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Neighborhood coalition hits SLO and Avila Ranch with lawsuit 

San Luis Obispo residents upset by SLO's recent approval of Avila Ranch, a 720-home housing development near the county airport, have mobilized and filed a lawsuit, claiming the city failed to address several of the project's environmental impacts.

Three neighborhood groups joined to file the suit on Oct. 19, just before the 30-day window to challenge it closed following the City Council's Sept. 19 approval.

click to enlarge SAFETY CONCERNS Neighbors to the recently approved Avila Ranch development are suing the city of SLO over environmental and safety concerns. - IMAGE COURTESY OF THE CITY OF SLO
  • IMAGE COURTESY OF THE CITY OF SLO
  • SAFETY CONCERNS Neighbors to the recently approved Avila Ranch development are suing the city of SLO over environmental and safety concerns.

"I am not against affordable housing, and I am not trying to stop this project. Our motivation is safety," said resident Kathy Borland, a leader of a new neighborhood organization called Preserve the SLO Life. "The roads—the infrastructure—is not being put in place to handle all this increased traffic."

In the hearings leading to Avila Ranch's approval, Borland and neighboring residents voiced their concerns about project impacts, especially with regard to traffic safety along Buckley Road, which will soon be extended to connect South Higuera Street with Highway 227 to accommodate the project.

"We did everything we could, and we basically were ignored," Borland said. "They left us no choice."

Joining Preserve the SLO Life on the lawsuit are the two homeowners' associations for Los Verdes Park, a housing community with 178 units near the intersection of Los Osos Valley Road and South Higuera Street.

"We want to keep our neighborhoods safe and livable," said Sarah Flickinger, a resident of Los Verdes Park. "Growth should not come at the expense of compromised health and safety for existing neighborhoods."

The lawsuit challenges the city's environmental impact report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and requests a court injunction. It claims the city's EIR was "wholly deficient" and "inadequately" analyzed the impacts related to traffic, noise, water availability, water quality, flooding, sewer service, and the loss of prime agricultural land.

SLO City Attorney Christine Dietrick disputed the lawsuit's claims, stating the EIR was "consistent with the requirements of CEQA."

"We are confident that the city thoroughly reviewed and required adequate and appropriate mitigation for identified environmental impacts," Dietrick wrote in an email to New Times.


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