SLO City Council to set priorities for budget at Saturday meeting

acornejo@thetribunenews.comJanuary 25, 2013 

Increasing the police presence downtown, alleviating traffic congestion and establishing the contentious homeless services center will be hot topics at the San Luis Obispo City Council’s goal-setting session Saturday.

The City Council will prioritize its spending goals for the upcoming 2013-15 budget by selecting a handful of major goals, important objectives and a wish list should additional money become available.

In advance of Saturday’s meeting, the council members anonymously submitted seven goals each would like to see included. Those ideas will be used to help guide the session.

Several council members said that addressing homelessness and the issues surrounding it should be a key priority in the coming two years. The city has struggled with a growing homeless population in the past year and downtown business owners and residents have pleaded with the council to implement changes, such as increased police enforcement, to combat problems like loitering, panhandling and offensive behaviors.

That goal may also include aiding in the creation of a proposed homeless services center, and partnering with outside agencies such as the county and Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County to provide more services.

CAPSLO has asked the city to assist in locating a site for the Homeless Services Center and to expedite moving it forward.

Spending more money on capital improvements such as roads, sidewalks and maintaining existing city buildings and infrastructure is a top priority for the majority of the council. On that list is the completion of the $30 million Los Osos Valley Road overpass and added bicycle paths.

Limiting alcohol outlets downtown also appears to be a concern. One council member suggests putting a moratorium on new bars and strictly limiting the late-night hours restaurants can serve alcohol.

Other suggested priorities include continuing the efforts to abate neighborhood disturbances such as noise, parking issues and an increased focus on code enforcement. Neighborhood wellness was set as a major city goal in 2011.

The council will also use input received at a community forum held on Jan. 8 where more than 170 residents shared their desires.

At that meeting, improving the downtown and bike and pedestrian paths emerged as top desires.

Other feedback from community surveys and the city’s advisory bodies will also be considered.

The council’s goals will then be turned over to city staff, who will create work plans and determine how much money will be needed to achieve the objectives. The council will then adopt those goals in April.

Meeting Saturday

The San Luis Obispo City Council will meet Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the City/County Library at 995 Palm St. to set the goals for the 2013-15 budget.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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