Arroyo Grande approves Cherry Avenue project, with 51 homes and Japanese cultural center

Rendering of proposed homes off Cherry Avenue in Arroyo Grande.
Rendering of proposed homes off Cherry Avenue in Arroyo Grande.

A 51-home residential housing development and separate Japanese cultural center are officially coming to Arroyo Grande, after the City Council approved the project Tuesday night.

The Arroyo Grande City Council unanimously approved the project, 4-0, with Councilman Tim Brown absent. The council members by and large lauded the changes made to the proposed developments throughout the planning process, though some concerns did remain.

“When I look at this project from well over a year ago, the modifications are favorable and, most important, reflect public input,” Councilwoman Barbara Harmon said.

The development features three separately owned parcels: the first parcel, at Traffic Way and Cherry Avenue, was originally slated for a three-story hotel and restaurant, but that proposal was scrapped by the city Planning Commission, and instead was simply zoned as commercial. Any future building will be required to go to the city for approval before construction.

The second parcel would host 51 single-family homes (scaled back from a previously proposed 58 homes). According to a representative of Mangano Homes, which owns the residential portion of the project, the purchase price for the homes would start at about $500,000 for the smallest, 1,500-square-foot single-story models, and would increase in cost with size.

The third parcel is owned by the Arroyo Grande Valley Japanese Welfare Association, which proposed a community center, 10-unit senior housing, bed-and-breakfast guesthouse, farm stand, historic orchard and Japanese cultural gardens with walking paths. It would pay homage to the large number of Japanese settlers who played an important role in Arroyo Grande’s early development, as well as replace the former schoolhouse and community center that stood on the site for more than 80 years before burning down in 2011 as a result of arson.

That portion of the project was largely unchanged throughout the planning process, with virtually every person who has commented on it saying they support the idea of the center.

“There’s just not enough great things to say,” Councilwoman Caren Ray said Tuesday night. “I think I speak for everyone in that we are all looking forward to that contribution.”

The entire project is expected to use 24.1 acre-feet of water per year; one acre-foot of water is equal to 325,851 gallons.

The development was hotly contested when it went before the Planning Commission last year, with most of the commissioners saying the original project was too dense and expressing concerns about water use and traffic along the Traffic Way corridor, including the intersection of Fair Oaks Avenue. The commission sizably shrunk the project to its current size before approving it in October.

For the most part, many of those who spoke at the City Council meeting Tuesday voiced appreciation for the smaller-scale project before the council, though they continued to express some concerns about traffic in the highly traveled school zone.

To help remedy some of the traffic concerns, a traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Traffic Way and Fair Oaks, and the applicants will match grant funding the city has secured for a traffic study into how to improve the area around the southbound Fair Oaks off-ramp.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie