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I see opportunity 

There's a gap between Atascadero's government and its soul

Let me first say that I was directed to read a couple of pieces about the state of commerce in Atascadero that were printed in New Times. The cover story was “Wide-open spaces” (March 28) and the commentary was “We believe in Atascadero” (April 4). After that, I came across “Say ‘no,’ get nothing” (letters, April 4).

Each piece has its own merit, and none of them absolve or defend the leadership of Atascadero for their lack of creativity, inability to invent commerce, or failure to produce a uniquely Atascadero solution to our commercial issues, which are significant problems for a city government.

That being said, the detractors fail to produce a uniquely Atascadero solution to our commercial issues.

It seems that anyone can complain. It is not hard. Few can find the courage and inspiration to take action that makes a difference.

What I would like to see is some real solutions (Wal-Mart is not a solution for Atascadero’s problems) that uniquely meet Atascadero’s needs as a community.

Taking a snapshot of Atascadero and the empty buildings and rental spaces is an unfair jab at whoever it happens to jab at. This bears repeating. It is a totally unfair jab.

We are all responsible, and our failure is a collective failure.

I would like to see us do something about it, regardless and in spite of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart will be a stain on Atascadero and its history, but that is the hole we have collectively have dug ourselves into.

I practice simple commitments to show loyalty to the places I want to make sure stay open. I always buy gasoline from the Chevron on Morro Road. I always buy coffee from the Starbucks on El Camino and Morro Road. I always buy groceries from Vons and Albertsons. I eat at A-Town Diner. I go to movies at Galaxy Theaters and don’t go up to Paso Robles Park Cinemas. I eat at Kai Lana Sushi.

I can go on, but the point is that I understand that if I want something to be there when I want to use it, I need to patronize it.

I may be way off by my economic calculations, but the reason businesses are not lasting in Atascadero is that they are not patronized. They must be selling something that people are not buying. They must not be marketing effectively or managing their sales efficiently. The businesses must be doing something wrong because not everybody is going out of business.

There are businesses in Atascadero that are thriving.

We are a unique city.

We are not Paso Robles, and I personally would move out of Atascadero if we were. I live here because Atascadero is different. That is why I love Atascadero.

I believe there is a disconnect between the government of Atascadero and the soul of Atascadero, and until that gap is closed, nothing they try will work.

Atascadero has so much more potential than the other cities in the North County. Atascadero is potent.

The snapshot of Atascadero does so much more than spell doom and gloom and calamity and catastrophe.

It spells opportunity.

There are solutions (again, not Wal-Mart or the government) brewing beneath the surface of Atascadero’s sprawling facade that are not yet visible, and when they come to fruition, I will take quiet satisfaction in what Atascadero is capable of.

In conclusion, there are those of us who see Atascadero’s wide-open spaces as opportunity, and we believe in Atascadero. We say yes, and with that we stand to gain everything. 

Newton Morales is an Atascadero resident. Send comments to the executive editor at

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