The City of Paso Robles has owned its own airport since the 1970s when it purchased it from the County of San Luis Obispo for $1.00. That seemed like a shrewd business deal at the time, but it’s taken nearly four decades for us to really focus in on the potential of that facility. In the 1990s the City rezoned land around the airport to provide space for industrial growth. Lack of basic infrastructure (water, sewer, power) and the fact that some of the City-owned property could only be leased, not sold, inhibited. Airport development. In spite of this, the airport has attracted general aviation enthusiasts, Highway Patrol and CalFire operations, aviation and non-aviation related businesses and the Estrella Warbirds Museum/Woodland Auto Display.
This week, the City Council completed formation of the first Paso Robles Airport Commission. Twenty-seven very qualified individuals applied for the seven-member Commission. After three long interview sessions the Council made the very difficult decision of who would serve on the Commission.
As we go forward now, this Commission will act more autonomously to direct and attract development at our airport, creating a new and vital component to our local economic engine. I and the entire Council want to thank all who applied and invite them to stay involved with this process.
Elsewhere, the entire County is preparing for the exit of Diablo Canyon as PG&E proceeds with plans to close that facility in 2025. The cities have formed a coalition to petition the California Public Utilities Commission to create a transition plan that will mitigate the economic impacts of losing this $1-billion per year component of our local economy. Many jobs are at stake as well as much-needed property and sales tax revenue. There is also the issue of the nuclear power plant’s desalination facility, which could provide fresh water for 3,000 local homes. More to come.
The Housing Constraints and Opportunities Committee continues to work to remove obstacles to the development of housing in the City. Most recently, the committee voted to recommend to the City Council that water/sewer capacity charges for the addition of second units on R-1 and R-2 properties be removed and that reduced development impact fees be charged for these units if they are 600-square-feet or less. The committee continues to study transportation infrastructure costs and other planned projects including a fire-fighting training facility, an aquatics center and a library expansion. On a related note, plan check for new homes has been streamlined. The process, which took six to eight months a year ago, now takes about 30 days.
Our Police Department recently updated the City Council on crime statistics. The good news is that gang-related and otherviolent crimes are down. In fact, our violent crime level is the lowest in the County. Other crimes, such as home burglaries, are on the rise, however. Wec ontinue to support our public safety services as a primary mission of the City. An example of this is the new security camera pilot program. This grant-funded project will allow law enforcement to monitor facilities that have been vandalized in the hopes of apprehending the perpetrators.
Road and water work in city streets has been coordinated. These crews now work together to minimize the recurrent disturbance of street surfaces for multiple projects. That means faster repairs, less traffic obstruction and reduced costs.
Our second annual Mobile Assistance Services for Homeless (MASH) event exceeded last year’s service levels. Last year about two dozen agencies assembled at the Paso Robles Event Center to deliver services to 81 homeless persons. This year 38 agencies participated serving more than 100 people. These services are designed to alleviate the needs of the homeless and, just as important, to assist them out of homelessness. Paso Robles spearheaded this event last year, which is being used as a model for similar events county-wide.
The “oil trains” were back on the agenda recently. I asked that the issue be brought back for an update. After much discussion the Council decided to repeat its concerns about the operation and safety elements related to the operation of these trains should the County of San Luis Obispo decided to approve the Phillips 66 rail spur at its refinery on the Nipomo Mesa, but stopped short of supporting formal opposition to the project.
Marijuana. Medical or recreational? For or against? Citizens of California will decide if the recreational use of marijuana will be allowed on Nov. 8. Our City Council has already voted to allow the mobile delivery of medical marijuana products within the city. We have formed a citizens committee to address other issues surround the cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes. In the meantime, the City continues to restrict cultivation as we move cautiously into this brave new world.
It was a great Pioneer Day parade. Jennifer and I were joined by City Manager Tom Frutchey in a 1919 Cadillac. Many thanks to all the people who keep this local tradition alive. It’s one of the best ways to show newcomers what we’re all about.
The year-long schedule of Mayor’s Museum Tours is coming to a close. I’ve been visiting a different local museum each month to spotlight our local history. The last one this year will be Dec. 7, 4 p.m., at the Paso Robles Childrens Museum on 12th Street. We will have a mixer for representatives of all the local museums (and you, if you would like to join us). We will discuss plans for next year.
Finally, we love our softball. In fact, the City works in partnership with softball volunteers to maintain our fields and league programs. Recently the Council voted not to implement an immediate fee increase that would cover the City’s subsidy of this program. Fee increases will be phased in to allow leagues to adjust over time. The Council agreed that the program and other recreational programs contribute significantly to the character of the City.
For more information on what’s happening in your city you can check out the weekly summary newsletter at the www.prcity.com.
As I write this, the rain is falling gently. Nice. Very nice.
Until we blog again, here’s to you Paso Robles.