SLO City Council narrowly passes downtown upgrade

The San Luis Obispo City Council approved $786,500 in improvements to a two- block stretch of downtown Tuesday.

The 3-2 vote, with Councilwoman Kathy Smith and Councilman Andrew Carter dissenting, came after hours of debate and public discussion.

The rising cost of the project frustrated some council members. Mayor Jan Marx gained enough support to pass the project by asking staff to find another future capital improvement project to take the needed shortfall from — about $75,000 — versus taking it from the general fund as staff originally proposed.

The council also nixed staff’s request to hire a city liaison for the project, saving about $25,000.

The improvements will include aesthetic upgrades such as Mission-style sidewalks and new tree grates, trash cans and sign posts on Higuera Street from Morro Street to Garden Street.

The contract was given to John Madonna Construction Company, which provided the lowest of four bids on the project.

Smith voted against the project, saying she felt the city shouldn’t be spending money on something it wants but doesn’t necessarily need.

Carter said he couldn’t support it because he didn’t foresee the city being able to afford similar upgrades to other areas of the downtown in future years.