Letter to School Board – Mila Vujovich-Le Barre, 9/30/13

From:                Mila VujovichLaBarre
To:                     district@slcusd.org
CC:                    Eric Prater;  John Calandro;  Ryan Pinkerton
Date:                  9/30/2013 11:40 AM
Subject:            Feedback re: Johnson Avenue Project and the LUCE City of SLO Meetings

September 27, 2013

San Luis Coastal Unified School District Board Members
San Luis Coastal Unified School District
1500 Lizzie Street
San Luis Obispo, California 93401

Dear SLCUSD School Board Members,

It is with great appreciation that I read the information in regard to the development of the Johnson Avenue project and the Avila Bungalows at the last San Luis Coastal Unified School District (SLCUSD) board meeting. Although I was unable to attend the meeting, I have followed this project on the SLCUSD website.

In the past, as a citizen, I have been involved with and/or followed development projects in San Luis Obispo, solely as a volunteer. Also, I have attended a handful of meetings and community forums of the Land Use Circulation Element (LUCE) Task Force meetings in the City of San Luis Obispo.

As described in the recent staff newsletter:

“The Johnson Avenue project has been in the planning phase since 2005, although it has recently been held up due to traffic concerns. Located on the portion of land near the District Office and San Luis Obispo High School on Johnson Avenue, the original plan called for 80 units in a multi-family development that would help the City with their long-range growth needs. The addition of so many units may seem like it would create a lot more traffic, but traffic projections have shown it will only represent a 2% increase to that area. Once the Environmental Impact Report is published, we will be able to look for potential developers and hopefully get the project off the ground.  While both the Avila Bungalows and Johnson Avenue projects will provide a sustainable, ongoing source of revenue and provide economic relief, we also receive revenue from leasing our unused sites.”

Although I encourage the building of the Johnson Avenue project, I do agree that traffic ingress and egress and parking may be problematic at certain hours, especially on school days. Also, the EIR may reflect that the number of proposed units is excessive. The ideal may be closer to 45 units, not 80 units, due to City building requirements for open space, landscape and parking. More importantly, I question the reality of having regular residential units for rent in proximity to San Luis Obispo High School and the 14-18-year old student population.

My concern is that some types of tenants from the general population in non-specific residential units may prove to have a negative influence on high school students. One can only envision units being rented by individuals whose lifestyles and morals are in conflict with the sober, drug-free environment on a school campus. To my knowledge, the SLCUSD could not be discriminatory in their rental or lease application, unless there are parameters expressed in conditions, covenants and restraints for the development.

If the construction of residential units is indeed the ultimate goal, given the City mandate and growth requirements, perhaps the units can be developed as luxury senior apartments, a rehabilitation center for people discharged from our local hospitals, or condominium type units for individuals who need a live-in care giver, specifically, those with dementia or Alzheimer’s. There may be some state and federal fiscal benefit in constructing units specifically for people with special needs.

Also, I would be interested to know whether or not it would make more fiscal sense for the units

to be commercial in nature rather than residential. This suggestion may be beneficial to both commercial interests and the school population. Possible tenants could be pediatricians, dentists, orthodontic specialists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and physical therapists. For ideas, one just needs to brainstorm the types of professionals that young adults frequent for appointments during school and after school hours.

The San Luis Drive neighborhood as a whole is one of the more exclusive areas in our City given the proximity to downtown and the peace and quiet at night. I sense that most of that neighborhood would be in agreement with some of my suggestions.

Since you are in the planning stages of the Johnson Avenue development now, I just thought that I would share these thoughts with you early.

Also, I would like to encourage at least one of you, Dr. Prater and Ryan Pinkerton to maintain an active dialogue with the City of San Luis Obispo Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE)

Task Force since they are planning a vision for the year 2035. As I discussed with past CFO Russell Miller and Ryan Pinkerton, the LUCE group has talked about properties held by SLCUSD more than once in official, public LUCE meetings.

For example, once one examines some of the considerations of the LUCE Task Force, a lease for the Pacific Beach High School land on Los Osos Valley Road may be very desirable once a plan is in place for City annexation of the “Dalidio property”, that is under new ownership. If and when that construction occurs, there will be a need for significant traffic remediation. The Pacific Beach program could easily be transitioned to the old Pacheco site near Cal Poly on Grand Avenue or the District office site.

In LUCE discussions, there is also an opportunity to advocate for more Class-1 bike lanes and sports facilities for our youth. In addition, it is important for members of the SLCUSD to be aware of pending City development plans so that the appropriate number of schools is kept open and functioning for the projected future families in San Luis Obispo.

As a teacher and community member, I appreciate all that you and the central administration does to be proactive and safeguard the academic and fiscal integrity of the schools in the SLCUSD. The updates, blogs and newsletters from Dr. Prater and the respective SLCUSD departments have been terrific!

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or desire further clarification.

Sincerely,

Mila Vujovich-La Barre
Certificated Staff
San Luis Coastal Unified School District

E-Mail: mvujovic@slcusd.org
Cell: 805-441-5818

Cc.
Eric Prater – SLCUSD Superintendent
Ryan Pinkerton – SLCUSD Assistant Superintendent: Business and Support Services
John Calandro – Principal: Laguna Middle School

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