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Proposed affordable housing in Nipomo would cut down thousands of oak trees, sparking concern

A rendering of the Dana Reserve project.
A rendering of the Dana Reserve project.

Some Nipomo residents are voicing concerns about the Dana Reserve affordable housing project proposed for the area. The developer says it's necessary to build more affordable housing in the area, but some oppose it because it would remove thousands of oak trees and potentially create other problems.

The Dana Reserve project would build about 1,300 affordable homes west of Highway 101. They would be spread across 10 neighborhoods, consisting of multi-family housing units and apartment-style townhomes.

At a public meeting on Monday, hundreds of people showed up to voice their concerns about the project.

Alison Martinez was one of them. She’s a 25-year resident of the area and the Director of Nipomo Action Committee, a non-profit organization working to inform other residents in the area about the development.

She said three years ago, she started a petition which thousands of people in the area signed, stating they were against the construction.

Martinez said she isn’t against building affordable housing in Nipomo — she’s concerned about where the housing would be built. It would mean chopping down about 3,000 oak trees.

“We're not saying the project shouldn't happen. We're saying let's build a balance between devastating the area, taking down [3,000] oak trees, and [building] in some houses so people can live in Nipomo — but you know, there's no balance with this project," Martinez said.

A map of the proposed Dana Reserve project.
Dana Reserve LLC
A map of the proposed Dana Reserve project.

Martinez said the development could create a lot of long term problems for homeowners in the area.

Besides removing thousands of trees, she said it could increase traffic and create more homes in an area that doesn’t offer enough employment for the people living there.

Nick Tompkins, the developer of the project, is also a Nipomo resident. He said he’s sad to propose cutting down oak trees, but he believes the Dana Reserve project should move forward because Nipomo is in dire need of affordable housing.

“We recognize that taking out 3,000 trees is a big number," Tompkins said. "We're also conserving 17,000. There is a trade-off between housing and trees. In this case, from my perspective, the housing is desperately needed.”

According to the real estate company Zillow, the average cost of a home in Nipomo is about $870,000. Tompkins predicts most of the homes will cost between $450,000 and $700,000.

There will also be “age-restricted” housing for people 55 and older which could cost a little more than $1 million.

The 45-day public comment period for this development closes Tuesday, August 1.

The final Environmental Impact Report for the project will be posted on San Luis Obispo County’s website on August 4.

More information is at livedanareserve.com.

Gabriela Fernandez came to KCBX in May of 2022 as a general assignment reporter, and became news director in December of 2023. 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. When she's not writing or editing news stories, she loves to travel, play tennis and take her 140-lbs dog, Atlas, on long walks by the coast.
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