The old city hall site is one step closer to being turned into an upscale boutique hotel after City Council unanimously approved several related items this week.
After nearly an hour and a half of discussion, council voted 6-0 Tuesday in approval for the Lido House Hotel lease and several land use amendments. Councilman Mike Henn recused himself.
“This really is exciting,” said Mayor Rush Hill, calling the project “first class.”
“I’m going to be real proud to sign that lease,” he said.
Council approved amendments to the general plan, coastal land use plan and the zoning code. All three changed the site’s public facilities designation to mixed use.
The CLUP amendment also changed a policy to allow for taller buildings. This will allow the project to rise above the 35-foot allowed in the shoreline height limitation zone. It does not create a significant impact to public views, so staff felt the amendment was warranted, said Principal Planner Jim Campbell.
Council also approved the Lido House Hotel ground lease and site development review, which included the design and construction, and a conditional use permit for hotel operations.
“I think it’s going to be a terrific addition to our city,” said Mayor Pro Tem Ed Selich.
Bob Olson of R.D. Olson Development once again described the 130-room upscale boutique hotel will include a restaurant, meeting rooms, bar/lounges, spa, fitness center, rooftop lounge, viewing deck, retail space and recreational areas. It also includes a “bay to beach” open areas and walkways for pedestrians.
The Balboa Island resident repeated his idea of the projecting being the “gateway to Lido Village and the Peninsula.”
Olson went over the project details, reminding the council of the “Newport nautical” design and a “beachside feel and look.”
He also reiterated the study that showed the project generating $400 million of total revenue over a 10 year period, Olson said. It will also create additional direct and indirect spending from visitors, he added.
“You’ve heard this before,” he said.
There were 13 speakers during public comment, most of whom were in favor of the Olson hotel and several comments eliciting applause and cheers from the audience.
Lido Isle Homeowners Association representative Hugh Helm was among the residents who spoke.
There is a high level of support from the locals on Lido Isle, he said.
“Our residents are not only supportive, but they are passionate about this project and getting the hotel up and running as soon as possible,” Helm noted.
He urged council to do everything in their power to expedite the project getting approved by the California Coastal Commission. He also offered help from the association in order to get to the “shovels in the ground stage.”
Several other speakers agreed, saying the sooner the better.
Councilman Keith Curry addressed the some of the hurdles that have slowed the project down
“I hope you all appreciate that there are people trying to block this project, and sue the project, and get money out of the project, and some candidates out there wanting to try and sell the land which is sort of code words for ’Screwing up the project,’” Curry said.
They have to take their time to make sure all their documents are in order and can sustain through court in order for Olson to move forward, he said.
Gordon Hart, representative for Lido Partners, the company that owns Via Lido Plaza, was the most outspoken opponent.
Their main objection, Hart said, was the plan to eliminate the 32nd Street delivery truck access.
The study that reviewed access and use of the alleyway was inadequate and misinterpreted, he argued.
Tenants in their center have large trucks that service the property and use that alley, he said, and the leases for the tenants actually require them to use the 32nd Street access.
Several other speakers mentioned the dispute over the 32nd Street access, which has become a legal battle, claiming the company is holding back the entire community and only protecting their own interests, not the interests of the neighborhood.
The EIR completely repudiates Lido Partners’ contentions, Helm said.
Another concern was the impact on traffic and parking in the area. Several residents said the parking was “grossly inadequate.”
“We’ve fully analyzed all of the traffic impacts. And we’ve looked at all the turn radius’ for the larger trucks,” city attorney Aaron Harp replied. “It’s been analyzed to death.”
There will be 148 parking spaces, with valet service.
After conducting an analysis of the demand, staff feels there is adequate parking, Campbell pointed out, and it shouldn’t impact the nearby residential streets. It includes parking for both guests and employees, he confirmed.
“The last thing we want is to end up short on parking,” Olson added.
The parking study includes everything and everybody during the busiest time, he emphasized.
Curry encouraged everybody to take a breath and celebrate, which garnered a loud applause from the audience.
“This is another historic day in moving forward to revitalize the peninsula,” Curry said. “We should just take a moment while we go through this process here and celebrate that as a community.”