2021-2023 Action Plan Update/Study Session
By: City Manager, Rachelle Rickard
In 2021, the Atascadero City Council adopted our 2021-2023 Action Plan, which was the culmination of a robust public outreach effort and included specific actions to address four separate strategic priorities: Economic & Community Vibrancy, Fiscal Infrastructure Efficiency & Sustainability, Ensuring Public Safety and Providing Exceptional City Services, and Quality of Life. The City Council has been clear about its desire to not only engage the public in developing the Action Plan, but also to be very transparent in the City’s progress in achieving the actions and the underlying goals of the Action Plan.
During an April 12, 2022 Study Session, City staff provided an update to the Council on the progress that has been achieved so far in each of the four key areas of the Action Plan. We’ve made great strides in a number of areas that will help turn the identified goals into reality. I will only be able to mention a small number of our recent successes here, but I encourage all interested residents and business owners to view the presentation and discussion between staff and Council by going to this video link.
In order to further enhance and ensure our community’s public safety, we’re extremely pleased to have filled a number of previously open positions in the Police Department with very well-qualified personnel. Furthermore, we are currently adding one 911 dispatcher position and a total of five additional officer positions to supplement our Police Department staffing numbers. Having a full compliment of personnel on the duty roster and out on patrol is one critical element of our Action Plan. We welcome all of our new Public Safety Dispatchers, Police Officers and Police Recruits to the City!
As the Police Department approaches full staffing, the Outreach for Underrepresented Residents (OUR) Team is being developed to serve the community. OUR Team combines a police officer, a contract mental health worker and a community outreach representative into one team, solely focused on assisting underrepresented residents, including those who may be experiencing homelessness or mental health crisis. OUR Team will work to connect our unhoused residents with case workers, services, medical assistance and otherwise generally help remove barriers to permanent housing solutions in order to decrease the number of people living on the streets.
Preliminary work has begun to replace our aging Fire Station No. 1, which is over 70 years old and in need of a significant rebuild. We hope to soon have news about the potential for a new Public Safety Center that would also house our Police Department and Dispatch Center, and create an Emergency Operations Center large enough to accommodate the necessary Citywide personnel should an emergency occur.
As they play a vital role in helping to boost Atascadero’s economic success, in the second half of 2022 and as COVID-19 restrictions eased, we were pleased to be able to restart many of our very successful Special Events. These events work to bring visitors as well as residents back into our beautiful downtown, where they are able to enjoy the event and lively entertainment, along with all of the retail shops, restaurants, wineries, cideries and breweries Atascadero has to offer. Our traditional and newly-created events, which include the fun and excitement of Cruisin’ Weekend, Dancing in the Streets, the Fall Carnival, Winter Wonderland and the Tamale Festival, all help to bring people and revenue into town and into our hotels.
To better enable vital digital connectivity and to help ensure the pathway to success for businesses throughout our community, we have just signed an Agreement between the cities of Atascadero and Paso Robles for a North County Broadband Strategic Plan (BBSP) collaboration; we are working on a Request for Proposals for a joint BBSP project, applying for state broadband technical assistance grant, and we are collaborating with the Pacific Coast Broadband Consortium.
The City’s General Plan Update, which is a two-year project that kicked off in January, will explore land use and zoning changes; we are implementing Objective Design Standards to promote mixed use projects in our community and the downtown; our Downtown Enhancement Plan will support development of underutilized spaces; and the Planned Development Overlay Zone for the East Mall properties will help to catalyze desired changes.
These are just a few examples out of many of the City’s activities now underway in our ongoing efforts to achieve the Council’s and our community’s identified priorities and goals. The Study Session included a lot of great news, updates and detailed information about these and many more actions in which we are engaged and I encourage everyone to view the previously mentioned video link, which can also be found on the Measure D-20 Information page of our website, for more information.
If you have any questions regarding this or any other topic concerning the City, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachelle Rickard is a native of California and a nearly 30 year resident of Atascadero. She graduated with a business degree from California Polytechnic (Cal Poly) State University in San Luis Obispo. In February 1997, She took a job as the Accountant with the City of Atascadero and was promoted to the position of Director of Administrative Services. At the time of her appointment to the position of Administrative Services Director for the City of Atascadero, she was the youngest person ever appointed to that role; she was also the first female Department Head ever appointed within the City. Rachelle Rickard was appointed to the position of City Manager of the City of Atascadero in June, 2013.