency services. So, if we look at the last 45 years, we have him and obviously some others to thank, but he had quite an impact on our community, and we would just like to honor him with a brief moment of silence.”


Both the Agenda and the Consent Calendar passed 


During his Updates from the City Manager segment of the meeting, Jim Lewis made it a point to have Atascadero Police Chief Dan Suttles address the council and the public on the number of shopping carts around the community after some of the local homeless camps were broken up the last couple of weeks. Lewis said that the city had received many calls. Due to it not being an agenda item, the short presentation was for information only.

“For law enforcement and even for our team, there are some very specific challenges when it comes to the statutes that govern the possession, the illegal possession of shopping carts,” Suttles said. “I think you look at this, and you say, ‘Well, that’s not their property. That shopping cart belongs to someone else. Therefore, that is stolen property.’ Well, there is a specific statute, the Business and Professions Code, and it deals specifically with the theft of carts, but there are some elements to that crime that make it challenging.

“Specifically, the cart itself is to be marked properly, and the business from which it came from needs to have specific signage up indicating that those carts are not to be taken. Without those specific conditions, you cannot enforce that law. To compound the challenge when it comes to this specific statute is that the District Attorney’s Office has recently made a statement that they will no longer file cases of this specific statute as a standalone statute.” 

Suttles added that the other challenge the APD has is that there is a lot of personal property that is held within the carts that cannot be moved unless it is proven to be abandoned. 

During Community Forum, seven residents addressed the council about the illegal use of motorcycles being ridden in the riverbed and along the De Anza Trail. This is not the first time that community members who walk their dogs, ride their horses, and enjoy the area have addressed the council on this matter. Pedestrians, equestrians, and bicycles are legally allowed on the trails.

Many of the residents commented on how motorcyclists used to share the trails and stop and shut their bikes off when horses were on the trail, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

Public Works Director Nick DeBar addressed the council on the 2024 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funding Recommendations. The council reviewed four applications and made a draft of how the funds would be awarded at the Dec. 12, 2023, meeting.  

The $134,205 in CDBG funds will be split accordingly with no changes from the Dec. 12 meeting.

  • City of Atascadero (Viejo Camino Sidewalk and ADA Improvements will receive $87,233)
  • City of Atascadero (Youth Activity Scholarships) will receive $12,500
  • El Camino Homeless Organization will receive $7,631
  • SLO County (Program Administration) will receive $17,447
  • City of Atascadero (Program Administration) will receive $9,394

The motion passed unanimously.

Community Development Director Phil Dunsmore and Planning Manager Kelly Gleason presented the council with Text Amendments to Title 3: Finance and Title 9: Planning & Zoning. After going through small changes and typos found in the codes, the motion passed unanimously.  

The next Atascadero City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 12, at 6 p.m.