If you spend it, they still won’t come

September 3, 2012 

Atascadero, like most California cities, is strapped for cash.

So it doesn’t make sense to me that the council voted 4-0 (Councilman Tom O’Malley was absent) to spend between $100,000 and $130,000 to hire an individual or a firm for the specific task of bringing tourists to the community.

I love Atascadero. I’ve lived here very close to 50 years and chronicled the goings-on for more than 40 of those years. But spending money on someone who thinks they can bring tourists to Atascadero is a waste of money because, frankly, there is absolutely nothing that would draw a tourist here short of filling up with gas on the way to the coast to the west of us or the wine country to the north of us.

Atascadero just can’t compete with the missions, the wine country, the ocean attractions and more.

That isn’t to say this isn’t a lovely community. It is a wonderful place to live. My friends never cease to be impressed when I drive them around our oak-covered hills to show off the breathtaking vistas.

Atascadero Lake is a nice place to drop by with the children on a hot summer day. They can take in the Charles Paddock Zoo, but you don’t get a good feeling going through this little facility in spite of the money and work that has gone into keeping it open over the past six decades (many of you may remember Nathan the African lion that paced back and forth in his small cage with only a concrete pad to sleep on).

Yes, our spectacular City Hall occasionally draws some folks off the freeway to inquire as to what the building is used for. Progress is being made to improve the looks of the commercial core, although the city has now decided you can paint anything on a building in the name of art and it can’t be controlled because it is a free speech issue. This decision just might come back to bite the city in its posterior.

I remember a time about 30 years ago when a merchant on Traffic Way parked a pickup truck in front of his store and placed a giant dinosaur in the back. It was very ugly and very large and a genuine eyesore. Merchants in surrounding businesses screamed for its removal.

New businesses will come to Atascadero when it is economically viable for them to do so. I don’t think we need to give away the store to get them here, which seems to be the case with the new motel slated for the Home Depot center. Almost sounds like the city has money to burn after all.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for more than 45 years. He can be reached at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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