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SLO reconsiders opening long-closed Luneta to traffic

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A sea of neon flashed in the San Luis Obispo City Council chambers after each public comment on Sept. 6.

“Save Luneta,” read the signs—black type on green paper—hoisted by dozens of attending residents from Luneta, a quiet residential neighborhood in the Cerro San Luis Foothills.

The expression of silent solidarity was the latest political action taken in response to plans for a housing development at 71 Palomar Avenue that initially involved connecting Luneta Street, a narrow road closed to vehicle traffic with bollards (short, yellow posts) since 1995, with Palomar Avenue. The connection would open the road to through traffic.

Homeowners, their families, and neighbors have enjoyed the peace, quiet, and safety of a closed Luneta for decades and are up in arms about that getting axed with the development. Residents worry about the number of commuters who would use the road as an alternative to Foothill Boulevard.

“It’s a precious resource for our neighborhood,” one man said. “It provides an escape from the high-volume streets in the neighborhood.”

“It’s the only remaining peaceful walking and biking street around here,” another stated.

The problem is that opening the street is embedded in the city’s general plan and has been since 1994; the new development has finally spurred the action to take place. The bollards were apparently erected at the request of the fire department in 1995, but no one at the city today knows why that happened.

The impassioned drive by locals to keep Luneta closed has the city reconsidering the move. On Sept. 6, the City Council voted 4-0 to authorize staff to complete a traffic study and environmental assessment to analyze the impact of Luneta’s closure. City staff and council members expressed concerned about how parallel streets like Ramona Drive are being adversely affected by heavier traffic. 

The studies are expected to begin in early October and will cost the city $10,000.

“Surely we can think of better ways to offload traffic from Ramona,” resident Peter Crough concluded. “We implore you to find those better ways.”

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