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Big development ditches public parking 

San Luis Obispo City Council members on April 20 saw a new plan for the Garden Street Terraces project, but this view revealed a major change from previous versions they’d seen: Public parking has been eliminated from the plan. The development, if approved, will be built over a 62-space city owned parking lot.

The City Council will have a chance to weigh in on the project, planned to be erected between Broad Street, Garden Alley, Garden, and Marsh Street, in early June.

According to the staff report, the elimination of public parking at the future development fits in with city policies: The General Plan encourages the elimination of public parking from the downtown area.

The city staff report presented to the City Council states: “[No public parking] does allow flexibility to the project to better meet its private parking demand on site … . The retention of public parking creates operational issues that staff do not believe serves the public parking needs … . Moreover, city policies, including General Plan Policy, encourage the location of public parking outside the downtown core.”

The staff report states the eliminated public parking will eventually be replaced by a yet-to-be-built parking structure at the intersection of Palm and Nipomo streets.

The planning commission will require 15-foot setbacks on the upper floors of the third and fourth stories of the 212,000-square-foot retail, hotel, and residential project, as well as the preservation of more of the structures of some designated historic buildings that will be gutted and incorporated into the design of the development. The developer, Hamish Marshall, said he is willing to redesign the project to meet the demands of the city.

City staffers will be working behind closed doors to renegotiate a four-year-old memorandum of understanding between Marshall’s company, Westpac, and the city. The city agreed to loan the developer $2.4 million dollars in 2006 in a complicated exchange for 40 public parking spaces and the leasing of 56 spaces for customers of a high-end hotel to be constructed on the site, according to a 2006 city memorandum.

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