SLO City Council approves tentative housing project amid parking, environmental concerns

Sep 9, 2021

23 new lots could be made into residential units in San Luis Obispo after the City Council approved a tentative map of a proposed development project.

But many locals and council members have concerns about parking and environmental impacts.

The new housing would be built as single-family residential units on about a five-acre plot just north of Highland Drive and West of Highway 1, next to the Cal Fire San Luis Obispo Unit Headquarters.

The project includes an extension of Stanford and Cuesta Drives as well as installation of sidewalks and parkways. It also includes water and wastewater infrastructure and a potential bike and pedestrian connection.

Community members and neighbors of the proposed development expressed concern regarding the potential lack of parking near these new homes.

Michael Codron is the Community Development Director for San Luis Obispo. He said this site is very different from other recent subdivisions in the city, like San Luis Ranch, where there is more parking limitation. Codron said, in this case, the home designs can accommodate more types of parking.

“If folks who are designing homes for these lots feel like additional parking may be beneficial to future residents, then certainly the design of the parking on-site can accommodate that,” Codron said. “It would be very typical for a single family home to have a two-car garage and have two parking spaces on the driveway leading to the garage.”

Councilmember Andy Pease and Vice Mayor Erica Stewart both expressed concern for the planned removal of 86 trees that currently live on the proposed development site.

Several of them are redwoods and oak trees.

Codron said the city has mitigation plans in place, like replacing each removed tree with another tree or, in some cases, two trees.

“There are both one-to-one replacement plantings on site for all the trees that will be removed plus two-to-one replacement planting off site for all of the tree removals,” Codron said.

Stewart said she is worried about replacing mature trees with smaller trees. Codron said San Luis Obispo has strong planting policies to avoid falling into a net deficit in the city’s urban forest.

Freddy Otte is a biologist with the city and said he shares some of Stewart’s concerns about replacement.

“I would agree with you in the fact that losing a 48-inch tree wouldn’t simply be able to be replaced by two five gallon specimens,” Otte said.

He said this could be a good opportunity to review the policies in place and ensure the city is doing as much protection of trees as possible.

The city’s Tree Committee is involved in the proposed project. The plan has also been reviewed by the Community Development, Public Works, Utilities and Fire Departments.

There is no set date for when any construction could begin.