Atascadero’s Sunken Gardens rife with crime

September 10, 2012

Dr. Jason Pambrun


I read “Atascadero police accused of illegal searches” and felt compelled to comment directly. It’s really a shame CalCoastNews didn’t find the time to interview some of us who work every day in the Sunken Gardens area. You might have been able to offer your readers perhaps a bit more perspective on why the police were in the Sunken Gardens conducting searches.

In your story, Sgt. Gregg Meyer describes these kids as emulating gang members but not being involved in drugs. While that may have been the case on that day, this is quite a bit different from my own experience with the kids who loiter in the area.

The Sunken Gardens has been rife with alcohol and drugs for some time. Rarely a day goes by where I don’t witness around my office public drunkenness, drug use, public sex, and or public urination in the Sunken Gardens. The area around my office is frequently littered with empty liquor bottles, beer cans, drug paraphernalia, and used condoms.

As my office caters almost exclusively to middle school/high school-aged kids who often walk over from the junior high or high school, clearly this is bad for business. Needless to say, I’ve had numerous parents complain about open drug use around my office, or fear for their child’s safety while walking to their appointments. Just recently, a parent in my practice had to run out and break up a brutal fight right in front of my office.

Another issue is that these kids who loiter in the park are often joined by much older men (and on occasion, women). On one occasion, a parent in my office identified one of these adults as a known sex offender.

The bottom line is that the Sunken Gardens needs to be cleaned up. The current situation in the Gardens is not only bad for my business, but also for families and kids who just want to enjoy or simply traverse the Sunken Gardens without having to put up with the ridiculous behavior of this group of loitering kids, not to mention my employees who often feel threatened just walking to their cars to and from the office.

With what I’ve seen in the Sunken Gardens, and contrary to the assertion of your article, I’d say the police had plenty of probable cause to conduct the searches you reported on.

Jason Pambrun is an Atascadero dentist with an office next to the Sunken Gardens.



The activities Dr. Jason Pambrun has observed at the sunken gardens are serious; but the remedy he defends does nothing to solve the problem. Worse, the random searches and detentions going on now and then as described actually drive law abiding folks out of the park.

All the activities described by Dr. Pamrun would justify actual arrest if observed by a police officer. Stationing officers in the park would be a better way to end the criminal behavior, and giving the surrounding businesses a hotline to that officer’s cell phone would complete the circle. Random searches are just a way to bob and weave, so it looks like the City is tough on crime without actually devoting resources to enforcing the law. The Atascadero City Council and Chief of Police should put a cop in the Park to watch, listen, and respond when there actually is criminal activity.


Well guess what Cicero….the criminal activity sometimes does get observed by police officers! And when that happens…the criminals get arrested! For instance the other day the police were called because of suspicious activity. A young girl & 3 males climbed into the back of a camper shell (in 95 degree weather) There was smoke coming from the vehicle….When the police showed up the 29year old male tried to jump out of the camper shell & take off. Why? Because he was using an illegal drug & sharing with the 16year old girl & his two other buddies….SO THANK YOU TO THE ATASCADERO POLICE DEPARTMENT FOR RESPONDING TO THE CALL SO QUICKLY & GETTING TO WITNESS THE ILLEGAL ACTIVITY FIRST HAND. ALSO FOR GETTING THAT ARREST & HELPING CLEAN UP ATASCADERO & THE SUNKEN GARDENS AREA! For all of you that think the police don’t have probable cause to be down here & to search certain people you might want to think again! There are 7 businesses right in the immediate area that have multiple people that see all sorts of illegal activity. These people who live & work in this community call on the police when they witness illegal activity. The police are here for a reason, the community is calling on them….daily…hourly sometimes.

Another side note: the 16 year old girl that climbed into the back of the camper shell with the 3 males was a blonde haired beauty….so for those of you who think that clean cut average kids aren’t doing bad things….you are so wrong :(

One more thought….How do you guys know that one of our concerned citizens of Atascadero hadn’t called the APD on the clean cut kid in the picture of the original write up?? You don’t…We have called numerous times on kids that look just like that.

*** I also don’t believe in police or any other person of authority overstepping their boundaries! I just really feel that people should witness stuff first hand down here before they so quickly pass judgement!


cicero, i think we both understand that given the available resources, the notion that the PD should station an officer solely to monitor the park just isn’t reality. great idea, just not a practical one given the circumstances.

and to clarify, i’m not trying to defend “a remedy”, i’m simply pointing out that i think there was a mis-characterization of both the problem in the sunken gardens as well as the police department’s response to that problem. as it stands, the park has a problem that needs to be addressed. in my opinion, the police are doing their job and addressing it.


Send the dentists and chiropractors that surround the Sunken Gardens to the vacant buildings on Morro Road. Health-related businesses have no businesses being located in what should be the heart of a downtown district, anyway.

Recruit foot traffic-producing businesses such as restaurants/shops, and all but the panhandlers will move on. They hate crowds.

And, yeah, the junior high has to go.


interesting idea but i would submit it didn’t seem to work that way for santa barbara.

Spirit Filled

I say get some of the drunk drivers in SLO to patrol the Sunkin Gardens. Be cleaned up in short order.

Put the kids in Catholic School. My wife turned out to be a saint by going there and I don’t give a damn what Mr. Jefferson says about christians.

I can just see the disbelievers standing before God on judgement day “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know what I was doing”. Blah, blah, blah. God is just so what he says goes. God Bless all

Ted Slanders

Spirit Drained,

“I say get some of the drunk drivers in SLO to patrol the Sunken Gardens. Be cleaned up in short order.” Uh, are you kidding us?

How unchristian like can you actually get?! How in the hell can you call yourself a true Christian and make such ungodly claims by supporting the killing of certan inhabitants at Sunken Gardens, and at the expense of the alleged drunk drivers in SLO?

You will pay dearly for your ungodly Devil speak upon Judgment Day!

I will once again pray for you tonight in the hopes that you will not hear Hell’s trap doors springing open in your behalf upon Judgment Day!

Absolutely disgraceful.


Wow, this is quite surprising! The only time I hear news about the so-called Sunken Gardens is when the mayor or councilmen gush about how it’s such a showpiece for Atascadero and how once the Rotunda’s open, that area will be a magnet for tourists… sounds way different from reality.

I appreciate the dentist’s first-hand account and I believe him BUT that still does not give the police the constitutional right to go up to my kid and ask him to search his backpack. The cops know who the sex offenders and gang bangers are. They should focus–yes, profile!–their energies are those lawbreakers, not on innocent junior high kids.

The Sunken Gardens is a public park smack-dab in the middle of town. If it’s that bad, Atascadero residents need to frequent that place more regularly at lunch time, in the evenings…take back your park and kick the bums out. But don’t turn A-town into a Police State where the cops can just approach easily intimidated teens and coerce them into unlawfully searching their belongings.

Mr. Holly

“take back your park and kick the bums out”. That is exactly what the citizens have done by having the PD do the job.

We will be more than glad to send them all up to you in Paso.

The Gimlet Eye

Let the cops put some of that new “facial recognition” software that we are hearing about to use. That ought to make it easy.

But randing searches without probable cause is against the law.


So frustrating…What some of you are NOT hearing is that the regular kid from the Jr High is hanging out with the drug dealer & the gang banger. That is why this situation has gotten so damn scary. It’s kids that look just like a lot of our own clean-cut teenagers that are getting mixed up in the situations down here. You guys really need to come to this area & witness first hand who is here. It would make a lot more sense to you. The original report was horrible reporting.

It is that bad….so please help me understand how the residents of Atascadero take back the park?? If someone has a REAL suggestion to help, I would love to hear it! My fear is that we will just run into the same problem the police have…..the loser druggie & gang banger have the same rights to be in the park as you & I do….Unless they are doing illegal things! With them here I WILL NOT take my family down here. I see so much of what goes on & I will not subject my kids too it. I fear for my own life on the nights I leave work late & the rif raf is outside…It is only a matter of time before an innocent bystander is terribly hurt or killed in the crossfire of what goes on down here :(

Mr. Holly

Thank you Dr. Panburn and thank you to the Atascadero PD for policing the Sunken Gardens in an attempt to keep it safe. All of you that think the police are in error please leave your address here and it can be arranged to relocate these law breakers to your city.


Thank you, doctor for your input. Maybe we should have some sort of public patrol at the gardens – I don’t think the kids will hang around with a patrol armed with cameras…

Ted Slanders


Can the fine residents of Atascadero depend upon you to have camera in hand?


Thank you Dr. Panbrun. I have rasied grandchildren in Atascadero and I know what a problem this place is. The schools can tell you just how dangerous it is for students. Late at night it is a gathering place for the worst in our community.I have seen only positive actions from our police force.


Please excuse my typos — this Monday morning came much too early!

Ted Slanders

This ungodly situation is just another reason why children should be in Christian schools. Then Christian biblical principles can be applied to their butts without feeling guilty or adhering to the laws of man regarding physical abuse.

Our Christian God’s word commanded that children, other than killing them if they cursed their parents, should be beaten.

“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (Pr.13:24)

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Pr.22:15)

“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” (Pr.23:13-14)

“The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” (Pr.30:17 )

Who is ANY Christian to usurp the teachings of our God as stated above? Therefore, beat them into submission for their ungodly acts, praise!


Sin is an imaginary disease created to sell you an imaginary cure.

“The Christian God is a being of terrific character — cruel, vindictive, capricious, and unjust.”

— Thomas Jefferson

“Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Ted Slanders


I take solace in the following godly passage, to wit: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)


What the hell are you talking about??? You teach your kids to fear you by smacking them with that correction rod you hold in your hand……I talk to my kids about the filth in sunken gardens and they choose not to go there because they trust their parents, not because they are afraid I’m going to whip out my correction rod.

Ted Slanders


If you want to take a candy-@ss way with your offspring by just talking to them, then that’s your problem. But, the true Christians way is to actually follow the biblical principles that I’ve shown you in regards to keeping our kids in line, and that’s by beating them!

Who is ANY true Christian to usurp the inspired word of God in the passages that I’ve shown?

Furthermore, I present this passage that puts it in perspective to the pseudo-christian and hell bound Atheist, to wit: “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” ( Proverbs 30:5-6 )

Get it? The key word is EVERY word of our God is pure, therefore, the beating of children in the passages shown above is a direct principle from our God that is to be followed, period!

Such insolence.


Well said! One of my grandchildren last night laughed outloud about being able to profile the drug dealers. That blue eyed, blond haired kid in the shorts is just as likely to be the pusher. Those kids with any sense stay away from trouble. No correction rod was used on this child either.

As for Ted. Ignore him. Ted, I refer you to ! Thessalonians 5:17 which says in part “do not keep babbling on”.

Ted Slanders


So, you take a narcissist stance with your moniker? How disgraceful you must be in the eyes of our Hebrew-Christian God.

Conversely my dear, I will give you this passage where I am suppose to avoid narcissist people like YOU!

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Old Salt

Therefore, beat them into submission for their ungodly acts, praise!


Why do you “mock” GOD so ? ? ?

Ted Slanders

Old Salt,

With as much reason and logic that you can muster, please tell me how I am mocking the Christian God when I actually bring forth His “inspired word” within the bible, like I’ve done in the passages in question shown.

Really, we’re awaiting a very cogent response on this one!!!


Thank you Dr. Panbrun for a different perspective. Too bad that such a nice area of Atascadero has to deal with this B.S.