Now is not the time to drop vigilance regarding local water supplies
Update from Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin
As I write this rain continues to fall on City Hall and all of Paso Robles. It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago it seemed it would never rain again. So far, rainfall totals are well above seasonal averages, local lakes are full and there’s water in the Salinas River Bed. We can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief after the years of drought, but now is not the time to drop our vigilance regarding local water supplies. Conservation and best practices for collection, treatment and distribution of water must continue if we are to be prepared for the next drought, which most surely will come. Thankfully, our city has secured several sources of water including groundwater, river water and Lake Nacimiento water. In a little more than a year, we will also be capable of producing nearly as much recycle water from the new addition to our wastewater treatment plant as we take from the ground. On top of that, the citizens have conserved well over one-billion gallons of water during the last year and a half.
In addition to green hills and blossoming wildflowers, the recent rains have provided one more benefit. Large water releases from Lake Nacimiento provided the opportunity for joint training exercises involving Paso Robles and Atascadero firefighters. Usually these teams travel to the Kern River each year to practice swift water rescue techniques. This year they were able to train close to home.
Street repairs continue throughout the city. Recent rains have further eroded roadways, so we will have to be very aware of the impacts of the foul weather. Plans are afoot for public meetings for folks along Creston Road as we plan for significant repairs. If you live in that area you should be notified of the meetings. You can always contact City Hall and ask to be placed on the notification list. Elsewhere, Public Works will begin street maintenance on Spring Street between 10th and 16th Streets this month, weather allowing. Some streets will be closed during evening hours while pipes and conduits are dug up and replaced. The area should be safe and clear for traffic by Wine Festival time, May 19 & 20. In other areas, slurry seal and other maintenance will be performed in the following locations:
· River Oaks Drive by North River Oaks
· Stoney Creek Road at Creston Road
· Charolais Road south of Creston Road
· A portion of Brahma Street
· Niblick Road by Bearcat Lane and Country Club Drive
· Pacific Avenue by Merry Hill Drive
· 19th Street by Locust Street
· Deer Spring Drive Lane by Meadowlark
· Country Club Drive by Fairway Drive
· Potions at Nicklaus Street (including tree root removal)
· Melody Drive by Lana Street (including tree root removal)
· Driftwood Drive by Scott Street
· Creston Road portion by median, north of Charolais Road.
Paso Robles has a new head of Emergency Services, at least on an interim basis. Phillip Garcia will fill the slot opened up by Chief Ken Johnson’s recent retirement. Garcia has worked in Fire Service for more than 30 years. He and his family are residents of Orange County. His key focus will be to schedule a follow-up workshop with the City’s fire consultant to continue the community discussion of staffing and service response goals. This will set the stage for recruitment of a permanent Chief and lay the groundwork for Emergency Services planning for years to come.
Residential construction is improving. Single-family residences and duplex/apartments are being built at a rate above recent years. Our Housing Constraints and Opportunities Committee has identified several areas where fees and other hindrances to the development of affordable housing can be modified or removed. We have established new, lower fee schedules for several new classifications of housing. I have spoken with other cities and our representative at the County level about meeting to make these and other strategies similar among the jurisdictions so those who construct housing don’t have to learn a different “language” for each geographic area.
Hand in hand with residential construction, we are pursuing economic development partnerships to retain/expand local businesses while attracting new companies to produce a wider range of employment possibilities. The City Council has announced its intent to make the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce the lead agency for economic development, much as the City works with local hoteliers to promote tourism. Hoteliers, by the way are considering a new organization that would encourage other tourism-related business to participate in promoting Paso Robles as a travel destination.
Those who have been waiting for improvements at Larry Moore Park will be happy to know the conceptual design for the project have been endorsed. The objective is to upgrade the park in a fashion similar to the way the Downtown Park and Sherwood Forest Uptown Family Park have been improved.
The City Council will schedule public discussion for the new Library Strategic Plan, which will guide services, programs, collections and facilities for the library. The library has announced it has a new dedicated are for study groups of three to eight people across from the Circulation Desk. For more information, please call 237-3870.
City finances look pretty good. Revenues for the 2nd Quarter are above projections. Expenditures are below. The big challenge is to manage and reduce the unfunded retirement liability facing us. We have put a system of tiered compensation in effect to reduce the budgetary impacts of new hires in the future. We have approved a program to bank money in a trust fund to provide more flexibility to pay retirement commitments in the future. We have approved additional payments that will reduce our liability to CalPERS by millions of dollars over the years. All of this has been done to manage the debt the city has been obligated to assume by the existing retirement system. We are working with other cities and public employee staffed agencies to create an alliance of employers and employees to push for a change in the laws. Without this change, our city and many others face unsustainable retirement obligations over the next five years.
Just a reminder: the 4th Annual Dave McNamara Fishing Day is Saturday, April 22. Paso Robles Police Department Activities League, the Atascadero Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and Friends of Rollo present the event at Barney Schwartz Park from 9a .m. to 12 noon. They provide the rod, reel, tackle and bait, but you can bring your own gear if you want. Kids get free hot dogs, sodas and chips (limited to the first 100, 16 or under). Adults can munch for $5. Call 227-7460 for more information.
I was very proud to recognize four local women nominated recently for the Women’s Wall of Fame established by the San Luis Obispo Commission on the Status Women. Many thanks and congratulations go out to Maria Garcia, Sue Benitez, Candace Gammons and Eloisa Medina.
Finally, a big should out to Boy Scout Troop 60 and their recent Eagle Scout Court of Honor. They promoted not one, not two, but 12 Scouts to the rank of Eagle! Very impressive. Congratulations!
Remember: great citizens make great cities. You are the reason Paso Robles is what it is.