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Where could new housing be built in SLO County? 8 spots make the cut

Eight red stars mark areas that San Luis Obispo County staff found to have greater opportunities for future homes. Green areas are the least constrained for potential residential development. Orange areas are the most constrained.
Eight red stars mark areas that San Luis Obispo County staff found to have greater opportunities for future homes. Green areas are the least constrained for potential residential development. Orange areas are the most constrained. San Luis Obispo County Planning and Building Department

Eight large tracts of land in San Luis Obispo County have been identified as possible locations to be rezoned for new housing.

The list was published in a draft report by the county Planning and Building Department about limitations and opportunities for potential residential development. It was created at the request of the Board of Supervisors.

The areas are spread throughout all areas of the county, from Paso Robles to Nipomo.

Supervisors plan to discuss the findings on Tuesday during the most comprehensive talk about housing policy in years.

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To create the list, county staff looked for places close to job centers and services, with availability of infrastructure — like water, wastewater and roads and police and fire service — as well as the availability of resources like water and consumer preference.

It’s intended to be a first step in identifying areas the county may consider in the future for potential housing projects, according to Robert Fitzroy, deputy director of the Planning Department. That doesn’t mean any development is planned there now, or that proposed housing could easily be built there.

“Though there are areas that are less constrained, that doesn’t necessarily mean people can go in tomorrow and start building. There are still many, many constraints,” Fitzroy said.

Most areas lack critical infrastructure and would need to be rezoned.

Some in close proximity to cities have been considered for housing in the past.

For example, in Atascadero the owners of the once-proposed Eagle Ranch housing development dropped the decades-long plan due to public objections and financial concerns. The project would have involved annexing the property into Atascadero.

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Many of the other areas that made the county’s list could also face annexation questions.

Planning staff arrived at the eight areas by winnowing down a much larger list.

Using a GIS model, planning staff first identified 48 areas that were least constrained for development, but many were too remote or the landscape was inappropriate for major development, the report says. The list was narrowed with input from the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments and further analysis.

The list could change as more data becomes available, including from a hyrdrogeologist studying groundwater supplies.

“Water is still the number one constraint in the county,” Fitzroy said, noting, for example, that the Paso Robles groundwater basin is critically overdrafted.

The constraints map that’s part of the analysis will help the county achieve the estimated Regional Housing Needs Allocation for the 2020-2028 Housing Element cycle when the state hands down a number of housing units that the county is required to plan to accommodate.

Here are the eight areas with greater opportunities for future residential development, according to the county report.

1. West Paso Robles

Key limiting factors: Water, terrain, agricultural zoning, intensified agriculture, oak woodland and endangered San Joaquin kit fox habitat.

Proximity to job centers and services: Three miles to downtown Paso Robles, 16 miles to Atascadero, 31 miles to downtown San Luis Obispo.

Infrastructure: Area lacks community water and wastewater systems. The nearest hospital and sheriff substation are in Templeton. The nearest fire station is 6.5 miles away. The nearest schools, library and parks are in Paso Robles.

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2. West Templeton

Key limiting factors: Water, terrain, agricultural zoning, intensified agriculture and agricultural preserves.

Proximity to job centers and services: 13 miles to Paso Robles, nine miles to Atascadero, 24.5 miles to downtown San Luis Obispo.

Infrastructure: Area lacks community water and wastewater systems. The nearest schools, library, parks, hospital, fire station and sheriff substation are in Templeton.

3. South Atascadero — east of Highway 101

Key limiting factors: Largely developed with suburban lots with few large undeveloped and consolidated areas for subdivisions.

Proximity to job centers and services: 2.5 miles to Highway 101/Santa Roasa Road in Atascadero, 15 miles to downtown San Luis Obispo.

Infrastructure: Area lacks a community wastewater treatment facility. The nearest fire station is nine miles, and the nearest sheriff substation is 11 miles. The nearest hospital is in Templeton. The nearest schools are in Santa Margarita and Atascadero. The nearest parks and library are in Atascadero.

4. Pozo Road area — south of Santa Margarita

Key limiting factors: Water, access, oak woodlands, agricultural zoning, intensive agriculture and agricultural preserves.

Proximity to job centers and services: 12 miles to Atascadero, 15 miles to downtown San Luis Obispo and 19 miles to Templeton.

Infrastructure: Area lacks a community wastewater treatment facility. The nearest hospital is in San Luis Obispo, the nearest fire station is seven miles and the nearest sheriff substation is 20 miles. The nearest schools are in Santa Margarita and Atascadero. The nearest park and library are in Santa Margarita.

5. Los Osos Valley Road Area — near San Luis Obispo

Key limiting factors: Water, access, flood zone, agricultural zoning, agricultural preserves, intensified agriculture, scenic resources, geology and terrain in some areas.

Proximity to job centers and services: Three miles to Cal Poly, four miles to downtown San Luis Obispo.

Infrastructure: Area lacks community water and wastewater systems. The nearest hospital is in San Luis Obispo, the nearest fire station is three miles and the nearest sheriff substation is six miles from this area.

6. Edna Valley Area — southeast of the San Luis Obispo city limits

Key limiting factors: Access, agricultural zoning, intensified agriculture, agricultural preserves, slope, the railroad and airport compatibility.

Proximity to job centers and services: Five miles to downtown San Luis Obispo and 11 miles to the intersection of Highway 101 and Oak Park Boulevard in the Five Cities area.

Infrastructure: Area lacks community water and wastewater treatment facilities. The nearest fire station is three miles away and nearest sheriff substation is nine miles. Nearest parks, schools, library and hospital are in San Luis Obispo.

7. South Arroyo Grande/North Nipomo — west of Highway 101

Key limiting factors: Water, access, terrain, oak woodlands, agricultural zoning, agricultural preserves and intensified agricultural.

Proximity to job centers and services: 19 miles to downtown San Luis Obispo, six miles to the intersection of Highway 101 and Oak Park Boulevard in the Five Cities area, 12 miles to Santa Maria.

Infrastructure: Water and wastewater system improvements would be required. Public schools, parks, hospital and library in Arroyo Grande and the Nipomo Mesa. The nearest fire station is four miles, and the nearest sheriff substation is five miles from this area.

8. Southeast Nipomo — east of Highway 101

Key limiting factors: Water, agricultural zoning, agricultural preserves and terrain.

Proximity to job centers and services: About 25 miles to downtown San Luis Obispo, 11 miles to the intersection of Highway 101 and Oak Park Boulevard in the Five Cities area, seven miles to Santa Maria.

Infrastructure: Water and wastewater system improvements would be required. Schools, parks, library and fire stations are in Nipomo and the Nipomo Mesa area. The nearest hospital is seven miles, and the nearest sheriff substation is 11 miles from this area.

San Miguel and Shandon

The report also looked at potential expansion areas in San Miguel and Shandon.

Key limiting factors in San Miguel: Cost of new infrastructure, access, railroad, agricultural zoning, limited local job opportunities and competition with existing job centers for attracting new businesses. The area is about nine miles to Paso Robles.

Key limiting factors in Shandon: Cost of new infrastructure, limited local job opportunities and competition with existing job centers for attracting new businesses and distance to existing job center and services. The area is about 19 miles to Paso Robles.



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