Mayor discusses voting districts, homelessness, short-term rentals

mayor steve martin

Mayor Steve Martin

Written and submitted by Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin

–It’s been a while since my last blog and, as usual, there’s a lot going on in our city. Let’s get to it.

Voter Districts — As you have probably heard, we have been forced by potential litigation to divide the city into four voting districts. Up until now all council members and the mayor have been elected by a city-wide vote. Beginning in 2020, districts composed of about 7,500 residents each will select council members (one per district). The mayor will still be elected at-large. The districting map was created by professionals working with input from our citizens in several workshops. It is based on the 2010 Census which means, when the 2020 Census is done, the map will have to be re-drawn. The purpose of this is to create a fairer system of representation. Few believe this will be the result, but every other city that has opposed this matter has lost in court with costs in the millions. We have chosen to spend our money on things like roads and public safety.

Homeless — The homeless represent a growing challenge. In addition to the human suffering, their impact on public safety increases. Refuse in the river bed is one good example. There is a plan now to establish a homeless center adjacent to the Wastewater Treatment plant to provide housing, cooling/warming, feeding, storage and counseling. The Homeless Services Oversight Committee has recommended a $1.5-million grant for this purpose to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. The board will make a final decision later this month. Councilman Steve Gregory and I have been spearheading this plan.

Short-Term Rentals — For nearly two years a citizens’ task force has been studying the negative effects of short-term rentals on residential neighborhoods. Those effects sometimes include increased traffic and noise. The task force will soon recommend an ordinance to the Planning Commission. Once the commission has taken public input, it will make a recommendation to the council. It is our intent to balance private property rights with the understandable desire to preserver the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

Police Staffing — Salute to the Paso Robles Police Department. They’ve controlled crime (violent crime down 45-percent) with a staff that hasn’t increased significantly in 20 years. It’s time to take a long look at that and make sure our public safety people have the appropriate number of officers and sufficient resources to keep us safe. This could cost around $3-million per year. Time to put on the old thinking cap and come up with ways to pay for this critical service.

Fire Department — Speaking of staffing, say hello to seven new firefighters. The group was sworn in recently and will report for duty immediately. The new fire squad vehicle is seeing lots of action. It’s expanded the department’s response capability, particularly to medical emergencies, by 50-percent.

Parking — The city’s pilot parking program is over at the end of this month. The plan was to provide better employee parking to free spaces for downtown shoppers. The council will review the program to see how/if it should continue. I’d appreciate hearing about your experience with parking during the last few months.

Sensorio Gardens — If you don’t know what this is, click here. This multi-acre walk-through exhibition opens later this month with a spectacular “Field of Lights.” It’s destined to be the next big tourist attraction in Paso Robles.

Library Fundraiser — If you love food, wine and books, this one is for you. Winemaker’s Dinner Benefitting Paso Robles City Library. Enjoy a four-course dinner with wine pairings introduced by Jason Joyce, Winemaker. 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2019, at Calcareous Vineyard and Winery, Paso Robles. Fabulous Raffle Prizes including a 2-night stay at an Ocean Front Cayucos Beach House or a one hour private plane flight tour of Paso Robles and the Coast including Morro Rock and Hearst Castle

Tickets: $100 per person

Purchase your tickets at the following locations:

· The Friends of the Library Gift Store, 1000 Spring Street from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. -4:30 p.m. Saturdays.
· Online:

For more information call (805) 238–5562 or (805) 238–1175 or email:

April Fool’s — You may have heard we’re changing the name of the City to Paso Valley. You may have heard that on April 1st. We are NOT changing the name of the City to Paso Valley (I think “San Merlot” sounds classier). Seriously, not happening. And, as long as we’re talking about things that are not going to happen: no, there is no application to put a porn store where Orchard Supply used to be.

That’s enough for now. Until next we blog, here’s to you Paso Robles!

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