In particular, the callers wanted the Council to focus on fighting racism within the community through three main steps — declaring racism a public health crisis, reallocating money from the police department to fund more mental health specialists and social workers, and connecting and collaborating as a City Council with organizations in Atascadero that work toward diversity and inclusion.

Race Matters SLO’s list of demands can be found on its website or on the petition that is circulating through the county. It has nearly 7,000 signatures on it.

Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno addressed Race Matters SLO saying, “We responded last week [to the Race Matters SLO demands] and we said that we would like to sit down with you [the public], engage with you and we want to — I think some of the terms being used are connect and collaborate — we want to find out what is important to you. Let’s talk about Atascadero specifically.”

Moreno continued stating that she and the Council are ready and willing to meet with anyone in the community that would like to be heard individually, and Councilmember Susan Funk echoed her sentiment.

“I think it’s important that all of us listen,” she said in closing. “Taking demands or suggestions and putting them right into policy, I think that is where we can get into trouble and look back and say ‘oh wait, we should have taken a more methodical approach and received more input from a wide group of people.’ I think that is important to keep in mind that is how your government works. It works by all of us coming together.”

The Council’s only management report came on the City’s Housing Element update draft plan. The presentation was not about taking action but for gathering comments, looking at the policies’ language, and focusing on affordable housing within the community.

The City’s current plan can be found on their website and has more than 150 pages dedicated to the potential housing element plan.

Getting through this together, Atascadero