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San Luis Obispo considers upping affordable housing requirement on new development

KCBX News, Randol White
Developers in San Luis Obispo could soon be required to set aside five percent of new housing units for low-income, affordable units.

The City of San Luis Obispo is proposing an update to their Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, which is one of the tools the city uses to increase the supply of affordable housing locally.

The proposed ordinance would require building developers to set aside five percent of new housing infrastructure for low income residents. Right now, the city only requires developers to set aside three percent.

Teresa McClish, the Housing Policy and Programs Manager for the City of San Luis Obispo said, “the big picture is the housing affordability crisis is significant, it’s taken a lot of work on a lot of different fronts.”

The city started this process in 2020 after conducting a feasibility study. Since the ordinance was established in 1999, they have been able to build over 1200 units that are deed restricted. That means there are certain conditions on the unit, which in this case is an affordable housing requirement.

Habitat for Humanity for San Luis Obispo County, Facebook
A Habitat for Humanity construction project in SLO County.

McClish said, “we want to make sure we have housing available for everyone and that is an important component in all our city goals, for our diversity equity inclusion goal, and for economic development purposes.”

McClish admits this will not solve the city’s housing crisis entirely, but she is hopeful it will make an impact. She said, “it’s a good tool because it does allow us to make sure that at least a percentage of new homes going in are going to be deed-restricted toward affordable housing limits.”

The proposal will be discussed at the next planning commission meeting on June 8. If the ordinance is approved, new housing could be required to include five percent affordable units by September. Currently the city is accepting public comment at

This ordinance proposal comes amid a nationwide housing crisis, made worse by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The state of California has also created a Housing Accountability Unit to help enforce housing regulations to address the housing crisis.

Gabriela Fernandez is a general assignment reporter at KCBX News. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an Associate Producer on the TahoeLand podcast.
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