A while ago I went to a San Luis Obispo City Council meeting about the 720-home Avila Ranch development; I get upset thinking about it ever since.
Come on folks! Do you see what is going on around here? We have created a serious situation. Deadlock traffic is here now and forever. Isn't this exactly what we hate about driving to the northern and southern cities in California? Isn't that what so many of you took pay cuts to move away from?
In a matter of just a couple of years we now have three-, four-, and five-story buildings jetting up all over downtown blocking what made this town unique—all the surrounding mountain views. Example: what's happening across the street from Big Sky Cafe. Need I say more? It's literally heart-wrenching to see this happen. Why are we suddenly allowing these projects to build up so high that they destroy our most precious asset of all—our mountain views? Is everyone so tuned in to their electronics that they are blind to the fact that our one and only natural environment is getting totally consumed with construction sites?
All of the surrounding agriculture fields are literally getting eaten alive with cement. The organic food we strive for, the fields needed for that food, are now getting plowed, not for strawberries but malls, gyms, trinket shops, and houses upon houses. I wouldn't be surprised if our next generation will have to make the last remaining fields into some kind of sacred national park for crops.
I understand that we need housing, growth, and progress. I am not opposed to that (to a point), but what I am opposed to is the free-for-all building that is taking place with the no-care attitude to height or congestion thereafter. The Avila Ranch project is a beautiful design but it has "traffic jam" clearly written all over it. There has not and are not any real plans or solutions in the near future for the traffic problem that we suddenly imposed and are imposing on this once quaint SLO city, and this is obvious because the Avila Ranch project on Buckley Road just got voted through.
The City Council meeting I attended was for the people to speak their views, pros and cons, but the reality was that the city had already made up its mind way before the meeting had even started. At the end of the meeting, the City Council reminded everyone that its goal is housing. Period. For those folks at the meeting who have not had a chance to experience the traffic problem that has developed over the last two years on Buckley and Broad at 4: 30 p.m. Monday through Friday, I think you should. It's a reality check as to what is to come.
Of course, as stated by many, the problem stems from people having to commute, and the problem will be solved with more housing. We all know the reality is more housing, more people, more traffic, smog, crime, and oh, yeah, the drought. The comment made by several people at the meeting was that they are for the project because it is a chance for them to own a low-income home. The truth of this project is that there will barely be enough low-income homes for the amount of people sitting in that meeting, and the proposed selling price is hardly for the low- to mid-class wage earners. Is that worth the traffic problems that will take place on this country road and all nearby roads?
The project itself is not my complaint; actually, it's a nice design layout. The issue is that it's slated for the wrong place and also that we are "putting the cart before the horse" as rightly stated by a prominent longtime local resident at the meeting. Buckley Road is dangerous now. This community has many more big housing projects in the near vicinity that are in the works—not hundreds but thousands of more cars will be using South Broad, South Higuera, and what we used to call our farm and country back roads.
Get used to it folks, the City Council just voted to rid us of our "secret" get-away, country roads, once used for Sunday drives. Traffic is the new norm, and SLO is no longer voted the happiest place. This once beautiful, quaint area is getting ruined at a rapid pace, and quite honestly I don't know how the City Council folks sleep at night knowing they've contributed to this action. People, the next generation won't see the mountains for the high-rise buildings and the kids won't be able to ride bikes to school for the traffic. These are the simple, unique qualities we once had. They help to prevent crime and they bring tourists.
If you love San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego so much, then go there, but don't bring it here.
Please, we need to stop and figure out how to put the horse in front of the cart first. Δ
Londie Padelsky is a longtime local resident of San Luis Obispo. Send comments toor write a letter for publication and email it to .