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Cal Poly updated the public on its plan to build new residence facilities for freshmen on campus in a public forum held at the University Union on Wednesday.

While the plan still needs to be passed by the California State University Board of Trustees, draft renderings of the building and its site plan were presented at the forum.

The residence facilities as proposed will be dormitory style, and is slated to house two students per bedroom. There will be fifty students per resident adviser, and two professional staff will be living in attached apartment-style buildings, Director of Facilities Planning Joel Neel said.

With the new residence facility also would come the construction of a 300-space parking structure for general parking, Neel said, a slight offset for the 1,300 spaces the project will eliminate. Students living in the new residence halls will be expected to park near Poly Canyon Village, he said.

Group bathrooms, group living rooms, group study areas and a community kitchen — similar to dorms on campus currently — will also be placed in the residence halls. Different additions to the new residence facilities include quad combined housing and a two-story living room to create a sense of relationship between students, he said.

The location of the proposed project, however, created tension for local residents who said the housing plan would affect them most.

Approximately 50 neighboring residents came to the meeting angry about a plan that is far along in the planning stages. Many claimed it to be right on their “doorstep” and were concerned about putting 1,400 students, especially freshmen, so far from the interior of campus and so close to neighboring homes.

“This is the first time that I really felt that the school was being intrusive of our neighborhood and really imposing a hardship on us by placing a huge number of students at our doorstep,” neighbor Joe Arsenio said. “Currently, they roam through our neighborhoods. They live there.”

There were three other proposed sites for the dorm located near the center of campus, but they were all eliminated, Neel said — one because it was too far from dining facilities, one because it would block the view of neighboring hillsides and the last because it would require large renovation of existing campus buildings.

Cal Poly Corporation spokesperson Yukie Murphy said Tuesday the university might be adding a new dining complex on campus, though it is unclear where it could be or if it would service primarily freshmen.

“You’re going to put 1,400 students right at our doorstep,” Arsenio said. “Even animals wander and circle, these students will also wander in a circle. You put this as the center, and the circle will include our territory. And I think that we can be supportive, but it’s quite possible that we can be hostile.”

In response to those who oppose the construction of residence facilities, the environmental impact report (EIR), which Cal Poly plans to have prepared by late November, is expected to discuss the impact on adjacent neighborhoods.

“As the EIR is prepared, public safety — including student behavior and nuisances — are all addressed to some degree,” said Nicole Carter, an environmental consultant from SWCA.

Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Humphrey explained that the layout and creation of the new facilities helps students connect with others, aids academic success and makes campus the center of the student experience.

Around the parking structure will be a welcome center — a place to start campus tours from and give people direction throughout campus. Neel also discussed the possible construction of a coffeehouse, community mail room and professional offices for staff to be placed around the parking structure.

The proposal and draft plan also state there will be four-story and five-story buildings throughout the site as part of the residence hall.

Included in the plan are outdoor areas such as a plaza, individual study courts, bike parking and a central green amphitheater for students to gather. All front doors of the residence buildings will be connected along a path to create a central core for foot traffic and to lead students to campus, Neel said.

The housing will be surrounded by Grand Avenue, Slack Street, and Pacheco Way, which is on campus, Neel said.

“One of our goals in adding more housing to campus,” Humphrey said, “is to make sure we are continuing to increase the focus of student lives on experiences that take place on the Cal Poly campus.”

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1 Comment

  1. Unlike many universities, Cal Poly doesn’t have a spectacular quad area that serves as the focal point of the campus. Instead, the university offers stunning views of Bishop’s Peak and several of the Seven Sisters from its Grand Avenue entrance.

    The biggest problem with this plan beyond the terribly unattractive architecture of the buildings, is that Cal Poly’s signature and captivating panorama will be destroyed by a parking lot and dorm. This will be a crime.

    The university should protect and preserve one of its most important assets, its views, and build the new dorms next to or behind Sierra Madre and Yosemite halls. The value of this scenic backdrop both as an icon of the area and a signature of Cal Poly has significant value.

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