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More than good enough 

The Dana Reserve is an environmentally friendly project that will bring necessary housing and infrastructure to South County

For all our sakes, the Dana Reserve must be good enough for a 5-0 vote in favor of approval. If it is not, the politicians we have elected are not serious about addressing our historic housing crisis. Nor are they serious about improving the infrastructure of Nipomo.

On April 23 and 24, the SLO County Board of Supervisors will vote on the largest housing development proposed for the county in 25 years (called the Dana Reserve). The site has been slated for development for 30 years, and this specific version of the project has been under the design and entitlement process for more than six years now. It is time this got built.

We must make every effort to be a county for families and the working class. This project does more for these groups than any before it.

If you have followed the project only sparsely, this prior statement might surprise you. The project is large, complex, and surrounded by vocal neighbors who we believe have led a deliberate campaign of misinformation and disinformation about the project in an effort to stop construction near their homes.

They have stated gross oversimplifications and framed this project as a battle between 1,470 homes and 3,000 trees. But rather than following their methodology, allow us to share some facts about this project that you might not know.

Trees: Approval of the Dana Reserve creates a new nature preserve with more than 14,000 oak trees in Nipomo (which could one day be open for public access—think Nipomo's own Pismo Preserve). Furthermore, the project plants an additional 2,300 trees on-site upon development. Net, the Dana Reserve plants or preserves 5.6 times as many trees as it removes. Combined with the fact that these new homes will be all-electric and include solar, this project is a win for the environment.

Housing Affordability: The Dana Reserve has, for the first time ever in the history of local housing projects, offered to create a $3.2 million down payment assistance program for first-time homebuyers. The project also includes 1,053 housing units combined for workforce, missing middle, and moderate-, low-, or extremely low-income residents. By our understanding, this makes the Dana Reserve the most affordable housing project in SLO County history—by far.

Infrastructure: As heard during the last SLO County Planning Commission hearing, the Dana Reserve would fund substantial portions of upgrades needed for existing residents of the Nipomo Community Services District (NCSD) to update old lines and add redundancy to existing systems. Similarly, existing NCSD ratepayers will see their rates be $750/year less on average if the Dana Reserve is approved compared to if it is not. That is a tangible win for the Nipomo community.

Furthermore, the Dana Reserve proposes to complete the Nipomo Frontage Road connection from Tefft to Willow and a functional equivalent of an already planned Hetrick extension. These costly improvements, which the community of Nipomo will tell you are needed now, will have to be paid for by county fees and taxes over time if the Dana Reserve is not approved. We say save the taxpayers some money and let this developer improve Nipomo's infrastructure—as the developer intends!

Fees: The Dana Reserve would pay more than $85 million in fees. Part of these are the fees paid to the Lucia Mar School District. The Dana Reserve has offered and agreed to pay a tier higher than its obligation in school fees—this is unprecedented. However, perhaps even more unprecedented, the Dana Reserve is donating an improved site to construct 84 deed-restricted affordable housing units for Lucia Mar School District employees at no cost to the district or local taxpayers. So while opposition and neighbors have complained that the Dana Reserve is not doing enough for schools, it is in fact doing more per home than their homes did and more than any other housing development in the unincorporated county area.

Community Benefits: These benefits are visible, but they are far from the only benefits of this development. The Dana Reserve also donates land for a fire station, a nonprofit day care, and a Cuesta College satellite campus. It creates a new commercial center with a hotel, a grocer, and restaurants.

So, what is the Dana Reserve? It is a facilitator of a net environmental win. It is the most affordable master-planned community in the county's history. It is $750/year in savings for NCSD's existing ratepayers. It is tens of millions of dollars in developer-funded community-needed infrastructure. It is the project that does more for the community than any before it.

Therefore, our question is simple: Dear supervisors, if doing the most is not enough for you, what is? Δ

Generation Build's board wrote to New Times, representing 176 active members. Send a response for publication to [email protected].

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