Major road improvements related to new development in a long-approved housing subdivision off Highway 41 on Atascadero’s west side are at a standstill — causing at least one neighbor much frustration.
Atascadero resident Mitch Paskin last week asked the City Council to consider funding an updated safety review on all roads in and around Oak Ridge Estates, an unfinished hilltop development off Los Altos Road that the city approved in 1995.
The project, where construction is stalled, underwent an environmental review before it was approved. Various road improvements, including a much-discussed right-turn lane off the highway, are required. The developer is currently seeking to downgrade some work.
“My issue is with the dangerous road conditions being created there,” Paskin said.
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The development, which calls for about 110 new homes, changed hands over time and is now owned by San Luis Obispo-based developer Castlerock Development. About 25 homes have been built.
In 2005, Castlerock asked the City Council to allow a tapered westbound right turn channel — narrower than a regular lane — to be built off Highway 41 onto Los Altos Road instead of a full turn lane.
Caltrans told the developer that it no longer thought the highway’s traffic merited the full right turn lane and that building one would require paving into an adjacent creek.
The council denied Castlerock’s proposal and directed the developer to construct the improvements as originally designed.
That same year, the city stopped issuing building permits for Oak Ridge Estates because the roadwork had not been started. Paskin said he encouraged the move.
Earlier this year, Castlerock — still stuck between what Caltrans would allow and what the city requires — presented a study to Atascadero with updated traffic figures that supported lesser road improvements in the hopes that the council would reconsider its 2005 rejection.
The city then hired its own consultants for $5,450 and $4,800 to double-check Castlerock’s traffic figures, something city executives have the authority to do without council approval for studies up to $10,000 each.
The city’s study found similar results, officials said. The findings were presented to the City Council as a management report at its April 10 meeting. The council doesn’t vote on management reports.
A handful of Oak Ridge neighbors spoke at that meeting, each concerned that anything short of a full right turn lane would be a danger. Paskin also angrily told the council that it was making a mistake by overturning its 2005 decision.
The next day, city staff said they were in error by not asking for a council vote. An update on where the project stands has not yet been issued. An updated traffic review, in which the neighbors would select the consultant, is now needed, Paskin said.
“If you can ... put out that money to support the developer, I think you should be able to put out the money to support the citizens,” he told the council last week.
The city had not responded to his request as of Thursday, he said.