According to John Ashbaugh, his stabilization program would increase the amount of owner occupied homes in San Luis Obispo and balance out the student and permanent resident populations.
But Ashbaugh isn’t the only one with this goal.
San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx said the conversation of implementing a stabilization program was sparked by Cal Poly’s announcement of the new freshman residence halls on the corner of Grand Avenue and Slack Street. As a result, “an incredible number” of homes owned by permanent residents went up for sale and are now rented out to students.
City council saw this imbalance in the neighborhoods and began to search for a solution, Marx said.
“It’s a question of what can be done, so there’s a lot of exploration going on, but no decisions have been made,” Marx said.
Multiple people are separately searching for a solution to stabilize the neighborhoods. Here are some of the tentative ideas:
Ashbaugh wants to find the neighborhoods with plenty of owner-occupied homes and convert them into mostly permanent resident neighborhoods. The city would regulate who buys homes in these neighborhoods and also require buyers to live in their homes, not rent them out.
Neighborhoods closer to Cal Poly wouldn’t be targeted because they are already dominantly student-rented homes.
Jan Marx’s idea
Marx is looking at neighborhoods in the city that have become predominantly occupied by one particular age group or even race, she said.
“It’s a question of what makes for a healthy community, what makes for a healthy neighborhood,” Marx said.
Both Cal Poly and Cuesta students are overpopulating some neighborhoods in San Luis Obispo and upsetting the balance. Marx is unsure of what the best solution to this problem would be.
She is looking to implement a subsidy program model that has been implemented by other universities. This program would give faculty and staff an incentive if they chose to live within a specific radius of the university. This subsidy could include adding a certain amount of money to their pay, Marx said.
“Faculty and staff who live close to the university are much more involved than the ones that live in Nipomo or Atascadero or wherever,” Marx said. “In the past there have been a lot of Cal Poly faculty and staff that live close to the university, and it has been a tremendous benefit for the students and for the faculty and staff and prevented a lot of commuting.”
Marx said it’s a good experience for students to be exposed to families and working people. She also thinks it’s good for permanent residents to be exposed to “new energy” from students just arriving to Cal Poly, she said.
“I think it’s a win-win if it’s a balanced neighborhood,” Marx said.
The new residence halls have had an impact on the topic as well.
Marx is in favor of on-campus housing for Cal Poly students and thinks it would be a good idea for Cuesta to implement this as well.
However, it would have been better to provide a buffer zone between the established neighborhoods and the location of the new residence halls, she said.
Marx emphasized that all the stabilization programs are all very “tentative and exploratory at this stage.”
Alliance of SLO Neighborhoods’ idea
Alliance of SLO Neighborhoods (ASLON) President Linda White is also in support of a Cal Poly subsidy program to increase staff and faculty occupied homes near campus.
According to White, Cal Poly can achieve this by working with loan companies to either put a few thousand dollars toward the purchase price for the staff or faculty member, lower the interest rate of the home or subsidize the monthly payments, she said.
However, these faculty or staff homeowners would be required to live in said houses, meaning they cannot be rented out, White said.
White also agreed with Marx that housing should be far enough away from neighborhoods to alleviate noise and prevent conflicts between residents and students.
White is not in favor of Ashbaugh’s idea for the city to buy and sell homes. She is planning on proposing her idea to the city council. She has already created a document detailing her plan for Ashbaugh and the rest of the council.
Cal Poly’s plan
Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong was not able to comment on the proposed stabilization program ideas. However, university spokesperson Matt Lazier provided a statement on behalf of Cal Poly.
“Cal Poly appreciates all opportunities to work with city leaders on our common aim of maintaining and improving our community for all of its members — permanent residents and students alike,” Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News. “The university looks forward to learning more about the city’s proposed neighborhood stabilization program and better understanding the ways we can work to positively impact the neighborhoods around campus.”