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Hillside projects face opposition 

Proponents of developing four linked projects in the now-open hillside above SLO's Johnson Avenue have run into organized neighborhood opposition and a handful of unforeseen stumbling blocks, including the recusal of one prominent supporter, Mayor Dave Romero, whose home is so near one of the projects that attorneys advised him he would have a conflict of interest voting on it.

The projects, which stretch from the county-owned land behind the former General Hospital southeast to Southwood Drive, would result in 56 homes and more than 150 acres of dedicated open space, although much of that would be land that is too steep to build on.

The matter heads to the council on Oct. 23 in a special 7 p.m. meeting at the SLO Veteran's Hall, a location Romero said was necessary because of the "huge" turnout at past city meetings regarding the projects.

"It think it's very emotional," he said. "People really, really prize the view and the open space."

Romero has been a supporter of the projects. Much of the property is on county land, outside the city boundaries but within SLO's stated "sphere of influence" that marks where the city intends to expand. If they're going to be developed, he said, he'd rather see it done under city control.

Without Romero voting, it's unclear what will happen Tuesday.

Councilman Allen Settle, in a letter to project opponents, has said he opposes the projects, and the Planning Commission has already recommended that all of the proposed annexations be rejected for various reasons, including that the slope is too steep for many and that most fall outside of the city's current urban reserve line--the point at which it's currently unable to effectively deliver sewer and water service.

Despite those problems, a city staff recommendation suggests that the annexations can be approved if changes are made.


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