We hear a lot about city planning. E.G. Lewis, who founded three American cities, including Atascadero, was very adept at it. In fact, in 1913 he filed one of the largest land-use maps in the history of San Luis Obispo County.
Atascadero was completely planned — its streets, its creek reservations, orchards, industrial sites, home sites and a beautiful civic center. Lewis was very strict about what you could do where. Of course, he was the mayor, the planning commission and the planning department.
Today, it’s different.
Usually any given city has its professional planners, armed of course with input from elected council members and citizens. This, then, becomes your blueprint for the future development of your community. And state law requires that all development be consistent with that “general plan.”
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That’s how we got the 2025 General Plan for Atascadero. That’s how it works in Atascadero and most every other city.
I thought it might be fun for us common people to do a little municipal planning, too.
Atascadero’s first adopted city plan was written by ordinary citizens, not professional planners, back in 1976. The original plan drafted by the county planners was rejected by the local citizens who made up the Atascadero Advisory Committee, so they wrote their own, known locally as “The People’s Plan.”
Let’s plan for that little section of land that has been created next to El Camino Real between the northbound Highway 101 on-ramp and Morro Road. I’d say it is about 75 feet wide by 200 feet long. Right now it is a mountain of dirt.
I’ve already gotten suggestions for that tiny piece of turf, such as:
• A small pocket park with a few benches beneath some nice shade trees;
• A one-screen movie theater for those who don’t want to have to choose between the upcoming two 10-screen theaters;
• A homeless park to rival the one in Santa Barbara where that giant fig tree has stood next to the freeway for so many years;
• A small petting zoo managed by the Atascadero High School FFA students;
• A taco stand;
• A place to relocate all the used cars and trucks that have been displaced by the construction of the new Rite Aid; and
• A good place to locate all the sandwich board signs advertising businesses in a three-block radius.
I’m sure I’ve overlooked some really good possibilities, so I’m counting on the rest of you for ideas.
Lon Allan can be reached at or firstname.lastname@example.org.