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In The Open: One step back; three steps forward

Posted: Monday, Feb 11th, 2013

As we begin a new year, here’s a look at great things we’ve started, and efforts under way that will sustain the long-term quality of life in Atascadero.

1. Infill Development. The recession hit the community hard, but this last year Atascadero has seen several projects come back to life and is beginning to see infill housing projects. New tenants and new commercial development is also sprouting up and/or is planned in the near future.

2. Urban Design. Cal Poly partnered with the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments to create a design plan to transform El Camino Real into nodes with distinctive character to make these areas attractive places.

3. Community Planning. Love it or hate it, cities need new development to maintain a healthy economy and provide housing. Careful planning for Eagle Ranch is far more sustainable than irregular development in the county at our edges.

4. Trails. People are attracted to places where they can get out and stretch. Go down to Atascadero Lake on a Saturday morning and see walkers, joggers, strollers, dogs and bicyclists enjoying the fresh air. The city is also partnering with county organizations to develop a cohesive trail along the Salinas River.

5. Open Space. Check out the progress at Stadium Park, and thanks to the Atascadero Land Preservation Society, a huge new open space area was acquired and is being improved near Twin Bridges on Highway 41.

6. Places to Gather. Have you been to the Teen Center or the Zoo lately? Go see the new improvements.

7. Historic Preservation. City hall renovations are moving along to restore the beautiful Italian Renaissance architecture of the historic city hall.

8. Water Conservation. Residents and businesses have done their part to reduce the amount of water used for landscaping and domestic use.

9. Energy retrofits. The city has taken advantage of grants available to retrofit numerous fixtures on municipal buildings saving energy and money.

10. Transit Center. The city partnered with SLOCOG and is near completion of a regional transit center downtown. There’s typically 20 to 30 people lined up for the bus in morning, and Park and Ride lots are filled to capacity, which reduces the number of cars on the road, traffic congestion and air pollution at a cheap price.

11. Downsized Government. Hopefully this doesn’t bite back, but the city has significantly reduced the size of its staff. This has helped reduce government costs.

12. Community Events. A “happening” community shows its pride at community events. Colony Days, Veteran’s assemblies and soon the city’s 100th anniversary will be here. These events showcase community spirit.

A balanced community is resilient and self-sustaining. Atascadero is taking three steps forward to becoming a truly sustainable community.

Susan DeCarli has been a resident of San Luis Obispo County for over 30 years, and has worked in the private and public sectors. She is a Cal Poly alumni and is a land use and environmental professional.

For the complete article see the 01-16-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-16-2013 paper.

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