I am not the only one bothered by sweeping instances of rudeness affecting our community. Based on the number of responses to last week’s column on rude behavior, it is happening everywhere.
One person who emailed me asked why I was so negative about Atascadero. He said, “If you want to write a column about people being less polite than in the past, fine, but don’t pin it on Atascadero.” He’s right.
Atascadero doesn’t have an exclusive on rude behavior. It is everywhere, based on the responses from readers throughout San Luis Obispo County. But I focus my column on Atascadero and what happens here. I hope for better behavior in my community, and the rest of the world, for that matter.
Readers reported their own examples of rudeness beyond my complaints, from people letting car doors bang into other vehicles, using phones in the movies and at concerts, graffiti, cars parked sideways so nobody can park too close, people using handicapped placards who don’t need them and even those who mess up clothing displays without even trying to “straighten up.” I always try to refold shirts and pants and put them back on the shelf, but I know I don’t do it as well as the store clerks.
Another person thought it was rudeness on the part of the city that drives businesses away and somehow causes them to fail. Now this I disagree with.
I’ve covered Atascadero since it became a legal city in the summer of 1979. This town has always been friendly to any new business. It has consistently changed its own codes to accommodate new businesses big and small, and regardless of zoning. Business has always had its way in Atascadero.
Just one example is the empty brewery sitting next to Atascadero Creek in the middle of town. A newly adopted downtown plan specifically prohibited metal buildings, but the first request to build one resulted in what you see there today.
Others said it is rude that businesses ignore the sign ordinance and put up signs wherever they want them — on sidewalks, in the landscaped medians, on Caltrans signs and more, even putting a sign on a car or truck and then parking it in front of your business.
What I find to be just as rude, however, is for the city to ignore those non-conforming signs and not enforce those restrictions. I have had several city officials tell me that this is not a good time to make it hard for businesses to succeed by enforcing the sign ordinance.
That is why Atascadero has that overall garage sale appearance as you drive anywhere in the downtown.