Land sale would leave one option for SLO homeless shelter

Sale of Prado Road property might be a blessing in disguise if it ends the stalling

letters@thetribunenews.comAugust 22, 2013 

It was a long shot at best, and now, a proposed alternative site for a Homeless Services Center in San Luis Obispo may be off the table altogether. As reported in Wednesday’s Tribune, an unidentified buyer has submitted a letter of intent to purchase the vacant, 9-acre parcel at 40 Prado Road.

If the sale goes through, that will leave a county-owned parcel on South Higuera Street, next to the Department of Social Services, as the only viable candidate for a new homeless shelter.

If the deal falls through, let this serve as a warning: The Prado Road property won’t be available forever.

If the community truly supports that location over South Higuera Street, then it’s time to pool our resources and, at the very least, help finance an engineering study to determine whether a shelter would be feasible there.

That said, we continue to believe the South Higuera Street site is the more logical location for a shelter — it has the necessary approvals from the city and Airport Land Use Commission; the land is available for lease at little or no cost; and the state has awarded a $1 million grant to build a shelter at that location.

However, the South Higuera parcel has generated so much opposition from neighboring business owners that we’ve gone along with the idea of taking a closer look at 40 Prado Road.

But here’s our concern: If CAPSLO is having trouble raising the $80,000 to $100,000 needed for an engineering study of the Prado Road site, what’s the likelihood it will be able to raise the estimated $2 million needed to purchase the property, on top of construction costs?

Given those obstacles, the sale of the Prado Road parcel may be a blessing in disguise, if it moves the shelter project forward.

If the sale falls through, we strongly urge CAPSLO to set a deadline — say, six months — to raise funds for the engineering study for 40 Prado Road.

As we’ve said many times before, a homeless shelter will generate controversy no matter where it’s proposed.

It’s time — past time — to stop stalling, choose a location and launch a capital campaign.

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