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22 Chorro Street development moves forward after SLO City Council rejects appeal

A rendering shows a housing and commercial project planned for 22 Chorro St. in San Luis Obispo.
A rendering shows a housing and commercial project planned for 22 Chorro St. in San Luis Obispo.

A four-story, residential and commercial project at Chorro Street and Foothill Boulevard in northern San Luis Obispo will move forward after the City Council unanimously rejected a second appeal to stop the development this week.

Lydia Mourenza and Richard Racouillant filed the appeal opposing the 22 Chorro St. project, which envisions 27 residential units (23 two-bedrooms and four studios restricted for very-low income households), 1,600 square feet of commercial space, 33 parking spaces that use mechanical parking lifts and 118 bike parking spaces.

Councilwoman Andy Pease recused herself before the 4-0 vote on Tuesday denying the appeal.

An initial appeal to the previous City Council in October also was denied, though elements of the architectural design were re-examined by the city’s Architectural Review Commission at the council’s direction.

Several opponents argued at Tuesday’s meeting, and in letters to the city, that the project would create parking congestion in the neighborhood. They also contended that the maximum building height of 43 feet blocked views of hills.

If there is any project that is responsive to our future and that we need to do as a community, this one is it.

Carlyn Christianson, San Luis Obispo councilwoman

City Attorney Christine Dietrick advised the council that the issues relating to the number of parking spaces and building height, under the approved use permit, had already been decided by the past council and weren’t in the current council’s decision-making power.

But the appellants could have argued on appeal some of the design elements, including considerations related to a rooftop deck and parking configuration, which they didn’t, Dietrick said in an interview with The Tribune.

Racouillant argued that a 40 percent parking reduction shouldn’t be allowed and created congestion. City zoning policy allows a 30 percent reduction for mixed-use projects and a 10 percent reduction for providing bicycle parking. Without the parking exception, the project would have needed at least 55 spaces. Racouillant said the parking reduction places a burden on the health and safety of the community, which he contended trumped the zoning code.

“Neighborhoods that are already impacted with parking will be inundated with spillover effects,” Racouillant said. “Young students trying to find parking at night will have to scour the neighborhood.”

Neighborhoods that are already impacted with parking will be inundated with spillover effects. Young students trying to find parking at night will have to scour the neighborhood.

Richard Racouillant, appellant

Supporters said the project, which is near Cal Poly and a shopping center, is ideal for tenants who will use bicycles and reduce the carbon footprint.

Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson said the project meets city goals of providing infill housing, encouraging alternative transportation and reducing emissions.

“If there is any project that is responsive to our future and that we need to do as a community, this one is it,” Christianson said.

Christianson said that she believes the housing will attract tenants who don’t want to use cars, and those who do will live elsewhere.

“Folks with big trucks who drive all the time can live somewhere else,” Christianson said. “We have all kinds of people who all need to live in the same city.”

Mayor Heidi Harmon agreed that the use permit details weren’t in the council’s purview to decide.

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