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City council meeting highlights from March 2 meeting 

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–Highlights from the regular Paso Robles City Council meeting held on March 2, as sent by the City of Paso Robles, are as follows.

In compliance with social distancing, the council, staff, and the public participated via conference call. The public was invited to view a livestream of the meeting at www.prcity.com/youtube, to call into the meeting at (805) 865-PASO (7276), and to email public comment to cityclerk@prcity.com prior to the meeting.

The council took the following actions:

Provided an update on city manager recruitment: Council is continuing the search for the next permanent city manager for the City of Paso Robles. They anticipate the need for an interim city manager while the search continues. An interim and subsequently a permanent city manager will be appointed in open session when those decisions are finalized.

Received an update on COVID-19: The SLO County Public Health Department is now in the Red Tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy (info at www.emergencyslo.org). As part of the city’s economic recovery efforts, the “Keep It Local” Gift Card Program is underway (www.prcity.com/keepitlocal), as is the propane assistance program (pasorobleschamber.com). SLO County continues to administer vaccines to eligible residents and will be implementing a lottery system for appointments for eligible residents (info at www.emergencyslo.org/vaccines).

Received a presentation from the Wine Country Alliance: Joel Peterson, the executive director of the Wine Country Alliance (PRWCA), shared information about PRWCA’s work, the awards and media attention this work has garnered, and how their marketing for the local wine industry brings visitors and tax revenue to the city. The PRWCA would like to continue its partnership with the city, in part through an annual contract with the city to provide a contribution to their marketing of the region through their marketing of Paso wines. The most recent annual contract was for $60,000; the PRWCA would like to see that continue or increase, citing the significant return on investment to the city from those funds.

Received an annual report from Travel Paso: Stacie Jacob, the executive director of Travel Paso, provided an overview of what Travel Paso does and the recent accolades Paso has received in the travel industry. Much of Travel Paso’s work this last year was focused on COVID-19 response, including Dining in the Park, which provided support for 43 restaurants and a place for people to eat over 7,000 meals. Travel Paso was also instrumental in helping fund the new wayfinding signs around town; they provided $60,000 toward the project. A new website was launched in 2020 (www.travelpaso.com), as was a road trip campaign to encourage drive trips to Paso.

Approved an application for statewide park development grant funds for Sherwood Park: Council approved the submittal of an application for a $7,996,000 statewide park development and community revitalization program grant to fund phase I of the Sherwood Park revitalization project. The city previously applied and was not awarded but has another opportunity to apply now.

Approved an agreement with Caltrans for the Centennial Creek Rehabilitation Project: As a result of the Highway Route 46 Corridor Improvement Project, Caltrans is required to mitigate impacts to wetlands. Caltrans maximized mitigation near the project site; however, the additional mitigation acreage required cannot be accommodated near or around the project site. Therefore, Caltrans must provide approximately four acres of combined wetlands and water creation, enhancement, and re-establishment in another location. They will do so along Centennial Creek, between Nickerson and South River. Council approved an agreement clarifying roles and responsibilities for all parties. The city’s role will be to provide access to city-owned property for the improvements to be made. It will reduce erosion in the area, improve landscaping in the creek bed and create an endowment fund for maintenance efforts.

Accepted up to two Cuesta College-funded part-time intern positions: Pending funding and student availability through Cuesta College, the intern(s) will assist with bilingual community outreach program and other services.

Approved the 2021 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Final Action Plan: These federal funds, allocated through the county, are intended to benefit low-income persons and eliminate blight through public improvement projects and public service program grants. The 2021 allocation is approximately $245,000. Council approved a recommendation to the county to allocate appx. $159,000 to public improvements to improve pedestrian access along Black Oak Drive near the new homeless shelter at the old Motel 6 site and for roof repair at RISE; appx. $37,000 appx to public services grants (allocated across CASA, People’s Self-Help Housing, 5 Cities Homeless Coalition, ECHO, and CAPSLO); and appx. $49,000 for administration (most of that will go to the county to administer the funds).

Confirmed the results of community visioning and goal-setting session: The council held its community visioning and goal-setting workshop on Feb. 20, in preparation for setting budget priorities for the next fiscal budget and to receive input as to what residents would like the council to focus on for the next 12-18 months. Council discussed and confirmed the results of the visioning and goal-setting session, as recorded by management partners, and directed staff to use these as the basis for the budget development process. Council expressed a desire to reconnect to the school board, particularly in light of the potential closure of the Georgia Brown campus. The city council’s goals can be found online at www.prcity.com/445/Goal-Setting.

The next regular council meeting is on Tuesday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m., via livestream at www.prcity.com/youtube. Public comment can be made during the meeting by calling 805-865-PASO (7276) or provided prior to the meeting by emailing cityclerk@prcity.com.

Related story: City council discusses shutdown impacts on local tourism industry

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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at info@pasoroblesdailynews.com.