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Editor’s pick of top stories of 2019 

Top stories of 2019

–Paso Robles is a unique place, and this year, there was a lot to report on. The Paso Robles Daily News had a record-breaking year at over 2.5 million views in 2019, our 7th year of providing free daily news emails to subscribers and maintaining this news site.

From fires and tragic accidents to stories of the community binding together to help stop crime and find missing persons, to impressive and heartfelt building projects in North County, this community certainly has had a lot to talk about.

Here are the topics that I saw talked about the most this year in the city of Paso Robles, based both on popularity and impact in the community:


Homelessness

A top topic in everyone’s mind in Paso Robles is and has been homelessness in North County. Fires in the riverbed during the dry season, evacuations during times of floods, and talks of creating a homeless shelter in Paso Robles have been circulating conversations in Paso Robles all year; 2019 perhaps just a precipice of an ever-growing issue.

A series of letters to the editor sparked controversy and I also responded to the letters as the editor, sharing my thoughts on this pervasive and epidemic level issue. Here are just some of the dozen stories, editorials, and opinions we have run about homelessness in North County:

Letter: Distressed to see the state of homelessness in Paso Robles
• Letter: Homelessness represents our failure as a community to respect others
• Editorial: The solution to homelessness can be simple
• Council meets with new director of soon-to-be-built homeless shelter


Power outages, PG&E

Another distressing issue for Paso Roblans and all Californians is both the growing threat of wildfires as well as what PG&E calls, “safety outages” when conditions are likely to spark fire. The outages themselves post a public safety risk, and citizens across the state expressed their outrage.

While Paso Robles wasn’t effected by the safety outages this year, PG&E’s attempt at declaring bankruptcy and the looming threat of outages were a top topic in 2019:

• PG&E to file for bankruptcy, faces up to 30-billion in fire liability costs
• PG&E files joint Chapter 11 plan of reorganization
• Be prepared for PG&E power shut offs during high wildfire risk
• Governor issues statement on PG&E board
• Customers in portions of 16 counties given notification by PG&E about potential power shutoff


Accidents near or at ‘the Y’

Unfortunately, the ominously named “Blood Alley,” a corridor of Highway State Route 46 (SR 46) between Paso Robles and Lost Hills continued to claim lives in 2019. The stretch of highway is unusually dangerous, in particular, the notorious Highway 46-Highway 41 Cholame “Y” intersection has been the site of many fatal collisions. The state may be making strides on addressing this stretch of highway and adding a median.

• One killed, multiple people injured in Cholame ‘Y’ crash
• Head-on collision near Cholame ‘Y’ injures two, blocks traffic
• After outcry, state restores $10 million to widen Hwy. 46’s ‘Blood Alley’ 


New builds

Of course, good things are happening in North County as well. Ever-expanding, Paso Robles has welcomed various new hotels, restaurants, taprooms, wineries, cideries, beer houses and an array of other projects. One of the most popular projects is the Paso Robles Market Walk. I was particularly happy to see this project’s level of care with preserving Paso Robless history by safely relocating and restoring the J. H. Van Wormer home, circa 1890. And there seems to be a very unique array of local and craft offerings in this new shopping destination. I look forward to their opening, currently slated to open February 2020.

• Paso Market Walk welcomes ‘The Poisoned Apple’ as newest merchant
• Historic home moved towards Spring Street as Paso Market Walk project progresses
• Oxford Suites opens new hotel in Paso Robles 
• Hotel Piccolo celebrates grand opening 

Another piece of great news for North County this year was the long-awaited opening of the Parents For Joy Playground in Atascadero. The $1.2 million dollar playground is designed for everyone, including kids and grownups with disabilities:

• Joy Playground open for play in Atascadero


The power of community

Something I was struck with this year was the power of small-town news. I have long taken pride in working for a small company owned and operated by a local family, not a big news conglomerate. Our focus has always been on providing the best news we can that is relevant to a North County audience, to remain hyper-locally focused.

This year, you helped the authorities locate and catch criminals, helped to locate missing persons, and raised money for families struck by tragedy. This community has the power to alter individual lives and the course of our future. It’s a humbling and beautiful thing to witness. So as we look ahead, let’s remember the power that we have, together, and continue to grow.

• Missing man located safely
• Missing man found safe
• Suspect captured: Richard Eugene Parson
• Community rallies to support family of boy killed in golf cart accident
• Amber Alert suspect detained thanks in part to good Samaritans in Cambria


New paid parking program in Paso Robles

Perhaps one of the most controversial and talked about changes in Paso Robles in 2019 was the city’s new downtown parking program

• City to implement paid parking downtown 
 How to use new downtown parking kiosks 
• 275 warnings issued in first few weeks of paid downtown parking program 


See related: The most-read stories of 2019 

 

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