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Voice of a village 

The Community Alternative Plan is a better vision for the Dana Reserve

The place names in San Luis Obispo county indicate what is unique and loved in our community: Paso Robles refers to its precious oaks, and Atascadero, which is a name for a place where water is held back, is home to some of several locations in our county where beavers hold and store water. The name Nipomo is said to have come from a Native American word that means village. The Community Alternative Plan for the Dana Reserve Project offers a single-family and affordable housing development choice that represents the voice of a village that has come together with experts to design a proposal with lasting beneficial impacts to the quality of life of county residents.

The Community Alternative Plan reduces impacts on traffic and air quality, already overburdened schools and infrastructure, and saves more than 2,500 oak trees and habitat, while providing 534 single-family homes and 266 multi-family units.

The benefits to county residents from the Community Alternative Plan come in the form of continuous open space for walking, hiking, and equestrian use by the public. The biological impacts from saving more than 2,500 mature oak trees and federally endangered species and special habitats will be significant to all who live and breathe. Oaks support more life-forms than any other North American tree genus, providing food and protection for insects, birds, reptiles, lichen, and mammals. Oaks enhance ecosystem function, including groundwater recharge; reduce stormwater runoff and stabilize soil; improve water quality by reducing erosion; and provide an important carbon sink. Oaks, a lovely visual resource, are important to local climate moderation, providing shade and cooling, and particulate matter removal.

The current Dana Reserve development plan, the biggest project proposed in San Luis Obispo County in 25 years, was found to have 19 significant and unmitigable environmental impacts, whereas the Community Alternative Plan reduces these impacts and still provides for increased housing possibilities. The work of the village on the Community Alternative Plan is rooted in a deep concern for housing, the environment, and the issues of the shortfall of funding and space at local schools, lack of a fire station, and shortage of sheriff deputies, all of which are significantly exacerbated by the developer's plan.

The iconic Great Depression era photograph Migrant Mother, by Dorothea Lange, taken on the Nipomo Mesa, depicts a woman looking out in the distance with worry on her face. The Nipomo seen from that pea-pickers tent camp has grown and changed to a community that presents many opportunities, even beyond the Dana Reserve project, within the existing old town and commercial corridor area where infrastructure and space for affordable housing does exist and is in fact designated for such in the South County general plan. Let's look out to a future for Nipomo that brings life and health. Write to your county supervisor or show up at the SLO County Board of Supervisors hearing on April 23 to make public comment or show support for the Community Alternative Plan to be the vision for the Dana Reserve. Δ

Dolores Howard writes to New Times from Paso Robles. Send a letter to the editor in response by emailing it to [email protected].

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