The Paso Robles City Council meet Tuesday evening, virtually. The council received a COVID-19 Community Update. The big news is that the county returned yesterday to Governor Gavin Newsom’s Red Tier.
Joel Peterson of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance talked about a challenging year under the pandemic shutdown. He said tourism stopped in March, and wineries did not open up until May and June.
Then visitation rebounded from June to November. Peterson said, “Tourism really drives the economy in Paso Robles.”
Peterson talked about plans for the year 2021. he said there will be now events, but the Wine Country Alliance will market the area as a destination.
Stacie Jacob gave an annual report for Travel Paso, which is funded by the Transient Occupancy Tax. Visitors to Hotels, motels, RV resorts and more than 300 short term rentals in the City of Paso Robles generate an average of $1.2 million dollars per year. The past year was severely impacted by the pandemic, however, Jacob shows it clearly illustrated the connection between wine and tourism in the City of Paso Robles.
Jacob said that Travel Paso introduced a new website which informs would be visitors about events, attractions, wineries, restaurants and accommodations in the city. She talked about Travel Paso sending out vintage postcards. She said they sent out more than 6,000 postcards to enhance top of mind awareness. Stacie introduced Victor Popp, who is the General manager of La Quinta Resort. He gave a disturbing report on the impact of the shutdown on his operation. He said in March of 2020, income dropped 80%. He had to lay off 29 of 40 employees. He said, “It was one of the worst days of my business career. Normally you let people go when they are not performing. I had to let 29 high performing people, many of whom were heads of their families.” He said the message he tries to share is, “When you’re ready to travel again, we’re here for you.”
The city council was unanimous in commending Stacie Jacob for a job well done. The City Council also discussed allocation of Community Development Block Grant. Those grants are listed on their agenda. They include money for public service projects, like sidewalk and ramp infill on Black Oak Drive, and funding for CASA, ECHO, CAPSLO, RISE and other non profits. It also included ramps at Sierra Bonita.
The Council also discussed the results of a Community Visioning and Goal-setting Session on February 20th. Issues included cannabis and diversity. Mayor Steve Martin suggested establishing a liaison committee to pursue a shared effort with the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District to enhance diversity. He said Superintendent Curt Dubost encouraged the city to establish an office in their administration building so that the city and school district can work together. The city council discussed the results of the goal-setting session and directed staff to use those results for the budget development process.