Plan for Broad Street development returns to SLO City Council

acornejo@thetribunenews.comSeptember 16, 2013 

A somewhat divisive plan that would define the future development of southern Broad Street — an 86-acre neighborhood midway between downtown and the airport — will come back before the San Luis Obispo City Council on Tuesday night.

In March, the council, which only had four members at the time, failed to reach a consensus on the plan after hours of public testimony at two separate council meetings.

The plan attempts to restore a neighborhood feel that once defined the area while incorporating new businesses and office space, eventually making the area an extension of the downtown.

However, in the past, many business owners said the change would create incompatible land uses and cast a cloud of uncertainty over their businesses' future.

Proposed zoning changes would eventually allow for more commercial and residential development in the area.

The council is once again being asked to include the Broad Street plan in one of the city's main planning documents — the Land Use and Circulation Element, which is being updated.

Because a City Council policy requires that the council either continue an item by majority vote or reach a consensus, the council, now with five members, is being asked to reconsider. The council was unaware of that policy in March.

Past concerns about the plan were centered on the possible elimination of future heavy manufacturing and industrial businesses that have long been rooted in the area.

Changes have been made to plan to alleviate some of those concerns. Those changes include removing the McMillan/Duncan streets area from the plan after business owners there protested the plan earlier this year.

Another change to the plan since it was presented to the council in March is the reduction of homes and commercial space planned for the area in the next 20 years.

The plan now aims to incorporate 355 new homes, not 425 as originally planned, and 330,000 square feet of commercial space instead of the 880,000 square feet once proposed.

Existing businesses affected by the zoning changes will be protected indefinitely.

Of the 56 businesses in the area, which includes the area of Broad Street that is bounded by Santa Barbara Street, the railroad tracks, South Street and Orcutt Road, only 11 would be nonconforming with the zoning changes, according to city staff.

The City Council will still have to approve the South Broad Street Area Plan in the future should it vote Tuesday night to include it in the Land Use and Circulation Element update.

Southern Broad Street

The plan would affect an 86-acre neighborhood surrounding Broad Street, bounded by Santa Barbara Street, the railroad tracks, South Street and Orcutt Road.

View South Broad Street in a larger map

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

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