About the Colony

Looking back at Atascadero's business-friendly record

I keep seeing in print that Atascadero has been unfriendly to business, but now there is a City Council working in harmony to change all that.

There was a brief period of time when we had people on the council who wanted rules followed, not allowing businesses to cut lot sizes down to postage stamps or build against the creeks.

But overall, Atascadero has never seen a business it did not like or, frankly, a regulation it was willing to enforce if the business complained. The city has already filled two good retail spaces – the former Grisanti hardware store and Tool Outlet in the Vons shopping center – with non-retail businesses.

Tuesday night the City Council is considering a request from a business to increase the number of tables in its card room and do away with a $500 betting limit.

I hope the council will deny both, but the recommendation from staff is already in support of the changes. One of the reasons given for doing away with the limit on betting is that there isn’t a limit in Paso Robles.

Remember when you were a child and when your mom wouldn’t let you do something? You’d reply, “But Johnny’s mom lets him.” Of course you got back the response, “If Johnny jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?”

Atascadero has historically welcomed businesses even long before it became an incorporated city in the summer of 1979.

In the 1950s, when Caltrans wanted to move Highway 101 away from El Camino Real, local business interests insisted it cut right through the middle of town in spite of recommendations to take the new alignment away from the downtown.

Duplexes were allowed to be constructed on what should have been downtown commercial lots, which just drove us into today’s strip-mall makeup.

Smaller parking spaces were authorized for the Rite Aid/Vons center to help the project conform closer to parking regulations.

The movie theater got built because the project backers were allowed to count parking across the street at the bank and even over by city hall, thinking a pedestrian bridge would be built to accommodate those parking there.

A number of fees have been delayed to benefit the large hotel currently under construction at the north end of Atascadero. We’ll get our money later, of course, but why did they get the break? Simply because they asked for it.

We have been, and continue to be, a very business-friendly town.

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