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Improvements to SLO Mission Plaza

SLO Mission Plaza. Photo by Lauren Grasmick

Following several years of plans to renovate San Luis Obispo’s downtown Mission Plaza, the beginning phase includes a free-standing cafe, fresh landscaping, and food trucks. 

During a meeting on Feb. 18, San Luis Obispo council members had split reactions to the proposed new additions. There also came criticism of re-designing the Mission to create a safer environment. 

The design planners met with 62 stakeholders consisting of city residents, local businesses, and church leadership. Addressed in the discussion was the clean up of problem areas and hiding spots, one namely being the Mission’s restrooms. 

“Drug paraphernalia and needles were found, we really need to look at ways to reorganize the space to attract people and families to want to use the plaza.” said Debbie Rudd, Principal at RRM Design Group.

Targeting the lawn adjacent and behind the restrooms has been a major concern for renovation. A center of focus from the design team is removing these hidden refuge spots, providing a free space to walk and for families to feel safe. 

While creating a space allowing for more versatile civic use, these new proposals come along with adding a full 360 degree visible kiosk of food and beverage within the Mission Plaza. As well, the city officials’ attention was brought to the idea of food trucks, forcing this to become a key factor of the meeting discussion. A standalone cafe vs. food trucks were largely debated.

A majority of the city council were against the idea of food trucks that may impact the Mission’s history and surrounding art. 

“Historically our organization has been pretty opposed to food trucks simply because they do provide direct competition for many of the restaurants in our downtown,” said Bettina Swigger, CEO of downtown San Luis Obispo. “We are supportive of any effort to clean up the restrooms in the mission plaza, any kind of activation that can come in.” 

Minor renovations have already been made to the Mission Plaza, such as fresh grass being added near the restrooms, as well as near the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. Movement towards implementing these ideas are still far from when actual action will be taken. 

No announcement has yet been made when the next discussion to move forward will take place. Information of the preliminary Mission Plaza renovations are available on the city council website.