More than 100 San Luis Obispo residents attended a city forum in mid-March to discuss the Housing South residence hall project, which would be constructed near the Grand Avenue entrance of Cal Poly’s campus.
Of the attendees, 40 protested the project and only one supported it.
The meeting came after the San Luis Obispo City Council received several requests from citizens who wanted to voice their opposition to the proposed residence halls. The main concern, attendees said, was the arrival of almost 1,500 additional freshmen, which would likely lead to more noise, traffic and partying in the adjacent neighborhood.
“This is a recipe for disaster,” resident Paul Allen said, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
The project has been controversial since the university announced it last year.
A group of residents have repeatedly said they want the residence halls farther away from their neighborhood. Though Cal Poly has considered two other locations — a site along Via Carta and a site along California Boulevard — both have been rejected because of expense, location and construction length.
“The residents seem to understand — I can’t speak to whether they accept it or not — but they seem to understand my rationale that (the Grand Avenue location) is really the only place we can add first-year housing,” Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said in a January statement announcing his intention to move forward with the project.
Councilman Dan Carpenter asked the council for a resolution against the residence hall project. Councilwoman Kathy Smith agreed with him, saying she would do whatever it took to change the residence hall location. Her words were greeted with a standing ovation.
The other two members of the City Council, John Ashbaugh and Carlyn Christianson, did not approve of the resolution. Ashbaugh said he would consider filing a lawsuit if Cal Poly’s environmental impact report is lacking, while Christianson said she would need more information before making a decision on the location.
Carpenter has declined to comment until the California State University trustees approve or oppose the project, which will occur in May.
The city, however, has no formal jurisdiction over the location of the residence halls; according to university spokesperson Matt Lazier, the university has no plans to change it.
“The university welcomes all comment on the environmental impact report for the proposed Student Housing South project. Cal Poly understands that there are some campus neighbors unhappy with aspects of the project,” Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News. “Nevertheless, the university believes the proposed Grand Avenue site provides significant opportunity for increased student success as well as benefit for the overall San Luis Obispo community.”
As a compromise, Armstrong has described plans to build a “green buffer” of plants and landscaping between the residence halls and the neighborhood. The university will hire two additional police officers to patrol the area.
But for some residents, that is not enough.
“We appreciate Poly trying to find more housing,” Alta Vista Neighborhood Association chairperson Karen Adler told KCBX Radio. “They just have picked a horrible location.”