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Atascadero City Council approves RV storage lot with conditions 

After almost two years of waiting for official approval, the applicants of a proposed RV lot located on the bank of the Salinas River got their project unanimously approved by the Atascadero City Council on Oct. 10.

Even with council approval, there are still concerns that malign the project.

click to enlarge BEAVER BEREAVEMENT The SLO Beaver Brigade is alleging that a proposed RV lot near the Salinas River may cause major disruptions for the local beaver population due to its size. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CITY OF ATASCADERO
  • Photo Courtesy Of The City Of Atascadero
  • BEAVER BEREAVEMENT The SLO Beaver Brigade is alleging that a proposed RV lot near the Salinas River may cause major disruptions for the local beaver population due to its size.

"This is a difficult project for me. I don't like this outdoor storage use," Councilmember Susan Funk said at the meeting. "The purpose of having lots like this in industrial zones in the city is to generate jobs—this does not generate a single job on the site."

Funk was one of many project critics who questioned why the 6-acre RV storage lot had to be built where it was and whether it was worthwhile for the city to approve a project it may have to later walk back.

"There is no value added for the city here," Funk said. "If its best use is to be an open space and we are not allowed to take property value away from the lot owners, then we need to keep this project managed very well."

Throughout its entire existence, the project has faced backlash over environmental concerns, actively struggling to get approval because of the potential impacts.

After five hearings, the Atascadero Planning Commission narrowly approved the project in July 2023. The SLO Beaver Brigade and residents immediately pushed back against the decision.

"There is a lack of consideration for the health of the beaver wetland habitat in the vicinity of the project site and the wildlife that lives there, which will be detrimental to the riparian area in the vicinity of this use," the SLO Beaver Brigade said after the decision.

In a statement, the group said it believes the project endangers the local beaver population—a species that already struggles and recently received state protection—and also conflicts with Atascadero's general plan.

"It is disheartening to be spending so much time on updating our general plan and yet at the same moment, we witness our city staff ignoring the plan we currently have," the Beaver Brigade said. "If we have a general plan, shouldn't we therefore use it?"

The approval also prompted resident David Broadwater to file an appeal questioning how the lot would be able to mitigate its potential environmental impacts. In a public comment letter to the council, Broadwater asked whether putting the RV lot applicant in charge of finding someone to conduct environmental studies might cause some issues.

"Leaving this selection up to the applicant may entail actual or perceived conflicts of interest," Broadwater continued. "While the applicant should pay for this service, it would be preferable for the city to offer a wide selection of professionals from this field ... and make a selection independent from the applicants."

Ultimately—as clarified by Mayor Heather Moreno—while the council would move to approve the plan, it was not set in stone.

"We are adding some additional conditions with this approval," Moreno said to the council. "They will have to meet these conditions so that if it does start to have [those environmental] impacts we can repeal it and walk it back."

Some of those conditions include regular maintenance and check-in on the RVs stored in the lot to ensure they are being cleaned and their waste is being disposed of properly. In addition, the council included several environmental studies that would need to be conducted throughout the project's construction and completion to ensure the project was not negatively impacting wildlife. Δ

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to add images and links.

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