First homes at San Luis Ranch could be up for sale in 2018

This rendering offers a bird’s eye view of the proposed San Luis Ranch project bordering Madonna Road and Oceanaire Drive in San Luis Obispo.
This rendering offers a bird’s eye view of the proposed San Luis Ranch project bordering Madonna Road and Oceanaire Drive in San Luis Obispo.

If the proposed 580-home San Luis Ranch development passes a few more key hurdles in the next couple of months, the first homes could be ready for sale sometime next year, according to the developer.

The San Luis Obispo City Council on Tuesday approved the project, which also includes a hotel, office and commercial space on a 131-acre site near Madonna Road and Highway 101.

The council still needs to finalize a development agreement setting detailed conditions such as plans for accessory dwellings (second homes on parcels), deed-restricted units for those who qualify for low-income and workforce housing, and the funding for infrastructure that the developer will pay.

Then the property will need to be annexed into the city (it’s on county land), and a community facilities district will need to establish a fee system for site residents to help pay for infrastructure costs.

Homes in San Luis Ranch would cost about $350,000 to $600,000 in today’s dollars, though prices aren’t guaranteed. First preference will be given to prospective buyers who already live or work in the city, using a point-system. About 700 people have signed up on the developer’s interest list, according to developer Gary Grossman.

The plan consists of six development phases and could be completed as soon as 2021, but that date is considered approximate.

“I’m thrilled with the council’s unanimous decision,” Grossman told The Tribune on Wednesday. “They are addressing important city goals, and protecting our city’s core values. ....What happened last night, definitely the project is going to happen.”

Derek Johnson, the city’s assistant city manager, said the cost for public offsite infrastructure to support San Luis Ranch is $54 million. Grossman’s share of that will be $23 million, including an estimated two-thirds that would go to the planned Prado Road overpass. Grossman will be responsible for all of the roads and other infrastructure on the property site.

Other improvements include a road extension and new bridge connecting Froom Ranch Way near Target to the new housing; a widening of Dalidio Road; and extending and adding turn lanes at Madonna Road. Pedestrian crossings and enhanced sewer and water lines also will be built.

The additional $31 million will come from a variety of funding sources — including the community facilities district, an enhanced infrastructure financing district (involving a property tax sharing agreement with the county), development impact fees (fees charged to new developments to cover impacts citywide), and grants.

Critics of the project cited traffic impacts and question how affordable the project will be, but supporters said its smaller-by-design concept and its ability to help meet housing demands in the city will be beneficial.

“We’ve heard loud and clear a call for more affordable housing and more housing in general,” said Mayor Heidi Harmon. “I think this community is willing to bear the impacts if it feels the overall project benefits the community. From my perspective, we’re working to ensure that it does.”

San Luis Ranch calls for 282 single-family units with two-car garages and 298 multi-family units. Of those, 34 deed-restricted affordable units would be designated for various levels of low-income residents.

The housing units would range in size from a 250-square-foot efficiency apartment to a 2,200-square-foot home, with the homes on small lots (the largest would be 3,200 square feet, half the size of the city’s current standard lot).

Harmon added that efforts to create more affordable and lower priced housing will be discussed as the city reviews the project’s development agreement.

“We will be working with staff to meet the mayor’s input,” Grossman said.

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