New plan would bring affordable homes to Chandler Ranch in Paso Robles

Workforce housing could come to Chandler Ranch in Paso Robles as part of a new proposal for a portion of the property.
Workforce housing could come to Chandler Ranch in Paso Robles as part of a new proposal for a portion of the property. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

A Paso Robles developer has plans to build workforce housing on a section of Chandler Ranch, a long-vacant property that hasn’t attracted interest in about a decade.

On Tuesday night, the Paso Robles City Council gave Doug Ayres and North Coast Engineering the green light to develop a specific plan for 154.3 acres on the southern section of the 826.7-acre property that sits on the eastern edge of the city.

The Chandler Ranch property — parts of which are owned by about a dozen people and companies — was annexed by Paso Robles in 1980. Previous plans to build about 1,500 homes and 280,500 square feet of commercial space began to crumble around 2007, after the housing market crashed and the recession began.

“This is a very, very large project in today’s world,” said Larry Werner, president of North Coast Engineering, when explaining why Ayres wants to split the land.

Ayres, who also developed the Allegretto Vineyard Resort in northeast Paso Robles, has contracted to buy the 85.1 acres owned by Chandler’s Sand & Gravel. He plans to use the land to develop more than 350 units of housing.

The first phase would include 120 multifamily units and 80 single-family homes, and later phases would include up to 154 single-family units, according to a staff report.

To make this development possible, Ayres wants to modify the old Chandler Ranch specific plan, which treated all 826.7 acres as one property. He proposes splitting the property in two, with 672.4 acres owned by Jonatkim Properties remaining in one specific plan, and 154.3 acres owned by Chandler’s Sand & Gravel, Centex Homes and Our Town Properties branching off into another plan.

City Council members had concerns about traffic issues, especially the planned extension of Airport Road, which the city eventually wants to connect to Highway 46. The original Chandler Ranch development would have helped to offset costs for road work, so dividing the land would raise questions about which developer would pay for what.

Even so, Susan DeCarli, the city planner who presented the proposal, said splitting up the property would spur development on a long-vacant area.

“The city has more likelihood of seeing this actually happen,” she said.

Mayor Steve Martin also pointed out that Ayres plans to build workforce housing, something he said Paso Robles sorely needs.

“I think we have a problem,” he said. “We have a lack of workforce housing and a lack of affordable housing.”

City Council members ultimately gave the developers the go-ahead to apply for a General Plan amendment, which would allow the original Chandler Ranch plan to be modified.

Ayres and North Coast Engineering will submit an application, which will go through an ad hoc committee composed of Planning Commission and City Council members, DeCarli said.

After that, it will be workshopped with the public before going through the Planning Commission and City Council, she said. The whole process could take one to two years.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27