Construction of the Olsen-South Chandler Ranch in Paso Robles was approved in January 2020. But as of last week, developers sent a notice to residents that construction of the project would significantly impact the air quality and could put residents’ health at risk.
“Well, it wasn’t news that we wanted to hear,” said Paso Robles Resident Shannon Candelaria.
Neighbors near the Olsen South-Chandler Ranch Project received a notice in the mail last Tuesday stating in part, “Construction of the project would result in several significant air quality impacts, including the creation of dust and the disturbance of native soils that can cause Valley Fever.”
“That was kind of terrifying, because that’s definitely something I know I don’t want myself nor do I want my family,” Caram Kreone, Paso Robles resident, said.
Kreone added, “I know someone who passed away from Valley Fever and I know someone who lives right now with the long-term effect of having Valley Fever.”
According to the San Luis Obispo Public Health Department, there have been 300 confirmed cases of Valley Fever in San Luis Obispo County since January 2020.
Valley Fever is primarily a disease of the lungs caused by inhaling airborne fungal spores. Symptoms of Valley Fever include cough, fever, shortness of breath, headache and fatigue. But most people who breathe in the fungal spores don’t get sick and the fungus is not contagious.
Mike Naggar, Olsen-South Chandler Ranch Project Manager, responded in a statement saying, “We, along with the city, have assured the highest standards of dust control will be employed. The state of California requires it, as does the county.”
The Olsen-South Chandler Ranch Project is set to develop over 350 acres in the Southeast corner of Paso Robles. The specific plan includes more than 1,000 residential units, about 10,000 square feet of commercial space, an elementary school and community amenities.
But some Paso Robles residents fear the city isn’t ready for this much growth.
“I do have concerns that our roadways aren’t ready for such a large development. Our school population right here across the street for elementary and junior high seem to be congested already,” said Candelaria.”
And a potential increase to traffic is also a common concern.
“I’m not excited. My concerns are bloody traffic.I think it’s going to be horrible,” said Paso Robles resident Edward Acunya.
For Paso Robles residents' concerns about developing Valley Fever, the permitting department is required to enforce maintenance of construction dust for the new housing development.