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The cost of strategy 

Not everyone is so eager for San Luis Obispo County to spend $399,000 on strategic growth.

An item intended to be noncontroversial took on a bit of edge at the Oct. 25 Board of Supervisors meeting. Supervisor Frank Mecham said he had concerns about strategic growth principles—sometimes dubbed either smart growth or slow growth—and a lot of his rural constituents don’t like the idea of being funneled into urban environments. Mecham cast the only vote against accepting a $399,000 grant aimed at pursuing the planning strategy.

At its core, strategic growth is a group of planning principles to ensure tight downtown cores, full of well-connected infrastructure, and surrounded by open space and agriculture rather than sprawling rural ranchettes, for example. It’s been a long-hated notion for groups like the Coalition of Labor Agriculture & Business of San Luis Obispo County, which has fought strategic growth principles and favored preserving historic rural planning philosophies.

Mecham said he had “some major concerns” that accepting the grant could be moving the county toward a policy he and his northern SLO County constituents don’t want.

The grant, however, was accepted on a 4-1 vote. The money was provided through the California Department of Conservation. According to a county staff report, the grant will be divided among six county projects, including creation of a $34,000 computer model of zoning, and $92,800 to create new subdivision and development standards that push infill and mixed-use development.

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