A majority of Paso Robles city council members gave the green light this week to one of the largest housing developments ever planned in the city. The project—the Beechwood Specific Plan—has been on the city's radar for the past 17 years.
One member of the council did not vote in favor due to concerns over proposed density and environmental issues. The project spans roughly 230 acres, and calls for the construction of over 900 housing units near Virginia Peterson Elementary school. According to San Luis Obispo Tribune reporting in 2013, the city's master plan for growth initially allowed for 674 homes in that area.
“There’s a mix of housing types, most of it is single-family residential," said Paso Robles city planner Darren Nash. "There are a number of multi-family units.”
Nash said the planning commission and city staff recommend approval of the project to help fill a need.
“In the city of Paso Robles, there's a demand for housing," Nash said. "So getting it to a stage where developers can start working on building homes for the community is what the city is looking for.”
Depending on the market, the houses could range between $450,000-700,000. Beechwood developer Dan Lloyd said a portion of the units will be set aside for more affordable housing.
“100 multi-family units will be deed-restricted to maintain their affordability for a period of 30-35 years,” Llyod said.
According to city staff, "there are three types of affordable housing requirements [written into the Beechwood development agreement] including: a requirement to build 53-66 deed-restricted rental apartments affordable to low or moderate-income households; 96 for-sale units affordable to workforce households as defined by SLO County; and 53 accessory dwelling units."
Lloyd said about five acres is set aside for commercial and mixed-use space, and around eight acres for a community park.
“That park site will include two baseball fields, two soccer areas, and a large multi-use field," Lloyd said. "So it’s going to be a facility that will benefit the broader community, not just the owners of the Beechwood community.”
According to the specific plan documents, the developers include Ray Harrod, Mike Harrod, Dan Lloyd, Jay Huebner and Tom Erskine. In order to get approval of the project, they needed the city council to vote in favor of a "general plan amendment, zone change, tentative tract map, oak tree removal permit and development agreement and the formation of two community facilities districts."
In community feedback over the years, people have expressed concerns of the area losing its oak trees and wetlands.
Lloyd said the plan tries to maintain the natural environment.
“We have over 100 oak trees," Llyod said. "I think after we identified the diseased trees, I think we are only removing around 18 trees.”
Now that the city council has signed off on the project, planners say construction could start in a year and take up to 10 years to complete.
In the contract between the developers and the city, grading of the first phase of construction needs to start within five years, and the company has to give preference to local laborers and home buyers.
To pay for the development's infrastructure, a community facilities district (CFD) will be formed; homeowners pay extra property tax to fund the district.