|How Is The Housing Crisis Affecting You?
Like many of you, I have housing on my mind. Most of my 30 years in San Luis Obispo were spent in a two bedroom apartment. As a single mother of two, I knew I would never be able to afford a place of my own. My children and I actually enjoyed being in such a small space but it definitely had its challenges. I’m lucky now to live in a home of my own. It’s a rare case in San Luis Obispo these days that a home is occupied by it’s owner. Only 35% of the homes here in town are owner occupied, with the rest being rentals. The California state legislature is putting a lot of pressure on local municipalities to build more housing. What I’m most concerned about is affordability. The council just looked at the San Luis Ranch project at our last meeting and here are my comments:
I recognize and appreciate what the San Luis Ranch team is doing to take major steps toward making this a net zero project, the intentionality you are using to make this project happen meaningfully, the choices that you are making and the risk involved for you, while I also recognize that you obviously stand to make a considerable amount of money. And now, as a community we are asking you to continue to step up to meet the real needs of this city, and its people. Nothing that we do to mitagate traffic or curb greenhouse gasses will matter if we can’t provide the housing we need for the people that actually work here and have to live in the surrounding areas. And, for the young professionals and young families who grew up here and want to come back from college and raise families in their hometown who can’t afford to rent, much less buy. So many people contribute to making SLO the place we want to be and we need to make this great place accessible and affordable for all of those people.
We have an opportunity tonight and in every project brought before this council to really ask HOW can WE shape this place, how can we make it available and sustainable to those that live and work here, how can we be the leaders that our community elected, how can we stand with the residents and make sure people have the opportunities to live meaningfully. If people have to spend the majority of their income on just putting a roof over their head, we leave no room for supporting local businesses, community organizations, restaurants and the unique things that make our community thrive. The creative class and entrepreneurs and people from more diverse backgrounds will move on to places where they can live sustainably and the very things that make this place unique will start to disappear. If we are willing to make sacrifices of prime agricultural land and traffic impacts, we should really only be wiling to do so if it truly provides housing for the young families and young professionals that need it most. Let it be you. You have a place on your website for local heros to sign up – We need to ask the developer to be a local hero too and commit to meaningful real affordability that is fair to him and his investors and to the people of San Luis Obispo. The San Luis Ranch team has a commitment to work-force housing- and if that is the case, as elected officials and staff we must create a way to demand accountability of true affordability for the people that actually work here.