Demand for cheaper hotel rooms along San Diego coastline - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Demand for cheaper hotel rooms along San Diego coastline

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CHULA VISTA (CNS) - A push to create more inexpensive hotel rooms along the state's coastline, and the impact on San Diego-area projects, is scheduled to get an airing before the California Coastal Commission Thursday in Chula Vista.

Commission staff has recommended rejecting a proposed 175-room hotel on Harbor Island, and modifying the city of San Diego's community plan update for Ocean Beach because both plans don't take enough steps to increase the number of cheaper accommodations along the coastline.

The $30 million hotel proposal and Ocean Beach plan are among a series of San Diego County items scheduled to be heard by the commission today. The agency began three days of meetings Wednesday at Chula Vista City Hall.

The planned hotel is part of an amendment the commission needs to approve for the Port of San Diego's master land use plan. The document originally envisioned one 500-room hotel at the site on the east end of Harbor Island, but was subsequently modified to three lodging houses that would offer 500 rooms combined.

Of more than 8,000 rooms that provide overnight stays on port tidelands, only 237 are considered lower cost -- and those are at a recreational vehicle park in Chula Vista, according to a commission staff report. Waterfront hotels are popular with tourists and charge hundreds of dollars for a night's stay.

A fee on developers that was supposed to foster the creation of budget-friendly lodging has not brought about the desired result, according to the report.

Commission staff went on to say that while they worked out details with the port and developer that involve public coastal access and protection of resources, proposed language for a deal on room rates "does not adequately protect and encourage lower-cost visitor-serving accommodations."

Last week, the port responded with a letter to the commission that said the hotel project doesn't constitute a change in land use in its already approved master plan. The port also contended the commission staff's recommended language is illegal and unconstitutional.

Commission staff recommended numerous tweaks to the Ocean Beach Community Plan, which took about a dozen years to piece together and was approved by the City Council a little over a year ago.

Regarding bargain accommodations, commission staff noted that six reasonably priced hotels operate in Ocean Beach, but said the community plan does not prevent an upscale facility from being constructed or provide for a program to encourage more inexpensive overnight lodging.

The California Coastal Commission has authority over development and land-use decisions along the state's shoreline.

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