258-room hotel plans to be presented at Planning Commission meeting November 18
By Andrea Papagianis
A month after the public comment period regarding the 258-room Doheny Hotel proposal ended, the developer held the first of what he called many public presentations Wednesday morning at a Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club meeting.
The proposal lays out plans for a two- to five-story hotel on 1.5 acres across three contiguous lots at the corner of Dana Point Harbor Drive and Pacific Coast Highway. The site currently houses a Jack in the Box, a vacant liquor store and the 46-room Dana Point Harbor Inn, all of which would be demolished. Plans for the hotel include conference rooms, restaurants, rooftop amenities like a pool and bar and an underground parking structure with about 275 spaces.
Michael Draz, CEO of the development firm Beverly Hills Hospitality Group, started acquiring the land in 2006. Draz was on hand for the meeting and said he planned to hold similar presentations with other local groups to address concerns raised by residents, including parking, traffic and aesthetics.
The proposal was introduced in 2011 and after a public scoping meeting and numerous responses raised issue with the plan, the city determined an environmental-impact report was necessary. The draft report was released earlier this summer for public review.
In response to concerns, the developer is proposing adding a right-turn-only lane from eastbound PCH to Dana Point Harbor Drive, where the hotel’s entrance will be, and widening the roadway at Park Lantern to allow for U-turns, said Coralee Newman, with Government Solutions Inc., the developer’s communications consultant who gave the presentation.
To move forward as planned, the developer would need a variance for the city’s height limit of 35 feet, said Ursula Luna-Reynosa, the city’s community development director. The proposed hotel varies in height from two stories to five, with its highest point standing at 60.5 feet tall.
The EIR reflects a height of 86.5 feet, but did not account for the site’s elevation, Luna-Reynosa said. Staff is correcting the document, but not recirculating it she said, because the impact is being lessened as opposed to increased.
Newman said without a height variance approval, room numbers and amenities would be cut, meaning the hotel could not qualify for its four-star status goal. Newman said major hotel chains, like the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, have expressed interest in the property.
According to Newman and Draz, starting room rates at the hotel would be about $250 with a three to four percent rate increase each year thereafter. The hotel is expected to add an additional $1.5 million to the city’s revenues from transient occupancy taxes, a 10 percent tax placed on short-term rentals like hotels, motels, campsites, and come January, on vacation rentals of less than 30 days.
The preliminary report along with public comments and responses from the city will be included in a final analysis and presented to the Planning Commission on Monday, November 18, Luna-Reynosa said. The presentation will act as an information session, no vote will be taken. At the meeting, both the developer and public will be given time to address the commission.
A public hearing will follow on December 9. Planning Commission meetings at held at City Hall, Council Chambers, located at 33282 Golden Lantern. Meetings begin at 6 p.m.