Planning commissioners will review financing for a planned development in southern San Luis Obispo



San Luis Obispo planners are taking another significant step toward reshaping about 440 acres in the southern portion of the city.

As of press time, SLO city planning commissioners were scheduled to vote on an updated infrastructure financing plan for the Airport Area Specific Plan (AASP). The plan, first approved in 2005, sets the framework for development in the sparsely developed area surrounding the airport, about 2 1/2 miles south of downtown SLO.

Over the next 25 years, if the plan goes forward as approved, the area will undergo a series of major reconstructive surgeries with new residential, commercial, and open-space development, as well as the necessary infrastructure.

“It’s kind of a big deal,” Senior Planner Phil Dunsmore said.

The infrastructure improvements alone are estimated to cost $36.5 million, the majority of which—about $19.4 million—would be covered by developer fees for projects in the area. That cost represents an updated estimate from the $14.8 million set out when the AASP was first approved in 2005. The remaining $17.1 million is anticipated to be split among a variety of sources including the city; state, and federal grants; and fees from other nearby development.

“That specific plan is really the framework that allows development to go in for this area,” said Tim Bochum, deputy director of SLO Public Works.

The Chevron Tank Farm project is one of the most noteworthy projects planned for the area. Planning commissioners endorsed the Final Environmental Impact Report of the AASP on May 28, which included the framework for remediation of Chevron’s 332-acre tank farm property.

This plan will also set the course to create infrastructure in conjunction with the planned Avila Ranch project, which would turn an existing vacant field into about 140 acres of residential and commercial development. The AASP’s 25-year schedule, split into five five-year phases, calls for a number of new improvements, including the possibility of adding a signal to the Aero Drive and Broad Street intersection, and improvements to Buckley Lane to alleviate problems at the convoluted intersection at Vachell Lane and South Higuera Street.

If planning commissioners give their approval, the financing proposal will go along with the AASP environmental report to the SLO City Council for approval, and later to county officials, as the plan calls for annexation of county lands into the city.

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