Proposed home development moves forward after 17 years!

San Luis Obispo is starved for new housing!

It is very noticable around commute time, that people that work in the city and suburbs of San Luis Obispo, leave to bordering areas that supply more affordable and plentiful housing.  Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate | Haven Properties has assisted many home buyers and sellers that actually work in San Luis Obispo, purchase homes in Arroyo Grande, Santa Margarita, Nipomo, Oceano, Grover Beach, Los Osos, Morro Bay, Atascadero and Templeton because of the lack of development and affordable housing within the city. It looks as if the no growth policies of the past are begining to change with the new more pro-growth board of supervisors and need for housing within the city of San Luis Obispo.

An article out of the Telegram Tribune stated, "After 17 years of planning, a development at San Luis Obispo’s southwestern edge that will bring about 370 homes to the city is moving forward.

The San Luis Obispo City Council this past Tuesday unanimously gave its tentative approval to the proposed Righetti Ranch and Jones Ranch subdivisions — 286 single-family homes and 84 multi-family units on 155.4 acres.

Forty-nine of those units would be low-income housing. The plan also calls for more than 14 acres of parks and 77.5 acres of open space.

Both the Righetti and Jones properties are in the 230.8-acre Orcutt Area Specific Plan, adopted by the council in 2010, which seeks to protect natural resources while adding needed housing to the city. The Orcutt plan calls for a residential neighborhood with up to 979 homes, parks and recreational opportunities, a shopping center, and possibly a new school.

It’s not known how much of that will be built. That depends on whether the 13 owners of multiple properties in the area decide to go forward.

San Luis Obispo is “starved for housing,” said Travis Fuentez, principal of Ambient Communities’ Central Coast division and developer of the Righetti Ranch and Jones Ranch subdivisions. “It would be nice to have more people who work here be able to live here and this is an opportunity for more people to be able to accomplish that.”

The homes on Righetti Ranch and Jones Ranch would be built in phases, Fuentez said. The first phase is composed of 151 units on Righetti Ranch and 61 units on Jones Ranch (an additional five homes on that property could be constructed by the Jones family).

The next two phases would add 119 units and 34 units to Righetti Ranch respectively, he said.

Fuentez hopes construction on the first phase could start early next year.

In March 2014, the City Council debated how far development could climb up Righetti Hill by moving the city’s urban reserve line, which determines where development ends and open space begins.

The council voted at that time to allow Ambient Communities to submit a formal application seeking the desired changes. Since then, Ambient Communities has modified the proposal to reduce the areas of development into the urban reserve.

The proposal approved last week includes adjustments to the urban reserve line that reduce open space by about 2 acres, but adds more than 1.2 acres along the western flank of the hill facing Broad Street. That proposal results in a net loss of about .85 acres on the back side of the hill fronting Orcutt Road, said David Watson, a project planner working as a consultant for the city.

In trade, the developer proposed 4.35 acres of additional open space, located throughout the project in planned park and open space areas.

Nearly all of the comments at the council’s Tuesday meeting, including from several property owners, supported the project.

“We have been working on this since 1998,” said Julie Jones, owner of the Jones Ranch property, “and to give that perspective, I’ve had seven children go through San Luis Coastal, graduate, go to college, get jobs and produce 17 grandchildren.

“I hope that our children can stay here and buy homes and enjoy raising their children as we have,” she said.

However, two San Luis Obispo residents said they were concerned about the traffic the project would generate in the Orcutt area.

“My concern is traffic circulation in the entire area,” Mila Vujovich-La Barre said.

Resident Jeannette Rouse said her family is concerned about traffic too, including the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

“We’re really concerned about bike safety with the addition of traffic along Orcutt Road,” she said. “About once a month we hear many sirens and police cars going to Tank Farm. My concern is Hansen (Lane), which is dangerous for the few people who live there not to mention adding traffic there.”

Fuentez said the plan calls for numerous features to mitigate traffic, including a traffic signal at Tank Farm and Orcutt roads, and a roundabout at the entry to the project off Tank Farm Road.

Some of the discussion centered on the timing of the construction of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, pedestrian and bicycle paths.

“Our concern was, as we’re going to build in phases that we closely match the infrastructure with the phases, rather than build it all upfront, for portions of the property we may not touch for three to four years,” Fuentez said.

The conditions approved by the City Council allow “some latitude down the road to revisit some of the timing of those different improvements,” Watson said Friday.

Property owners in the Orcutt area fought for years to develop in the city. In 2011, during a contentious election, residents there voted to allow annexation by the city, paving the way for millions of dollars of residential and commercial development to fall under the San Luis Obispo’s jurisdiction. "

To read more about this new housing development in the Telegram Tribune, go here.