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The Master Plan is a long-term plan Cal Poly must update and have approved by the California State University Board of Trustees. The most recent update to the plan includes changes the university wants to see in the next 20 years, setting guidelines for the campus’ physical development.

The Master Plan has the following goals:

  1. Phase growth north     
  2. Modal shift
  3. Environmental sustainability
  4. Enhanced Learn By Doing
  5. More students living on campus
  6. A compact, cross-disciplinary academic campus core
  7. More diverse students, faculty and staff/more vibrant evening and weekend activity

Scroll down to read about each of these goals.

You can send your comments to the university about this plan before June 13 through the Master Plan contact page. 

Goal one: Phase growth north

There isn’t much space left for new student housing.

But, Interim University Planning Officer Linda Dalton and the rest of the Master Plan team have an idea of how to solve this problem.

“Historically to date, student housing has gone more to the east,” Interim University Planning Officer Linda Dalton said. “In order to build more student housing in the future, we don’t really have much choice left but to go across the creek.”

But student housing isn’t the only facility that may go there.

According to Dalton, the Master Plan indicates the possibility of placing new student and speciality housing, new recreation centers, the irrigation technology center, the proposed Agricultural Events Center and Equestrian Pavilion, a replacement for Mott Athletics Center and the proposed hotel and conference center in the northern part of campus, past the creek that runs near the baseball diamond parking.

In the maps below, the new housing facilities are in blue, the recreation centers are teal, the irrigation technology center is green with dark diagonal lines, the Agriculture Events Center and Equestrian Pavilion are brown, the Mott Athletics Center is light purple in concept map 3 and purple in concept map 1 and the hotel and conference center is purple in all the maps.

Click on each one to get a larger picture.

Land use map 1
Land use map 1
Land use map 2
Land use map 2
Land use map 3
Land use map 3

However, during a Master Plan public discussion led by Dalton on Thursday March 28, it became apparent some students were against moving northward.

Most dissented because some of the conceptual maps proposed building facilities over land used by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES).

Under this common dissent, Students for Agriculture formed. The group advocates for the preservation of CAFES agriculture lands from the Master Plan propositions.

Group member and agricultural and environmental plant sciences sophomore Joel Leonard advocated for keeping the land during the Thursday discussion, but reminded the room the Master Plan is just that — a plan.

“(The university is) not saying they’re going to do it, but we’re trying to advocate why they shouldn’t,” Leonard said.

The group’s website lists off the CAFES land that would possibly be eliminated if facilities moved northward; some row crops, citrus and deciduous orchards, the Leaning Pine arboretum and several greenhouses.

The photo below shows what facilities would cover the agricultural land.

Row crops and citrus orchards are noted by the purple box, the deciduous orchard is noted by the red box and the Leaning Pine Arboretum and greenhouses are noted by the yellow box.

Corrected Photo

The row crop and citrus land is 15.8 acres, the deciduous orchard occupies 14 acres and the Leaning Pine Arboretum takes up 4.7 acres, not including the greenhouses nearby.

Though Dalton was aware of student dissent, she still had high hopes for development around and north of the creek before Thursday’s meeting.

“If you think about Downtown San Luis Obispo and you think about the creek there, it’s a really attractive place. By having more development across the creek, you’ve got things happening on both sides of the creek,” Dalton said.

Correction: The first map showing the agricultural land that would be covered up if Master Plan proposals went through was incorrect. The photo has been corrected and has been added to this section of the post.

Note: Some of the agricultural land mentioned here is no longer being considered for use by the Master Plan. Click here to learn more.

Goal two: Modal shift

The top of the hour on campus sees a lot of activity — people walking to their next class, bikers pedaling in and out through pedestrians and drivers stalled at the crosswalk.

Interim University Planning Officer Linda Dalton saw this problem on campus frequently.

“If students from CAFES (College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences) are trying to get to their cars so they can go out to class in the fields, they can’t even get out of the core to do that,” Dalton said.” If you’re trying to leave to go to work or you’re just coming to class because you didn’t have class ’til 10, that’s a mess.”

Dalton and the Master Plan team’s main goal for reducing this kind of congestion is a full-out modal shift.

The shift includes reducing the amounts of cars on campus and increasing walking and biking routes.

Reducing cars

One solution, according to Dalton, is to restrict car access to certain roads that lead into the campus interior. That way, there is less car congestion on campus.

Below are the three Master Plan conceptual circulation maps. Each one restricts different roads. Restricted roads are shown in red.

Circulation map 1 restricts portions of roads which surround the area that includes Engineering IV (building 192) and part of the Cuesta Way entrance route.

Circulation map 2 restricts portions of roads which surround the area that includes Engineering IV (Bldg. 192) and the part of Highland Drive between its entrance into campus to the beginning of Village Drive.

Circulation map 3 restricts the roads map 1 and 2 restrict as well as the portion of Grand Avenue that starts adjacent to the Sequoia Red Brick dorms, turns into Village Drive and ends a little ways from Poly Canyon Village.

Click on each one to get a larger picture.

Circulation map 1
Circulation map 1
Circulation map 2
Circulation map 2
Circulation map 3
Circulation map 3

Restricting roads isn’t the sole solution to fixing congestion. As the maps indicates with dashed black lines, there are plans to add roads as well.

These roads will be on the outskirts of campus to allow car access, while still keeping cars outside of the campus core and away from pedestrians. Most will be above the creek area north of the campus core.

The maps also indicate there will be parking structures on the outskirts of campus so students will have a place to park if roads leading to the inner core are closed off. The proposed structures are shown in dark purple and the existing ones in light purple on the map.

There may also be a transit from these outer spots into the campus interior. These transit stops are shown on the maps as T for transit stop and TC for transit center.

Biology junior Dania Hatamleh didn’t think a transit center would be a good replacement for allowing cars into the campus interior.

“You would save money on a parking permit and gas, but it seems like it [a shuttle system] would be more inconvenient,” Hatamleh said.

According to Hatamleh, the transit would not be as convenient than driving because students often come to campus at strange hours and would need something more flexible than a transit’s set drop off and pick up times to get onto campus.

Aerospace sophomore Isaac Blundell didn’t like the idea of set transit times either. In his experience, current public transportation is already slow and a transit to campus may be the same.

“I can beat the bus to school on my bike,” Blundell said.

Increase walking and biking routes

The proposed roads— shown on the maps as dashed black lines— will also have bike lanes and sidewalk for pedestrians.

Yellow dashed lines show new pedestrian walkways.

Goal three: Environmental sustainability

Cal Poly’s newly updated Drought Response Plan calls for the university to cut down its water use by 25 percent for the sake of sustainability and as a response to the California drought.

According to Interim University Planning Officer Linda Dalton, the Master Plan has just as much emphasis on sustainability.

The Master Plan has one main way to encourage sustainability at the university — get more students,  faculty and staff living on campus.

How does living on campus promote sustainability? One word. Actually, one acronym.


LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it is a status given to buildings that are resource-efficient and cost-effective. Essentially, they are green and environmentally friendly. LEED has different levels to show a building’s resource efficiency. Certification levels — from lowest to highest — are Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Living in these proposed facilities would benefit the environment more than other non-LEED-certified living facilities around San Luis Obispo, Dalton said.

“Students living out in the community, they may be living where there is old plumbing,” Dalton said. “Who knows how their heating and electricity occur.”

Poly Canyon Village is the only LEED-certified campus housing facility. It is LEED Gold certified.

According to the Cal Poly Sustainability Report, future campus housing will strive for LEED Gold certification as well. This includes housing proposed in the Master Plan.

For a building to be LEED Gold certified, it must achieve 60-79 of the 110 possible points within six different categories, specified below.

LEED final

Having students, faculty and staff living on campus would also reduce greenhouse gases emitted from cars, since they would not be driving to and from campus every day.

“Trip reduction and greenhouse gas reductions associated with coming to and from is significant (in reducing greenhouse gas emissions),” architecture lecturer Mary White said.

Though Dalton and White both agreed living on campus would be the best way to promote sustainability, Dalton said some students are still against living on campus past their freshmen year.

“They see it as much freer to live off campus,” Dalton said.

Anyone can address their concerns and opinions about the Master Plan to the university through the Master Plan contact page. The university will accept comments until the end of the quarter. 

Goal four: Enhanced Learn By Doing

Learn By Doing.

The Cal Poly mantra can be found anywhere; in classes, an outdoor lab, at an on-campus internship. And, in this case, in the Master Plan.

According to Interim University Planning Officer Linda Dalton, there are two ways the Master Plan will promote Learn By Doing: facility placement and indoor renovations of facilities.

Facility location

Having related facilities close to each other would be logical and make Learn By Doing easier for students, Dalton said.

For example, constructing the Agricultural Events Center and Equestrian Pavilion near the current equine unit — which is north of the baseball fields — would make moving between the two easier for class or activities.

According to the Master Plan, some of the facilities may be moved to agricultural land, something many College of Agricultural and Food Sciences (CAFES) have disagreed with.

Though he understood some land and facilities may be moved around to promote Learn By Doing, Students for Agriculture and agricultural and environmental plant sciences sophomore Joel Leonard still wants to preserve as much agricultural land as possible.

He still wants it around for CAFES students to use for their own Learn By Doing purposes.

“(Adding and moving facilities onto agricultural land is) one of those things that shouldn’t come at the cost of our education and the education of future students on campus,” Leonard said.

Indoor improvements

The Master Plan calls for renovating the inside of existing buildings as well.

Though things such as adequate lighting and classroom furniture may seem like luxuries, they are necessary to promote Learn By Doing, Dalton said.

“It’s comfort, but it’s really comfort for learning,” Dalton said.

Ethnic studies professor Grace Yeh thought some buildings on campus had already achieved this level of comfort.

Library 1
Library first floor gallery space. | Joseph Pack/Mustang News

“That first floor gallery space has been a nice space to offer for class projects,” Yeh said.

But, according to Yeh, there are a lot of facilities that still need to be revamped, especially the Mathematics and Science (building 38).

“Prime location, sad building,” Yeh said about the building. “Even at least a good paint job and scrubbing and power washing outside would really help.”

Other buildings need to be renovated as well.

Math and Science 1
Mathematics and Science building (building 38). | Joseph Pack/Mustang News

“Desks are terrible in many of the classrooms I teach in. They look like nothing has changed since the ’60s,” Yeh said

Goal five: More students living on campus

Sixty-five percent.

That’s the percentage of students the Master Plan expects to be living on campus in the next 20 years.

Within that percentage, the plan expects 100 percent of first- and second-year students and 30 percent of upper-division students to live on campus.

Though there has been debate on the benefits of mandatory housing for second-years in particular, the Master Plan’s conceptual maps still plan for enough housing for all freshmen and some new housing for second-year and upper-division students.

The plan is also looking to provide housing for faculty, staff, housing units for married students or students with children as well as a Greek Row.

Freshmen housing

According to Interim University Planning Officer Linda Dalton, the university needs at least one more housing facility along with existing facilities and the Housing South project to house all freshmen.

All three of the conceptual land use maps indicate the new facility will be behind the red brick residence halls. It is shown as the dark blue mark within the yellow dotted lines in the map below.

Master plan series

Business administration freshman Bradley Ting thought freshmen housing was beneficial and a good experience.

“I think it’s good that students are living on campus, especially freshmen. I think it is all part of the college experience at least once,” Ting said.

Sophomore and upper-division student housing

Business administration freshman Adrian Sin thought differently about student housing0— living on campus may be a good experience, but it should only happen once, during freshmen year.

Though the Master Plan does not explicitly say housing will be mandatory — the plan only calls for building enough for all second-years and upper-division students — Sin thought expansion itself would be a burden.

“I also don’t think it is necessary to increase the amount of housing,” Sin said, “It would be disadvantageous to the current student base because they would have to worry about construction and the changing of the environment.”

According to Dalton, these new housing units would be suite and apartment style.

Faculty and staff housing

There is already a housing complex for faculty and staff off Highland Drive near the Cal Poly campus called Bella Montaña.

Bella Montaña, right off Highland Drive.
Bella Montaña, right off Highland Drive.

But, according to Dalton, it’s just a pilot program and the Master Plan team is looking into more housing for faculty and staff.

Cal Poly ethnic studies professor Grace Yeh currently lives in Bella Montaña and likes the idea of having more faculty and staff housing units, but said the university should work more closely with faculty to find out how to construct the complex.

“It would be good to have options for faculty, but I think they would need to be realistic and designed with a lot of consultation with faculty,” Yeh said. “Some of the features of the Bella Montaña complex seemed not fully thought out.”

Housing for married students and students with children

Though there is not a large number of married students or students with children, the university should take steps to provide on-campus housing for the demographic, Dalton said.

According to Dalton, current on-campus housing isn’t going to cut it, especially for single parents.

“We have a few students who are single moms. (They) have a really hard time finding housing because they can’t really live with other undergrads because they got their child,” Dalton said.

Business administration senior and single mother Stacey Aragon has found it difficult to find housing for her and her son in San Luis Obispo.

“No one is renting out a one-bedroom studio to two people, there is no leeway, no empathy,” she said. “(It’s) really hard to just find a place for me and my son.”

For Aragon, having on-campus housing for student-parents would be a blessing.

“If they add housing for student parents, it makes us feel more a part of the community, it will relieve from us having to travel to get to campus,” she said.

Greek housing: Greek Row

Cal Poly’s deferred greek rush compromise promises the university will look into the possibility of a Greek Row on or near campus.

Kinesiology senior and former Interfraternity Council president Alex Horncliff had his own opinion of how a Greek Row would affect campus.

“I don’t think anyone sees it as a replacement for any greek students living off campus,” Horncliff said. “What we are trying to create is a safe, positive, social community on campus.”

The university is still investigating if a Greek Row is a feasible project.

Goal six: A compact, cross-disciplinary academic campus core

First things first: Keep the core compact and cross-disciplinary.

Even with all the Master Plan’s proposed expansions — more on-campus housingcreation of other facilities and the renovating and expansion of older facilities — the main goal for Interim University Planning Officer Linda Dalton and the rest of the Master Plan team is to make sure there is enough room for all indoor instruction, counseling services and faculty offices in the core.

According to Dalton, there is definitely enough room for both the Master Plan’s proposed ideas and the existing core.

A cross-disciplinary core

For Dalton, it is important to have the different academic college’s facilities mixed within the core.

“You want to have chances for students and faculty from different fields to be together so that you’re not just exclusively with the majors from your own department,” Dalton said.

A compact core

It’s just as important to have a compact core where all indoor instruction and other services are near the center of campus, Dalton said.

As shown in the Master Plan campus core map below, the core itself is defined by the box created by the railroad tracks near California Boulevard, the creek north of campus, Grand Avenue and Slack Street.

The red star in the middle of the map shows the center of campus. Everything in the campus core is no more than a 10-minute walking distance from this star.

Click on the map for a larger picture.

CAMPUScore normal

For aerospace engineering freshman Griff Malloy, the walking distance as it stands now is manageable.

“I feel like they (the walking paths) are about as efficient as they can be,” Malloy said.

And for some students, a short walking distance isn’t a top priority.

“I never really choose classes depending on where they are on campus,” kinesiology freshman Sierra Sheeper said.

Goal seven: More diverse students, faculty and staff/more vibrant evening and weekend activity

The last goal of the Master Plan can be summed up in one word — diversity.

According to Interim University Planning Officer Linda Dalton, the Master Plan seeks to increase the diversity of students, faculty and staff by increasing the diversity of on-campus food choices — foods that appeal to cultural dietary habits or general food restrictions — and recreational activities during the evening and weekend.

And when there are more students, faculty and staff living on campus, these diverse food and activity options will only increase, Dalton said.

Diverse food choices

According to Dalton, some food choices will include more international foods and foods that appeal to students, faculty and staff with dietary restrictions.

Some on-campus dining establishments already have diverse food options that tend to these demographics.

For those with dietary restrictions, there are vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free and peanut-free foods.

Campus Dining also has food options for those who eat Kosher or those who eat Halal foods — foods that are acceptable to eat under Islamic Shari’ah law.

Campus Market offers foods to those with religious dietary restrictions.

19 Metro Station serves gluten-free students in particular with its gluten-free buffet section. Most Campus Dining facilities serve these kinds of foods as well.

As for religious dietary restrictions, Village Market and Campus Market offer Kosher foods while several Campus Dining facilities also serve Halal-appropriate foods.

Village Market
Village Market offers foods to those with religious dietary restrictions.

For Dalton, increasing these diverse food options will bring more diverse students, faculty and staff, something psychology sophomore and Connections for Academic
Student Success worker Maxamillion Polo says the university is achieving rather slowly.

“I think we are improving, though on the

Metro 19 serves gluten-free foods in their gluten-free buffet section. | Kayla MissmanMustang News
19 Metro Station serves gluten-free foods in their gluten-free buffet section. | Kayla MissmanMustang News

diversity front — in small steps,” Polo said, “The percentage of African-American students is extremely low but it is the greatest it has been in Cal Poly history, which is interesting.”

Diverse evening and weekend activities 

Another way to gain diversity and keep it is to have activities that appeal to different groups of students, faculty and staff.

Some of these activities will appeal to different cultural groups.

“You run the risk of stereotyping, but if people really like to do a certain activity outside and there’s enough of them, you can have those facilities,” Dalton said.

Though these different activities may make students feel more at home, MultiCultural Center coordinator Sandi Wemigwase said they need support in more than just one area of student life.

“Students need more support on campus — from not only a select few people, but from campus as a whole,” Wemigwase said,” Administrators, instructors, down to office staff. I think that’s important.”

Anyone can address their concerns and opinions about the Master Plan to the university through the Master Plan contact page. The university will accept comments until the end of the quarter.

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