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Neighbors want to keep this SLO street closed to traffic. New ruling makes it unlikely

These posts block through traffic on Luneta Dr., and would be removed and a portion of the street widened as part of a proposed development at 71 Palomar Dr. The City Council will consider whether to keep Luneta Drive closed on Oct. 3.
These posts block through traffic on Luneta Dr., and would be removed and a portion of the street widened as part of a proposed development at 71 Palomar Dr. The City Council will consider whether to keep Luneta Drive closed on Oct. 3. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

A proposal to keep a closed San Luis Obispo street off limits to through traffic was rejected Wednesday by the city Planning Commission, paving the way for the its long-planned reopening.

The street located two blocks south of Foothill Boulevard near the Foothill Plaza Shopping Center has been blocked off by posts between Polomar Avenue and Verde Drive for years, effectively providing a buffer that makes the street safer for children and pedestrians. But it remained in the city’s plans to be opened to motorists.

Neighbors say the closure keeps traffic from whizzing by, creating a quiet, safe atmosphere.

The continued closure would require a change in the city’s General Plan.

Its opening is expected if a development project at nearby 71 Palomar Drive proceeds as planned.

Construction of the 33-unit development, approved by the City Council in April, has been stalled pending ongoing litigation from a lawsuit filed by residents Teresa Matthews and Lydia Mourenza. The case has a final hearing date Oct. 16.

The Planning Commission voted 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Scott Mann dissenting. Three commissioners were absent Wednesday.

Traffic would be pushed to three other streets and that’s not fair.

Chuck Stevenson, San Luis Obispo Planning Commission Chair

Chair Chuck Stevenson, voting with the majority, argued traffic would be concentrated on other nearby streets if Luneta were kept closed.

“Traffic would be pushed to three other streets, and that’s not fair,” Stevenson said.

Commissioner Hemalata Dandekar said it’s the commission’s responsibility to appropriately plan traffic flow for the entire community and not just interests of a smaller group.

The City Council is expected to decide on the Luneta Drive closure at its Oct. 24 meeting; it will consider the commission’s recommendation.

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