HIP, HIP, Hooray

It’s official: SLO County has a new regional framework for housing.


With widespread support from the cities, builders and housing organizations, the framework provides a systematic approach and tools for meeting the region’s housing needs.

“This is a fresh new take on achieving the kinds of housing development we need here, housing for families, for seniors, and for the workforce,” REACH Executive Vice President Russ Levanway said. “This framework will continue to be built out, but out of the gate it’s got a lot of potential to spur new projects.”

Under the lead of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments, REACH supported stakeholder engagement in development of the framework — previously called the Housing & Infrastructure Plan, or HIP — with input collected over 52 stakeholder meetings, including at all seven City Councils and County of San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors.


In a nutshell, here’s what it does:

  • Identifies where building new homes makes the most sense (generally, areas with the roads, water and wastewater service to support growth)
  • Highlights where regional funding can be directed to unlock new development, i.e., infrastructure projects that would support new housing
  • Identifies potential sources of funding for those projects, along with a roadmap for pursuing them
  • Provides a menu of policies jurisdictions can employ to promote development of housing affordable to the workforce, such as zoning, design standards, and permitting processes.

“I’m really happy with the way this has come out,” Supervisor Debbie Arnold said at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, where the framework was officially adopted. “It’s a really good planning tool that the builders and the planners can start using right away.”


A bold new commitment

In a wide-ranging discussion involving multiple motions, all five county supervisors supported the framework but debated various ideas for implementing it. In the final motion, the board voted not just to adopt the framework but also to:

  • Set a goal of achieving its 2028 housing targets
  • Further explore and decide on specific steps for achieving that goal
  • Engage in regional collaboration with the cities and other partners to put the framework in action and accelerate housing production.

“We have called this a budget priority,” Supervisor Bruce Gibson said. “We’ve got to exercise some leadership to move it forward.”


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