In September, the Atascadero City Council denied the controversial Dove Self-Storage development located on the south side of town across from the Paloma Park. The 3-1 decision, with Mayor Pro Tem Charles Bourbeau dissenting, came after hours of comments from the landowner, experts and the public. 

At the August 13 City Council meeting, during the individual determination portion, Councilmember Roberta Fonzi stated she wished to submit a repeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of the mini-storage project stating she believed there was sufficient public interest to garner further review by the Council.

“I was told that we had more people that were protesting that at that particular [Planning Commission] hearing than we’ve had since the Walmart hearing — that’s a lot of people,” Fonzi said at the Council meeting.

Newton cried foul to the repeal, declaring on social media, “It was a blatant abuse of power since it was filed without any legal justification.” Newton also circulated an online petition urging support to “deny Councilmember Fonzi’s unwarranted appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of this sensitively designed and much-needed project.” 

In the end, the Council’s reasoning fell to the eventual development of the south corridor to the city and the character of the neighborhood. Councilmembers Susan Funk and Fonzi, along with Mayor Heather Moreno, stated that a storage facility may influence what other types of business would be drawn to that area.

Drive-thrus survive

Also in September, Councilmember Fonzi broached the subject of the growing number drive-thrus in the City of Atascadero. Mayor Monero agendized the topic and the Council discussed the issue at length during the September 24 council meeting. 

“It was my perspective from serving on the Design Review Committee, the DRC, that the only applications that we had gotten in the last year were from drive-thrus,” said Fonzi in a phone interview.

Fonzi pointed out that building a business that generates a high volume of traffic in the Del Rio area, such as the already approved Taco Bell, limits the number of potential businesses the area can handle. Once an area maxes out on the traffic it can support, the City would have to spend money on roadway infrastructure to mitigate the congestion.

“I don’t want to interfere with your ability to build,” said Councilmember Charles Bourbeau, echoing Fonzi’s concern, “but what you build [may] interfere with other people’s ability to build and we have to balance that.”

In the end, the Council fell short of placing a drive-thru moratorium. It did, however, unanimously pass a motion stating the City’s policy for the Del Rio area. The policy holds no legally binding language. It informs City Staff the direction the Council is inclined to vote. The motion included the possibility of including a traffic mitigation cost to developers when they proposed to build a higher than average traffic-generating business. 

Getting through this together, Atascadero