In what will likely be a milestone in the ongoing fight between two groups with differing views over the future growth of San Luis Obispo — maintaining its “character and livability” vs. denser and faster development — the City Council is set to decide on a proposed overhaul of the city’s zoning ordinance.
It covers a wide range of regulations, including rules on tiny homes on wheels, density, bike parking and alcohol; it’s the culmination of an 18-month process that included several Planning Commission meetings, two community workshops and Bicycle Advisory Committee input to develop an update of the existing laws.
Among the proposed changes to be decided upon at Tuesday’s City Council meeting include:
▪ A rezoning of the upper Monterey Street corridor of San Luis Obispo that could raise the maximum potential building height to 75 feet from 45 feet. The rezoning would affect the Monterey Street area from Santa Rosa Street to Pepper Street, in line with downtown-commercial zoning.
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▪ Allowances for tiny homes on wheels to be set up in the back yards of R-1 low-density residential zones (with a building permit required and allowing for an annual city review and inspection of the property).
▪ Reduced car parking requirements and increasing bike parking; requiring showers, lockers and changing rooms for large developments; and requiring electrical vehicle parking in multifamily and commercial projects.
▪ General reductions of the amount of parking required for new development, encouragement of shared parking and requiring and promoting increased bike parking.
▪ Specific criteria for use permits of alcohol outlets that include standards for noise control, hours of operation, employee training, security and compliance with the Alcoholic Beverage Control license.
▪ Modifications for density that will allow for more units in zones that are medium density residential to bring them in line with rules for low density residential zones.
The new regulations on zoning aim to encourage more people to walk and bike instead of drive, addressing climate-change initiatives among other goals.
The city’s Circulation Element, passed in 2014, establishes policy framework of a transportation mode shift that’s 50 percent auto, 20 percent bicycles, 18 percent walking and 12 percent transit.
The proposal has come under heavy fire from the group Save Our Downtown, which has sent multiple letters to the city expressing opposition to increased density, loss of parking, increased building heights and adequacy of the city’s existing alcohol regulations.
Save Our Downtown’s mission, according to its website, is “to protect and promote the historical character, design, livability and economic success of our downtown.”
Vanessa Igel, representing the group SLO U40, wrote that the group supports high density and building heights where appropriate to support workforce housing, offer incentive for developers to build more housing for low-income residents and encourage mixed-use, bike and pedestrian friendly communities.
SLO U40’s mission is to is to “inform and inspire people of all ages to act on issues affecting the under-40 residents of San Luis Obispo County.”
“This is a place where we’d like to be able to afford to live,” Igel wrote.
The consulting company, MIG, Inc., has helped guide the city through the zoning update process.
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