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Council Approves 106-Room Hotel on Broadway Near Ocean

Council members say it will upgrade the neighborhood, but neighbors are unhappy about traffic and transients

The new lift system is supposed to be as quiet as an elevator.
The new lift system is supposed to be as quiet as an elevator.
After hours of hearing from community members who were mostly against the project, the Santa Cruz City Council finalized approval of a 106-room Hyatt Plaza Hotel on the grounds of the abandoned Unity Temple at 407 Broadway.

"I think the process has been conducted thoroughly and thoroughly transparently," said Councilman Cynthia Mathews who was one of five representatives who voted to approve the project. Only Micah Posner voted against it. Posner owns a home in the neighborhood, but said he got permission to vote on it because he lived more than 500 feet from the project.

When it was passed two years ago, then councilman Ryan Coonerty abstained because he lived next door to it. Councilman Hilary Bryant wasn't at this meeting.

"I think the people best qualified to determine whether something will clean up a neighborhood are the people in the neighborhood," argued Posner, adding that few in the neighborhood wanted the hotel, which was allowed in an area zoned for homes and apartments.

"Every hotel brings a neighborhood down," he added. "A nice hotel just brings it down a little less. How do we control it? Through zoning."

Posner said he bought a home in the area knowing it wasn't zoned for businesses and thought it was a disservice to neighbors to change it.

Councilman Don Lane, however, argued that the decision was made two years ago and the developers have put in hudreds of thousands of dollars into the project. To back out now would "be damaging both to the community and to the developer."

The church site has been a problem for years, even when it was functioning according to police and neighbors. It was a place to find drugs and prostitutes.  

Mathews said she thought the hotel would give added security to the neighborhood with lighting, video cameras and 24-hour parking staff. All guests will be required to use valet parking, and they will park some cars with an elevator stacking system, like those used in New York. 

One problem no one had much of an answer for was the added traffic in the already crowded area and the difficulty of making a left turn on Broadway into the hotel's lot.

The city is studying a dedicated turn lane there, but neighbors said the street is already packed, particularly after school at 3 p.m., the same time hotel guests will be able to check in. 

The hotel had been approved two years ago, but when the developers found that they couldn't put in an underground garage because the water table was too high, they had to go before the council to change from 110 rooms to 106. 

The change sparked a new round of controversy and meetings. 

The hotel owner, Tejal Sood, also owns the Comfort Inn at 314 Riverside and the Hampton Inn at 1505 Ocean St. 
Johnny at the Harbor January 15, 2014 at 09:25 AM
Interesting to see what takes place..Im sure the Hotel will have to provide armed guards and a shuttle service to the beach, because nobody is going to want to walk to the beach through that crime, drug infested area...because of the area, guest will only stay there ONCE and will tell all their friends the place is in the middle of a Ghetto...Johnny at the Harbor..Telling it again
Lisa Bennett, President January 15, 2014 at 10:40 AM
Wondering how the EIR dealt with the water issue for 106 hotel rooms, when the city and county are in a drought.
JBK January 15, 2014 at 01:01 PM
....every few weeks or months there are bad traffic accidents at ocean & broadway-even a fatal one not that many years ago...i expect even those who know how to drive will be challenged by the increase in density....pedestrians with or without their dogs, acoustic bikers and variously skilled skateboarders will....wait, this is getting too long....then there's that gentrification virus....bette davis had a quip I think partly paraphrased applies: "fasten your seatbelts it's going to be even more bumpy around here"...

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