Planning, Progress, and Purpose in Paso Robles
By Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin
As we turn the corner on another brand-new year, it’s expected and appropriate that we all turn our thoughts to the future. With the completion of one term as Mayor of Paso Robles and the beginning of another, I am also a bit preoccupied with the future. It’s good to think ahead and lay plans. It gives direction and helps define what success will look like. Of course, the universe sometimes has other ideas and we are forced to react as well as act. So, we have to be prepared for those issues we anticipate and always be ready to address the things we never could have expected. If we are well-prepared for 90 percent of what happens we will be better able to deal with those unexpected issues that always seem to pop up.
So, what do we know about the future? We know that our citizens are looking for better streets, more and better jobs and strong public safety services. How do we know that? People made those preferences known in 2017-2018 via public surveys, forums and goal-setting exercises. So, I have adopted three overarching “Man-On-The-Moon” statements for Paso Robles.
First, we will be a city where our infrastructure (streets, water, sewer, etc.) are strong, dependable and well-maintained. We have already accomplished much in the area of street repairs and we will continue to spend more than $5 million per year to complete those efforts. In the future we will need to establish a regular pavement maintenance program to assure street repairs are done in a timely fashion. This will increase the life-span of our streets and reduce the need for massive, expensive repairs in the future.
Second, we will be the hub for economic development in our area, providing a wide variety of jobs in many business sectors. Tourism has been the backbone of our local economy for years. We want that to continue. Money spent by visitors in Paso Robles creates revenue for city services that would otherwise have to be generated by our citizens.
Even so, tourism cannot be the only solution to our revenue needs. If anything should happen to weaken that revenue stream it would jeopardize city services. We need to expand other local business and encourage others to locate in our city. This will provide employment alternatives and create a more stable local economy.
Third, we will be a safe community with sufficient emergency and law enforcement services to assure a safe and lawful community and be prepared for unexpected natural emergencies. We have already established and approved a plan to increase the size and scope of our Fire and Emergency Services Department. In 2019 we will follow a similar course to address the needs of our police department. Public safety is always our number one priority. The new year will see an even greater focus on this.
Other projects that will occupy our time in the years to come include housing, homelessness, downtown parking and recreation.
Activity to create new housing in our Specific Plan areas will continue. First and foremost, these projects will be required to go through the environmental review process to assure their ability to mitigate any negative impact on our quality of life. Secondly, we hope to have balanced development via housing that is accessible to people in many income levels.
We anticipate working with local organizations such as Paso Cares, ECHO and others to participate in a process that will create new, more effective strategies to assist the homeless. Homelessness is probably a problem that will never be completely solved, but we can be more effective and efficient managing the situation. Doing so will help people out of homelessness, provide for the truly needy and address the relatively few among the homeless population responsible for breaking the law and creating problems.
Our pilot program for providing employee parking in the downtown area is already generating success. We look forward to using the data acquired during this program to enhance downtown parking. We will take this step-by-step, focusing on the strategies that work and discarding those that don’t. The ultimate goal is to ease the downtown parking situation to provide customers and businesses with the most pleasant and profitable shopping experiences.
Recreationally, we are a community that enjoys sports. We will continue to work to increase the availability of recreational facilities to serve all of the community. This will be a challenge of venue development, maintenance and scheduling and we will have to work together to meet it.
These goals relate directly to the quality of life in Paso Robles, a city where people can live, work and recreate. The more successful we are at attaining these goals, the higher the quality of life we will all experience.
One thing about the future will be familiar: I and all of our City Council, committees and staff will look to our citizens for input and assistance. We will be accessible and responsible when you reach out. We are all Paso Roblans and we all want what is best for our city. I trust no one in our community will be shy about contacting us with suggestions, complaints and (every now and then) a little compliment. Contact information is available out our newly-updated City website, prcity.com. The website is the perfect way to stay “in the loop” about what is going on with the city. It’s automatic! Fill out a form with your contact information and we’ll make sure you’re updated. Or, just check out the regular City newsletter, also available on the website.
Here’s to a bright 2019. Here’s to you, Paso Robles!