What are they doing to our town?

August 3, 2018
T. Keith Gurnee

T. Keith Gurnee


What San Luis Obispo’s current mayor and city council are doing to our city is deeply disturbing, but it is the speed and joy with which they’re doing it is even more so. Let’s just look at the things they’ve been doing:

On July 17, the council unanimously approved the San Luis Ranch project to allow the full buildout of this 580-unit project on Madonna Road without the previously required Prado Road interchange. Without that interchange, they voted in lockstep to add more traffic congestion to our choking streets.

With three massive projects rising out of our once quaint downtown, out comes another proposal for the biggest of them all: a six-story 75-foot tall institutional building at the corner of Chorro and Marsh streets.

The city will shortly be holding hearings on yet another four-story behemoth at 790 Foothill Boulevard that was just approved by the SLO Planning Commission by a 4 to 1 vote. This project will block our views of Bishop Peak, the defining scenic feature of our city, while allowing a 32 percent reduction in on-site parking without any analysis of its traffic or parking impacts on the neighborhood.

City staff and the SLO Planning Commission had the discretion to use CEQA review of this project’s impacts on the community and chose not to. Next stop: SLO City Council.

Across the street at 22 Chorro Street, another massive dark structure is rising, thanks to Councilmember Carlyn Christianson who told neighborhood residents “Foothill Boulevard will be lined up and down with four-story buildings, so get used to it!”

The City Council will also be holding hearings on their new Zoning Ordinance update that contains provisions that will drastically alter the physical appearance and functionality of what has long been a high-quality small town and it is doing so without an Environmental Impact Report.

The city’s Active Transportation Committee (ATC) voted unanimously to run exclusive bicycle lanes down Broad Street in the historic Anholm neighborhood while eliminating much-needed on-street parking on both sides of the street.

The city also asked the Anholm neighborhood to form a special parking district, thereby notifying area residents of the city’s intent to approve under-parked developments that will impact the neighborhood adjacent to them.

After working so hard for so long to preserve the scenic open spaces and natural reserves that define our town, we should not exploit their wildlife habitat values with recreational overuse and abuse, especially by mountain biking during nighttime hours as recently approved by our city council.

It’s clear that this council and staff have bought into the planner’s new mantra of “urban infill” as their universally preferred development technique. Done tastefully with careful attention paid to scale and character, urban infill can an appropriate technique. But the way our city and its Land Use and Circulation Element (better known as the “LUCE”) is dealing with urban infill, this isn’t town planning.

It’s “town cramming” that is utterly out of character with our historic community.

Our mayor and city council are out to change the world by fundamentally changing the community we love. If they stay in office, that charming, carefully scaled town of San Luis Obispo that was once known as the “happiest place in North America” will be transformed into “anyplace USA.” With the notable exception of Councilmember Andy Pease, they don’t respect our residents or our historic neighborhoods, they ignore them.

They aren’t solving our problems, they’re creating them.

San Luis Obispo should not be doomed to becoming an urban metropolis of towering buildings and concrete canyons. We should have the determination and resolve to “right-size” our high-quality small town rather than exploiting and “super sizing” it.

We can’t let them do this to us. We can do better! It’s time to stand up for our residents and take back our town!


Just another day in San Luis Angeles……..


San Luis is turning into a sty,years ago we had shops like Burris Sadlery, the hardware store, Noble saw was downtown, the tractor dealer,Mattijack’s, was on the corner of Hig and South st,Loomis was just below that,now all we have is trendy little crap stores, the only thing left downtown is Ross and Beverlys, now the next trend is these large buildings we see going up, the loss of view space and parking loss, the ones that lose here the most are us the locals, this isn’t what we the taxpayer wanted, but the 10 dollar question here is can this be stopped,can the projects in the pipeline be stopped before they get off the ground. That motel downtown that took the parking lot away and has had a lane of Marsh street blocked for a year should have never been approved there, the building going up where the Shell station was is going to be just as ugly, in fact the county started this mess with that garbage on the corner of Montery and Santa Rosa, we lost another parking lot and a donut shop in that mess.


SLO is beginning to remind me a lot of downtown San Francisco. From the smell of urine, homeless wandering aimlessly, the ever decreasing glimpses of sunshine (unless directly overhead), to the increasing inability to score a parking spot and the bust your piggy bank parking meters…it all makes for lots of reasons not to go. 


Beginning too? for 35 years we’ve watched slo go down the tubes. The filth, the prices in the shops, the attitude. This is progressiveness apparently. 


I think what they are trying to do is to make SLO into an amusement park. You come to town and go to all of the bars, wine tasting facilities, breweries and other facilities. They will open on Friday’s and close on Sunday’s for the tourists. Cal Poly will take care of midweek. During that time the tax paying citizens will be unable to go into their downtown due to the overflow of tourists leaving their money for a small percentage of the businesses in the area. Come Monday the city staff, who are the best, highest paid and over worked, will be burden repairing what has happened over the weekend, And we know that will necessitate a big raise and additional benefits. Are you kind of getting where this new founded financial resource is going to go since around 75% of General Funds goes toward employees? Unfortunately the tax payers will be the ones left with the bill for the care of the infrastructure that is getting abused by the visitors. So just like Disneyland where the price of admission is around $100+ so will the price to admission of SLO become more unaffordable., like in hosing. Simply put, your government is the one who is responsible for the cost of housing, increased parking fee, and every other fee they can dream about. So will everyone still remain happy as their pocket books and savings are depleted?


You are absolutely correct. What is happening in SLO is being copied in Paso Robles. More and more for the tourists, less and less for the citizens. I believe it is more like 80% of GF here goes for employee salary, benefits, CalPERS, etc. Paso is now asking for another 1/2% sales tax to get more revenue into GF. I’m sure SLO will do likewise.


Yep, and the head of tourism in SLO county is from LAS VEGAS.  The mandate is bring in as many tourists as you can.


The Shredder in New Times has just performed one of its biggest bloopers of all time in shredding Gurnee for attending a political forum designed to evaluate candidates and choose who to endorse. While Gurnee was being berated by the moderator and Harmon for his honestly held beliefs Harmon stated at one point that the average citizen doesn’t understand the issues since they are ‘complicated’. That pretty much sums up her arrogant contempt for the public. Then, working herself up into a lather and getting her knickers in a knot she threw the microphone down on the table and stormed out, calling the discussion a sham. Gurnee calmly responded to questions and then left as requested.

Doubt my words, see for yourself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=15&v=AkX_a1SDiV8

This whole affair pretty well sums up what we have here, running the show (or sham, as the CC is rapidly wrecking the town), a ruthless woman who, like trump, has a fit if she doesn’t get her way. 

Is THAT what, or who, we want as mayor?

By the way, since the shredder and others keep making a bid deal out of why Gurnee would attend since he has criticized this political group before-duh!!! He is a candidate, they held a forum to evaluate candidates. He’s a candidate. AND, since many keep making a big deal out of why Gurnee would ask to attend, he didn’t- he was invited by the so called SLO Progressives. 


I can’t understand what is driving this city council to do the things they are doing. Seems the developers have control of them and are bending them to their will. Maybe some personal financial “aid” is at work also? Vote them out. Throw them out on the street. Rum them out of town. They deserve nothing better.

Chance Yee

We moved here almost a decade ago – after all, it was the happiest place on earth. Now when we go downtown SLO to shop or dine we don’t recognize the place. In a few short years the progressives have turned happy into crappy.

CalPoly managed to dump their student housing problem on the city and a few greedy politicians and developers jumped at the opportunity to make a buck. Now the campus remains relatively unscathed and SLO downtown has become grossly urbanized. Next will come the buses, the banning of cars and the further punitive fees and taxes designed to prop up this farcical transformation.

SLO leadership should have pushed back on the University years ago and forced them to come up with a better solution to their housing crisis but no one had the backbone and now downtown is being turned into a large dormitory extension.


I moved to a small (971) town in Wyoming. WY has 60% of the land mass of CA. CA has 40,000,000 people that they know of. WY has less than 1,000,000. Get used to it….I didn’t

Rich in MB

They really are intent on transforming SLO into “Bakersfield by the Sea”…

The “If you can’t beat-um, Join-um” approach to development will transform SLO into exactly the opposite of what the residents like about it. But I guess since the Government is an extension of the People, then the People of SLO are getting exactly what they asked and voted for….I just hope they enjoy the bed they have made.