San Luis Obispo residents file lawsuit against Cal Poly dorm



The Alliance of SLO Neighborhoods, a collection of residents who live in the Grand-Slack intersection area near Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, has filed a lawsuit to block a planned dorm project.

On June 20, the members of the alliance filed a complaint with the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court against the California State University Board of Trustees. In the complaint, the group requested that trustees rescind the May 21 approval of the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and “not to reconsider or approve the project until and unless a legally adequate EIR has been prepared and certified.”

The lawsuit, which had been filed but not yet served as of press time, alleges that the EIR failed to fully address or mitigate the impacts of a new dorm that is set to house 1,475 students on what is now a parking lot bordering nearby neighborhoods on the southeastern corner of Cal Poly.

According to the complaint, the largest concerns remain over the impacts to surrounding neighborhoods with increased traffic, noise, and visual impacts. A Cal Poly spokesperson said the university had not yet been served and declined to comment on the case.

After the plans were first announced in September 2013, residents asked university officials to consider alternative locations. Frustrated with the response, many residents began regularly appealing to the SLO City Council, which has remained divided on whether and how to involve the city in the issue.

“The reason we had to take this to the court is because we can’t get the city to stand up for all the residents of San Luis,” alliance Chairperson Linda White told New Times.

Councilmembers Dan Carpenter and Kathy Smith have publicly expressed desires to negotiate more aggressively with university officials, while Carlyn Christianson and John Ashbaugh have sympathized with residents but said the project is outside the city’s jurisdiction. Mayor Jan Marx has had to regularly recuse herself from discussions because she lives in the neighborhood.

In a May 16 written response to the CSU Board of Trustees, SLO Community Development Director Derek Johnson wrote that while some issues had been addressed in negotiations with university officials, others remained that had not been fully analyzed or mitigated.

“Our attitude is this is a partnership,” White said. “Those of us who are complaining about the dorms, we are the very people who have made San Luis the city that it is. Our names are on buildings and companies and streets, and we are the people of the city who have built San Luis, just as Cal Poly has added to the city, and it’s both the city and Cal Poly that make this area so great.”

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