Mr. Mike Lucas in an opinion column in The Tribune (Feb. 7) recently stated the reason Atascadero lacks a vibrant downtown is the junior high location.
The opposite is true.
The junior high is like a magnet for the downtown. The junior high generates trips to the downtown. Every shopping center in the country would give their last parking spot for that kind of built-in traffic.
There are many reasons why our downtown has struggled, but two reasons stand out.
The first is that our retail is not concentrated in the downtown area but has been allowed, through zoning, to stretch out from one end of Atascadero to the other. This lack of a concentrated central business district erases the synergy that happens when businesses are concentrated.
Another reason is a nationwide phenomenon: The Internet is taking over retail. Adding insult to injury , the per-capita retail space, nationwide, has increased 25 percent over the past 24 years. This trend of the Internet grabbing retail sales at the same time that retail stores have been overbuilt is a recipe for vacant space.
That leaves a community such as Atascadero with the challenge of finding alternative uses for all the vacant retail spaces.