Opinion: Concerns, fears and support for housing developments
To the editor,
An Opinion on the Beechwood & Olsen-Chandler Ranch Developments, and the impact on our city, it’s residents and its resources:
I know that a lot of our residents are against these projects. I am not. Well, maybe just a little. When a citizen owns a property and wants to develop it; as long as they are within our city’s guidelines and meet all of the criteria, including the EIR (Environment Impact Report) they have a legal and Constitutional right to develop their land as they wish. And I will defend that right to the death.
But being in favor does not negate my fears of the negative consequences to our town. Not possible consequences. Absolute consequences.
I choose to believe the City Council and Dick McKinley, when they swear to us that we have adequate water resources for these new developments. Read the PR City’s Newsletter of May 18, 2018 for Dick McKinley’s outline of our water position to date.
So, unless all of the studies and reports are fabricated, we have to believe we’ll be ok.
Their jobs and reputations rest on what they are telling us. Not to mention the legal ramifications to the city for false or misleading reporting.
What I can’t get past is the impact it will have on our city streets and the fact that at this time, we have only 1 road that will carry the majority of the traffic to and from these developments…Creston Road.
No matter what path the residents take to and from their homes, all roads lead to Creston Road. You can’t get there any other way. At least not yet. Not until they push Airport Road out to Hwy 46.
Some residents will figure out how to navigate to the backside of the development and go down Airport Road, which leads to Linne Road, which leads to Sherwood Road, which ends at Creston Road!
Once on Creston, they can divert. But I promise you that your usual short run into downtown or to Walmart, will now be a nightmare. It simply can’t be avoided.
Right now, before they start building; take Niblick at 8 a.m., or at 3 and again at 5 p.m. OMG! And when a certain amount of the new homes traffic comes directly out on to Creston and diverts on to Charolais; picture the intersection where Charolais meets South River Road! Unless they plan to completely re-do that intersection, allowing for 2 lanes for each road instead of just 1 lane each, installing street lights instead of just a stop sign etc., traffic will back up on Charolais and South River Rd. till the cows come home!
They will need new street lights at Creston and Charolais. Not just a stop sign.
Our streets are old, most in need of repair, and certainly not designed to carry the anticipated increase in traffic. How would you ever widen Creston or Niblick? Charolais is widen-able, but not in my lifetime will that happen.
A certain amount of traffic will go from Creston to Charolais and onto Rambouillet Rd. to get to Niblick and the High School.
And speaking of schools; while there is certainly going to be a significant impact on our schools with the possible addition of 2500 new students; this issue/problem is not the responsibility of the project developers.
It is this city’s problem. Which makes it my problem and your problem. Because certainly, we will see the money to build new schools or expand current schools, come from us, the taxpayers.
Expanding roads and schools to accommodate these new developments is not a bad thing. I just know that it will not happen quickly, and we will all have to suffer through until the city figures out what, if anything can be done and how much it will cost the citizens of Paso Robles. And in my opinion, these are steps that should have been taken 15 years ago when our real growth and tourism began and everyone started to complain about the increase in traffic. Did no one in power have a clue or some vision of what was to come?
Another concern I, and so many others, have is; where will all of these new folks work? Sure, some of the homes will be sold to current residents who have established themselves, but a significant number will be bought by people who move here because they want the lifestyle that Paso Robles offers.
But this lifestyle only works if you have a good job with a substantial salary, or a good retirement income.
The “if you build it, they will come” theory is absolutely right-on for this scenario. But can they maintain the lifestyle they came here for if they can’t find higher paying jobs? Two people earning $20 an hour each, equates to about $83k a year, before taxes. Sadly, that doesn’t buy much of a “lifestyle” in this town any longer.
We have a “labor-based economy”. And what that means is; our economy is supported by people who work in businesses performing “labor.” Not tech, aerospace or tech-driven manufacturing. But good hard labor. And those jobs are generally lower-paying. We don’t have enough large companies here who pay a high-enough wage to support our home prices, restaurant prices, downtown “upscale” shop prices, and so on. Downtown businesses subsist today mainly because of tourism. Most are not surviving through the support of local citizenry.
My opinion is that the city and its elected officials have not done enough to encourage larger companies to move here. Remember…they turned down Costco! If it means the city lessens the fees and taxes a business pays in the short-term so they can re-coup re-location or expansion costs, so be it. The more businesses, the more jobs. No one can live here on the $12 an hour wages paid by the hundreds of small businesses that make up our present economic environment.
There’s a lot more to be said on both side of the issue. But I think we can all agree that growth is necessary for a community to survive. The issue is; in its current economic and poor infrastructural condition, can our city support this new growth at the speed and density proposed? Or should we slow it down? Can we slow it down?
AND: Should the city focus more on implementing better business-friendly procedures to attract new businesses that bring better-paying jobs?
AND: Should the city focus on ways to provide more affordable housing? Because I sincerely believe that by the time these new development projects break ground, they will come with home price tags upwards of $600k. And I fully understand the impracticality of a developer building slower and in stages rather than all at once.
The $$ numbers simply would not pencil out for them. I also believe these developers want to move quickly to take advantage of our booming home prices. Because this market cannot/will not sustain itself for much longer. We’ve all been there and seen that happen more than once.
I’ll go on record as saying; I’m not against these developments as proposed. I’m angry and concerned that we have a City Council and City Planners that have known about these projects for years, and have done nothing to prepare.
But rather than get upset about what is surely going to be, I’m going to put my energy into holding the City Council, City Planners & Engineers, and all the powers that be, accountable for the imminent and absolutely predictable consequences to this city because of their failure to protect their citizens from harm.
How the City Council responds to the EIR’s will be a huge determining factor in what we can expect from the developers and the City Council itself. How they respond to any negative issue in the report, will tell us if they work in our best interest or their own.
Good, bad and everything in between is on their shoulders. And ours, next time we cast our vote.
Thank you for listening.
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