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.


Well the Planning Commission approved it 4-1 with Commissioner Chuck Stevenson dissenting. This was despite only 2 speakers favoring the project–the developer and his contractor–while 24 residents passionately opposed it. The anger by residents attending this meeting was palpable.

It’s remarkable what this Council and our state Legislature is doing to a towns that has long cared about its charm, character, and heritage.They are out to change the world by fundamentally changing this town from the “Happiest City in North America” into “Anyplace USA”, and they aren’t being “civil” about it!

If this is what the LUCE, our Council, and the state are doing to us, it’s time to “resist” them all.

Jorge Estrada

The rendering of the project is a hoax when you look at the street, where is the traffic jam?

Then again so many come from LA and are accustomed a cluster *%$#, so by comparison this isn’t that bad. The big question is, are we to use Southern California as the threshold for San Luis Obispo County growth? If the answer is NO then who does the City represent, the people who live here or the public employees who can move elswhere with their well funded portable pension?


This is just a horrible idea. Just horrible.

They used to call any Republican a pro-development person. Now it’s the corrupt “regressives”.

This is just BAD planning and destruction.

We need to dump ALL of the current council, especially that bizarre gal who is Mayor. She just doesn’t serve the common interest at all. And they willl be defeated but look and the damage they are allowing to happen.


The city needs the tax revenue to pay for current and future pension obligations. They could care less about traffic congestion, lack of parking, and increased noise.


PS. The illustration is worth 1000 words. By law, the city’s required to preserve views along Foothill. You’re looking from northbound Chorro across Foothill, where today there’s a stellar view of Bishop Peak. Uh, what happened to it? The building totally hides it, against the law. Hey, this city council doesn’t care about the law — that’s fogie stuff, not progressive.

Vote for anybody but Christianson.


Carlyn Christianson, who’s running for re-election to SLO council, loves this project. Her vision is for Foothill to become a canyon with 4-story buildings lining both sides.

This is student housing — luxury student housing — nothing we need more of, like actual housing.

The developer is same one as 22 Chorro, which is right across Foothill from this site. Do you like that view-blocking monster? When he sought approval, he excused the fact it lacks parking for most residents by claiming everybody would ride a bike. City staff played along, so the bike racks to be stuck in every nook and cranny justified the lack of parking on site. But these rich kids ($1400 per bed per month!) will all have cars. The “developer” said he’d offer cash incentives to get residents to leave cars at home, and since he was in this for the long run, he’d assure that happened. Long run? The place isn’t finished and already it’s been sold to an investment outfit in London — as in England! These international investors envision great gain from “The Academy at Chorro,” as they call it. So the global 1% gets rich at our residents’ and students’ expense. (Student housing costs have skyrocketed in response to the wave of luxury student housing showing what some are able to pay.) That’s what our fake “progressive” city council really stands for. Not the housing we the people actually need. Not protecting the city’s quality of life. Not protecting neighborhoods. But making the rich richer.


This project has “Go!” written all over it!


1. SLO has very few designated bike parking spots. This makes it look like we don’t care. Extra “designated” bike parking spots will make it seem like we care. Plus, perhaps bikes parked somewhere else—as is the current norm—other than a designated bike parking spot may be issued tickets for illegal parking. Win/win for local gov.

2. This is out-of-town big money we’re talking about. Who cares about local businesses and actual local people? Hmmmf……NO ONE! Get those local folks trying to make a living out of their leases and onto the street! We need out-of-town developers in SLO and the only way to attract them is to get rid of pesky, local entrepreneurs who occupy precious real estate.

3. Potential for bribes and quid pro quo. City and County planners, bureaucrats and influencers can’t afford to live here with measly their salaries. They need another source of income, and out-of-town big business is reliable and trustworthy when it comes to campaign contributions and other such things.

The bottom line is that San Luis Obispo needs to grow up and commit suicide! Local, long-time businesses are old and in the way! If we really want to look like Orange County or the Bay Area (AND WHO DOESN’T!!) we’ve got to push these local SLO folks out of business and create some huge projects that can kill forever the “slo-town” flavor that everyone loathes.

I’m personally offended that I can’t buy coffee from a national chain coffee place in that parking lot. I have to walk across the street, which I find offensive. This project will help!

Say “No” to local flavor, local people and local business. Say a great, big “YES!!” to out-of-town money, bribes, tax-schemes and designated bicycle parking places.

Once we get rid of the last remnant of “cuteness” and small town flair that SLO was known for, we can build large, view-blocking structures that we can all be proud of! And we need not worry if a few locals get pushed out in the process.

If you want to make an omelette you need to crack a few eggs.

(sarcasm was liberally used in the writing of this post.)


Exactly. Contact the City Council in a futile attempt to get their ear, they don’t care what anyone wants around here. Next election do NOT vote for any incumbents, vote them all out. They are a bunch of bums for inviting this travesty and will sell out the town for buck. I am sure they will give this big time crook all the exemptions he wants.

George Bailey


San Luis Obispo needs a new mayor!

As we see here, the 5 current members of the SLO City Council have sold out the downtown district, and we know that they are taking campaign reelection donations from these out-of-town developers in exchange for approving their low-quality, overblown development projects. Sad.

Guess what? YOU can help to save our beloved san Luis Obispo by voting for change in the November general election. Vote to remove Heidi Harmon as mayor, and DO NOT vote to reelect carlin Christianson, Aaron Gomez, Andy Pease or Dan Reviore. Harmon & Co. have made every effort to ruin the downtown district, focused on pay raises for themselves, refused to deal with the 4140 million dollar unfunded city worker retirement pend=sion crisis, and declared SLO to be a ‘sanctuary city’ for illegal alien lawbreakers.

We deserve a serious city council.

As we see with this unwise and overblown development, we cannot afford to have the immature SLO Progressives in any positions of power in SLO County or SLO City, for they will use the office for partisan purposes and individual enrichment.

Heidi Harmon and her whacky progressive cohorts ought to tell us why they are taking money from out-of-town developers, and voters should not trust people who engage in ‘pay-to-play’ politics.

Vote Keith Gurnee for SLO Mayor in November.


181bike spaces? Seriously? That’s funny.

I like Blackhorse and have been there many times – don’t think I’d use the “character of the neighborhood” argument – it’s a busy intersection with an empty McDonalds next to it and fast food across the street.

Keep building SLO, then wonder where the tourists went.