SLO City Council approves plan calling for 500 new downtown apartments

April 21, 2023

Downtown San Luis Obispo — Photo by Daniel Blackburn


In an effort to boost the business climate in downtown SLO, the San Luis Obispo City Council approved an ordinance on Tuesday that calls for constructing 500 new apartment units in the downtown over the next five years. [KSBY]

The plan, modeled after a similar ordinance adopted by the city of Santa Barbara in 2013, envisions converting empty office space into apartments. SLO’s ordinance calls for the construction of a combined total of 500 new studios, one-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom apartments by the end of 2028.

City officials intend for more residents to live in downtown San Luis Obispo and for businesses in the area to be less dependent on tourism. But, there are concerns about parking and affordability, SLO Community Development Housing Coordinator Kyle Bell said.

There will be no affordable housing requirements for the 500 apartment units that will be built downtown. The city, though, will prohibit the new units from being used as short-term rentals. 

Officials have yet to approve any individual developments as part of the plan. It is unclear when construction may begin.

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An excellent start, I don’t think they went quite far enough: placing locks on unit size restrictions, height restrictions, and capping the number of new units seems not in keeping with the overall market orientation of the plan. Again though it’s a great step forward towards a denser mixed use downtown – if you build it, they will come.

It’s funny hearing the same bunch of commenters whine and exaggerate things about San Luis Obispo, every story here. They don’t live or vote here, swear to never visit, always bitch about the parking and homeless (but never visit here, go figure) .

No solutions offered, unless it involves force on the “undesirables”, so helpful.

The extra hypocrisy is that all the revenue that supports suburban infrastructure comes from our old city cores. Also they hate government except when government is restricting individual property rights to build and develop their land, and enforcing cookie cutter car dependency.

The city needs to face the hard reality that it does not have the courage to face, until you no longer trip over 3 homeless people per block downtown will continue to erode.

Are you serious there are people living on the streets of SLO? I haven’t been there since they put in the parking meters. Are they trying to make SLO look like the streets of San Francisco with all the homeless, I haven’t been there in many years, I hear its a total disaster.

I hear its a total disaster.”

Some people just make shit up.

Unfortunately that’s something that can’t really be solved at the city level. Clear out the homeless with force and risk a lawsuit from advocate groups (see SF).

Until the US starts to roll back some of the protections afforded to the mentally ill, the cities will be held hostage.

The double edge there is that even if you made it easier to restrict the freedom of movement of the unwell, what next?… More taxes will be needed to support everything from shelters, to clinics, intensive care facilities, law enforcement training, rehabilitation, prevention services, and cheaper housing for recovering homeless people with blue collar jobs who can’t yet afford $2,000 in rent or a 2 hour commute. You’re right the cities can’t do it alone, but it’s also not going to be cheap or government expansion free. Unfortunately some of the biggest homeless critics are also the least realistic when asked to solve the problem.

Why would we raise our families in downtown SLO when they can’t even adequately address the homeless population, not to mention the lack of parking? Where would 500 new families park their 2 cars? “Hey kids, go play out on the sidewalk but watch out for the drunk and high homeless criminals.” Pfft, nope. There’s a reason all of those businesses left and no one has filled their spot.

You can put the nuclear family cookbook down, those are for workforce, young professionals.


Haha! I get it…making a mountain out of a molehill, right? Meanwhile the brilliant forward thinkers on the city council envision termite mounds in downtown SLO. I wonder if there is a cutesy idiom for termite mounds?

How did anyone ever live without two cars!? Cities everywhere have always had more SUV parking spaces than building space, right?

To answer the question – these are predominantly for single people, working couples without kids, and retirees – if those groups can live in downtown (where they work – so probably 0-1 cars) families will have more availability outside the downtown core. Also children have always grown up in cities or rural areas; the mown lawn, and picket fence has only existed the last 70 years, its nice for some, but not for everyone of course.

These are for “working people”? Where, pray tell, are they going to work? Because it ain’t downtown!

Just because a couple of stores have closed (ignore the new businesses that have opened) doesn’t mean there is no demand to live in downtown. It’s still the densest concentration of employers in the city. And if you’re right, there is no demand, no one will develop these new apartments, what’s the worry?