Mayor addresses animal services, other hot topics
By Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin
–The holidays are upon us and, before going any further, I would like to wish everyone a blessed time with family and friends as we round the corner and head towards the end of 2017. May everything be “puppies and rainbows” for you as we prepare for the New Year.
And, speaking of puppies, the hot topic of late countywide has been the subject of constructing a new animal shelter in San Luis Obispo. Law mandates animal services and, of course, it’s the right thing to do. What is not so right is to charge our city so much for those services. So, along with the City of Atascadero, we have decided to withdraw from the County plan and investigate developing an animal shelter in the North County. Preliminary reports indicate construction costs would be similar, but long-term savings would be greater. Upon hearing about our decision, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has asked for more time to address the concerns of our cities before proceeding. Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Gregory and I will form an ad hoc committee to meet with County Supervisors. The result of this hiatus will be a more thoughtful and affordable plan to provide high-quality animal services.
In case you hadn’t noticed, many folks like to visit Paso Robles. Many of them stay in hotels, but many also choose to stay in B&B’s, vacation rentals and the like. A large committee of citizens has been working on rules to govern the impact of such rentals on traditional neighborhoods. They’ve made good progress, but more work is needed. The Council has instructed the Planning Commission to dig deeper into these issues and clarify how visitor taxes will be collected. More to come.
Another citizen committee, the Housing Constraints and Opportunities Committee, has done great work reviewing traffic projects and development fees in the city. Results of this work include a better grading ordinance, a wider range of housing definitions with lower fees, allowances for secondary units in residential areas and reduced costs for water and sewer services. I hope that these, and other tools, will produce a more balanced inventory of housing in our city. The Council has also requested the County Board of Supervisors set aside a small amount of the property taxes generated in Paso Robles for a fund to support the development of affordable housing. So far, this item has not been agendized by the County.
We continue to work with the State of California on such issues as the traffic situation at Highway 101 and 46-West, controlled intersections on Highway 46-East and the utilization of land at the old California Youth Authority facility. This work includes direct contact with local elected officials, city staff and city representatives in Sacramento.
The Paso Robles Police Department has received a $90,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to pay for programs aimed at reducing the number of traffic-relate deaths and injuries. The funds will pay for educational presentations, DUI checkpoints bicycle/pedestrian safety enforcement and speed/stoplight enforcement among other strategies.
Street repairs are moving forward. Bolen Drive will get a facelift after bid openings this month. The massive Creston Road project, reviewed and commented upon during many public meetings and workshops, is on track. The Council recently approved a seven-year plan to complete expenditures under the current sales tax override. We have also earmarked additional funds for streets that clearly need repair but didn’t make the list. Our Citizens Sales Tax Override Committee will take on more responsibility for recommending projects to be paid for by those funds. Full street repair information is available on the City’s website at www.prcity.com.
Hats off to our newly revitalized Youth Commission. These highly motivated and intelligent young people are bringing new energy and involvement. Our recent interview of candidates for the Commission yielded an impressive slate of applicants. We look forward to big things from all of them.
Congratulations to the Friends of the Library for another successful book sale. These and other folks make our city-owned library something special. A big thank-you goes out to all who participated in the recent Library Needs Focus Group. It’s apparent that a vibrant library will be a big part of our community, its education, social life and economic development.
Finally, our thoughts and prayers go out to other cities throughout our country who have suffered recently. These include the cities in storm-stricken Puerto Rico, fire-ravaged cities in Northern California, Las Vegas NV and Sutherland Springs TX among others. It is hard to watch the tragedies they have endured. I urge all who are able to reach out with whatever support you can offer.
Until next we blog, here’s to you Paso Robles.