Garden Street Terraces gain SLO council approval despite public outcry

November 2, 2011


The San Luis Obispo City Council approved with conditions the proposed 1.1- acre downtown development project called Garden Street Terraces, despite overwhelming public comment against the proposal.

Submitted by Westpac Investments in 2006, the proposed project contains residential and commercial development, as well as a hotel, all within the borders of Garden and Broad streets and Marsh Street and Garden Alley.

The council voted 4-1 in favor of the project, conditional upon Westpac meeting three requests: placement of public art on the corner of Broad and Marsh streets, directional signs for garage parking and minimized disruption to local businesses during construction. If Westpac complies with the three conditions, the project will need no further approval from the council.

Council member Kathy Smith cast the only vote against the Garden Street Terraces.

“I really don’t like the project,” Smith said. “I see it kind of as risky venture, and I don’t feel that the uses are compatible with the surrounding businesses.”

Smith said she expects future residents of the terraces to become unhappy upon arrival due to the noise and disturbances coming from the nightly bar traffic. She also criticized the appearance of the proposed project, siding with the majority of speakers during public comment.

A total of 32 members of the audience made public comment about the Garden Street Terraces, most of who expressed complaints about the architectural design of the project.

San Luis Obispo resident Jim Dunan, like many others, did not oppose the project in entirety, but said it was in desperate need of redesign.

“The design could probably be done by a senior in high school with a ruler,” Dunan said. “I’d like to see this hotel downtown, but not at the expense of two black boxes.”

Lots of speakers commented on the use of black in the design, some describing it as “psychologically depressing” and portraying “death” and “evil.”

Others complained that the project would obstruct the view of the mountains from downtown, creating a “harsh, cold industrial scene.”

San Luis Obispo resident and co-founder of Occupy SLO Pete Evans said the project is ruining small business and corporatizing the town.

“We are all the 99 percent, except perhaps the developers,” Evans said.

Chief developer of the project and Westpac executive Hamish Marshall received the final word during public comment.

Marshall said that after eight years of work on the project, Garden Street Terraces are moving forward whether or not public concern persists.

“We can’t make everyone happy, and we can’t pick away parts of the project because it’s a cohesive design,” Marshall said.

Marshall also addressed accusations that he is in only in it for the money.

“I, too, am a resident of this city and have been for nearly twenty years,” Marshall said. “I employ over 300 people in this city. I am absolutely 100 percent committed to this city, the way its formed, the way we build it out and the future of it.”

In supporting the project as proposed, council members Dan Carpenter and Andrew Carter commended Marshall for meeting city guidelines and complying with the scrutiny of the Architectural Review Commission.

“We’ve got four or five pounds of flesh out of the applicant,” Carter said.

Mayor Jan Marx and vice mayor John Ashbaugh each made various design requests but, in the end, approved the project.

“This is going to be the contribution of our generation,” Ashbaugh said. “Everybody who participated in this project in any way, including those who still really dislike this project, can take pride in the fact that they have participated and influenced this project.”

A model of the proposed Garden Street Terraces is available for viewing in the Community Development Department. Developers expect construction to begin in about two years and to last 18-24 months.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

““We’ve got four or five pounds of flesh out of the applicant,” Carter said.”

Yes, and in return, Mr. Carter, you gave the applicant a $2.4 million loan from the city, a property valued at $5 million for only $1.89 million, and huge discounts on property tax for the next 30 years. That comes to about $1 million per pound of flesh – not a bad deal.

density or sprawl is our choice. garden street terraces is a good project built by local developers, hamish may be an aussie but he’s the minority owner (check the title docs) who PAID out this world prices for the real estate that they bought 3 million for the URM slo brew and another 3.3 for the URM from the corner to SLO brew.

I’m more concerned that our city is spending $56,000,000 per year and growing spending when there is ZERO population growth. what are we getting for our $1,200 per year per capita spending in the CITY of SLO?

jan marx commented that when she finished her first time on the city council it was 32,000,000 then 8 years later… 52,000,000!?!?!?

tl;dr isn’t a madonna/copeland project so it must be foreigners with BIG WALL STREET MONEY

also copleand’s option for the entire chorro street parking lot and the public works building is $1,750,000 and its a lot bigger.

I love the part that they are in it only for the money. Well I bet every business in downtown S.L.O. is in it for the money. If not then why in the hell go to work everyday. Why does making money become an evil thing?

As far as design I also agree with the statement about not making everybody happy. You can change and change but after a while you have to get on with it. It looks like a nice design. Let’s see all the people complaining go to work tomorrow and take a risk with their money and produce something.

And as far as Evans. So I thought OWS was about big business. Does he REALLY think (heavy on the think) that in these small places in the building that you are going to have BIG business? Yea maybe a Gap type but comon I thought OWS was about banks and people getting away with crime (i.e. swindling investors) If he really thinks this is big business, then you might as well start shuting down all the businesses downtown.

Cute, your corporate worship is showing. I was there, doing my civic duty. Were you in your rocker, swilling beer and watching the game?

The reason some complained about the ‘making money’ thing is the endless whining by developers that they are honoring the city, working with the city, that they care about the city. What a load of bull, they are there to make money off OUR resources and the gullibility of the council. The developer was given extra time to bore us to death with how much they have done for us, while we were held to tight time constraints. This scenario has always been the case.

Bunch of lies about the design. They can change bits of it at will, without any trouble. They presented a project last night that had much improvement over the original-all the changes were demanded by the city-none were offered without a fight. They should have started with a good proposal.

Occupyslo is about the special treatment corporations and ultra rich get, at our expense. Time and again this happens across the land and it happened last night. You pick and choose the dumb little things that you think makes some decent argument in your favor, you only show your ignorance. The developer of the project is Australian and his family is worth billions-get that? Billions. Big enough for the couch potatoes who dislike what we do?

Last night was like a thousand others here where our council sold out the city to special interests. All who were there saw staff confuse the issue and almost stonewall the project through without adequate controls to protect our special cityscape. The CC even passed it before all the mitigation measures were instituted so now the whole gig is up to one or two staff members to assure compliance.

Probably be cool to know something before opening one’s mouth and making a fool of oneself.

Show us peons the plans and agreements…

Like most city projects it is reliant on a wide range of approvals and fees based on those agencies approvals…

Nice try on the put down. I have a drink about once a week so you show your ignorance are right there. Don’t watch sports either. Sorry fool. Oh and one last on your holier than thou civic duty, I was at a game for my kids team. Family first!!!

Anyway my comment was in regards (I know you have a hard time with comprehension dog) about people, (like you) whining about big business. My point (if you read what I said about the Gap etc) was the end use businesses that will occupy the space when done.

Nice try on the spin though. Keep it up. I know you probably wanted a job at Air America but in case you didn’t know, like you they couldn’t hack it and are long gone.

As the warden said to Cool Hand Luke, “looks like what we got here is a failure to communicate”. We’re probably both cooler than the other gives credit for, and yelling too much. I figure you are the 99% too and the different perspectives on things could be greatly reduced by a friendly chat. We may never have that but just feeling that makes me feel good.

I go to a lot of Occupy events (I don’t support the transient campers who are not part of our movement) and invite you to come too, chat with some of the regular people to see if there is any sense in it for you, and your friends.

Now there is a nicely worded reply. I just might have to take you up on the offer of going down to hear what they are saying. Are they still there 24/7 or have they started to do the 7-10?

There is a strong difference of opinion within Occupyslo about the campers at the courthouse. The organization has officially (to the Board of Supes and on the radio and other press) denied any affiliation with the campers. The camping there was never authorized by the main group but in any event they are a public presence that many assume is ours. Too bad, they are not representative of the public at large (or us) but our events (rallies, marches) are much more indicative of widespread support by a cross section of our town. It is true that most of us have other obligations so we cannot camp if we wanted to, or hang out all day sitting around as the campers do. They have some signs and info boards they probably know nothing about. They are simply living there and are not there to spread our message.

I don’t recommend engaging the campers for info about Occupyslo. Attending rallies and marches that are put on to illuminate who we are and engage the public will yield better results.

Keep in mind this effort has been created by and sort of organized by a loose confederation of like minded folks with busy lives. It is not perfect, we have made some mistakes (with more to come). We are not professionally led and receive no money or other support from anyone but our members and a large number of local citizens who gave supplies and money to help what was initially a legit ‘occupation’ but that has now just become little more than a homeless camp.

The homeless situation in this area and others is atrocious. But Occupyslo is not a single issue campaign and we avoid heralding any issue outside of the massive economic concepts we are all struggling with. When we win most of our societal ills will be addressed successfully.

Occupyslo is right now reforming (we are evolving all the time) and will announce new events soon.

I would like to hear more. There are some things that I hear about OWS that I like. Like making big banks accountable for their actions. I.e. the mortgage mess. They wrote up the bogus loans and if they have to write it off their spread sheets so be.

On your Wall St. Bernie Madoff types that are still running around and not yet prosecuted. Yes I agree with that. Prosecute them all.

On the changing of laws so that you get more than a slap on the wrist and three years or less in jail for stealing from investors. I’m for that.

The things I am not big on is if they are going after business that have done nothing wrong other than to make a profit. That is what capitalism is about and I am a proud captalist. I will defend any that has made their money in a fair and honest way. Those that don’t, then yes feed them to the wolves.

You are not only one of the 99% we agree perfectly. As you said early on we are all in business or work for money. It is the way we get it, the fingers we step on while climbing the ladder of success and so on is what OWS is all about.

You spit on the sidewalk and four squad cars will show up to take you away. Miller, of Hurst Financial, admitted 3 years ago to defrauding seniors-he is still free and having martinis with their money. He lived the high life with his pal gearhead (another crook who is STILL free)-private jets, gambling trips to Vegas, lots of fancy homes and all that. Soon as they get caught they hide the money, go bankrupt and walk away. These are two small town crooks that stole over $125 million, and they are small fry. Wall st, the big banks, huge corporations have been illegally and ‘legally’ robbing us for ever.

We have no problem with small to medium business, and some big business. It is the criminal collusion between business (through lobbyists and contributions) and our government (at all levels) that rips us off.

How many examples should we look at? How about the military industiral complex (that the republican President Eisenhower gave us dire warnings about). They make huge profits when supplying the Pentagon with war goods of any sort (rations to guns). So they encourage ‘tough’ attitudes with our adversaries overseas, anything to whip up business. Maybe they are the ones who blew up the Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898 or so to spark the Spanish American War, or the ones who caused the ‘incident’ in the Gulf of Tonkin that started the VNam war. Vicious, heartless, bloodthirsty and greedy people who will stop at nothing to make more money.

How about the manufacturer of defective baby car seat that buys influence in Congress, gets laws that mandate the use of baby car seats with a special feature that only his have? That whole process is mired in confusion and anyway the same congressmen that gave him th emonopoly also have just crippled the Justice dept so prosecution is unlikely.

How about the polluting mining company that knows the fines are less than one percent of the profit to be made risking our health?

How about a supreme court (now an activist court, I don’t hear the far right complaining now) that gives business entities ‘human’ rightsl and seems bent on unraveling our ‘perceived’ culture of ‘home of the brave, land of the free’. Corporate dominance will destroy both of those concepts.

Well to quote a line we have all heard more in recent years that applies to what you said about how people are conducting their business, “it is easier to ask forgiveness than to seek permission”.

That applies to the morgage mess. That line applies to Kelly perfectly. He many a time would do a project without a permit, then later if caught, say sorry and usually pay a small fine. I don’t want to see it go crazy for the small guy who may honestly make a mistake but we do need to do some serious revision in this and areas like lobbing you mentioned.

I am a conservative but have NEVER liked the lobbists. I think they make a big unfair push for whoever their guy is and I don’t care if you are liberal or conservative you see lobbists on both sides. It doesn’t help the process one ioda.

I understand both BTDT’s side (points) on this item and hotdog’s. It depends on which window you’re looking through and both have their talking points here. I’m glad to see that the two of them are now communicating and making an effort to share respectful view points. Check the website and stop by a rally. I stopped by last Saturday at the park. I couldn’t stay long but they seemed to be regrouping after the onslaught from the transients.

PS hotdog, you really were out of line with BTDT. You have a short fuse about

somethings that you’re passionate about and I know all about that because I have one (a short fuse) too at times. Sometimes it’s better to take a minute to realize that other people have valid points of view also. Who knows, maybe the OWS movement will bring about REAL change. One thing for certain is that personal attacks aren’t going to open any meaningful dialog.

If you were caling me out personally, give it a rest. Stay on topic!!!

The discussion is about a project that some do not like and some do like…

“We can’t make everyone happy, and we can’t pick away parts of the project because it’s a cohesive design,” Marshall said.

This one line sizes it all up, the planners have to approve something even if it is not perfect.

Following the thread you are repling to me. If you thought my prior was to you no. If you follow that thread it was to hotdog but we just have different views and have to find a way (which has happened) to have a good discussion and find out what it is the other guy’s views are about.

City sell-out . . .