All eyes on new member as SLO City Council prepares for LUCE vote

Dec 8, 2014

San Luis Obispo city leaders will take another stab at passing a blueprint for the city's development at Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

The Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) looks at traffic and housing through 2035. Aspects of the plan don't agree with guidelines established by the state-run Airport Land Use Commission, so the council will need at least four members to vote for an override in order to push the LUCE through.

That tactic didn't work in October, but the makeup of the council has changed since then, with all eyes this time on new member Dan Rivoire, who asked for an additional week to hear from constituents on all sides of the issue.

Supporters and opponents of the LUCE do agree that the document does a good job of getting away from a car-centric vision by increasing pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit options.

Mila Vujovich-La Barre is one of those who likes that aspect of the LUCE, but says the rest of the document is slanted in favor of major developers.

"It has a circulation element that is flawed in that it does not support the amount of development they want to do," said Vujovick-La Barre. "So, aside from the multi-modal part, I don't think they looked at what the residents want."

Smaller developments are also affected though as the LUCE process drags on, like a 20 unit apartment complex for veterans. It's on hold until the current building guidelines are changed.

Scott Smith is the Executive Director of the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo. He says failure to pass the LUCE in October limited his ability to get a federal grant to help build the apartments.

"We're still hoping this all gets worked out at some point," said Smith. "I know these are tough things, understandably, because it's a real effort to try to balance the needs of city, and people that live here, and the housing needs, and then you've got the airport and it's an important part of the city as well."

Some worry if the council is able to override the commission, the state could counter with a lawsuit.

The City Council plans to pick up the issue where it left off at the end of last week's meeting. Council Member Dan Carpenter said his 'no' vote to override the commission in October was "100 percent correct," so he's expected to vote 'no' again on Tuesday night. Mayor Jan Marx and Council Members Carlyn Christianson and John Ashbaugh are expected to repeat their 'yes' votes from October as well.