What We Do
The Planning & Building Department is made up of three divisions (Permitting, Policy and Programs and Operations) that each work to promote the wise use of land and help to build great communities. From administering building codes and overseeing safe construction practices to issuing permits and administering grant programs, the Planning & Building Department is one of the few departments that contribute to the five desired community-wide results of making San Luis Obispo County a safe, healthy, livable, prosperous and well-governed community.
The department is also responsible for updating the County’s General Plan, maintaining a comprehensive geographic information and mapping system, reviewing land development applications including environmental review, administering federal grant programs that aid low- and very-low-income residents, and overseeing energy efficiency programs.
What We Did in 2014
The Planning & Building Department’s greatest achievements of 2014 included the adoption and certification of the County’s Housing Element of the General Plan, the opening of its North County Service Center, and the success of its energy saving outreach activities.
Improving Access to Affordable Housing
The Planning & Building Department worked with community stakeholders to address the shortage in low-income and workforce housing in 2014. It created a plan to provide a path for private and public investment to develop an adequate supply and range of affordable housing choices in the Housing Element of the County’s General Plan.
San Luis Obispo County’s high quality of life makes it challenging for private sector alone to develop housing for all income groups. Currently, there is a shortage of affordable units available to very-low and low-income earners and housing that can attract head-of-household workforce employees in demand by businesses in the region.
Adopted in June 2014, the Housing Element covers a five-year period through 2019 and is one of seven required elements of the County of San Luis Obispo’s General Plan. The Housing Element assesses the need for affordable housing; evaluates the previous Housing Element; analyzes and designates land available for housing; and outlines goals, objectives, policies and programs to solve the problem.
The document acts as a guide to help facilitate the establishment of needed housing for existing and future residents of the unincorporated areas of the County through various programs and services.
Offering More Services in North County
The Planning & Building Department also opened new offices at the One Stop North County Service Center in the new Atascadero Library in July 2014. This new service center will reduce the travel distance and greenhouse gas emissions for North County customers, expand services, and allow Planning & Building employees to be closer to the communities they serve.
The County’s North County Service Center provides a variety County services to North County residents. Currently, three departments have expanded their offices to the center: The Planning & Building Department, the Assessor’s Office, and the County Clerk-Recorder.
This Planning Department office is open three days a week and serves about 25 customers per week, but that number is expected to grow as the center’s hours of operation expand.
Challenging the Community to Save Energy
Planning & Building Department staff developed a creative and cost-effective way to encourage residents save money and reduce energy costs with several month-long Community Energy Challenges in 2014.
While the County offers a variety of energy-saving programs throughout the year, Planning & Building Department staff wanted to increase awareness of these programs. That’s when the County’s Energy Program, administered by the Planning & Building Department, partnered with Community Action Partnership, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Gas Company and local leaders to host several month-long Community Energy Challenges.
In 2014, the communities of Shandon, Santa Margarita, Oceano, Los Osos and Avila Beach each participated in a month-long Community Energy Challenge, accomplishing greater energy and cost savings than other programs before it. Low-income and moderate-income residents were able to take advantage of low- and no-cost programs to improve the energy efficiency, comfort and safety of their homes while also reducing their energy bills.