San Luis Obispo has a maximum buildout of 57,000 residents according to it’s General Plan. Currently (2016) SLO has approx +/- 47,000 residents. Going through the planning process right now there are a total of approx 3000 units within San Luis Ranch, Avila Ranch, the Orcutt Area Specific Plan (area north of tank farm, west of Orcutt road, east of UP RR tracks), and other smaller urban infill sites. (not counting new Madonna housing project behind/south of Home Depot that is being discussed).
At +/- 2.4 residents per housing unit. (SLO occupancy average) these 3000 units will house 7200 people. This leaves SLO with an additional 2800 people to plan for before we meet “buildout”. That means there are only 1167 houses left to plan for… that are not already in the planning process.
These last 1167 houses and what size/price/location they are… are theoretically all we get. We have to make our best efforts to get these 1167 houses to try and balance the issues we are trying to solve. That… and we need to convince the powers that be that the 3000 homes already in the planning process should also carefully consider who they are being built for.
The real fight I believe… will come once that last 1167th house is planned. I suspect that will happen within the next 5-10 years. (keep in mind that the actual buildout of the 3000 houses listed in the various existing plans… as well as the 1167… may take up to 30 years.)
The city and it’s infrastructure, resource acquisition etc… all have been focused on a max of 57,000 people. But then what?
This is one of the reasons we need to think about the various properties that surround our city that are NOT yet in conservation easements or owned as city open space. Because after we reach max buildout the social pressure is really going to rise. All it takes to change that buildout number is 3 council members. (that’s why I italicized theoretically in my third paragraph above)
In order to assure we don’t sprawl… the solution is conservation easements or public ownership of open space surrounding the city completely. That reframes the growth conversation to only height/density/resource availability and housing price.
Meanwhile… people still seem to enjoy having children…
So if you think there is a fierce discussion going on this now… just wait! Things are gonna get REALLY interesting once we hit buildout!
(Note: The recent legislation about infill studios and tiny homes may pre-empt any local jurisdiction’s ability, within the studio housing category, to create a building moratorium on growth for that studio category, based on a population max. I’m not sure.)
Photo: Ken Kienow