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SLO City Council denies appeal of home for mentally ill - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

SLO City Council denies appeal of home for mentally ill

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The San Luis Obispo City Council has rejected an appeal of a project to re-purpose an abandoned building into housing for adults struggling with mental illness, allowing the project to move forward.

Tuesday night's decision was unanimous and came after hours of public comment, during which the vast majority of speakers publicly supported the project. Two neighbors spoke against the project while more than 20 speakers spoke in favor of it and urged the council to deny the appeal.

Appellant Ray Righetti argued the project's benefits don't outweigh the risks and costs. He wants to see the site used instead as an art center.

Opponents have argued that having mentally ill people living nearby will put the safety of the surrounding neighborhood at risk. One neighbor who did not want to go on camera expressed concerns over a possible increase in crime or loss of property value.

With the appeal denied, Transitions-Mental Health Association (TMHA) can now move forward with its plans: the former Sunny Acres Children's Home orphanage on the hilltop above Johnson Avenue, which later became the county juvenile detention facility, will soon become Bishop Street Studios.

TMHA wants to restore the building and add three more structures around it, making 34 apartment units for adults living with mental illnesses. The project will house people with no criminal backgrounds but who face challenges including mood disorders, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.

The $8 million needed for the remodel is coming from TMHA and the City Housing Authority. If the project runs over budget, they'll look into additional grants and donations. TMHA hopes to begin construction in 2018.

Related content:

Proposed home for mentally ill in San Luis Obispo faces appeal from neighbor

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