To paraphrase a quote from Civil War Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, “Damn the drought, full speed ahead.” The thought entered my head as I witness so much residential construction going on all around me. Atascadero is stuffing houses onto tiny little building lots everywhere.
On Tuesday, for example, the city council will probably give its approval to a Southern California builder who wants to construct an 86-unit multi-family apartment complex on El Camino Real and Avenida Maria Road.
I don’t follow these things as closely as I once did. My concern is that we are bombarded with daily reminders to reduce our consumption of water, but yet no house, shopping center, industrial building or apartment complex, here and anywhere else in the county, is turned down because of there is any concern that we’re entering the fourth year of a drought. Cambria is an exception because the shortage of water there has been an issue for decades.
Not only is this newest Atascadero project getting a “mitigated negative declaration,” the developer gets a density bonus because of providing housing for low- and very low- income buyers.This may be good when there is plenty of water, but when do we consider the water factor in approving any new construction? I would think now is the best time to do so.
I know Atascadero’s underground water basin, unlike the one beneath Paso Robles, pretty much remains filled. Water use, however, is an issue when many of us are letting our lawns go brown, carrying shower water in buckets to our outside plants and more.
The lawn surrounding city hall looks green and lush and the fountains continue to flow. Atascadero’s mud hole is getting a nice top coat of green algae as the summer weather begins to creep in. We can pretty well count on it being another hot summer as the June gloom slips away.
We’ve all heard the argument over the past 50 years that Atascadero’s water is provided by a private company in which the property owners are shareholders in the firm, that the city has no control over the decisions of the water purveyor. The water company, on the other hand, is seldom asked by the city if there is adequate water for this or that project.
The city council has pretty much expressed its doubts regarding even the validity of climate change as anything to worry about.
I think we have to at least consider it, and the drought.
As a final thought, I salute the decision by the city of San Luis Obispo to ban the use of Styrofoam. I hope the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, as it begins its Tuesday Night in the Park 10-week series next week, will not issue those Styrofoam carry-out containers, but use something polystyrene free.