El Camino Real Downtown Infrastructure Enhancement Project moves forward
ATASCADERO—The Atascadero City Council met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 23, at 6 p.m. The hybrid meeting was held in the City Council Chambers.
Both the Agenda and the Consent Calendar passed with a unanimous vote.
Public Works Analyst Ryan Betz then presented the council with a Public Hearing on Proposition 218 Majority Protest Process Relative to Proposed Increase to Wastewater (Sewer) Rates.
“Just by way of background, staff presented an item on March 28, 2023, that the council approved, and that kind of set in motion this Prop 218 process,” stated Betz.
At the March 28 meeting, the date for the public hearing was set, and notices were sent by staff to property owners, which gave residents ample time to protest the proposed rate increase.
The proposed rate increase goes from $40.46 per EDU (equivalent dwelling unit) to $48.15 per EDU.
“That’s about a 19 percent increase that falls consistently with previous rate increases,” Betz said. “As I mentioned before, that wastewater rate study completed in 2019 set a five-year max, or kind of five years, to take a look at those rate increases. This is the fifth year, if you will, of that rate study.”
Even with the proposed increase, Atascadero still has one of the county’s most affordable wastewater and sewer rates.
The item was then opened up to a public hearing to hear any protests from the community. There was not a majority protest as no one stepped forward, either at the meeting or in writing to oppose the rate increase. The motion passed unanimously.
Administrative Services Director Jeri Rangel presented the board with the evening’s second Public Hearing on Amendments to the Fee Schedule. The motion also passed unanimously.
Public Works Director Nick DeBar then addressed the council and brought back updates on the El Camino Real Downtown Infrastructure Enhancement Project. He was joined by Community Development Director Phil Dunsmore and Sarah Huffman from Wallace Group.
The project officially kicked off in 2017 and has gone through many steps since then, including a traffic engineering and operation analysis, public outreach workshops, the approval of the plan, approval of Wallace Group for design and construction plans in 2021, and open houses to the community in 2022 and 2023.
“We presented three different concept alternatives last time I was here before we took it to the public, and each of those concepts had various different amenities that were shown on the plans, and we really wanted to get the public’s input on which items they liked and let them know they could mix and match between the three different concepts,” stated Huffman. “So what we’re showing tonight is a collection of all those comments put into a final concept plan that we will then be taking into construction, hopefully, next year.”
The plan adds 120 new parking spaces to Atascadero’s downtown, with additional parking for motorcycles and bicycles. With additional designated commercial loading zones. In addition, there will be pavers in the center parking area and higher visibility crosswalks, as well as other changes that will help with keeping the public safe, smoothing out traffic, and providing a beautiful space.
After discussions with the council giving the team a bit more direction, the motion to approve the final concept plan passed unanimously.
Dunsmore then brought forward the Discussion of Potential Text Amendments to Titles 3 and 9, Planning and Zoning. This was a discussion item to look at any potential changes to be made to both titles, with said changes being presented to the council at a later date.
The next Atascadero City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 13, at 6 p.m.