February 1, 2023
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SLO County supervisors OK workforce housing pilot program


The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors approved a pilot program that aims to incentivize the development of more workforce housing.

The program, which got a 3-2 nod at a Nov. 22 meeting, eases design guidelines and streamlines the review process. It reduces the requirement for developers to provide low-income housing or pay in-lieu fees that fund other affordable housing projects. The program also aims to facilitate more residential development in mixed-use projects.

Workforce housing is defined as for residents who make between 120 percent and 160 percent of the area median income, which comes out to around a $100,000 annual income for a family of four.

Current policy discourages the development of small, detached single-family residences, which are essential to grow the county’s economy, county staff concluded. Many workers are forced to commute at least 30 minutes a day because the area has an undersupply of all housing types.

Current market conditions and development costs make it harder for smaller projects to pencil out. New residences average around 2,400 square feet, which are unaffordable to many in the tourism, manufacturing, health services and energy sectors, the county said. The idea is to create smaller-sized infill units.

“Building affordable workforce housing is essential to attracting new job generating businesses to the county and spurring economic growth,” the county wrote in a staff report. It collaborated with the Economic Vitality Corp. of San Luis Obispo County to form the program.

If successful, the pilot program could be adjusted for cities throughout the county. The program goes into effect on Dec. 22.

• Contact Alex Kacik at akacik@pacbiztimes.com.