Council approves staff to file pre-application for Spaceport

PASO ROBLES — On Tuesday, Aug. 3, the Paso Robles City Council met for a regularly scheduled meeting.

Two public hearings were held.

The first was to receive input from the community redrawing of election district boundaries. Council heard a report from staff on the redistricting process and “permissible criteria to be considered to redraw district boundaries.”

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

Due to a delay in receiving data from the 2020 census, the public will draw maps between Oct. 5 and Mar. 1, 2022, and a map will be adopted by Apr. 17.

There were no comments from the public, and the hearing was closed.

The second hearing regarded subdividing a single 6.54-acre parcel into two smaller parcels at 3051 Union Road.

Council heard a report from staff on the Development Plan 20-09 for the construction of two 12,462sf buildings and associated parking and yard areas; the Conditional Use Permit 21-19 for the establishment of contracted services uses; and a Private Wastewater Permit for two onsite wastewater treatment systems (septic systems).

Councilmember Fred Strong was concerned about the buildings being located in a flood plain and wanted to be assured no sewage could be contaminated water flowing into the river and jeopardize State permits.

The City Engineer, David Athy, confirmed that the septic system meets requirements.

There was no public comment on the second public hearing item.

Council voted 5-0 to continue this item to the next meeting to speak with the actual applicant.

Next, Council discussed submitting a pre-application to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a Spaceport license.

There are currently only 12 licensed Spaceports in the US, only one of which is in California, located in the Mojave Desert.

Spaceport operations of potential interest are horizontal launches, similar to a private jet taking off and landing. There are no sonic events (sonic booms) associated with horizontal launches. Vertical launches are not being considered.

The Paso Robles Municipal Airport possesses a range of attributes advantageous to horizontal launch operations, including a 6,000+ foot runway, 320 VFR flight days per year, and no regularly scheduled commercial passenger flights.

There is no additional cost to submit the application to the FAA to become a Spaceport. Getting the Spaceport license is a two-step process. First is sending a pre-application to the FAA.

If the license is approved, it will open the door to opportunities for attracting high-paying space tech-related jobs in research and development to the City of Paso Robles. The Spaceport license application process typically takes about one year to complete.

A Spaceport license would also allow research, education, and manufacturing opportunities. For example, Paso Robles would have the chance to use the license to work with Cuesta College and Cal Poly, Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and Vandenberg Space Force Base (SFB).

Prior to voting Mayor Steve Martin said, “This is the future of the future for Paso Robles.”

The motion passed with a 5-0 vote to authorize staff to submit pre-application information to the FAA and continue evaluating the Spaceport license opportunity with the Airport Commission.

Finally, Council discussed pickleball court capacity. On Jul. 8, City Council considered a staff requesting the awarding of a contract for the repair and resurfacing of the Centennial Park tennis courts.

The staff report was pulled from the Consent Calendar at the request of Pickleball Ambassador Larry Werner for discussion of the possibility of including the painting of pickleball shadow lines on at least one of the tennis courts.

City Council voted to award the repair and resurfacing contract of the Centennial Park tennis courts and deferred a decision regarding shadow lines until additional public input could be garnered through the appropriate hearing at a future Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) meeting.

Staff received additional direction to defer this proposed PRAC agenda item to allow time for the Council to potentially recommend more strategies to increase court capacity than just the painting of shadow lines.

With a 5-0 approval vote, Council directed staff to continue an accelerated process for design for the eight pickleball courts to bring back to Council as soon as feasible. Two weeks from now, staff will bring the plan back to Council to come up with a plan to pay for the courts. Council eliminated the possibility of shadow lines on the courts at Centennial Park.

Mayor Pro Tem John Hamon requested cannabis grows coming to the outskirts of Paso Robles to be agendized to discuss how they should be handled.

Cannabis farms within unincorporated cities are under the jurisdiction of the County Supervisors. However, Council wants to discuss how these grows will affect Paso Robles and possibly develop a policy.

Mayor Martin suggested to agendize cannabis operations to discuss developing a policy to guide staff on how to respond to county decisions and hear from the public on the subject.

Mayor Martin said the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce requested to discuss homelessness and its impact on the community and its frustration with the problem. As a result, the Chamber is putting together a plan to issue a solution to homelessness in the area. According to the Mayor, more information on this plan will come, but he did not say when.

A special meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 4, at 5 p.m. regarding the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission and the Supplemental Sales Tax Committee.

The next City Council Regular Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 17, at 6:30 p.m.