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Community members sign petition against Dana Reserve housing development

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Posted at 8:43 PM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 23:43:02-04

The Dana Reserve housing development covers nearly 300 acres on the west side of Nipomo. Streets in neighborhoods bordering the project are lined with signs opposing it and asking people to "say no" to the nearly 13-hundred unit housing development.

The project is controversial. A group of concerned community members started a petition to stop the Dana Reserve development as it is currently designed. Residents say their main concerns are the removal of historic oak trees and traffic.

"I'm extremely frustrated with it," said neighboring resident, Susan Shaleen.

"I feel like we're being robbed. I feel like we're being robbed of our history, our trees that are 100, 200, 300 years old," said neighboring resident, Dennis Shaleen.

"There's going to be too many of these just amazing beautiful oak trees that are hundreds of years old that they're going to take down," said neighboring resident, Jerry Bridge.

"...and that makes a big difference on the amount of air quality we have, not an extreme amount, but some," said neighboring resident Harry Vanderhoofven.

"The 4,000 oak trees that will be removed, the increased traffic," said concerned Nipomo neighbor, Kelly Kephart.

"So it's going to make more traffic and cutting down all these trees is really going to have a major effect as well," said Shaleen.

Project developer, Nick Tompkins, says they are permanently preserving between 12,100 and 15,000 full grown trees.

" well as planting 1,500 young trees on top of that," said Tompkins.

The petition website states housing, transportation, air quality, green house gas emissions, land planning and biological impacts as some of the main concerns associated with this project after a draft environmental impact report was prepared for the project which determined all categories listed were "un-mitigatable, significant impacts".

"The project will provide mitigations for all of the impacts, but some of those mitigation do not alleviate all of the impacts and that's why it's called a class one impact," said Tompkins.

Tompkins says the project is addressing the housing shortage San Luis Obispo County is facing.

"I definitely knew that we needed more housing and that it's really important that we provide that for people, but when we started to read the draft EIR there were a lot of concerns," said Kephart.

Residents also expressed concerns about the increase in population.

"This development is going to increase it by 26 percent and Nipomo's infrastructure absolutely cannot handle that much hpopulation," said Shaleen.

"The project is just too big for that area," said Kephart.

Tompkins says the development has plans to address the infrastructure concerns.

"The project actually, per the study that the NCSD has completed reduces groundwater pumping, lowers sewer costs by 30 percent and lowers water costs," said Tompkins.

Tompkins says the concerns about transportation will also be addressed.

"We are providing two transit centers, we are providing a park & ride..." said Tompkins.

Residents say they feel as if they aren't being heard.

"The people of Nipomo have not had opportunity to get out our voices, so that's what we're really trying to do is set forth how we feel, and we hope somebody's really going to listen," said Shaleen.

Kephart says she wants other concerned community members to know they can still make comments about the project.