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SLO downtown beautification wanes

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The San Luis Obispo City Council voted at its March 15 meeting to reduce expensive pet projects like downtown street improvements.

The council had budgeted $640,000 for a variety of downtown improvement projects; the contractor’s low bid came in at $898,009. Council members could have reduced the number of improvements—such as new street lights, trash cans, and mission-style sidewalks—but decided instead to reduce the scope of the project to a two-block section of Higuera Street instead of three.

“We’re sort of all about having everything,” Councilman Andrew Carter said as he explained his vote for the project in a time when the city is facing escalating costs and likely reduced services.

The council voted unanimously to reduce the size of the project to two blocks of Higuera Street between Broad and Chorro streets, but gave city staff the flexibility to expand the size of the project back to three blocks if they could figure out a way to bring down the cost.

“Where’s the money for this coming from?” SLO resident Jody Frey asked council members. “I don’t get this. I think the downtown looks great. This seems kind of crazy to me.”

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