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Mar 25, 2014 9:51 PM by LiLi Tan, KSBY News

Cal Poly neighbors dispute new dorm location

Some San Luis Obispo residents are opposing the location of Cal Poly's proposed dormitories because of potential partygoers infiltrating their neighborhood. Neighbors of the university say building seven new freshman dormitories near the intersection of Grande Ave. and Slack St. will cause more disruption to the Alta Vista neighborhood. As it is, they say living there means having "Mardi Gras twice a month," a neighbor who lives on Slack St. said. Sharon Whitney, who lives in Alta Vista, says that she has seen students urinate in her yard, have fist fights on rooftops, vandalize parked cars, break windows and throw parties starting at 6:00 a.m. Whitney says if the dorms are built, the freshman will party in their neighborhood too. "They might still be looking for something to do and they would be attracted up to here - this neighborhood," Whitney said. Cal Poly says that more on-campus housing means students will be more likely to stay out of trouble. "When students live on campus they perform academically better than their peers who live off campus and graduate faster," Keith Humphrey, Cal Poly's VP for Student Affairs, said. Whitney, who's a part of a group that took out a full-page advertisement in the local newspaper inviting people to the town hall meeting, says she and her fellow neighbors are not against additional student housing, but the location. "There's lots of empty space on the other side of campus that Cal Poly has that they could put the dorms on," Whitney said. Humphrey says Cal Poly has considered 10 locations; however, the empty, under-utilized parking lot near Grand Ave. and Slack St. "was arrived at as the best possible option at this time," he said. The underlying issue is that some neighbors already have problems with existing Cal Poly students who live in their neighborhood, and they're bracing for more if the dorms are built. "There's a whole generation of students who seem to think that, ‘This is our place,'" Whitney said, explaining she thinks students should try and fit in with the existing neighborhood and not the other way around. University officials want to emphasize the "true partnership" that the neighborhood and Cal Poly have. "Cal Poly can't exist without San Luis Obispo and San Luis Obispo exists and benefits from Cal Poly," Humphrey said. Whitney contends that "this is not a college town. This is a town that has a college in it," she said. Humphrey says the final environmental impact report is due March 31, and hopes the board of trustees will approve the plans in May so that the dorms can open in the fall of 2018.

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