November 2015 – Monthly update from Mayor Steve Martin
By Steve Martin
Mayor of Paso Robles
–Holiday tree-lighting? Where did that year go? The annual event in Paso Robles’ historic downtown City Park was a great success, as always. Thousands of people (many from out of town) were on hand to see the lights come on in the trees and the Gazebo. I and three other council members (Fred Strong, Steve Gregory and John Hamon) were on hand to help Norma Moye, Chad Stevens, the Snow Queen, Father Christmas and all the elves kick off the 2015 holiday season. We sang Christmas songs together, lit candles and shared cookies and hot chocolate. It’s just the tip of the holiday iceberg in our great city. Many thanks to Paso Robles Main Street and all their supporters for making it happy. Now we look forward to the Christmas Parade, Vine Street Showcase and the Teddy Bear Tea among other events. Here’s hoping you, your family and friends will have a great holiday season! As we anticipate that let’s keep in mind some very important issues and events in our city.
First, I hope you will follow the deliberations of our new Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Housing Constraints. I know from having spoken with many of you over the last year that the next wave of residential construction is of great concern. First, we need new housing to provide homes for new workers that will arrive as one of the results of our economic development efforts. In fact, without adequate housing it will be difficult to grow existing companies and attract new ones. At the same time, however, we can’t afford to build thousands of new homes without planning for new streets, water connections, sewer services, etc. The new Citizen’s Committee will give every sector of our population the opportunity to guide this process. If you are concerned about the cost and availability of housing and also about WHO will be paying for the infrastructure to maintain our quality of life you should plan on attending the meetings of this committee.
Economically, things are getting better. At least that’s what the folks from Beacon Economics told us at the annual Economic Forecast meeting recently. We have fared better during the recession than many and indicators point to continued improvement. Unemployment county-wide has receded and the economy has picked up. It appears now is the time to take out the planning binoculars and start looking towards the horizon again.
Speaking of planning, we’ve been having some very positive conversations with representatives of the Paso Robles School District about opportunities to share facilities and partner in ways we’ve never experienced before. This kind of teamwork is what Paso Robles is all about and it has the potential to improve our city and our schools significantly. Stay tuned for more details. You may get those details from some of the talented students at Paso Robles High School. A team of media students will be helping me produce public service announcements for radio and television. Look and listen for them at a media outlet near you.
I know the temperatures are cooling as winter approaches, but I’m already looking forward to April 30, 2016 and the first mayor’s fundraiser event at Centennial Park. It will be billed as “Everyone In the Pool.” This evening of food and entertainment will raise funds to offset the cost of re-opening Centennial Pool, which was closed five years ago due to budget constraints. Individual tickets will be $75 and you can also buy full tables. Look for tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com and get ready for an island-themed evening of fun! (Many thanks to Councilman Steve Gregory who is spearheading the planning committee for this event. If you are interested in being a sponsor of this event please contact him at 805-234-4850.)
In response to citizen concerns about the impacts of vacation rental properties in residential neighborhoods we held a public workshop recently at City Hall. It was VERY well attended (standing room only) and was one of the best workshops I’ve ever attended. Many people expressed the pros and cons of vacation rentals in the city, all with the purpose and intent of addressing any problems in a way that will maximize benefits, minimize problems and fit the unique situations faced by our citizens. Kudos to everyone including city staff who attended and took such positive, productive action. A draft ordinance will be considered early next year and the public will have multiple opportunities to comment.
I attended a recent meeting of the Governor’s Drought Task Force in San Luis Obispo. I took the opportunity to remind them that the people of Paso Robles had already reduced water usage significantly before the Governor’s mandate to cut that usage by another 28-percent. I also related that the city has multiple sources of water, more than enough to sustain us through build-out, and that we are working cooperatively with other agencies to protect those sources.
Finally, on Veterans’ Day it was my honor to deliver the welcome message to those assembled at the Paso Robles District Cemetery. It was a solemn but uplifting occasion as we remembered our veterans, saluted our flag, sang our songs and concluded the ceremonies with good old-fashioned American hot dogs!
Once again, as the holidays draw near, I send my heart-felt greetings to all and my best wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all the wonderful celebrations of the season. We are blessed to be alive together in our beautiful city.