Charles on the Issues

This page currently reflects issues during the 2020 election.  It will be updated shortly but you can get an idea about Charles' line of thinking if you look at it now.

Economic development

Economic development is critical to our community's future.  Atascadero has a huge imbalance between housing and jobs that results in thousands of our citizens leaving the city everyday to work, primarily in SLO.  As a result they spend their money elsewhere and Atascadero has less shopping opportunities and receives less sales tax revenue per person than any city in the county.  Charles has been a consistent and strong voice on the Council for economic development and encouraging businesses to build and expand in Atascadero.  Charles voted against changes in our zoning definitions that would make it harder for some businesses to build here and is constantly looking for ways to encourage commercial development.  

Sales Tax Measure

Charles supports the sales tax measure D20 on the ballot in November.  The City of Atascadero receives less revenue per person than any other city in SLO County.  As a result, the city has great difficulty providing the level of services our citizens expect.  In particular, our city has lower staff levels and substantially lower pay scales than neighboring cities.  A prime example is our police department, which is smaller today than it was when we had several thousand fewer residents and frequently loses staff to higher paying communities.  Our city has done a good job of providing key city services on relatively little revenue but cannot continue to do so indefinitely.  Passage of the sales tax measure will enable our city to remain financially sustainable for the long run.

Improving Downtown

Our downtown has seen substantial improvement in the last several years with the addition of numerous restaurants and other businesses leading to almost full occupancy of existing commercial space.  The City has been very supportive of seeing the La Plaza development come to fruition.  We have approved the concept plan to make El Camino Real in the downtown area more pedestrian friendly and add more parking.  Some people are still concerned about the loss of a lane of traffic but the fact is we want our downtown to be a place to go to, not a place to drive through.  We still have a long way to go.  I am open to allowing taller buildings with more housing on the second and third floors to make commercial development on the ground floor more viable and bring more residents to support a more economically vibrant downtown and provide more housing opportunities for our residents. 

Homelessness

Homelessness is an ongoing problem facing all cities in California including Atascadero.  Charles believes it would be disingenuous to say that our city can fully resolve this issue.  Still, our community is very generous in attempting to help the homeless.  We are one of only two cities in the county to have a year round homeless shelter, ECHO.  The City has supported ECHO's expansion and ECHO's success in providing shelter and getting people out of homelessness is directly attributable to the generous and giving nature of our residents.  In addition to  ECHO, Atascadero also has supported a warming shelter and Charles and other council members have volunteered at both.   While our community is generous, our citizens have every right to complain about inappropriate behaviors that occur in our parks and other city facilities.  Our police department has and should continue to target criminal behaviors that interfere with the public's use of taxpayer funded facilities.  

Housing

 Atascadero has built relatively more housing in the last 20 years than most cities in the county.  Still, building anything in California is costly and time consuming and housing here remains expensive.  The City has approved projects with smaller home sizes and numerous apartments that will offer somewhat more affordable housing options, especially for younger workers and families.  Charles has supported these actions and, as mentioned above, supports the addition of more housing in taller structures downtown as a way to also have housing complement commercial economic development.  This is important as housing by itself, generates insufficient revenue for the City to provide services to new residents.  To be financially sustainable a city must have a better balance of housing and commercial development.  Passing the sales tax measure, D-20, would also generate more revenue and would allow us to support more housing without diluting the revenue per person needed to support the city services that residents expect. 

Community Choice Energy

Atascadero is the only city in the county that is not scheduled to allow its residents to participate in Central Coast Community Energy  (CCCE, formerly Monterey Bay Community Power).  Under this program residents and businesses still receive their electricity through PG&E distribution lines, but the electricity is generated by CCCE.   CCCE has a strong record of providing electricity cheaper than PG&E, and it is easy to opt out for anyone who wants to stick with PG&E, or changes their mind later.  The Atascadero City Council should be open to discussing and considering this option.  For Charles this is about two things, choice and the opportunity to save money, something people all across the political spectrum should readily agree with.  In fact, throughout the county, only one councilmember (in Pismo Beach) voted against participation.  All the other City Councils, including our neighbor Paso Robles, voted unanimously to participate.