Rick Morgan, Dana Point
First, my thanks go out to reader Jody Payne and her letter from last week’s edition of the Times regarding the proposed hotel at the intersection of PCH and Harbor Drive.
The more I hear about this, the more I’m convinced that this is a bad idea. I also can’t help but think that it’s almost a done deal. It conjures up old memories of the early days following Dana Point’s incorporation when it seemed the city was hell-bent on closing us in with a ring of hotels as it pursued its—and developers’—goals of making Dana Point a “destination resort,” regardless of views to the contrary of many of us who live here.
In general, I think Dana Point has done a good job of creating a city that makes us proud to live here. We have a great Harbor, nice neighborhoods and many world-class events.
But this hotel is questionable at best on so many levels. We have a very nice archway to greet visitors from the south (after passing the Double Tree Hotel on the Interstate 5 exit that obliterated the most beautiful view of Capo Bay and the harbor 25 years ago.)
Now, just yards beyond the arch, Beverly Hills Hospitality Group—Beverly Hills is a red flag right there—wants to greet visitors with a five-story hotel being shoe-horned into the intersection. They want a height variance that, given the location of the Best Western across the street, will create a near hotel canyon. And now they want to take park land?
Do we really want this to be the first thing visitors see when they enter the Dana Point? I’d like to think not.
More red flags: The argument’s been made that the St. Regis is an overly large hotel. Perhaps. St. Regis may arguably be a pile, but at least the land on which it sits is large enough to hold it. This proposed hotel would sit on a flood plain with parking underground, from what I’ve read. At the Coffee Chat in November, when BHHG—which filed for bankruptcy in 2012, as pointed out in this column last year—made another proposal to the people of Dana Point, their Irvine-based communications consultants seemingly rushed the meeting to an end during a Q&A session.
I had asked the woman taking questions what would prevent BHHG from continuing to pursue a possible future acquisition of the scuba shop and Del Taco to further enlarge the hotel, even though those owners at present are not interested selling. I know that virtually any property is for sale if the price is right, but her answer to me was to say that “the owners are not interested in selling but, you’re right, that would be the best thing to do, acquiring those two properties,” totally distorting my words.
That’s just the short list.
I get that the intersection is a bit of an eyesore, but I strongly urge the Planning Commission and the City Council, if not to reject this project outright, to at least scale back the size and scope proposed. Please don’t sell out. This is a bad idea.