Letters to the Editor

SLO’s land use future relies on council race

The urgency of next Tuesday’s San Luis Obispo City Council election became vividly clear last week when the current council failed to adopt an update to the city’s long-term land-use plan. This update was created over two years with extensive public input from residents, careful scrutiny by a 15-member, council-appointed committee of city residents, and the city planning commission.

For legal reasons, adoption of the land-use plan required at least four of the five council members to agree. Three members — John Ashbaugh, Carlyn Christianson and Mayor Jan Marx — were in favor. Two — Dan Carpenter and Kathy Smith — were not, thus preventing the city from asserting its legal authority over what can and can’t be built within the city limits.

In failing to support this broadly reviewed land-use plan update, Mr. Carpenter and Ms. Smith have shut down numerous opportunities to improve the city and brought to a halt several key projects now on the drawing table that would have generated:

Millions of dollars in developer payments for needed infrastructure improvements, including a pathway to fund a Prado Road overpass.

More than 100 units of affordable housing.

1,400 units of workforce housing.

200-plus acres of new open space.

Significant housing for the involuntarily homeless.

Expansion of bike paths and other significant improvements in transportation and flood protection projects

Councilwoman Smith opposed because she does not believe the plan update will guarantee workforce housing. She entirely misses the point.

The update protects us from future sprawl by rezoning many acres inside our city limits from commercial to residential, precisely to allow more workforce and affordable housing.

Failure to approve the update creates a potential for more sprawl, as there will be insufficient city land zoned for housing.

Furthermore, the update provided a way for city residents to exercise control over future developments likely to occur on county land adjacent to the city.

A new City Council, which will be seated in December, can rectify this failure. That’s why we urge voters to assess the field of council candidates and ask whether the candidates truly care about:

Creating affordable housing for the middle class.

Ensuring that developers pay their fair share in easing traffic congestion.

Securing additional acreage to protect and expand the city’s greenbelt through further acquisition of open space.

Finding workable solutions to address the homelessness problem.

Lowering the jobs/housing imbalance of the current General Plan.

Every vote counts. Please be sure to vote in Tuesday’s election. Your quality of life is at stake.