A community request to hire more staff to improve neighborhoods riddled with partying and blight was embraced by the San Luis Obispo City Council — though it’s unknown where the money will come from to pay them.
The council, while deliberating Tuesday on the upcoming 2011-13 city goals, directed staff to rewrite one of the four major goals — neighborhood wellness — to include those new positions.
The request comes at a time when the council is considering cutting 13 positions in order to meet a $4.4 million projected shortfall in the city’s $54 million general fund.
It is not clear what other cuts will be proposed to allow for the new positions.
The proposal, initiated by Residents for Quality Neighborhoods, was not initially included in the city’s goals because of its cost, said John Mandeville, San Luis Obispo community development director.
The group has asked that two full-time and two part-time positions be created, called neighborhood services specialists, to deal with nuisances such as noise, cars parked in front yards, excess trash and debris in yards, and illegally converted living spaces.
Those positions will cost about $236,400, Mandeville said.
“For well over 10 years, individuals and community groups have asked for help finding real solutions to ever-growing neighborhood problems,” wrote Brett Cross, president of Residents for Quality Neighborhood, in a letter to the council.
The increased police patrols that were promised have not happened, Cross said, and the problems still persist.
Enforcement of violations in neighborhoods is now complaint driven and handled by code enforcement officers and the police department’s student neighborhood assistance program, Mandeville said.
The proposed neighborhood services specialists would supplement what is already being done and focus solely on neighborhoods known to have consistent problems, located typically in the city’s northern end, with a high concentration of students.
Police Chief Deborah Linden raised concern at Tuesday’s meeting that the neighborhood specialists not issue citations for noise violations — saying that is a job that should be left to police officers because of the hostile situations that can arise.
“My main concern is safety,” Linden said. “Many of these situations involve alcohol, and I feel strongly that those situations need to be handled by police officers.”
Staff will propose that those duties remain with police officers at the City Council’s next meeting Tuesday.
Mayor Jan Marx, who has voiced strong support for the plan, said that it will allow the city to better get to know the neighborhoods, the people in them and reoccurring dynamics that cause the problems.
“The troubles have been there for a long time,” Marx said. “We don’t want parts of our town becoming like Isla Vista.”
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.