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Welcome to Atascadero and its Sign of the Times

 

Atascadero, CA--I have consulted cities on their signage use, and truthfully, any person might easily offer suggestions to the people of a town who don't recognize how their roadway signs may impact their tourism for bad or good. Destinations shouldn't overlook or forget to examine the messages they are sending out to visitors who either zip past their city at 70 miles per hour. Signs tell a story on the most expensive storyboard space a city and Caltrans own.

 

Atascadero is a great place to visit, but you wouldn't know it from the signs. The traditional state highway issue sign simply states the name of the place : Line One - Atascadero; Line Two - CITY LIMIT.

 

Austin City Limits is a fantastic music festival in Texas that the nation can watch on PBS...all because of a road sign.  In Atascadero City Limit we see the population is 23403. A funky little "3" was attached to the sign to cover up a number that would change the population by no more than 6 more people and no less than 2. The city's elevation on the Central California coast is 834 feet.

 

Sign number two of the state issued green sign with white type announces "State Hospital NEXT RIGHT". For those who don't know about a "state hospital", it usually is an institution for those deemed criminally insane.  The official web site for the Atascadero State Hospital shows a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the header and tells us that the California Department of Mental Health is a California State agency that operates five state hospitals. Each of these  provides services for individuals with serious mental illnesses (you don't get into these facilities unless you're deemed a real danger to society.) Additionally, the department operates two correctional programs, Salinas Valley Psychiatric Program and Vacaville Psychiatric Program. State hospitals include:

 

Atascadero State Hospital (San Luis Obispo County)

Coalinga State Hospital (Fresno County)

Metropolitan State Hospital (Los Angeles County)

Napa State Hospital (Napa County

Patton State Hospital (San Bernardino County)

 

Atascadero's all male, maximum security forensic facility with 1,275 beds employs 2,000 people in the region. The facility is a lock-up facility that does not accept voluntary admissions. You only gain entry through Superior Courts, Departments of Corrections or similar means.

 

The third sign you may observe when driving by Atascadero is a customized city sign with three slats of dark-painted wood nailed to posts  and adorned with a little wood roof says "Welcome to Atascadero".  Additional pieces of wood with plaques attached include Rotary International, Kiwanis International, Quota Incorporated International, and a post that's obscured by wild grass that grows in a field next to Interstate 101 Highway where these signs appear.

Now that you know the signs of Atascadero, does it make you want to stop and visit?


Atascadero State Hospital is a fully state licensed and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (J.C.A.H.O.) accredited facility. In 1993 and 1996, A.S.H. received "Accreditation with Commendation", the highest level of accreditation awarded by the Joint Commission.

Located in a region that encompasses 100 miles of pristine coastline, a rapidly growing wine industry, agricultural lands, ranches and unpolluted environment filled with charm and friendliness, offers the amenities of an urban area in a serene country setting.

The area is host to five state parks, part of the Los Padres National Forest, four lakes, scenic mountains and snug hills and valleys, each contributing to a wide selection of outdoor recreational activities. Among its many activities, San Luis Obispo County boasts its own Mozart Festival and is host to the Mid-State Fair, one of the largest in the State.

The climate is as varied as the terrain with coastal moderation and inland areas experiencing four distinct seasonal changes. Pleasant small communities with excellent schools, California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo, Cuesta Community College, and access to land and air transportation are all readily available.

The seaside communities of Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, and Cambria offer ocean breezes, beautiful beaches, fine dining and entertainment. San Simeon and Hearst Castle are less than an hour's drive to the north along California's spectacular coastline winding its way north to Big Sur. Within a two-hour drive to the north are Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea and the world famous Cannery Row on the Monterey Peninsula. Two hours to the south lies Santa Barbara and its famous beaches, the Santa Barbara Zoo and many historical landmarks.