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Eric Meyer, who is running for a seat on the San Luis Obispo City Council, thinks Cal Poly needs more housing — but not at the proposed location for the freshman housing complex at the corner of Slack Street and Grand Avenue, he said.
“I really don’t support the specific location for that intensive development,” Meyer said. “They should be following the master plan, and be putting the housing where they already scheduled to put the housing.”
If elected to city council, this isn’t the only issue he wants to address.
“Cal Poly and the city never really communicate very well,” Meyer said. “That’s something we really need to change, because the students have a lot to offer.”
Meyer is also a strong advocate for bike infrastructure and wants to connect the city to Cal Poly.
“One of the things I want to do is help connect San Luis Obispo to Cal Poly with better bike access,” Meyer said.
He went from student, to entrepreneur, to planning commissioner and now Meyer sees an opportunity to serve San Luis Obispo residents.
Meyer graduated from Cal Poly in 1985 with a degree in art and design.
“I was a skateboarder and a surfer, and I wasn’t much involved,” Meyer said. “I was a normal student making his way through the art department.”
He transferred to Cal Poly as a junior from Cuesta College, and said he was admitted on a hardship case.
“Basically, I was a local student and poor,” Meyer said. “They let me in because they put pity on me.”
Meyer was born in San Luis Obispo, but raised in Morro Bay. He currently resides in San Luis Obispo, but has moved around to different parts of the country. During his career, Meyer has lived in Laguna Beach, Santa Barbara and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Meyer is also an entrepreneur who has built several action sports clothing and footwear brands, including Simple Shoes. His success with business ventures allowed him to retire at the age of 35.
Meyer wanted others to learn about how they could become entrepreneurs.
He regularly had coffee with former Orfalea College Business dean Dave Christy and talked to him about teaching students entrepreneurialism.
“I was always heckling him that Cal Poly needed to teach entrepreneurialism,” said Meyer.
According to Meyer, Christy would say you couldn’t teach entrepreneurialism, but could possibly teach someone what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Meyer disagreed with Christy, and after several meetings, the idea of creating a center for entrepreneurship was born.
This idea turned into the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, which Meyer is still involved with as a mentor at the San Luis Obispo HotHouse in downtown San Luis Obispo.
“I believe in empowering people to be masters of their own destiny,” Meyer said.
As for his involvement in local government, Meyer has served as a planning commissioner for the city of San Luis Obispo. He served on that commission from 2008-2013, until supervisor Adam Hill appointed him to the County Planning Commission. He is currently the chair of the San Luis Obispo Land Use and Circulation Element task force. His experience on the planning commission and task force has taught him a lot, and he hopes that will help in his bid for city council.
“It’s made me realize how important it is to have balanced perspective,” Meyer said. “I realize that I’m just one little vote amongst thousands of voices, and it’s the aggregate total of those voices that’s democracy.”
Though the election for city council isn’t until November, Meyer expressed excitement with the early support he has received from people in the community.
“It’s fun to hear from them,” Meyer said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’ll try to do something together.”
Meyer also urged students to get more involved with city elections.
“Any given group can shift an election, and if Cal Poly decided to vote, they would absolutely shift the election,” Meyer said. “They could get whatever they want.”