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Central California Residents Push Back on RV Storage Site

On July 18, the Atascadero Planning Commission voted to approve a permit for an RV storage lot adjacent to the Salinas River—pushing the project to its next phase of seeking City Council approval before it can begin construction in San Luis Obispo County, Calif.

But some residents question whether the commission is fully aware of the environmental and emotional impact building the lot may have.

“The value of this river and watershed is immeasurable, as is the damage to both the river’s wildness and its human neighbors if this plan is approved,” Atascadero resident David Broadwater said via public comment letter. “You must stop this.”

The project, initially proposed in July 2022, intends to make use of a 6-acre plot of land that runs along the Salinas River to serve as a storage property for 262 vehicles.

“This beautiful riparian treasure has been assaulted many times by encroaching growth—we must say no more,” stated Marty Brown. “Turning this area of paradise into a parking lot will be a detriment to our water, wildlife, and passive enjoyment of future generations.”

Over the last year, the Planning Commission had city staff conduct archeological and environmental studies to determine whether the lot would have any form of potential impact on the local environment—looking specifically at the impact that waste from RVs could have on water flow and the local beaver population.

It’s those studies, however, that have residents like Broadwater and Brown pushing for an appeal to the plan.

“There is no evidence that the project has been reviewed by the qualified professionals regarding the environmental, recreational, social, and aesthetic values of the site,” Broadwater wrote. “The approval of this project was, therefore, based on insufficient and insubstantial information and grounds.”

Staff noted that it did find potential negative environmental impacts in its studies but stated that approval of the project hinged on complying with restrictions that would prevent those issues.

“The accumulation of storage containers, illegal businesses, transient camps, inoperable vehicles, feral animals, and the storage of miscellaneous junk are possible negative impacts that historically accompany this land use,” city documents from the July 18 meeting read. “Staff has added a series of conditions about site operations to ensure that the storage yard does not deteriorate over time.”

Broadwater intends to push for an appeal of the permit approval.

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