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SLO Downtown defenders band together 

Concerned that changes recently proposed or planned for their city will blot out views and quash its quirks, a new group of citizens plans to work as the watchdog for San Luis Obispo's downtown.

The group is called "Save Our Downtown." Members there are eight founders said they'll work to maintain current building heights, preserve all of downtown's remaining historic buildings, keep locally owned businesses in the downtown core, and "preserve the character of the city by keeping the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa the visual centerpiece of our downtown."

For starters, however, they're simply vowing to attend public meetings where downtown issues are discussed.

"We feel the citizen's voice has not been heard," said founding member Allan Cooper, a Cal Poly architecture professor who's served on the city's Planning Commission and Architectural Review Commission.

Driven by seismic retrofits and higher land values, a variety of large-scale projects are slated for downtown, including the Garden Street Terraces hotel and retail project and the so-called Chinatown Project.

Both of those endeavors may take advantage of a February City Council vote to increase height limits in the city's downtown core from a standard of two or three stories up to 50 feet to a standard of five or six stories up to 75 feet.

"We don't want to come across as anti-growth," Cooper said. "We really are concerned about responsible growth and growth that is in line with the wants of the public."

Group members said they're concerned that planned new projects will endanger or obscure historical properties, including the Mancillas Frietas Adobe at 868 Chorro St., the Ah Louis Store at 800 Palm St., and the Cornerstone Realty building at 840 Monterey St.


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