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Atascadero clears the way for the Salinas River Trail 

After recently hearing a slew of concerns over the looming conflict between public access and private property, the Atascadero City Council gave the Salinas River Trail a go-ahead at its Nov. 12 meeting.

The proposed trail follows the Salinas River along a 34-mile stretch from Santa Margarita up through San Miguel. It would connect existing trails along the way, including a few near the riverbed in Atascadero and Paso Robles. The plan, drafted by the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG), includes multiple routes, including soft surfaces along the river bed (preferred for horseback riding), firm surfaces for multi-use, and hard surfaces (preferred for bicycling).

In Atascadero, much of the land along the Salinas River is owned by public agencies like the Atascadero Mutual Water Company or the Atascadero State Hospital. Some segments, however, run right up against or cross private property. Two portions of the trail—in south Atascadero and along the river near the Highway 41 bridge—drew much attention from property owners concerned with impacts to their property at the Oct. 22 meeting.

“I basically just want to go on the record that I don’t want any of those lines going through our property,” Bob Baron, a resident on Santa Barbara Road, told the council.

While only four people spoke during public comment at the meeting—with one person supporting the project—the City Council heard from numerous speakers at their previous meeting. The concern expressed over the project led the council to recommend that SLOCOG “emphatically remove” all proposed trails that cross private property, unless the property owner notifies the board in writing that they’d like to participate. The SLOCOG board will hear the proposal Dec. 4.

-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay

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