Cal Poly considers P3 for staff housing

The project would create roughly 420 market-rate accommodations for university staff as part of an updated master plan.

Cal Poly administration is considering the use of a public-private partnership (PPP; P3) to develop workforce housing on a 10 to 15-acre parcel near the Grand Avenue campus entrance.

In a meeting with city and county officials last week, university administrators asserted that faculty and staff housing would create 'a buffer zone' around the campus, and proposed the use of a P3 to develop the project because of its ability to draw private financing.

The administration said it was “eager to move forward with possible solutions to [its] urgent need for workforce housing,” according to Cal Poly president Jeffrey Armstrong. 

“We believe this concept can help the university recruit and retain high-quality faculty and staff members while also easing impacts on the local housing market,” he said in a statement. 

The university is reportedly seeking a partner to enter into a long-term contract of 60 to 80 years. As an added incentive, any units not rented to faculty and staff would be available to rent to the general public. 

The new master plan has garnered support from public officials in the district as well as local editorial boards, including that of the San Louis Obispo-based Tribune. 

The Tribune wrote that the least expensive rental advertised locally on real estate site Zillow at the time of the editorial was a three-bedroom for $1,015 per month, with rentals generally running between $1,200 and $5,500 per month. By comparison, the lower end of the pay scale for full-time university employees is roughly $1,989 per month.  

The plan will be up for approval in May 2017. In the meantime the university plans to hold focus groups, surveys and other outreach efforts, according to a statement.