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SLO City Council kicks off process to change city limits for Cal Poly housing 

The city of San Luis Obispo could get smaller to make space for university faculty housing.

On June 4, the SLO City Council unanimously greenlit the initiation of a detachment application filed by Cal Poly that requested reducing a sliver of city land by 25 feet. The request is part of the university's plan to construct a 33-unit single-family housing development at the northeast corner of Slack Street and Grand Avenue for its staff and faculty.

click to enlarge INTEREST GAP A 25-foot strip of land exists between the current right of way edge and city limit boundary and Cal Poly's proposed ones, which could soon be detached from and abandoned by the city of SLO. - MAP TAKEN FROM CITY OF SLO STAFF REPORT
  • Map Taken From City Of Slo Staff Report
  • INTEREST GAP A 25-foot strip of land exists between the current right of way edge and city limit boundary and Cal Poly's proposed ones, which could soon be detached from and abandoned by the city of SLO.

"Detachment is pretty unusual," city Project Planner Callie Taylor told New Times. "Typically, the city takes in land, like with Avila Ranch."

The proposed modification corrects current city boundary limits coinciding with the right of way boundary at the northern edge of Slack Street, which Cal Poly also wants to change.

Slack Street contains a 70-foot-wide right of way with street improvements located on the southern half of it. Cal Poly proposes improving the northern section of the right of way to build two travel lanes and a 5-foot sidewalk with a landscaped parkway on the north side. Through a right of way abandonment request, Cal Poly asked the city to relinquish its interest in 25 feet of the right of way beyond the back of the northern sidewalk so it can build the housing project called Vista Meadows.

Approved in 2020, the Cal Poly 2035 Campus Master Plan envisioned a larger version of Vista Meadows for staff and faculty. The original plan outlined 380 residential units, two large multi-family buildings, 7,000 square feet of retail space, and 525 parking spaces. But site constraints and other feasibility concerns made the project more modest last year, reducing it to 33 two-story homes with a community garden and other recreational facilities on 8.5 acres of land.

Currently, the edge of the right of way and the city limit boundary run through the middle of the proposed Cal Poly housing project. While Cal Poly is outside city limits, SLO has jurisdiction of Slack Street. Successful right of way abandonment and detachment requests will pull Vista Meadows completely out of the city's jurisdiction and put it in unincorporated SLO County territory, preventing the housing units from crossing existing judicial boundaries.

Taylor labeled the modification processes as a "cleanup" of historical boundary crossings, especially with the right of way being established in the 1800s.

"The 25 feet of right of way proposed for abandonment and detachment is not needed for buildout of Slack Street or the future intersection to current engineering standards," the city memo read.

Based on City Councilmember Andy Pease's query, city staff is now calculating the value of the 25-foot strip between the existing edge of the right of way and city limit boundary and the proposed ones. City staff will conduct a development review with the surveyor.

The requests for modification will eventually find their way before the SLO Planning Commission for recommendation, and the City Council will conduct a public hearing for consideration of a resolution of intent. Finally, the SLO Local Agency Formation Commission will weigh in on the right of way and city limit changes.

"One of the stated objectives of the Cal Poly Vista Meadows project is to promote and enhance faculty and staff retention and recruitment by offering quality residential housing at attainable rates," the staff report read. "The construction of new staff housing on Cal Poly land helps to implement and facilitate the City Council goal of providing housing to residents and employees." Δ

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