With his usual rush to misrepresent the forest for the trees (which he also claims cause air pollution) Andy Caldwell has completely mischaracterized the Planning Commission’s vote to deny a proposed subdivision in Templeton. (“Will our lifestyle suffer a SLO death?” Feb 18.) While it was true that staff was recommending denial of the project because it did not meet the minimum density requirement for multi-family housing, the commission had a whole range of reasons for its denial. In addition to the density issue, I was troubled by the following:
•Subdividing land and building houses in the flood plain of the Salinas River
•Building houses on land zoned for recreation
•Loss of agricultural resources
Global climate change is a reality, and the frequency and severity of storm events is going to increase. Responsible planners should not be encouraging new growth in areas prone to flooding. Remember, this was a discretionary decision, the applicant had no “property right” to subdivide this land. That portion of the property is appropriate for parkland and open space. That is why it is zoned “Recreational.” This county has precious little “Rec” zoning. Staff could not recall a time when the county allowed residential development on land zoned for parks. The Parks Commissioner I contacted had no idea this was even allowable. Sacrificing scarce “Rec” zoning for houses is bad public policy and should not be allowed. Lastly, the proposal includes the demolition of the Templeton Sales Yard. This is not only an important economic outlet for small-scale buyers and sellers of livestock, it is a key component of Templeton’s historic community character.
If the project had been redesigned to eliminate the houses on larger lots and only allow multifamily housing at the appropriate, higher density, utilizing the existing water meters and located outside of the flood zone, we would have had a safe, affordable project that lived within its existing resources without sacrificing parkland or agriculture. It would have had fewer units overall, which was something the neighborhood was asking for. Unfortunately, the supervisors overturned the Planning Commission’s decision on appeal, rather than sending the project back to the drawing board so it could truly reflect their stated goals of providing affordable housing, protecting agriculture and open space, and promoting truly “smart growth.” Watch what they do, not what they say. Or what Andy Caldwell says about what they do.