Congratulations to Patrick Klemz and New Times for their honesty in pulling the covers off Atascadero (“Wide-open spaces,” March 28). How did it get like this? In analyzing the recent history, there is a clear pattern of amorphous and toothless planning policies consensually exploited by individuals only interested in a quick buck.
The elected leadership abdicates responsibility to the recommendations of staff who in turn “pin their hopes” on the speculative promises of private developers who then leverage the city to surrender any possible benefits. In the absence of any pro-active stance, the city is a doormat to any slick suit promising to save their town for them. In giving unconditional approval, the city gladly takes credit for the project while the developer is free of any obligation.
Proceeding without conditions or accountability, the developer invariably fails, usually at some cost to the city, and Atascadero gets another half-baked empty promise. The numerous examples litter our city from one end to the other.
A “when-and-then” mindset dominates, always promising that something that will make all the difference is just around the corner. The only action actually taken by the city is constant spending on generic, decorative trivia in a town with no substance.
Meanwhile, the brunt of enforcement and petty interference is saved for existing locally owned small business, the effect of which can be seen in the vacancy rate. The only booming business appears to be the two chain stores, “To Let” and “Available,” that have locations all over town.
Nothing will change until the city gets as mad at the situation as they will with this letter, or when their utopian bubble bursts. The only thing that Atascadero seems sure of is what it doesn’t want: industry, nightlife, small business, etc. If you always say “no,” you wind up with nothing.