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Paso Robles City Council meeting highlights from June 16 

City Council meeting highlights

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

Highlights from the City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 16, as sent by the City of Paso Robles are as follows:

Received an update on last week’s active shooter incident and issued a Proclamation of Gratitude: Police Chief Ty Lewis gave a report regarding last week’s active shooter situation, which resulted in the death of local resident James Watson, injury of four law enforcement officers attempting to apprehend the shooter, and the eventual death of the shooter, Mason Lira. Chief Lewis thanked the hundreds of law enforcement officers and firefighter/paramedics who assisted with the response and the city’s dispatcher, who responded to the initial shots fired at the Public Safety Facility, directed responding officers, and took hundreds of calls during the ensuing hours. Councilmembers expressed their gratitude as well, and Mayor Martin issued a proclamation of gratitude to the Police Department and to other law enforcement agencies that responded expressing deep appreciation for their commitment to protect and serve the Paso Robles community.

Received an update on the COVID-19 Pandemic: Staff provided an update on the current number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the County and the Paso Robles area (366 and 127, respectively, to date). There have been 33 new cases in the count over the last reporting period. In addition, 35,000 new cases have been documented in California since the last council update, for a total of over 145,000 cases in the state. Surrounding counties are experiencing increases in cases and fatalities. It is important to continue to socially distance, wash hands frequently, and wear a face-covering to protect others when we are outside our homes. Additional businesses have been added to those permitted to reopen. State reopening guidelines must be followed; info is available at emergencyslo.org/reopening.

Issued proclamation regarding Juneteenth Day: Since 1865, the American celebration known as Juneteenth has historically been observed as the end of the Institution of Slavery in the USA. Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin proclaimed June 20, the third Saturday in June, as “Juneteenth Day” and recommends all citizens of the City of Paso Robles join in recognizing the importance of this day.

Declared a public nuisance on certain properties and ordered weed abatement: Council declared weeds or noxious growth on specific properties within the city to be a nuisance on May 19, 2020. “Notice to Abate” letters were sent notifying each property owner of the condition, the need to abate, and of the June 16 public hearing. As of June 16, 33 properties remained in violation. Property owners may still come into compliance and abate the weeds themselves prior to the city’s contractor arriving or will be charged for city abatement if they remain out of compliance.

Received a riverbed abatement presentation: Staff reported that the city has received permission from regulatory agencies (primarily including the Department of Fish and Game and the Regional Water Board) to complete weed and brush abatement in the same areas of the riverbed that were abated last year, but without the use of any mechanized equipment this year. Weed abatement work is starting this week and will take 3-4 weeks. This will be completed using the majority of $230,000 in grant funds related to fuel abatement activities. Council expressed concern regarding fire risks in the riverbed and directed staff to continue to pursue expanded permitting for mechanized weed abatement as well as abatement in broader areas of the riverbed.

Approved the Paso Robles Gateway Project: Council approved the Paso Robles Gateway Project, consisting of the annexation of 170± acres into the City of Paso Robles (pending LAFCO approval), for the development of two hotel/resorts with 325 rooms, three commercial centers totaling 73,600 leasable square feet, 17 multi-family residential units, up to 80 attached single-family residential resort units or a third hotel with 100 rooms, and approximately 98± acres of agriculture and open space areas. The project required approval of an annexation, sphere of influence amendment, municipal service review, tax sharing agreement, general plan amendment, pre-zoning, conceptual master development plan, oak tree removal permit, lot line adjustment, phased vesting tentative tract map, development agreement, and certification of the final EIR. The project is in the Atascadero Water Basin and will have limits on well pumping; this will not negatively impact the city’s water availability. Roughly 58-percent of the site will be preserved for open space and agricultural uses. The project requires reconfiguration of South Vine Street, to realign with Theatre Drive and include the construction of a bridge to cross a drainage area. A 2016 Settlement Agreement entered into by the City, the Applicant, and CENCO outlines the design, construction, and improvement obligations of each party for the completion of the improvements. Caltrans has identified the South Vine Street realignment as part of broader improvements necessary to help alleviate local and regional congestion.

Adopted the Proposed FY 2020-21 Budget: At its seventh meeting discussing the city budget since January of this year, the City Council adopted the FY 2020-21 budget, which provides funding for all city services, infrastructure investments, and activities to be performed from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. Total citywide appropriations for FY 2020-21 are $106,905,730, of which 43-percent pertains to the General Fund, 16-percent to the Water Fund, 15-percent to the Capital Improvement Program Fund, 14-percent to the Wastewater Fund and 12-percent from the remaining 34 funds the City manages. The adopted budget closes a $13 million-dollar projected General Fund deficit created primarily due to the fiscal impacts of COVID-19. To maintain a projected 30-percent General Fund reserve balance, the council directed the utilization of approximately $5.7 million in existing reserves for FY 2020-21, resulting in budget reductions of approximately $7.2 million. Council adopted the budget as proposed, with the clarification to fund the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, Downtown Main Street, and Wine Country Alliance at their full level of funding for the first six months of the fiscal year, with the commitment to reevaluate at midyear. Staff will continue to track revenues and prepare for a first-quarter budget review in October to determine if modifications are necessary.

This represents just a subset of the total actions by the council. The full agenda can be found at https://www.prcity.com/agendacenter and the audio from the meeting can be found at https://www.prcity.com/AgendaCenter/City-Council-2 or www.prcity.com/youtube. The minutes will be available as part of the packet for the City Council’s next regular meeting.

The next regular City Council meeting takes place on Thursday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m. via livestream at www.prcity.com/youtube. The meeting will be on Thursday rather than Tuesday to allow sufficient time for public review of the agenda packet after the July 4th holiday. Public comments can be made during the meeting by 805-865-PASO (7276) or provided prior to the meeting by emailing cityclerk@prcity.com.



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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at scott@pasoroblesdailynews.com.