More housing in San Luis Obispo will benefit businesses, the community and the environment.

The building of new homes has not kept pace with the rate at which new jobs have been added. This has a huge impact on the local economy as new as well as established businesses and organizations struggle to recruit and keep employees, as families can only find affordable housing farther away from the places they work and go to school.

The local housing crisis affects all of these things and we are hard at work collaborating with all interested parties, officials, businesses, and community members to create solutions and discuss how to move forward.

housing call to action email button

Your involvement is paramount. Below we offer a short guide, created with the help of others, complete with tools, ideas and simple steps to facilitate your involvement as well as notes as to why you should care.

This imbalance is not sustainable. Now we need to focus on moving towards a solution, and how to improve the lives of residents, the environment we live in, and the ability for people to pursue their passions in the place they love.

Innovative solutions

“Using the Vulcan printer, ICON can print an entire home for $10,000 and plans to bring costs down to $4,000 per house.” This cheap 3D-printed home is a start for the 1 billion who lack shelter, The Verge

“There’s a lot of single-family zoning in the center of our cities, and urban planners, civil society, and city leaders are questioning whether these zoning rules make sense. We’re missing dwellings that can house more people and are more affordable, such as duplexes, triplexes, and ADUs.” The Granny Flats Are Coming, City Lab

“The same cities that struggle to provide affordable housing today eliminated their critical-but-maligned flexible housing stock after World War II.” When America’s Basic Housing Unit Was a Bed, Not a House, City Lab

“We found that these local governments are imposing discretionary review processes on all residential development projects of five or more units within their borders. That means even if these developments comply with the underlying zoning code, they require additional scrutiny from the local government before obtaining a building permit.” Getting it Right: Examining the Local Land Use Entitlement Process in California to Inform Policy and Process, UC Berkeley Law School

“After Minneapolis slashed parking requirements, developers started to produce more affordable mid-rise apartment buildings instead of luxury high-rises.” How Parking Mandates Tilt the Market Toward “Luxury” Housing, Streetsblog USA

“Getting zoning right requires a nuanced understanding of many interacting forces, and constant revision and adjustment. As it enters its second century, zoning remains a powerful but imperfect tool, but among the best we have for shaping cities.” Zoning’s next century, SPUR

“Recent reports have demonstrated that more young workers are deciding to pick up and move from high cost cities to places with more affordable housing. Insufficient housing that is affordable to the workforce puts at risk the sustainability of the economy as the region has increasing difficulty attracting and retaining workers.” Seven Innovative Affordable Housing Strategies in Higher Cost Markets: Lessons from Around the U.S., Hand

“While incredible new materials transform what we build, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are revolutionizing how we design.” Peter Diamandis – Revolutionizing Construction + Real Estate

“The hope is to set expectations with applicants at the start and acknowledge some buildings accessory dwelling units just won’t work,”  Just 23 in-law units built after two years as SF seeks to iron out approval process, San Francisco Examiner

Impactful progress

Housing has been a priority for the SLO Chamber for many years and this summer, that work culminated in a tremendous number of individuals and community groups coming together in a to advocate for more housing. This is certainly not the end of our efforts, but there have been significant steps taken and the homes that will be built will allow for more people to be part of the San Luis Obispo community – and that deserves a moment to be recognized. There are many ways to measure the hard work, insightful perspective and late nights contributed by a broad and diverse group of people and we have chosen a few key numbers to illustrate it here:

46 city advisory body reviews

100+ community input sessions, meetings, presentations and neighborhood talks

250+ Chamber volunteers shaping our housing policy positions

1,359 homes made possible

Tools to get involved

Want to join the conversation and have your voice heard? Not sure how to make that happen? We have compiled some resources that explain how easy it is to write a letter, speak at a meeting and make a difference.

Writing a letter (courtesy of dwellforward)

Talking at a San Luis Obispo city meeting

Recent Chamber housing advocacy

What others are saying

“The last time the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors had a big conversation about housing, the average price of homes was $100,000 cheaper than it is now.”
As housing prices rise, SLO County supervisors look at big policy change, The Tribune

“Although the economy has fully recovered, homebuilding has increased to just half of its pre-recession high. The shortage has sent home prices and rents soaring, particularly in coastal urban areas, thus forcing many working families to spend half or more of their incomes for shelter – if they can find it.”
Housing crisis needs action, not just token gesture, Dan Walters, CALmatters

“Other communities have been providing housing for San Luis Obispo’s workforce for decades. It’s time the city pulled its weight. We urge the San Luis Obispo City Council to approve San Luis Ranch and Avila Ranch.”
There’s a ridiculous shortage of homes in SLO. These projects would help, The Tribune Editorial Board, July 16, 2017

What can we do to change things? We can strongly urge the City Council to move forward and implement the plans already on the books, specifically LUCE and the projects included in that document.
San Luis Obispo’s housing shortage is bad for our health, Alan Iftiniuk | Viewpoint, April 1, 2017 (The Tribune)

As a mortgage adviser, I am watching young families’ dreams crumble as home prices continue to rise. These are families with good jobs, who contribute generously to our community’s civic life, but who are unable to keep pace with the high cost of housing in our city.
– SLO’s housing shortage is real. We need more housing now, Donna Lewis | Letter to the Editor, May 4, 2017 (The Tribune)

More than just basic shelter, housing affects our lives in other important ways, determining our access to work, education, recreation, and shopping.

California’s High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences, Legislative Analyst’s Office, March 17, 2015

Considerable evidence suggests that construction of market–rate housing reduces housing costs for low–income households and, consequently, helps to mitigate displacement in many cases.
– Perspectives on Helping Low-Income Californians Afford Housing, Legislative Analyst’s Office, Feb. 9, 2016

Financial advisors recommend spending no more than 30% of your income on housing, but one in three renters in California pays more than half of their income to their landlord.

– To end the housing crisis, California leaders can’t be afraid to put all options on the table, LA Times Editorial Board, May 27, 2017 (Los Angeles Times)

The issue most directly affects those who dedicate their working lives to serving all of us: educators, firefighters, police officers, nurses and others who often cannot afford to live where they serve.
– We all agree: California has a housing crisis. But what can we do about it?, Michael Manchak | Viewpoint, Feb. 25, 2017 (The Tribune)

Those ideas include scaling fees to the size of the unit, not the number of units being built; looking at the timing of when fees are paid; exploring zoning more land for residential uses and expanding multifamily residential zoning; and increasing flexibility for secondary units.

Homeownership remain distant goal for many in SLO County, Oct. 22, 2016 (The Tribune)

Some of the suggested solutions from participants included recommendations that local governments rezone to increase density in areas of large lot sizes and weigh the need for residential zoning in areas of commercial designation.
– Leaders gather to find solutions to SLO County’s housing crunch, March 9, 2017 (The Tribune)

Past meetings

Want to know more about what is going on at the city? Register to receive email updates here.

Watch public meetings including Planning Commission and City Council here.

Past meetings

Monday, Nov. 13, 5 p.m.
Architectural Review Commission review of San Luis Square.

What happened | The Architectural Review Commission asked the applicant to come back with some additional modifications.

What’s next | San Luis Square will return to the Architectural Review Commission in early 2018 for further review.

Tuesday, Sept. 19, 6 p.m.
City Council review of the Avila Ranch project.

What happened | The SLO City Council voted 5-0 in favor of the Avila Ranch project, including the related entitlements, certification of the final environmental impact report and the developer agreement.

What’s next | The City Council will continue to work with the developer on implementing the terms of the project agreements at their meetings this fall.

Wednesday, Aug. 9, 6 p.m.
Planning Commission review of the Avila Ranch project development agreement.

What happened | The commission voted 5:1 in support of the project, including proposals for specific infrastructure features that provide communitywide benefits that will be paid for by the developer.

What’s next | The City Council will consider approval of the project on September 19, including certifying the final EIR, the development agreement and the creation of a community facilities services district.

Tuesday, July 18, 6 p.m.
City Council review of San Luis Ranch.

What happened | The SLO City Council voted 4-0 (Councilmember Pease recused) in favor of the San Luis Ranch project, including the related entitlements, certification of the final environmental impact report and the developer agreement.

What’s next | The City Council will continue to work with the developer on implementing the terms of the project agreements at their meetings beginning in September and will be negotiating with the county for land annexation into the city

Wednesday, July 12, 6 p.m.
Planning Commission review of the Avila Ranch project.

What happened | The commission heard testimony from the developer and public focusing on various mitigation issues including those for traffic, bicycle connectivity and affordable housing units.

What’s next | The Planning Commission scheduled a continuance to August 9 for final action on the developer agreement before forwarding a recommendation to City Council for September 19.

Wednesday, July 5, 6 p.m.
City Council reviewed of the San Luis Ranch project.

What happened | After two hours of public comment on San Luis Ranch, the SLO City Council will continue to deliberate more details about the project on July 18. Some questions loom regarding the amount of affordable housing that can be achieved, funds to support nearby Laguna Lake Park, and the financing and timing of infrastructure buildout. Weigh in here: emailcouncil@slocity.org

What’s next | Deliberation will continue on July 18

Thursday, June 29, 6 p.m.
Planning Commission deliberation and review of the Avila Ranch project.

What happened | A full house showed up for the Planning Commission hearing last night at City Hall. The commissioners heard the staff report and applicant presentation before opening up to public testimony. An overwhelming number of speakers came out to support more housing for SLO with approximately 20 of 28 speakers in favor of the project.

What’s next | The hearing was continued to Thursday June 29 for Commission deliberation and action on the EIR and Development plan.

Wednesday, June 28, 6 p.m.
Planning Commission discussion of the Avila Ranch development plan.

What happened | The Planning Commission deliberated over several hours focusing on solving deficits in area-wide infrastructure and roadways. They were highly complimentary with the plan, calling it one of the finest they have ever seen.

What’s next | The commission will meet next on July 12 for final action to recommend approval to the City Council.