ATASCADERO — It was a long night of city planning for the Atascadero City Council on Tuesday, specifically at the Del Rio and El Camino intersection and surrounding areas.

During the meeting, Atascadero Community Development Director Phil Dunsmore addressed the Council asking for an addendum to the Del Rio Commercial Area Specific Plan that would pivot away from retail to a wider variety of land uses.

The Area Specific Plan, which was approved in 2012, was created with Walmart expecting to build on the corner. Now with the large retailer no longer coming in, neither will the proposed roundabouts.

“This area is a very significant piece of the City’s potential. It has the opportunity and potential to really enhance our jobs and housing balance, it can really help our economic situation in Atascadero,” Dunsmore said in his presentation. “Tonight, we have some wonderful solutions moving forward that will not only reduce the cost to the City but the cost to the applicants, preserve additional land for development and give us options to really guide land use into the future.”

The Council’s agenda packet states the proposed new mitigations result in significant cost reductions for not only the City (approximately $15 million) and private development while preserving a greater amount of land for private development. The amendments include limiting high traffic uses such as drive-thru fast food and fuel stations, instead bringing in more industrial-type businesses that generate jobs.

After much deliberation, the Council — minus Heather Newsom, who was absent from the meeting — voted unanimously to approve the plan with a long list of additions and qualifiers, including conditional revenue generation, synergy, and phasing so to work within traffic limitations.

Some of the new uses include manufacturing, data and computer service centers, upper-scale automotive repair, and warehousing, many with specific qualifiers.

The Council closed management reports with a unanimous motion in agreement with City Manager Rachelle Rickard’s proposed oversight of the one-percent sales tax increase that is on the November ballot. The oversight includes 10 public study sessions, scheduled so that more people can attend one, that will educate citizens of current service levels and needs in each department as well as taking questions and receiving feedback from the community.

Following those sessions, staff will bring back any direction for confirmation at the Council’s annual goal-setting session in March to provide additional public comment and clarification.

There will also be no less than six well-publicized finance committee meetings between April and May, where sections of the budget can be discussed in great detail.

To learn more or watch the Atascadero City Council meetings head to the City’s website at Atascadero.org.

Getting through this together, Atascadero