SLO considers $400 million in funding for future projects over n - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

SLO considers $400 million in funding for future projects over next 20 years

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Major changes will be considered for San Luis Obispo's future over the next 20 years, including various city projects.

"The city has already approved planning documents that outline the future of the city," said Daryl Grigsby, Public Works Director.

The plans keep the city updated, like widening arteries through the southern portion of the city, and have been approved by the city council and residents. After some research and hard work, those future plans now have a price tag.  

"It's approximately $400 million over the 20-year span," Grigsby said.

More than 50 projects have been approved and now it's up to city council to decide how to fund them.  

"It's only an attempt to say, if the city were to implement the visions we articulated in these planning documents, how much would it cost the city to do that," Grigsby explained.  

Three of the major projects that will take place include building a new police station, expanding Tank Farm Road, and renovating the Mission Plaza space.

The San Luis Obispo Police Department building is a top priority, according to Grigsby.  The current building is over 50 years old and doesn't meet the needs of the department.  With the construction of a new building, an emergency operations center will also be included or built.

Tank Farm Road will also be a large project.  The current road will be expanded to include two lanes in each direction with new sidewalks and improved bike lanes.  The road is one of the only major arteries moving east and west across the southern portion of San Luis Obispo; with the increasing number of office spaces and businesses along the road, the update is needed.

The major project many will notice, however, is the updates and renovations to Mission Plaza.

Grigsby explained the Mission itself will be rehabilitated, but the outdoor area will be the biggest change. The bathrooms on the plaza will be taken down and built in a larger fashion in a more central location.  At the same time, a café will be added to the new structure to improve the overall visitor experience.

San Luis Obispo City Council will be considering a 1 percent sales tax increase and property assessment taxes as part of funding the $400 million plan. Residents can share their thoughts on the funding plans and the project itself by visiting this link.

When KSBY asked residents about the future changes, most said they were fine with the small sales tax increase as tourists contribute the most towards it.  Although, they weren't as receptive to the property assessment taxes.  They were also split on the need for the projects.

Chad Kihm is a local small business owner and resident who says that, even though the updates to the city will make the town more attractive for his current and future employees, he doesn't see the need for renovating Mission Plaza.  

Kihm says updating areas outside of downtown, like Tank Farm Road, will be good for city growth, but he doesn't want to see the downtown area increase rent prices for commercial or residential space.  

"I don't want it to be like Santa Barbara. I feel like everything is going a little too high end for me," Kihm told KSBY.

Other residents, however, see the need for projects like building a new police department.  Long-time San Luis Obispo resident John Probandt explained that a police department is "part of the picture of a city" and needed for those working in it.  

Probandt also appreciated the plan to add sidewalks and an improved bike lane along Tank Farm, explaining that residents in the area are already actively using the street as an area for exercise and non-car transportation.  

He agreed there was a need to renovate Mission Plaza.

"The mission is a tourist area. It has to be done properly, it needs some work," Probandt said.

Residents are encouraged to attend a meeting at the San Luis Obispo Police Department on March 26 at 6 p.m. to give feedback and ideas about the funding plan and overall project before the city council receives a finalized report on the plan during the April meeting.

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