SLO development plan would force out coffee shop

July 25, 2018

The latest of a barrage of mixed-used development proposals in San Luis Obispo would force a popular coffee shop out of one its locations. [Cal Coast Times]

Faced with getting ousted from a lot at 790 E. Foothill Boulevard, the owner of BlackHorse Espresso & Bakery is lobbying the city against approving a housing and commercial development at the location. However, city staffers have already recommended approval of the project, which comes before the San Luis Obispo Planning Commission on Wednesday.

Plans call for 78 residential units, 6,800 square feet of ground floor commercial and retail space, 155 parking spaces and 181 bicycle parking spaces. As currently proposed, the building would be 43 feet high, which would require an exemption because the city has a 35-foot height limit in the area.

BlackHorse has three locations in San Luis Obispo, one of which is on the Foothill Boulevard lot. BlackHorse owner Tom Brown said he has a lease with the owner of the Foothill property that runs through 2020 and has an option to extend to 2023. Brown said he plans to exercise the option to stay on the property and has not heard from the owner about potential changes to the agreement.

However, the project applicant, El Segundo-based developer Loren Riehl, said a sale of the Foothill property is currently in escrow. Riehl said he has a lot of options to address the BlackHorse lease agreement once the sale of the property closes.

Brown argues the project is not consistent with the character of the neighborhood and would not get a lot of community support. The BlackHorse owner also said the development lacks parking and would cause too much congestion.

Project backers claim the development would reduce housing demand in the city and help meet SLO’s bicycle use goals, as well as increased use of the bus system. Riehl said the area is highly populated by students and that the market will dictate who wants to live in the planned building.

Current plans call for the development to have 12 deed-restricted studios for renters who fall in the very-low income household category.

City staff have recommended the project for approval, saying it meets a city housing goal and complies with general plan and zoning requirements.

Riehl is asking San Luis Obispo officials for exemptions on the height of the building, as well as the percentage of the lot that the building occupies. Plans call for the building to occupy 90 percent of the lot, but city code sets the limit at 75 percent.

In addition to the plan for the Foothill lot, Riehl has another rental housing project nearby at 22 Chorro Street. That project is expected to be completed in September.

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This is just another example of destruction of our lifestyle happening right before our eyes. And you know what the solution is. VOTE. VOTE these people out.

We need to keep reminding EVERYONE to VOTE. That’s the only thing that is going to make a difference. The current council members are deaf to the wishes of the voting public. They must be voted out.

Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union I was fortunate to travel behind the former iron curtain and visit many countries and cities that had been subjected to socialist planning. Huge chunky apartment complexes built to house forced Russian transplants had been erected in many non-Russian cities. These complexes deliberately displaced the local historic buildings and sites in part, to wipe clean the local history and culture. With the older buildings gone and the landscape permanently altered, the local residents lost many of the touchstones that had connected them to their own past.

Put simply, homogenous architecture had been used to help disassociate a people from their own past as succeeding generations merged their identities with that of the socialists living in the apartments that eventually multiplied. Socialist planning too multiplied and became the widely accepted norm in many other forms. So if you like what the socialist progressives are doing now to destroy SLO’s architectural landscape, just wait and see what happens next. The SLO lifestyle is surely headed for extinction and Stalin himself would be proud.

Our office was approved with bicycle parking for 28 bikes which allowed for reduced automobile parking spaces. The lot is usually at capacity during the day. The bike rack will accommodate about 6 bikes. Seldom used. Occasionally it is used overnight by the homeless in the creek.


At least your bicycle parking places make it seem like you’re hip and care about the environment. That’s the most important thing. right?

Back on the topic: This project will rocket through the height restriction. Out of town money has a peculiar effect on government officials.