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Carlsbad, California City Council Approves 215-Room Hilton Hotel Project,
the First in Beachfront Region

By Barbara Henry, North County Times, Escondido, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jul. 22, 2009--CARLSBAD -- The City Council gave its unanimous approval Tuesday to a 215-room hotel project that could be the start of a large-scale revamping of Carlsbad's southern Ponto beachfront region.

Council members also heard that night from about a dozen people with conflicting viewpoints on a proposal to ban night-time parking in a Rancho Carrillo neighborhood, and agreed to support an emotion-packed appeal to name a city ballfield for Carlsbad teen who died late last year.

The Hilton hotel project is proposed for an 8-acre site in the far northern end of the Ponto region, adjacent to the Hanover Beach Colony housing development. Several years ago, when the city first began discussing the project as part of a renovation plan for the entire Ponto region, a number of Hanover Beach residents expressed their opposition.

However, the number of opponents attending city meetings has been declining of late, and no one from Hanover Beach spoke at Tuesday's meeting. Other than hotel developer Bill Canepa and his consultant, the only public speakers were two representatives for a nearby storage company. They said they wanted the city to make certain a future roadway extension was fully improved as planned.

Canepa said Tuesday's lack of opposition was a sign of how much the hotel's design has been improved over the years to limit concerns about hotel noise and lights.

Councilman Mark Packard asked how quickly Canepa could get the hotel open, saying he hoped it would jump-start other renovation efforts in the area.

"We're hoping to be open inside of three years," Canepa responded, adding that the biggest factor holding him back now is the recent national economic downturn.

The hotel property is perhaps best known for containing a huge wood pile at present. It is proposed to have 10,385 square feet of conference room space, plus a 5,100-square-foot day spa and a similar-sized restaurant with ocean views.

It's one of several tourist lodging options contemplated in the Ponto area. Among other things, the city's Ponto Beachfront Vision Plan calls for a large, upscale resort on now-vacant land next to Batiquitos Lagoon.

In other action Tuesday night, the City Council unanimously agreed to name a ballfield at Poinsettia Park in honor of 18-year-old Mitchell Thorp, who died in November after battling illness for several years.

Mitchell was active in youth baseball programs starting from when he was 4, his parents Brad and Beth Thorp told the council as they made their naming request. Their appeal was supported by the mother of their son's best friend, the family's minister, the head of the local youth baseball organization and many other people. One young cousin brought some audience members to tears as he described how he wanted to walk by the city field and have it remind him of his much-loved baseball-playing buddy.

Late Tuesday evening, the council also unanimously agreed to overturn a decision by the city's traffic safety commission regarding overnight parking along Paseo Descanso in the city's Rancho Carrillo region.

In June, the traffic commission voted against the residents' request to ban night-time parking on their street, which is southeast of the Melrose Drive and Carrillo Way intersection. The ban, which would be from 2 to 5 a.m., aims to stop people from the nearby Cascada Condominiums from using the Paseo Descanso to park cars overnight.

The majority of the Paseo Descanso area residents appeared to favor the ban, saying it would help improve conditions on their street and arguing that the condominium complex could do a better job of accommodating its residents' vehicles. However, the council heard from several opponents who live on Paseo Descanso, including one person who said it would cause him problems because he owns three vehicles and isn't able to park any of them in his garage.

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To see more of the North County Times, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.nctimes.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, North County Times, Escondido, Calif.

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