Georgie de Mattos/Mustang News

The Neighborhood Wellness/Community Civility Group’s recent report proposed a series of obligations for Cal Poly students, aimed toward those living off-campus with locals.

Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) and the Student Community Liaison Committee (SCLC) joined the city of San Luis Obispo and community organizations to mend the growing animosity between the student population and permanent residents.

Conflicts between residential community members and Cal Poly students are common in San Luis Obispo. The changing culture of neighborhoods in and around campus has produced a more student-driven environment in many neighborhoods. In response, locals have founded groups such as Residents for Quality Neighborhoods to face challenges brought on by increasing housing density. In June, the San Luis Obispo City Council overruled the city’s Architectural Review Committee and rejected the development of four two-story houses on Grand Avenue after residents argued that they would be used for student rentals.

The Neighborhood Wellness/Community Civility Group’s report contains a series of objectives which range from establishing a keg registration program to neighborhood barbecues to university-funded gift baskets for students to give to their neighbors.

“The actions, the desired outcomes, who’s the lead on it, the timeline for implementation, all of these things were done by the committee in collaborative effort,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey, who is also a voting member for the SCLC.

The report includes four provisions that mention ASI:

  • Implement a range of strategies to change the relationship and culture between students and non-students in neighborhoods.
  • Work with the city to generate a map of rental properties and provide outreach to student renters by funding welcome bags for their neighbors to establish positive interactions.
  • Initiate Dialog Dinners or Block Parties for students and residents to talk about what they like most about their neighborhoods.
  • Promote the principles of the The Mustang Way in neighborhoods.

These objectives involve ASI as the lead entity, but other proposals include a party registration program, the creation of a rental housing inspection program, the implementation of a University Police Department (UPD) substation at the to-be-constructed Housing South Residence Halls and addressing safety concerns of having many bars in close proximity on Higuera Street.

Not all of the proposals on the report will be implemented, but the ones that will be are funded by the entity responsible for its execution. The rental housing inspection program is being pushed by the city of San Luis Obispo, so the funding would come from the city, Humphrey said.

ASI President, voting member of the SCLC and agricultural business senior Owen Schwaegerle has been part of the effort and is confident, yet cautious about progress.

“I think we can do things that work toward the objectives and towards the goals,” Schwaegerle said. “But it’s going to take a lot of consistency and a lot of time.”

Schwaegerle plans to address the program’s objectives directed at ASI through community outreach programs. He plans to create an ad-hoc committee comprised of students that are not involved with student government and want to get involved in some capacity. He will also be adding a cabinet post focused on community outreach.

Part of this ongoing effort will be a series of events held and funded by ASI and supplemented by a new pilot grant program run by the city. The grant program provides dollar-for-dollar matching for projects that range from neighborhood clean-ups to planting trees.

The first event funded and run by ASI will be a neighborhood cleanup on National Good Neighbor Day (Sept. 28), though more are planned for later in the year.

San Luis Obispo will see the effect these programs have at normalizing relations between students and locals. The issue at hand seems to be a common ground from which students and residents can build relations.

“Some of the biggest hurdles are just how to address the ongoing difference in how a permanent neighbor … keeps a very different schedule then a group of four or five college students who live next door,” Humphrey said.

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