Coastal Commission Votes Against Updated Bluff Hotel Project

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Renderings courtesy of Studio 111.

The California Coastal Commission (CCC) voted unanimously in a 12-0 vote to not grant Silversand Properties the right to build a proposed 72-hotel room, 33-condo building at Ocean and Cherry where the current, dilapidated Beach Plaza Hotel currently sits.

The project faced a large array of opponents, largely led by hotel labor union Unite Here! and the Palacio Del Mar and Park Regency HOAs. The HOAs were worried about increased traffic, heightened security risks, and loss of parking, noting that leaders “should launch a traffic study before allowing a traffic catastrophe.”

Unite Here!, on the other hand, noted that the project was blatantly in violation of the Local Coastal Program (LCP), which protects the three low-cost motels along the bluff in order to provide low-income families and individuals with access to the beaches of Long Beach.

“I am still stunned on how the whole thing went down, it just amazed me that we couldn’t get a continuance to try and negotiate—is that difficult?” said Mike Murchison, the man hired to represent the project publicly.

The CCC seemed to be unwilling to set a precedent of going against the LCP preservation clauses. Councilmember Suja Lowenthal, originally a supporter of the project and then one of its most vocal dissenters, told the CCC that should they approve the development permit, “you will be suggesting that visitor serving overnight accommodations are all the same, even when the affordable ones are explicitly preserved.”

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However, it remains unclear if the precedent opponents were fearful of enacting was already set: Silversand Properties, the owner of Beach Plaza, already has a CCC-approved entitled project that was approved in 2007. Despite the outcome of last week’s decision, the property owner can still develop its 40-key, 56-condo project that, according to Murchison, they will move forward with. This has led some to question whether the CCC’s most current decision is one that is actually beneficial for the community.

“Well, the community doesn’t get the great project, but they will get a project as ownership is moving forward with the entitled project,” Murchison said.

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The reason the entitled project never lifted off immediately was due to the many flaws in its design, including limited views from both inside the building and from the street, as well as a lack of interaction with the neighborhood. The modified design created views of the Spruce Goose Dome and Queen Mary, along with a public-accessible corridor straight through the building that provided access to a balcony and views of the beach from the sidewalk. It also included a restaurant space which would provide the only coast-side restaurant in between Belmont Brewing Company and Shoreline Village as well as a bike facility.

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