September’s drawing to a close and we’re already experiencing some weird weather here in Atascadero. From record-breaking heat at the beginning of the month to rainfall last weekend, we’ve navigated the unpredictable weather as a community.

As Mother Nature reminds us that we never know what she may bring, it’s a good time to talk about storm preparedness. The City of Atascadero contains Atascadero Creek, Graves Creek, and Boulder Creek, as well as portions of the Salinas River and, of course, our beloved Atascadero Lake. All these bodies of water work together with culverts and drains on private properties to move runoff from our neighborhoods and driveways to our rivers and streams, eventually draining into Monterey Bay.

The City of Atascadero is responsible for operating and managing the City’s stormwater system. Every year, our staff diligently prepares for wet weather by clearing and cleaning public property drain inlets of leaves, sand, and other debris that could clog storm pipes or inlet grates; stockpiling sand and prefilling sandbags; performing regular street sweeping around the downtown; trimming tree branches in City parks; testing equipment for clearing localized flooding; inspecting and keeping up with storm facilities to make sure they’re functioning properly; and coordinating community clean-up efforts for our beautiful creeks and rivers.

All Atascadero residents should likewise prepare for the rainy season and make sure that their property is protected from water damage, onsite flooding, and that they’re not accidentally creating any flooding issues for neighboring properties. While the City can clean and maintain the drainage areas in the streets, they cannot work on private property. All of us can take some relatively simple but very important stormwater preparation steps, including: clearing and checking proper operation of roof gutters and downspouts, grading the yard and landscaping to slope away from the house to provide safe drainage, checking and clearing any culverts or drain pipes under driveways or elsewhere on your property, removing debris from ditches and waterways to guarantee unimpeded flow, trimming trees that are hanging onto or scraping against roofs, and inspecting and trimming low-hanging branches that overhang roads to allow for clear passage of vehicles. Please beware, after a long period of drought followed by significant rainfall, many local trees, especially our numerous lovely oaks, are extremely vulnerable to breakage and falling.

While doing yard work, try not to blow leaves or grass into streets, ditches, ponds, or other waterways—the debris will plug inlets and pipes and increases the risk of localized flooding. Remember: nothing other than water may be dumped into a storm drain as whatever goes into the storm drain will end up in Monterey Bay.

Finally, it’s always important to be prepared for possible storm-related power outages by double-checking flashlight batteries, charging phones and necessary electronics, and making sure you have plenty of non-perishable food and water on-hand. If you notice unusual flooding of streets or other storm-related concerns, please call Public Works during business hours at (805) 470-3148 or our Police Department non-emergency line at (805) 461-5051.

As always, if you have any questions about this or any other topic related to the City of Atascadero, feel free to email me at

City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

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.