Off-campus student housing officials said it is too early to tell how the new facilities at Cal Poly will change the demand for student housing in the area.

Tim Kershner, manager of Stenner Glen and local real estate broker, said since Cal Poly cancelled summer school classes for incoming freshmen, they will have to wait to see how many students Cal Poly will enroll in the fall.

“At this point in time it depends how many they accept,” he said. “It is too soon to affect anything for us.”

Stenner Glen started accepting applications for next school year’s housing March 1.
With Poly Canyon Village opening to
sophomores next year, there is no definitiveanswer as to how this will affect housing around San Luis Obispo, especially with nearly one-third of students living on campus by 2009.

Valencia Apartments manager Sara Smith agreed with Kershner about the waiting game until next fall when most of the applications come in.

More on-campus housing is an attractive convenience for students, as many will not even have to leave campus to attend to their needs. The Poly Canyon Village complex will hold more than 2,700 students in its nine high-rise buildings upon completion next year.

Freshmen roommates Spencer Spade, an industrial technology major and Kevin Matthew, a computer science engineering major, are part of the 1,500 accepted through a lottery for Poly Canyon Village next fall – half of those who applied.

Matthew said he is looking forward to living at Poly Canyon Village.

“It’s going to be a brand new experience especially since a bunch of my high school friends will be my roommates,” Matthew said.

However, many students like communications freshman Alyssa Ziegeler, who did not get into Poly Canyon Village along with her friends, will have to seek housing off campus next year.

“I actually might end up living with my (older) brother because I have no idea where else I would live,” Ziegeler said.

Neither Spade, Matthews or Ziegeler attended any of the Poly Canyon Village informational sessions about applying to the complex because they all said they could find the information online.

Residents next year will pay $672 a month, which includes cable, Internet and utilities, costing the sophomores $6,068 annually.

Preston Allen, head of housing at Cal Poly, said the pricing is very affordable for the area.

“We wanted to price it in a way so we could offer students affordable housing and keep students on campus by providing all the amenities,” Allen said.

“Affordability is always going to be challenged . to some degree we set the bar for the community, but we don’t want to be so far out there,” he added.

Students who are unable to make the high payments also have the option to share rooms in the few six-person floor plans offered in Poly Canyon Village.

Allen said when the Cerro Vista apartments opened on campus, rents adjusted in the city, but eventually the market adjusts and stabilizes.

Currently the state of the economy caters to those wishing to buy housing, but not renters.

Peter Brown, housing programs manager with the Community Development Department for San Luis Obispo, said the new on-campus housing should not have an impact on the rental market.

“There may be a few vacancies, but will not force a huge drop in the rentals,” Brown said.

Brown also estimated that the average rent for a one-bedroom place is around $400 to $700 for many students in the area. The official numbers, according to Grace Allen, director of visitor services with the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, vary based on the location.

The chamber provides San Luis Obispo statistics that give monthly averages on both houses and apartments combined.

A studio apartment runs at $818, a one-bedroom place at $863, a two-bedroom $1,059 and a three-bedroom at $1,763 on average, but overall housing in the area averages at $1,000.

These pricey rent costs encourage parents to buy housing for their kids or just as an investment. The time to buy is now, said Sonia Arsene, a local realtor with Coldwell Banker Premiere, who works with many Cal Poly parents. However, Arsene said it will be hard to specifically forecast what on-campus housing will do to the housing markets in the area, emphasizing the current decreases.

“Housing prices are going down all over (the nation) and they are going down in Central California, but the prices in San Luis Obispo are the highest in the county,” Arsene said.

Kershner also commented on the market, calling it a “soft market” due to the decline, which offers a larger supply for the housing market.

With Poly Canyon opening, Cerro Vista will house incoming freshmen comfortable with an individual lifestyle compared to the dorms. This housing is especially for students with a strong social network, Allen said.

Sophomore students will also live in a wing of Cerro Vista, a separate community with apartment-style housing.

Since 6,000 students will live on campus next year, Allen said many university programs such as the University Police Department and Campus Dining will have to retool their programs and adjust services for the additional 3,600 students.

However, the changes will not be automatic until the students actually start living on campus.

“University housing is poised as the result of enhancing the campus experience,” Allen said, noting that he does not rule out future building for campus housing.

“We have options for students to integrate third-year students since we have received a positive response when asking them,” he said.

Allen believes if students live on campus for the first few years, they will eventually be respectful when living off campus in their last few years at Cal Poly since they will be more focused and accustomed to living away from home.

Additional perks of on-campus housing at Poly Canyon Village is a pool, Jamba Juice and Peet’s Coffee.

“This new housing really creates a whole new climate for living on campus, and a new, unique dimension by enjoying the social playground that will be at Poly Canyon,” Allen said.

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