As we put one busy year to bed, another one is already roaring down the tracks.
At the SLO Chamber and around the community, progress was made on many fronts in 2017. But work remains to be done. Here’s a rundown of the key areas where we’ll be focusing our advocacy and attention in the coming year.
Economic Vision. This summer we kicked off an update to our Economic Vision, last published in 2009, with a trip to Denver and Boulder, Colo., to gain inspiration and exchange ideas, experiences and best practices in nurturing a vibrant community. That work continued with weekly meetings of the Economic Vision Task Force, which plans to publish the updated vision, with a newly minted economic strategy and action items, in the first half of the year. Then it’s time to get to work turning all those plans into reality.
Housing. 2017 saw a number of wins on the housing front, with more than 1,300 homes gaining approval by the city and county adoption of reforms recommended by the Chamber, the Economic Vitality Corp. and the Home Builders Association. Those are steps in the right direction, but with housing still a drag on the local economy, the Chamber will continue to push for measures recommended in the coalition’s comprehensive Housing Policy Solutions report. We’ll also continue to explore impacts and solutions with a follow-up to last year’s Housing Summit in March as part of the Housing Coalition of the Central Coast.
Zoning and fees. The city is continuing work started in 2017 on updating zoning regulations and developer fees, and the Chamber will be actively advocating for policies that encourage the development of more affordable housing, provide for needed infrastructure improvements and enhance our quality of life. On both fronts, the Chamber is pushing for simplified, streamlined structures that encourage and ensure the feasibility of new development.
Cannabis. Like it or not, cannabis is now fully legal for adults in California. So, too, are canna-businesses, and a Chamber task force spent several months studying how they should work in the City of San Luis Obispo. Following the Chamber Board’s adoption of their recommendations in December, we’ll be working with SLO City officials as they form the framework for commercial cultivation and sales. We’ll also continue to engage with our Chamber members and businesses, cannabis and otherwise, as this emerging industry takes shape.
Diablo Canyon. It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride on this one, starting with word in 2016 that the county’s largest private employer would shut down in 2025. Things began looking up with a proposed $85 million settlement to provide the region a runway to absorb the loss of jobs, tax revenue and community support. The Chamber and others quickly mobilized to begin shoring up and diversifying the economy, but an administrative law judge threw a wrench in the works with a recommendation to reject the settlement. With a final decision still up in the air, the Chamber will be following developments closely and responding to protect the interests of the community.
We look forward to bringing you updates on all these issues throughout the year.