San Luis Obispo City Council Develops the Land Use and Circulation Task Force

My first banter is actually nothing controversial. In fact, this is something that we as inhabitants of San Luis Obispo can and should all embrace, no matter your political stripes.

San Luis Obispo’s city council meeting had a special meeting tonight to discuss the General Plan Task Force (renamed the Land Use and Circulation Task Force during the meeting) at 5 pm before the regular meeting at 7:00 pm.

Resolution B1, authored by Community Development Director Derek Johnson and Long Range Planning Division Kim Murry, establishes the task force to update the Land Use and Circulation Elements, which are elements that have helped guide San Luis Obispo’s decision making. The task force focuses on the following areas: (via the Council Agenda Report)

Community input regarding the physical, social, economic, cultural and environmental character of the City in order to develop a vision of San Luis Obispo through 2030.

A comprehensive guide for decision-making based on land use, design, circulation and access, sustainability and the preservation of the quality of life in the community.

Policies that balance development and conservation to preserve the City’s natural beauty, unique character and heritage while supporting housing opportunities, a vibrant economy and addressing disadvantaged communities.

Consistency with the Regional Blueprint and policies that guide development of a Sustainable Communities Strategy in collaboration with SLOCOG.

Opportunities to create Complete Streets/neighborhoods and develop programs to achieve them.

Identify areas appropriate for residential infill and densification. Identify the circulation system that is needed to appropriately balance the community’s values and the need for growth

Identify ways to achieve more affordable housing. Promote energy efficiency & conservation and incorporate Climate Action Plan strategies.

Identify transit opportunities that may be enhanced to accommodate Transit Oriented Developments (TOD).

Identify programs to help migrate to transportation modes other than the single occupant vehicle.

Identify healthy food locations and opportunities for pedestrian and bike access.

The task force would advise the city council on these issues.

Everyone agreed on having the task force, so tonight was for ironing out the details.

I admit to being skeptical at first. For one thing, I don’t believe that government at any level should get involved with the housing market (that’s how we got into the economic mess we’re in now, but that’s for another day). But what was really bothering me was: how much is this going to cost the city?

Thankfully Mayor Jan Marx put me at ease when she offered this suggestion.

I think members should be volunteers, not paid advocates.

The rest of the council agreed. I was relieved at this and it made me more open to the idea, but when they began debating if the council should nominate people or allow anyone to apply, one thing bothered me: is this task force going to be overrun with special interest groups with their own agenda?

This issue was also put to rest when the council agreed with Vice Mayor Dan Carpenter:

I like the application, coming from the community to us rather than us reaching out to them.

Carpenter also suggested that the applicants be San Luis Obispo residents so they can live under the decisions they make.

Citizens who attended the meeting liked the idea of having the task force.

For instance, Dan Rivoire, Executive Director of the Bike Coalition, said he supported it but recommended that the task force only have one committee with varying viewpoints, which the council agreed to.

So a task force of San Luis Obispo volunteers to help advise the city council? It’s a good thing to have residents volunteering them to help improve their city and giving advice to their government.
That’s definitely something I can support. And something you should too.
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