|By Kristin S. Agostoni, Daily Breeze,
Torrance, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 19, 2010 --Two four-story hotels and a recreational vehicle storage site proposed in north Redondo Beach won approval this week from the city Planning Commission.
The development off Marine Avenue near the San Diego (405) Freeway will give Redondo its first newly constructed hotels -- a Marriott Residence Inn and Hilton Garden Inn -- in more than two decades. The most recent is the Crowne Plaza, formerly a Sheraton, which moved in along the waterfront in the mid-1980s.
After more than three hours of discussion Thursday night, the planning panel threw its unanimous support behind Utah-based developer TRCF Redondo LLC.
The company plans to build on nearly 12 acres northwest of the freeway's Inglewood Avenue off-ramp, replacing the long-shuttered Malibu Castle miniature golf course and a former city household hazardous waste drop-off center.
Officials had rezoned the long, skinny stretch of land in 2006 in hopes of attracting either hotels or car dealerships there.
"I'm real excited," Planning Commissioner John Parsons said before casting his vote. "I think this is what we were looking for when we envisioned uses for this property years ago."
And considering how many South Bay cities -- including Redondo Beach -- have been trying to find ways to keep RVs from parking on local streets, Parsons said the project at least gives their owners another option.
It will provide 154 spots for oversized vehicles at the south end of
the property, which is where the city previously collected household waste. The hotels -- with a combined 309 rooms -- would be accessible from Marine and sit side-by-side facing the freeway and adjacent a Metro Green Line station.
City staff members estimate the development will generate $1.6 million annually in bed, property and utility-users' taxes. And Planning Director Aaron Jones said Redondo also will generate money by leasing out the property it once used as a waste drop-off site -- a deal that still needs City Council approval.
The planning commissioners Thursday were generally complimentary of the proposed uses for the land, the site layout and the architectural designs. And they agreed with the staff's conclusion that negative traffic impacts at two nearby intersections could be handled with corrective measures such as signal and lane modifications.
Staff members previously said three intersections along Marine Avenue would require improvements: at Aviation Boulevard, Redondo Beach Avenue and Inglewood Avenue.
But planners said they removed the Redondo Beach/Marine Avenue intersection from the equation after realizing recent traffic improvements have increased capacity there. And after learning that neighboring Lawndale has work planned at Inglewood and Marine, the developer will be required to chip in for a portion of that project, a staff report says.
But not everyone agrees that the city has adequately analyzed or identified enough ways to offset the project's effects on traffic.
In letters to the city, slow-growth activist Jim Light said the plan requires further review -- a position shared by the Centinela Valley Union High School District.
The district's attorney, Stan Barankiewicz, argued Thursday that Redondo Beach has not spent enough time analyzing how additional traffic from the hotels could affect access to Lawndale High School and the district's administrative offices on Inglewood, north of Marine.
But city officials defended the study and their methodology, and countered that the hotel's driving guests would more than likely be traveling west to aerospace jobs in Redondo Beach and El Segundo, not past the district's buildings.
"The fact that the city has turned a blind eye toward looking at the school impacts is troublesome," Barankiewicz said after the meeting. He said he did not know whether the district would challenge the Planning Commission's ruling.
If appealed, the project would have to be considered by the Redondo Beach City Council.
The Marine Avenue hotels and RV park is the second significant development plan in the works in north Redondo Beach -- the other being a commercial complex near the South Bay Galleria.
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