January 21, 2016

Contact: Matt Lazier

Cal Poly Considering Workforce Housing Development Near Grand Avenue Campus Entrance

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly administration is considering the possibility of a proposed public-private partnership to build a workforce housing complex near its Grand Avenue entrance.

The university is in the early stages of discussions regarding the proposed project, which would be built on land near the northeast intersection of Grand Avenue and Slack Street.

The 10- to 15-acre parcel being considered is designated for residential housing on the university’s Master Plan update maps, which were shared publicly last year and have been available at

The project — which could include up to 420 market-value units — would be targeted toward Cal Poly faculty and staff, as well as qualified members of the San Luis Obispo community.

“We are eager to move forward with possible solutions to our urgent need for workforce housing,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “We believe this concept can help the university recruit and retain high-quality faculty and staff members while also easing impacts on the local housing market.”

Cal Poly administrators shared the idea with city and county officials earlier this week. Many expressed support for the potential project, including San Luis Obispo Vice Mayor Dan Carpenter, San Luis Obispo Councilmember Dan Rivoire, and San Luis Obispo County Supervisors Debbie Arnold and Adam Hill, among others.

“A workforce housing development on Cal Poly land would accelerate progress toward more available housing in our community,” Carpenter said. “San Luis Obispo’s housing issue is complex and will take years to solve, but this project would make an immediate impact and provide much-needed housing for Cal Poly employees.”

The identified site’s unique proximity to both campus and community amenities would help attract residents and create a residential buffer between the campus core and surrounding neighborhoods.

“As a former faculty member, I know how difficult it is to find housing in the city of San Luis Obispo, and it's only gotten more challenging,” Supervisor Hill said. “I salute Cal Poly for continuing to take on this challenge, for students, faculty and staff.”

Supervisor Arnold added: “I appreciate Cal Poly working to help provide solutions to the workforce housing problem.”

A proposed public-private partnership could potentially fund the project and would provide benefits for the university and community, Armstrong said. With a private developer prepared to finance the construction and maintain the complex, the burden of cost would be shifted away from taxpayers. In addition, the housing complex guarantees additional local tax revenues, as well as significant revenues for the university to use in support of the academic mission and student success.

“I'm excited about this project,” Councilmember Rivoire said. “It has the dual effect of addressing current faculty housing needs while improving the financial position of the university to pursue additional on-campus student housing as swiftly as possible.”

The proposed development is just one part of Cal Poly’s approach to find solutions to the community’s workforce housing shortage, said Cindy Villa, Cal Poly’s senior vice president of administration and finance. Cal Poly continues to explore incentive programs and donations that could help more employees reside in neighborhoods close to campus.

“The housing shortage in our community will only be solved with a multi-faceted approach and a concerted effort by the university and the community,” Villa said. “We look forward to hearing innovative ideas from community leaders, residents and the campus about how we can more broadly encourage faculty and staff to live in residential neighborhoods near campus.”

In addition to ongoing discussions with city and county officials, the university plans to hold focus groups, surveys and other outreach efforts to hear from the campus and broader community regarding the potential project.

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