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San Luis Obispo set to double affordable housing requirement

Posted at 10:39 PM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-23 01:43:03-04

The City of San Luis Obispo is moving forward with ramping up affordable housing production.

The city wants to require 10 percent of future development to be affordable housing—more than double the current rate of three to five percent.

“It’s essential. Affordable housing is what will have a variety of people living here,” said San Luis Obispo Mayor Erica A. Stewart.

This is part of the city’s plan to deal with the soaring cost of living.

“I think there’s kind of this weighing scale of being a tourist attraction but also being a place where people live, they need affordable housing,” said San Luis Obispo resident Spencer Henningsgerd.

In a 4-1 vote, the San Luis Obispo City Council voted to update its inclusionary housing ordinance at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“We’ve continued to grow the gap of retired or about to retire and college,” said Stewart. “What do people do that are in between?”

Currently, the city requires either three percent of new housing to be low income, or five percent to be moderate income.

The updated ordinance will raise the requirement to five percent low and five percent moderate income.

“In theory this is going to help a great deal and we also know that we’re also not going to be able to build our way out of this,” said Stewart.

The new rules will apply to future developments and will not impact current projects such as Avila Ranch.

This comes as families struggle to get by with the prospect of home ownership becoming increasingly out of reach.

“Zaley’s about to be two years old. We’re renting and barely making it,” said San Luis Obispo resident Zach Manzano. “It’s quite a struggle trying to live here in California in general but this area more primarily.”

“It gets to the point where when you’re done working, just to survive-- you don’t even have time to have happiness and freedom and enjoy your free time,” he added.

Some say that the increase in affordable housing is a step in the right direction, but add it’s not nearly enough to address the sky-high cost of living.

“Our family is three is planning on probably moving out of California within the next year so we can afford to buy and just have a better quality of life,” said Manzano.

The city, meanwhile, is looking at solutions that go beyond new development.

Another element of the plan is bringing more housing units into downtown SLO.

The city says it’s a way to utilize existing space while increasing availability.

The city council will vote on passing the updated ordinance on August 16th.

The new rules will take effect one month later.