Atascadero, California

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City of Atascadero

Nickname(s): A-town
Location in San Luis Obispo County and the state of California
Coordinates: 35°29′3″N 120°40′21″W / 35.48417°N 120.67250°W / 35.48417; -120.67250Coordinates: 35°29′3″N 120°40′21″W / 35.48417°N 120.67250°W / 35.48417; -120.67250
CountryUnited States
CountySan Luis Obispo
 • Total26.130 sq mi (67.675 km2)
 • Land25.641 sq mi (66.409 km2)
 • Water0.489 sq mi (1.265 km2)  1.87%
Elevation879 ft (268 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total28,310
 • Density1,100/sq mi (420/km2)
Time zonePacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST)PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes93422-93423
Area code(s)805
FIPS code06-03064
GNIS feature ID1660277
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City of Atascadero

Nickname(s): A-town
Location in San Luis Obispo County and the state of California
Coordinates: 35°29′3″N 120°40′21″W / 35.48417°N 120.67250°W / 35.48417; -120.67250Coordinates: 35°29′3″N 120°40′21″W / 35.48417°N 120.67250°W / 35.48417; -120.67250
CountryUnited States
CountySan Luis Obispo
 • Total26.130 sq mi (67.675 km2)
 • Land25.641 sq mi (66.409 km2)
 • Water0.489 sq mi (1.265 km2)  1.87%
Elevation879 ft (268 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total28,310
 • Density1,100/sq mi (420/km2)
Time zonePacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST)PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes93422-93423
Area code(s)805
FIPS code06-03064
GNIS feature ID1660277

Atascadero is a city in San Luis Obispo County, California, about equidistant from San Francisco and Los Angeles on U.S. Route 101. Atascadero is geographically the largest city in San Luis Obispo County. The City of Atascadero and Paso Robles have approximately the same population. Atascadero is farther inland than most other cities in the county, and as a result, usually experiences warmer, drier summers and cooler winters than other nearby cities such as San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach. Nearby State Routes 41 and 46 provide easy access to the Pacific Coast and the California Central Valley.

The population was 28,310 at the 2010 census. The brainchild of mega-entrepreneur E.G. Lewis, Atascadero is the result of nearly a century of organic community evolution. It is an amalgamation of rolling hills studded with oaks; historic buildings; quaint lake park and zoo; enclaves of artists, musicians and writers; all surrounded by visitor vistas and wineries.


Atascadero is a Spanish word loosely translated as bog, from the verb "atascar" which means to become stuck or hindered.

The area was originally home to the Salinan Indians. In the half century between 1769 and 1823 the Spanish Franciscans established 21 missions along the California coast, including the nearby Mission San Miguel Arcángel, and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, and California became a Mexican province. In 1833, the Mexican government secularized the mission lands. Mexican Governor Juan Alvarado granted Rancho Atascadero to Trifon Garcia in 1842, and Pio Pico granted Pedro Estrada Rancho Asuncion in 1845. Patrick Washington Murphy held ownership of 61,000 acres (25,000 ha) at one time.

Edward Gardner Lewis, a successful magazine publisher from the East, founded the community of Atascadero in 1913 as a utopian, planned colony. He had previously created such a community, at University City, Missouri. After purchasing the Atascadero Ranch in 1912, Lewis put together a group of investors from across the country, paid J.H. Henry $37.50 per acre ($93/ha), and celebrated acquisition of the ranch on July 4, 1913. As investors came to homestead the land that they had bought with their down payments, the area was transformed into a "tent city" with tents situated on land now occupied by Century Plaza and Bank of America. Lewis employed the services of experts in agriculture, engineering and city planning to develop his dream colony for the anticipated 30,000 residents. In 1914 the land was surveyed and subdivided. Thousands of acres of orchards were planted, a water system was installed, and construction began on an 18 mi (29 km) road (now Highway 41 west) through the rugged Santa Lucia Mountains to the ocean (Morro Bay), where Lewis built cottages and a beachfront hotel called the Cloisters.

The first civic building in Atascadero, The Printery, had the first rotogravure presses west of Chicago. Lewis then published the Atascadero News newspaper and the Illustrated Review, a photo/news magazine. The centerpiece of Lewis' planned community was an Italian Renaissance-style building, which was the home to Atascadero City Hall and the Museum until it was damaged in the 2003 earthquake. After significant upgrades and renovations, the building was re-opened in August, 2013. Built between 1914 and 1918 with bricks made from local clay, this unique and beautiful building has become one of California's Historical Landmarks (No. 958).

Founded in 1913 by Edward Gardner Lewis and incorporated in 1979, the Atascadero Colony as it was known at the time was originally envisioned as a model community. Little evidence of Atascadero's original architecture and urban design remain, as historic buildings and homes have been torn down to make way for more modern developments and the Sunken Gardens bisected by U.S. Route 101. One of the few surviving examples of original urban design can be found, however, in the Rotunda Building located near the Junior High School on Palma Avenue in the Sunken Gardens public park. Designed by Walter D. Bliss of San Francisco, construction was completed in 1918 at a cost of $180,000. It was the headquarters for the Atascadero Colony, built of reinforced concrete and locally produced brick, it had also served as a private school for boys, a veteran's memorial building, and county offices. Location: 6500 Palma Ave, Atascadero. This building was purchased by San Luis Obispo County in the 1950s as a Memorial Building. The building housed the county library, Atascadero Historical Social Museum and then the city offices following incorporation in 1979. The historic City Hall is adorned with a 40 ft (12 m) dome atop the third story, originally intended to house the library. The building was designated a California Historical Landmark. The City Hall was damaged by the magnitude 6.5 San Simeon Earthquake on the morning of December 22, 2003.

Atascadero Street Corner

Another example of Atascadero's early architecture is The Carlton Hotel, built in 1929, located just west of the Sunken Gardens on El Camino Real, the city's main commercial street. Vacant since 1987, the building was rejuvenated, costing an estimated $15 million and completed in 2003.

The Skytherm house was developed in Atascadero. This private home pioneered solar powered cooling and heating using an integrated rooftop water system. Solar roof ponds are unique solar heating and cooling systems developed by Harold Hay in the 1960s. A basic system consists of a roof-mounted water bladder with a movable insulating cover. This system can control heat exchange between interior and exterior environments by covering and uncovering the bladder between night and day. When heating is a concern the bladder is uncovered during the day allowing sunlight to warm the water bladder and store heat for evening use. When cooling is a concern the covered bladder draws heat from the building's interior during the day and is uncovered at night to radiate heat to the cooler atmosphere. The Skytherm house in Atascadero, California uses a prototype roof pond for heating and cooling.

Atascadero is nearby the Carrizo Plain, a center for large scale photovoltaic solar energy projects that are planned to reach the gigawatt scale by 2012.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.1 sq mi (68 km2), of which, 25.6 sq mi (66 km2) is land and 0.5 sq mi (1.3 km2) or 1.87 percent is water. Atascadero is geographically the largest city in San Luis Obispo County.


Atascadero experiences a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh).

Climate data for Atascadero
Average high °F (°C)61
Average low °F (°C)33
Precipitation inches (mm)3.23
Source: [2]



The 2010 United States Census[3] reported that Atascadero had a population of 28,310. The population density was 1,083.5 people per square mile (418.3/km²). The racial makeup of Atascadero was 24,457 (86.4%) White, 585 (2.1%) African American, 295 (1.0%) Native American, 685 (2.4%) Asian, 57 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 1,205 (4.3%) from other races, and 1,026 (3.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4,429 persons (15.6%).

The Census reported that 26,986 people (95.3% of the population) lived in households, 224 (0.8%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 1,100 (3.9%) were institutionalized.

There were 10,737 households, out of which 3,428 (31.9%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 5,681 (52.9%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,185 (11.0%) had a female householder with no husband present, 538 (5.0%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 661 (6.2%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 112 (1.0%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 2,497 households (23.3%) were made up of individuals and 879 (8.2%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51. There were 7,404 families (69.0% of all households); the average family size was 2.94.

The population was spread out with 6,068 people (21.4%) under the age of 18, 2,280 people (8.1%) aged 18 to 24, 7,244 people (25.6%) aged 25 to 44, 9,032 people (31.9%) aged 45 to 64, and 3,686 people (13.0%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.0 years. For every 100 females there were 103.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.5 males.

There were 11,505 housing units at an average density of 440.3 per square mile (170.0/km²), of which 6,827 (63.6%) were owner-occupied, and 3,910 (36.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.8%. 17,470 people (61.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 9,516 people (33.6%) lived in rental housing units.


According to the 2000 census, there were 26,411 people, 9,531 households, and 6,814 families residing in the city.[4] The population density was 987.8 per square mile (381.4/km²). There were 9,848 housing units at an average density of 368.3 per square mile (142.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.79% White, 2.36% African American, 0.94% Native American, 1.27% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 3.19% from other races, and 3.34% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.54% of the population.

There were 9,531 households, of which 35.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.5% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.5% were non-families. 22.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 25.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 106.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $48,725, and the median income for a family was $55,009. Males had a median income of $41,692 versus $29,740 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,029. About 6.9% of families and 9.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.7% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.


In the state legislature Atascadero is located in the 15th Senate District, represented by [], and in the 33rd Assembly District, represented by . Federally, Atascadero is located in [], which has a Cook PVI of R +16 and is represented by .[5]

Annual events[edit]

Farmers Market - Downtown - Every Wednesday- Year 'Round
Sweetheart Stroll - Downtown - Saturday before Valentine's Day - February
Wildflower Bike Ride - April
Central Coast Cinco de Mayo - Saturday before May 5
Atascadero Wine & Golf Festival - Atascadero Lakeside Park - Saturday - June
Tuesday Concerts in the Park - Atascadero Lakeside Park - June to August
Saturday Concerts in the Park - Atascadero Lakeside park - June to August
Great American Holiday - Saturday after July 4
Ice Cream Zoofari at the Zoo - July
Hot El Camino Cruise Night - Huge car Cruise on Friday evening - August
Mid-State Cruizers Car Show - Atascdero Lakeside Park - Saturday - August
Sunken Gardens Flea Market - September
Colony Days Parade & Celebration - Downtown - Third Saturday in October
Halloween ZooBoo at the Zoo - October
Downtown Winter Wonderland - Downtown - Second Friday in December
Cruise Night - El Camino-August

More information: []


Freeways and Highways[edit]

Atascadero is at the major Ground Transport intersection of the Freeway U.S. 101 and the CA SR 41 exactly halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the U.S. 101 with direct eastbound access to the San Joaquin Valley and Interstate 5 and the Yosemite Freeway. Atascadero is currently serviced by 1 Freeway and 1 Highway:

Rail Transportation[edit]

Atascadero has the Railway going right through it. Most commonly, the Amtrak passengers and Union Pacific freights go through.


Atascadero has great access to San Luis Obispo's Airport. San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (IATA: SBP, ICAO: KSBP, FAA LID: SBP), also known as McChesney Field, is an airport located in San Luis Obispo, California serving San Luis Obispo County. The airport is mostly used for general aviation, but is also served by two commercial airlines. Located just south of the City of San Luis Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport serves areas as far north as Southern Monterey County and as far south as Northern Santa Barbara County. The airport offers convenient access to and from the Central Coast. Residents and visitors have the choice of two commercial airlines with flights to Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Francisco. The airport is also home to full service general aviation and corporate facilities.


The Atascadero Unified School District is home to 6 Elementary Schools, 2 middle / Junior High Schools, 3 High Schools, 1 College, and 5+ miscellaneous school sites and programs.

Elementary Schools[edit]

Middle / Junior High Schools[edit]

High Schools[edit]

Atascadero High School[edit]

Atascadero High School, is an American public high school located in Atascadero, California. Atascadero offers different pathways of study, from trade based programs to college prep. The school's biggest athletic rival is Paso Robles High School. Both schools have faced off over the years within the California Individual Finals and have created great intra-community drama. Atascadero High School is home to FIRST Robotics Team 973, recently one of the most competitive teams in the nation. In 2009, they won the Los Angeles regional, and were selected 2nd in the draft at the World Championships. In 2011, Team 973 was one of the three winners of the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis. In 2009 the Atascadero High School Forensics team sent two debaters to the National Forensics League tournament in Birmingham, Alabama. The students participated in the highly competitive event of Public Forum Debate. Unfortunately the Forensics program was eliminated in the 2010 school year. Atascadero High School also is home to a one of the county's strongest performing arts departments, led by Theatre Director Catherine Kingsbury, Band Director Nate Conrad and Choral Director Emy Bruzzo.

Mascott Greyhound

Motto "Bleed Orange. Sweat Grey"

Slogan "Home of Scholars and Champions"


Sports and recreation[edit]

Atascadero offers its residents and visitors cycling, hiking, golfing, tennis, swimming, and much more.

Lake Nacimiento is an 18-mile (29 km)-long lake located about 23 miles (37 km) north-east of the city up in the Santa Lucia Range. The lake provides ample room for waterskiing, wakeboarding, jetskiing, and other water-related activities, in addition to fishing and swimming.



Atascadero City Hall[edit]

Atascadero Police Department[edit]

Atascadero Police Department

Atascadero Fire Department[edit]

The Atascadero City Fire Department is an “all risk” Fire Department that responds to emergencies such as medical aids, structure fires, wildland fires, vehicle traffic collisions, hazardous materials incidents, technical rescues and public service assists. The Fire Department operates from 2 fire stations. The full-time staff includes 1 Fire Chief, 1 Fire Marshal/Code Enforcement Officer and 1 Administrative Assistant.

Atascadero Public Library[edit]

6850 Morro Rd, Atascadero, CA 93422 (805) 461-6161

Ranger House[edit]

Pavilion on the Lake[edit]

Waste water Treatment Plant[edit]

San Luis Ambulance[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Census
  2. ^ "Atascadero historic weather averages". Intellicast. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  3. ^ All data are derived from the United States Census Bureau reports from the 2010 United States Census, and are accessible on-line here. The data on unmarried partnerships and same-sex married couples are from the Census report DEC_10_SF1_PCT15. All other housing and population data are from Census report DEC_10_DP_DPDP1. Both reports are viewable online or downloadable in a zip file containing a comma-delimited data file. The area data, from which densities are calculated, are available on-line here. Percentage totals may not add to 100% due to rounding. The Census Bureau defines families as a household containing one or more people related to the householder by birth, opposite-sex marriage, or adoption. People living in group quarters are tabulated by the Census Bureau as neither owners nor renters. For further details, see the text files accompanying the data files containing the Census reports mentioned above.
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ Catie Hinckley; John Walker (1 November 2006). "Will Gerrymandered Districts Stem the Wave of Voter Unrest?". Campaign Legal Center Blog. Archived from the original on 19 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 

External links[edit]