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SLO approves housing on Tank Farm Road 

The San Luis Obispo City Council's approval of 280 new housing units and 12,500 square feet of commercial space on Tank Farm Road on Feb. 1 had city leaders talking excitedly about the many changes coming to that part of town.

Next up, they said, is the 332-acre, Chevron-owned property that encompasses the middle section of Tank Farm Road, and its potential development and annexation into the city.

click to enlarge NEW HOUSING The SLO City Council signed off on 280 new units of housing at 600 Tank Farm Road on Feb. 1. - IMAGE COURTESY OF SLO CITY
  • Image Courtesy Of Slo City
  • NEW HOUSING The SLO City Council signed off on 280 new units of housing at 600 Tank Farm Road on Feb. 1.

"The good news is the remediation of the Chevron Tank Farm land is making great progress and the property is now being sold to a local development group," SLO Community Development Director Michael Codron said at the meeting. "Annexation and development of the Chevron Tank Farm will allow the city to improve Tank Farm Road to city standards and greatly expand bicycle and pedestrian access through the southern part of town."

The mixed-used project approved at 600 Tank Farm on Feb. 1 is the third major development greenlit there in recent months—joining 650 Tank Farm (mixed-use housing) and the corner of Tank Farm and Broad Street (an assisted living complex).

Altogether, the developments will bring major changes to local infrastructure, including improved roads and bike and pedestrian facilities, officials said.

The 280 new units (which will include 11 affordable apartments for "moderate" incomes) will lead to a widened portion of Tank Farm Road, a new roundabout at Tank Farm and Santa Fe Road, and a complete "Acacia Creek Bikeway" connecting the Damon Garcia Sports Park to Tank Farm Road.

But the enduring question at the meeting was what will happen to all of Tank Farm Road—a 1.5-mile-long, two-lane connector that officials expect to take on increasing amounts of traffic as SLO develops.

"The question we get a lot is what are the plans for that middle stretch of Tank Farm Road," said Luke Schwartz, SLO's transportation manager. "There are currently no pedestrian facilities at all. You'll see people out there walking on the shoulder. The bike lanes are very narrow."

Most of the road is in the county's jurisdiction, and Chevron has owned the surrounding 332 acres for decades. Since 2016, Chevron has worked on a remediation project addressing a nearly century-old fire that caused oil contamination on the land. About 250 acres is set to become permanent open space, but some portions are suitable for development.

Codron said that Chevron's recent sale of the land is exciting because it means that the city can work directly with its new owner on future projects, which could eventually result in Tank Farm's annexation into the city.

"It's very important because we have great plans for infrastructure in this area, and engagement by area property owners will enable the city to accomplish its infrastructure goals," Codron said.

City Council members agreed on Feb. 1 that improving Tank Farm is critical to the future of the city. Possible projects include widening the road and building a dedicated bike and pedestrian pathway that parallels it.

"Every time I drive that stretch of road I'm terrified that a bicyclist or pedestrian or skateboarder is just going to lose their balance and end up in my path," Councilmember Jan Marx said. "It's such a dangerous road the way it exists right now. I'm very excited about bringing this property and the Chevron property into the city." Δ

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