The supervisors voted to repeal the ordinance barring housing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, with a provision that allows for a public hearing before any decisions are finalized.
Building a house in San Luis Obispo County is not as easy as it sounds. The supervisors have taken a step towards repealing the housing ordinance that was passed last year.
At Tuesday’s meeting, funds for the American Rescue Plan and a drought report were also reviewed.
COUNTY OF SAN LUIS OBISPO — On Tuesday morning, March 15, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors gathered for their regularly scheduled meeting.
The meeting started with the consent agenda (Items 1-25), which was followed by some public remarks, largely from advocates of the Bridge Café at San Luis Obispo’s new Government Center. The café was the subject of Item 14, which was a request for capital upgrades.
Also, on Item 9, District 3 Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg congratulated Dr. Rene Bravo on being named Citizen of the Year by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, and District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson acknowledged Leslie Santos’ appointment as District 2 representative for the Civil Service Commission (Item 13).
We’re going to get through this together, Atascadero
The remainder of the agenda passed with a 5-0 vote after Ortiz-Legg removed Item 8 from consent.
Item 8 was withdrawn by Ortiz-Legg for a separate vote in order to recognize Kassandra Dee’s appointment to the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.
Item 8 was approved individually by the board with a 5-0 vote.
The board members read resolutions for the following three items (26-28).
Supervisor John Peschong of District 1 read a resolution recognizing Debbie Soto of the County Counsel Office for her 30 years of service. Afterward, county lawyer Rita Neal told the board that Soto “is the County Counsel’s office.”
The resolution designating April 2022 as “Month of the Child” and “Child Abuse Prevention Month” was read by Gibson. The resolution designating March 2022 as American Red Cross Month was then read by Ortiz-Legg.
All three resolutions were approved with a 5-0 vote.
Item 30 was placed before the board to approve the financing plan for the American Rescue Plan Act small business and child care awards, which included $500,000 in ARPA money going to the COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program and $3 million to the County Office of Education for child care programs.
Small firms with fewer than 10 workers are eligible for $5,000 awards, while those with 11 to 25 employees are eligible for $10,000 payments, according to County Economic Development Manager Laura Fiedler. The subsidies, which are intended to help people cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, are only available until April 30.
Fiedler said a consortium of child-care groups has been created to administer the allocation of the $3 million in cash through 2024 for the child-care awards.
Ortiz-Legg moved to accept the funding plan after the presentation, saying the money “is a change agent for our economy,” and the board voted 5-0 to approve it.
The board received a 60-day report on the county’s drought circumstances, as well as probable staff directive to establish a contract with the Central Coast Water Authority to transfer state water, under Item 31.
The county is now under moderate drought, according to Anita Konopa of the County Office of Emergency Services, which is predicted to last through May, with the region shifting into severe drought by the end of the summer.
The board was then advised by Kate Valentine of Public Works that the department is working on a transfer possibility with the Central Coast Water Authority. To alleviate drought circumstances, the staff suggested a one-time transfer of 1,000 AF of stored water to CCWA in exchange for 1,000 AF of capacity.
Valentine responded to a query from Compton by explaining that the county was “selling wet water [to the CCWA] for the capacity to transfer additional water into our county.”
Alternative proposals were presented in public comment. Jeff Edwards proposed a longer-term agreement with CCWA that would provide more capacity and access to Table A water; Lindy Owen advocated for the use of composting toilets and water recycling; and Becky McFarland of Los Osos said there should be a moratorium on new construction in her area due to the scarcity of water.
Compton moved to endorse the update and order staff to work with CCWA to establish a settlement. The motion received a 5-0 vote of approval.
Following that came Item 32, which was a hearing to receive and submit a three-year evaluation of the county’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance as well as offer staff instruction.
The ordinance was presented by Airlin Singewald of the County Planning and Building Department. According to Singewald, a requirement under the code for developments is that 8% of the homes must be affordable housing.
Singewald discussed the 2019 upgrade, which is now being reviewed. One of the elements of it was a tiered cost (up to $7 per square foot for new dwellings), which would become a major point of contention in the future. He presented the board with three alternatives: keep the existing IHO, keep the IHO and identify alternate (broad-based) financing streams, or repeal parts of or the full IHO.
Speakers from the house construction sector spoke out against the new in-lieu costs, calling them unjust and useless during public discussion.
Max Zappas, an Atascadero developer, came out against the IMO.
“It is discriminatory, unjust, and irrational to charge higher fees to homebuilders to subsidize other homebuilders,” he added. “How would firemen respond if we asked them to pay a charge for the flames they put out?”
Meanwhile, Lindy Hatcher, executive director of the Central Coast Homebuilders Association, discussed the “missing middle” of people who are having difficulty purchasing houses.
When Gibson asked Hatcher to describe the word, he answered, “I’m talking about the lodging you offer for your nurses, firefighters, and cops.” “If these levies persist, there will be no middle class living here.”
For the “missing middle,” Gibson requested additional “quantitative” criteria. District 5 Supervisor Debbie Arnold said a 2,200-square-foot house would probably be the bar for that group, while Zappas said median income would be a suitable metric.
Peschong moved to instruct the Planning and Building department to rescind the IHO after public discussion. Gibson opposed the repeal, stating that if there was an alternative, he would support it, but that he couldn’t support a new policy direction without quantifiable criteria.
The motion was approved 4-1, with Gibson voting no.
The last item of the day was a resolution to raise car registration costs in order to keep the CAL ID program going.
Chief Deputy of Investigation Aaron Nix of the SLO County Sheriff’s Office spoke and explained that the Sheriff’s Office was the program’s steward, and that in 2014, Assembly passed a doubling of the vehicle license fee to fund CAL ID to $2 for passenger vehicles and $4 for commercial vehicles, but the sheriff committed to not implementing the increase until there was a significant need.
The Sheriff will be short around $207,000 this fiscal year, according to Nix, therefore the time for an increase is now. The proposal was swiftly carried with a 5-0 vote.
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The “san luis ranch” is a step towards repealing the housing ordinance that was passed in San Luis Obispo. The supervisors are voting on whether to repeal the ordinance, which would make it easier for developers to build new homes in the area.
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