UPDATE: Prado Road extension will go on November ballot

Voters in San Luis Obispo will decide if a long-planned Prado Road extension should be realigned from its now designated route alongside the Damon-Garcia Sports Fields.

The City Council voted after midnight Tuesday to certify a citizen initiative for the November ballot that seeks to eliminate the proposed alignment, which would end at Broad Street between Industrial and Capitolio ways, just north of the Damon-Garcia Sports Fields.

The City Council, which voted 5-0 to put the initiative on the ballot Tuesday night, could have adopted the proposed ordinance.

However, council members spoke against the initiative Tuesday, saying that it would undo decades of planning.

“The citizens of San Luis Obispo do not want to go here,” said Councilman Allen Settle. “To do so will really delay the idea of an east-west linkage for decades.”

The northern Prado Road extension was approved by the City Council in 2004 as part of the Margarita Area Specific Plan, which sets parameters for development in an area between South Higuera, South and Broad streets.

The city has long planned that Prado Road would act as the city’s primary east-west traffic connector.

Opponents say the plan would jeopardize the safety of children who play at the sports fields.

Mila Vujovich-La Barre, who launched the initiative along with San Luis Obispo residents Bill Wilson and Michael Sullivan, said the timing is right for the initiative because the slowed economy will give the city time to come up with a different plan.

Vujovich-La Barre’s suggested alternative, which is not included in the initiative, is to widen Tank Farm Road to make it an industrial and commercial route, make Buckley Road the enhanced circulator route, and use Santa Fe Road to connect the two.

Former City Manager Ken Hampian, who spoke in opposition to the initiative, said the plan would leave the community with “a partial circulation system and consequences that will be awful for our community.”

City staff says eliminating the road extension would have a ripple effect, causing long-term traffic congestion; jeopardizing future development planned for the area; possibly causing the city to lose its eligibility for state and federal housing funds; and requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars for new planning and environmental reviews of multiple city planning documents.

Tim Bochum, public works director, said additional impacts are likely.

“We simply do not know yet all of the potential impacts from the proposed initiative,” said Bochum.

The Prado Road extension, a 1,200-foot segment of road, is planned at the outer boundaries of the sports fields and will extend across Acacia Creek. The road would run between the nearby South Hills open space and the Damon-Garcia Sports Fields with a pedestrian underpass for people to walk from one side to the other.

The initiative seeks to prevent the road from encroaching on the fields or the adjacent South Hills open space.