Former Atascadero commissioner Joan O’Keefe dead at 80

March 29, 2018

Joan O’Keefe


On March 19, 2018 the Atascadero community lost a wonderful and spirited advocate. Joan O’Keefe passed away in Visalia. She had been staying with her daughter, after experiencing a couple of years of deteriorating health. [Cal Coast Times]

I had the fortune of meeting Joan in 2006 when I had run for the Atascadero City Council. Joan was also the chairperson of the planning commission in the year I served as mayor.

Joan was a passionate advocate for maintaining Atascadero’s natural beauty and served as a board member for the Atascadero Land Preservation Society which incorporated in 1991. She also served on the committee supporting the care and preservation of Atascadero’s native trees and on the planning commission since 2003.

In addition, Joan was a great advocate for the improvement and relocation of our city library.

Upon meeting her, I quickly learned that Joan had tremendous institutional knowledge concerning city government and function. Although we didn’t always agree on some issues, I found her advice extremely valuable in helping to educate me concerning planning and development matters.

Joan had great integrity and little patience with certain governmental behaviors that detracted from our city’s welfare. She was spirited in advocation of ethical behavior in government and safeguarding the public’s tax dollars. She was a true steward of public trust.

Without exception, Joan O’Keefe was one of most down to earth and principled public officials I have ever known, and it was my honor to have benefited from her friendship and counsel.


Very sad to hear of Joan’s passing. While serving with Joan on the Planning Commission we regularly disagreed on different items. Although Joan was probably the most prepared person to serve the city and strongly supported her beliefs. At times she could persuade me to change my thinking because she could show us all what she was talking about and had the documentation to support her issues. It was always nice that we could agree to disagree and she always treated me with respect. I truly had to admire her for being a believer in her thoughts and I have to say that she was probably responsible for keeping the system honest at times. Many thought that Joan and I were “enemies” but nothing could be farther from the truth. One time she was almost speechless when as a City Councilman I was the only one to show up when she was being honored for her support of the Atascadero Oak trees. I also would talk with her after meetings and thank her for her input and we could joke around. I knew things were good when I could get a little smile out her.