SLO residents sue Cal Poly over dorm plan

June 25, 2014

calpoly dormA group of San Luis Obispo residents has sued the California Statue University Board of Trustees over Cal Poly’s plan to construct a dormitory next to a residential neighborhood.

The residents, who have dubbed themselves the Alliance of SLO Neighborhoods, filed the lawsuit Friday. The board of trustees approved the project in May.

Alliance of SLO Neighborhoods’ suit alleges that the planned dorm would create adverse environmental impacts on the bordering neighborhood. The group also alleges that an environmental impact report prepared for the dorm proposal failed to disclose how much traffic, noise, pollution and safety risk the project would create.

Prior to filing the lawsuit, some residents requested that the San Luis Obispo City Council do so on their behalf. But, a gridlocked council opted not to consider litigation to halt the project.

The dorm is expected to house approximately 1,500 freshmen students. It will consist of seven towers ranging from three to five stories.

Cal Poly plans to break ground on construction next year and open the facility in fall 2018. The university must still obtain final approval from the trustees on design and financing plans.

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Please explain to me, residents of SLO, what you are trying to accomplish by having the city buy up properties specifically in “student dense” areas to resell only to non-student residents who will live there long term. You clearly are not fans of students living in your neighborhoods, so then why is this decision by Cal Poly to build on-campus housing so hard to swallow? On-campus housing is good for keeping students contained and out of your mediocre neighborhoods. Do you want students to stay away from your neighborhoods or not? Pick one, you can’t have both.

The new dorms are being built by the state and on state property. When you buy a home next to a major university, you take your chances. I am so proud that the city council refused to finance these people’s lawsuit. They should foot the bill if they choose to sue. Cal Poly is badly in need of dorm space and time after time the projects are delayed by budget cuts or a huge mass of regulations and paperwork.

The new dorms are being built directly across the street from existing dorms and in close proximity to the school’s main parking structure. Makes sense.

Cal Poly is in need of dorms because Cal Poly wants 5,000 more students over the next five years. They always grow first, figure it out later. Let SLO absorb it, they’ll get tax dollars and a boost to the economy, it’s only the old retired folk who are still foolish enough to live in that neighborhood that will lose.

Money talks. Bullshit walks.

the residents of the adjoining neighborhoods are in favor of new dorm, just not in their back yards, Poly has plenty of space on their campus to put dorms that would not adversely affect surrounding neighborhoods.

It is more likely that this group was started by and largely made up of people who bought rental properties that are not keen on seeing it become more difficult on finding good paying renters.

Many of the landlords are not looking for “good” renters but instead looking for suckers to rent their closets for outrageous rents, never putting any of their money back into the place, turning there backs when anyone complains about their tenants. but agreed they likely don’t want any competition to their money source.

Many of those houses on Grand Ave near the entrance to Poly are shacks, with trashed yards, and are in serious need of repairs, but the owners do nothing, why? because they are being rented to students, and putting any money into them takes away from their cash flow. How many of these landlords are on the group fighting the new dorm?. How many are owned by SLO’s finest upstanding citizens?

Wouldn’t a more worthwhile project be to make these owners clean up their properties, making the area leading to Cal Poly’s entrance more enticing? raising values? Why is this not being done?

The problem is that the fake money economy is still pumping air into home values, especially in this area. So those people sell the run down places to someone else, and the mortgage on it is so high they make a few hundred bucks off the rent. It doesn’t provide a lot of incentive to go in an redo the house when someone is just going to be rough on it again. It’s also going to drive up the cost of rent which is ridiculous already.

There are some pretty dilapidated looking places, I’ll grant you; however, have you seen how most students live and act? Cal Poly is basically one of the State’s most expensive baby sitters.

I’ve seen how most PEOPLE act… just because they grow up a little and put on a better facade doesn’t mean the rest of the population is any more grown up, they just hide their BS better behind their money.

True. It is amazing what the notion of “grown up” is considered today by many.

Your comment it patently false and misinformed. Of the residents involved in the lawsuit there is only one landlord and that person also lives in the neighborhood. The idea that this suit is being taken up by landlords is ridiculous. Whether these dorms happen or not has no effect on rents in this neighborhood.

How can anybody be troubled by traffic and noise, or try to do anything about it with a PD whose official policy is to ignore motorcycles illegally altered to moderate or thunderous volumes, in violation of federal law and state law?

I’ll cut it short. I always harp on this point.

SLO and it’s downtown are official “enforcement free” zones that sound like a motorcycle track. Reminds me of Compton Saves me driving to Santa Maria when I desire to hear unmuffled engines operate.

The remaining Santa Margarita Ranch, 14,000 acres, with access served by a State Highway, is going through lengthy legal BS for a 110 home ag cluster. This is an allow use yet the EIR and self appointed special interests have objected through a lengthy $$ feed frenzy.

Then you have Cal Poly or their exoskeleton, The Foundation, sailing through 1400 new living units with access served by a neighborhood city street?

Don’t forget the cumulative impacts on North County water.

WHAT???? Cal Poly has nothing to do with Santa Margarita. Building these dorms has no impact on water in North County or anywhere else. The students would be using water no matter where they live. Reducing the number of students commuting to campus could reduce air pollution and traffic congestion.

I think Jorge’s point was that a 110-unit development is having an uphill battle – even though it has an easier access / less congestion potential than Cal Poly’s planned 1400-unit development served by a small residential street (which is incorrect, Main Street is 4 lanes and with freeway access).

His point *is* valid, if we apply common sense; however, this is government.

Cal Poly has acres and acres of land, so why the push to build those dorms at that particular location? Surely the residents who live right next door to Cal Poly cannot expect to have no impact of the comings and goings of students to impact their daily lives, but building these dorms right on the property line that separates Cal Poly from those neighbors would actually push those students right into those neighborhoods on a a daily, and worse than that, a nightly bases.

It is my understanding that the reason for the lawsuit however isn’t necessarily the location of the dorms per se, but the fact that the EIR wasn’t factual in its’ projections, and even city staff deemed this project has having a detrimental impact on the neighborhood. I do hope this group is successful with their suit and that Cal Poly has to move the project to another area that will not have the same impact on the surrounding neighborhood. Cal Poly has historically had one of the lowest percentage of on-campus housing available for their students among other similar state universities, and should build more on-campus student housing, it just needs to be in a different location that doesn’t put those first and second year students right next to the surrounding neighbors.

I thought it was because this was a flatter area to build and the other areas were more on hillside, so more costs in construction?

Well, that could be a very convenient reason, but if I have learned anything about Cal Poly in my 41 years in the area, Cal Poly isn’t afraid to spend money to build something; so I honestly don’t believe for a second any discussion about this site as being “most favorable” has anything to do with the cost of building.

I think the structure needs to be moved for a couple of reasons; if built in the proposed location, the structures are probably in one of the furthest from the various classroom buildings on campus, the near-isolation of that location could lead to less-than-desirable behavior by the student occupants, and there really needs to be a buffer zone between the university and the surrounding neighborhood.

And then there is the discussion about the flaws in the EIR, which is the whole reason for the lawsuit. Toss out the flawed EIR, start over and look into alternative locations; more student housing on campus is needed, but pay attention to the reasons outlined in my second paragraph as to why it should not be built on the edge of the campus.

I live near downtown and trust me….no one who values their property value or their sanity would want that many college kids within close proximity to them. One night, there was a young man desperately ill from alcohol pounding on our door. He was very ill-it was after 2am and I felt so sorry for him-but where I live is nowhere near the campus…and I can only imagine what this situation would be like magnified. I run off kids with pot pipes, break up fighting males; regularly clean up vomit from the sidewalk. And the language! That is something you just learn to tolerate. I would fight this too-to the hilt.

If there is a choice….better moved away from private homes. It can certainly test your mind-having the constant havoc nearby.

The biggest issue is that it will take up parking spaces, while adding how many more vehicles (1400 units could mean 2800 students, many of which will have vehicles).

If Cal Poly imposed a vehicle moratorium (not even sure that’s legal, but it’s government and education, who cares about legality or ethics), where no on-campus student is allowed a vehicle, or there are only a certain number of permits allowed, then that might help with the coming traffic nightmare that the additional 5,000 children are going to bring.

What “particular location” is that? You mean directly across the street from other dorms that are decades old? Walk-up Grand some night. The noise isn’t coming from campus. It’s coming from the growing slum on the other side of Slack Street.

Yes, Poly has “acres and acres of land” and it’s all being used — some for agricultural purposes. Just because it’s not built upon does not mean that it’s not being productively used.

I truly wish you luck in your endeavor, but do not expect the powers that determine these projects to give you the time of day.