Waterman Village

Safe, secure, permanent & affordable housing in a sustainable Cottage Cluster

What is Waterman Village?

  • 20 permanent, below-market rate homes, built on foundations, each with full bathing, kitchen and laundry facilities 

  • A group of efficient small homes (220-260 square feet) and a neighborhood park around a restored historic adobe that serves as a gathering center for residents (14 attached and 6 detached)

  • A cultural heritage center that models sustainable living practices, encourages community interactions through walking and bicycling, and provides residents and the community a calm, shaded neighborhood park.

  • The all-electric, high efficiency homes and the adobe will be hooked up to City water, wastewater and electric infrastructure, just like all other homes on the block, and they will have solar generating capacity added on, to meet or exceed California codes.

Who will live at Waterman Village?

  • Older single women on a fixed income; working singles who choose to live simply and car-free; a working mom or dad with a small child; residents will have to apply, meet income and other requirements, and will then be selected via lottery.

Who will manage the Waterman Village property?

  • Smart Share Housing Solutions or another non-profit housing organization using an on-site office and an off hours on-site resident manager.

What Waterman Village is NOT:

  • Temporary homeless shelter 
  • Social services hub
  • McMansions that only wealthy retirees from LA and SF can afford

  • Off-grid cabins without adequate utility infrastructure

Who will NOT live at Waterman Village:

  • Everyone who would like to

  • People making more than designated income limits

Who will NOT manage the Waterman Village Property:

  • An off-site professional property management firm.

What Waterman Village will NOT do to surrounding properties:

How will Waterman Village benefit the community?

  • Increase socialization and provide a local park

  • Provide housing for people who need it

  • Preserve the majority of the on-site trees

  • Restoration of the adobe, currently boarded up for many years

  • A beautiful, centrally located place for San Luis Obispo residents of limited means who want to live simply, in community, and car-free near downtown

  • Sustainability showplace and education center

With your continuing help, we will construct 20 desperately needed affordable homes downtown San Luis Obispo at the Rosa Butron de Canet Adobe!

  • Lower cost to construct: factory built small homes on permanent foundations

  • Attainable housing for single, lower income workforce and retired senior households

  • Community Resilience: low footprint construction, adaptive reuse & car-free living

The Waterman Project, a sustainable micro-village, will renovate the historic adobe at 466 Dana Street and add up to 20 affordable small homes. The long unused property will be transformed to serve the community, bringing old and new together while preserving the lush tree canopy AND meeting needs for local affordable housing in community resilience. Through these efforts, neighborhood safety and vitality will be further enhanced and this project will serve as a replicable community partnership model for other game changing adaptive reuse, community resilience and affordable housing partnerships ahead.

We asked, and the community generously responded

Thank you to our team of donors, volunteers and contractors

The Waterman Village is Smart Share Housing's first housing development project. As with so many firsts, there come a variety of things you didn't know you didn't know--and that suddenly, yesterday, somebody needed to know. Appropriate treatments to make a 170 year old mud building functional for modern use today, for example, and what appropriate head clearance is for lofts in 220 square foot homes is common sense merged with code–demanding a high level of team collaboration. This project development is possible only with the help of an extended team. Our sincere thanks to all listed and additionally to the hundreds of people participating in the process in various ways, some whose names we'll never know:

  • All Volunteer WV Team: Thank you, first, to our dedicated all volunteer WV Team members: Terri Main, Carl Meissner, Erik Berg-Johansen, Stephanie Teaford, Celeste Goyer, Fred Hathaway, Aimee Wyatt, Marianne Kennedy, Sharon Gottesfeld and Marcia Alter, who have, over more than three years, drawn plans, marked out home sites, measured heights of tree limbs, spoken with neighbors and given tours to community members, pressed partners for action, asked for donations and done the hands on work of making this project possible

  • Professional consultants: Thank you to Dana Hunter and Kaye Lao, project architect and draftsperson, for leading project design and site planning, handling thousands of small details to fit homes between and under tree limbs, get enough fire separation, maintain and protect the primary historic features of the adobe, try to fit in the best place for e-bike charging, keep residents from hitting their heads on low ceilings, etc; to Terry Lee, TLLA, for help with essential tree protection; to Dan Parker-King at Hive Engineering, for making the rainwater flow away from the mud building; to Jennifer Rennick at InBalance Green Consulting for assistance with home energy efficiency analysis; and to the team at SWCA for multiple rounds of environmental review to protect site resources
  • Project partners: We appreciate the ongoing assistance of City of San Luis Obispo Council Members & staff, particularly project liaison Bob Hill and affordable housing coordinator, Kyle Bell, for keeping the project moving forward; County of San Luis Obispo for ARPA project grant funding; Angela Tahti and Ken Haggard, whose vision for this property got the project underway, and Stacey Hunt, at Ecologistics, for the organizational capacity and dedication to sign off on a large project of small homes
  • Many, many donors:
  • 172 community members contributed to the GoFundMe campaign = $10,570
  • 24 community members contributed donations through this website = $9,990
  • Total donations of $20,560 from 196 donors
  • 10 generous donors have made Match Pledges of $734,100 for project development, contingent upon City match funds

206 donations and pledges totaling $754,646 make this project a reality.

Private community member contributions will be leveraged with City and the County affordable housing funds, private foundation contributions and loan funds, as necessary.

Your additional contributions to help us reach our $1M in local community contributions goal will help us continue to demonstrate broad community support for small, infill, affordable homes and show that this model is replicable in San Luis Obispo and elsewhere.  

Waterman Village Site Plan; Hunter Smith Architecture 2023
Waterman Village Site Plan; Hunter Smith Architecture 2023

Frequently Asked Questions about this Project:

1. What is the Waterman Village Project and who owns the property?

Waterman Village is a joint project of the City of San Luis Obispo (the owner of the property) and Smart Share Housing Solutions, a non-profit organization. The use of the historic Rosa Butron de Canet Adobe and grounds will be established in a long-term lease between the City and Smart Share Housing Solutions.

The project vision includes preservation of the site's natural beauty and heritage trees, rehabilitation of the historic adobe, construction of a micro-village of efficient small homes, and creation of a neighborhood park. Waterman Village will be a cultural heritage center that models sustainable living practices, encourages community interactions through walking and bicycling, and provides residents and the community a calm, shaded neighborhood park. Smart Share Housing Solutions will manage daily operations.

2. What is proposed?

Once rehabilitated, the historic adobe will contain an office, kitchen, bathroom, and space for small meetings or gatherings. A model, car-free, micro-village of efficient tiny homes will provide affordable housing for community-minded residents, committed to the project and sustainable living practices. Public access hours to view the historic adobe to be determined. Park grounds will be accessible to neighbors during daylight hours.

3. What's happening now?

  • Smart Share is working with micro-home manufacturers to find the right factory home builder for the project.

  • Project construction lead Terri Main, from the Main Company, Inc, is working with City staff and contractors to estimate construction costs; and plan for adobe rehab with Robert Vessely PE and others.

  • Smart Share's volunteer team continues to: share information about the project with neighbors and community members; request support and funding from community members; and build a sense of excitement around how this micro-community model, with lower cost factory built permanent, affordable tiny housing and car-free living, can work on this site andbe replicated elsewhere.

  • Smart Share staff is working with City and County staff and applying to foundations to secure affordable housing, historic preservation and community electrification and resiliency funds for the project.

4. What are the next steps for the Waterman Village Project?

  • Development review of the project application is likely to take several months, during which time the project will be evaluated to make sure it meets objective City requirements and adequately protects the existing historic adobe.

  • Your involvement is a valuable factor toward providing safe, affordable housing in this premier location. The City of San Luis Obispo and the County need to know you want this project to happen. Your pledge of support will influence their investment. Contribute financially now to help us reach our $1M match goal.  Please donate now!  Donate by credit card here online or send checks to P.O. Box 15034 San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.

5. What's already been done?

  • Smart Share's all volunteer Waterman Village team continued to work with the City of San Luis Obispo staff, contractors and stakeholders to get all necessary information into the application to get it deemed complete.

  • To begin the official entitlement process, on June 20, 2022 Smart Share's architect, Dana Hunter, from Hunter Smith Architecture, submitted application for development for Phase I of the project to the City of San Luis Obispo.

  • On June 7th, 2022 the San Luis Obispo City Council approved allocating $900,000 ARPA funding to the City's affordable housing fund, which city staff has recommended Smart Share apply for upon project entitlement approval.
  • In Spring 2022, Smart Share's WV team generated more than 200 community member donations and pledges totaling $754,646 toward project design, permitting and development.
  • In 2021, the SLO City Council approved an exclusive negotiating agreement (ENA) with Smart Share, establishing benchmarks required by project applicant to secure a long term lease from the City and proceed with project development.

  • The Smart Share proposal was accepted.

  • In April 2020, in response to a request for proposals from the City, Smart Share Housing Solutions assembled a volunteer project team and proposed a project of small 100% affordable housing scattered among the site's beautiful trees.

Your tax-deductible donation and/or pledge can be cash/check/credit card or: 

 - appreciated stocks or securities
 - real estate or other property
 - all or a portion of your required minimum distribution (RMD)
 - gift from your DAF (donor advised fund)

Call to talk about which option(s) might be right for you: 805-215-5474 OR donate cash now with a check to: Smart Share Housing Solutions, P.O.Box 15034, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.

To donate via credit card, click the button below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Keep an eye out for updates, and plan to join in support of the Waterman Village at entitlement hearings, anticipated in Spring 2024!

Waterman Village Development Plan Submitted to the City of San Luis Obispo!

Our construction lead, Terri Main from the Main Company, Inc., with Dana and Logan Hunter, from Hunter Smith Architecture, submitting plans at the Community Development counter. Thank you to Terri and Dana and Logan and to the rest of our volunteer WV Team and board members who have contributed thousands of hours of in kind support to reach this point. City staff will review plans, ask for any necessary changes and additional information, and the project enters the City's development review process.