Home is where the heart is, and for several Cal Poly faculty and staff members, the heart rests in a local complex aimed directly at housing university employees.
Bella Montaña, a Cal Poly housing community, has been home to faculty and staff for more than five years now. During that time, its location just across the street from the campus entrance on Highland Drive has made the community a convenient place for Cal Poly employees.
The community has homes for rent and sale with 10 different floor plans. Of the 69 homes, only three of them are currently available on the market, Cal Poly Corporation Associate Vice President of Commercial Services Bonnie Murphy said.
Though the community has served Cal Poly faculty and staff for five years, Murphy said there have been relatively few changes to her knowledge. The community is under the management of a homeowners’ association and the Cal Poly Corporation is not involved with any changes within the development.
“Bella Montaña is a faculty and staff development; however, faculty will always have first priority when homes are available,” Murphy said. “It is not difficult for faculty to get a home in the Bella Montaña community.”
Staff member Sarah Levanway — a sign language interpreter and transcriber at Cal Poly — did not encounter any difficulties qualifying to be a community resident.
Levanway moved into Bella Montaña in October, and has thoroughly enjoyed the change to a community-based environment, she said.
“It’s really nice that we have a chance to get to know our neighbors, and that so many of them have kids,” she said. “There are lots of new playmates for my girls to play with.”
Another positive aspect of Bella Montaña is that the cost of living is very affordable, Levanway said.
“We are able to afford our own home for less than what it costs us to rent,” she said.
The opinion on the prices of Bella Montaña differs among residents, though. The price is relatively equal compared to similar housing in San Luis Obispo, English associate professor Paul Stegner said. Stegner has lived in Bella Montaña for four years now, and hasn’t noticed any changes in the community since living there, he said.
The overall prices have increased, but the rent has not increased much since he has lived there, he said.
“I definitely like it much better than where I was living before,” Stegner said. “Mainly because of the convenience and the quiet environment. We used to live next to students who liked to party quite a bit.”
Because of the complex’s proximity to campus, Stegner commutes to campus by walking, biking or driving, depending on the weather and the time of day, he said.
Levanway also likes how the proximity gives her the chance to have different means to get to school, she said. She usually walks or drives, but recently bought a bicycle for commuting, she said.
In addition to a prime location, another benefit is the overall layout of the homes. According to Levanway, the complex is very open and makes a good use of space. One of her windows overlooks Bishop Peak and her other window looks out into the center of the complex.
“It’s a great way to meet new neighbors and watch over my children,” she said. “One of the best things about being here is the neighbors are really friendly, more so than other places I have lived in town. We all have something in common — a shared interest in Cal Poly — and that’s a really nice way to meet people.”