Atascadero officials have scrapped the creek setback plans they embraced in May, originally enacted out of flooding and water-quality concerns. The move ends what had become a contentious issue in the area and eliminates any need to put the matter before city voters.
The City Council, acting after hours of public comment, voted unanimously on July 24 to abandon changes to its general plan that barred construction within 35 feet of Atascadero, Boulder, and Graves creeks.
The vote which followed a voter-led initiative launched to repeal the May decision leaves a prior 20-foot setback in place.
"What's great about this is it shows us that we can make a difference," said Jolene Horn, a real estate agent who was one of the primary organizers of the petition. "We don't have to just go along with whatever is dictated."
The bulk of speakers at the meeting were opposed to the newer setbacks, which some said they feared could open the door to the city taking control of private land for trails or other purposes.
Even some activists who had supported the original setbacks felt that the repeal was best, considering the contentiousness of the debate.
David Broadwater had pushed to have the council consider the issue in a town-hall-style meeting, but the council, at a prior meeting, opted against that idea.
"My feeling on it was that if the council did not feel it worth starting a public, open process, then maybe the creek setbacks as proposed aren't worth a damn anyway," Broadwater said.
He said he hopes the city eventually considers going back to larger setbacks, but under the vote, such a move can't happen until November 2008.