There are exciting times and important issues ahead as we enter the New Year in the City of Paso Robles. Some of these issues represent the ongoing evolution of situations in our community. Others are just appearing on the horizon and will grow in significance as time goes on.
First, the continuing issues.
The issue of water will once again top the list in the New Year. Our citizens have performed magnificently in the past, conserving more than a billion gallons of water in response to state conservation mandates. Our multiple water resources (groundwater, river water, Lake Nacimiento and the soon to be realized recycled water plant) insure we will have adequate supplies for our projected build-out population. We anticipate the cost to collect, treat and deliver a gallon of potable water to your home will remain at less than one penny. That’s the good news. The challenge for the future is embodied in the State of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) which requires the formation of Groundwater Management Agencies (GMAs) and the production of cooperative plans to stabilized our local aquifers. SGMA will place new burdens on local agencies and challenge us to work cooperatively in new ways.
Traffic circulation will also continue to challenge us. Our local sales tax override issue has provided many millions of dollars to fund street repairs and progress is becoming obvious. That work will continue as will efforts to create new roads and intersections to accommodate residential construction on the east side of the city. Circulation issues will require cooperative work between the City, County and State.
Facilitation of new home construction will be necessary to provide housing in a wider price range. We have made good progress with our Housing Constraints and Opportunities Committee, but more work needs to be done to assure housing alternatives for everyone while not compromising the elements that have created the high quality of life we enjoy in Paso Robles including our environment and recreational and library service amenities.
These and other issues will persist and remain “on the table” for discussion and work in the New Year.
Next, some of the items coming up.
New issues in 2017 will include enhancement of public safety services, economic development, homeless services and accommodation of the new world of legal cannabis. We will work on new strategies for fire protection and emergency medical services. We will support efforts to secure additional law enforcement officers and anti-drug efforts via our county government. We will facilitate the creation of jobs through the formation of our new Airport Commission and a yet-to-be-determined lead agency for the attraction of new businesses. We will explore new ways to address homelessness including creative uses of Community Development Block Grant funds, support for local support agencies, the study of alternatives for a local homeless shelter and the pursuit of a possible re-use of the former California Youth Authority. We have formed a citizens’ committee to make recommendations regarding the cultivation, availability and use of medical marijuana and will address the issues associated with the recent legalization of the recreational use of marijuana by the citizens of California.
These are among the most prominent of the issues we will face in 2017. There are many other issues and I will endeavor to keep you updated on those as they develop.
I am pleased and proud to report that your City Council continues to work well as a team to benefit all of the citizens of Paso Robles. Each member of the Council brings different talents and opinions, but all work together in civility and with great respect for our citizens. The result is open, transparent government with a high level of confidence. It is what makes our city so productive and effective.
Likewise, city staff is working effectively. We have made significant staff transitions over the last couple of years and those transitions have resulted in a renewed energy and commitment from employees at all levels. I offer my thanks and appreciation for that energy and commitment.
I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. It is a privilege to serve as your Mayor and a responsibility which I continue to take seriously on your behalf. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments regarding the vision, goals and functions of your city.
Steven W. Martin
Mayor, City of Paso Robles