|By J.M. Brown, Santa Cruz Sentinel,
Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 22, 2011--SANTA CRUZ -- The Santa Cruz Planning Commission begrudgingly endorsed a 111-room hotel proposed for Broadway south of the Ocean Street intersection, but the panel placed numerous conditions on the project.
The commission recommended the Hyatt Place Hotel to the City Council only if the Los Gatos developers agree to set aside up to $50,000 for traffic and pedestrian improvements and work with neighbors to reduce concerns about traffic. The hotel will also be required to hire locally and place surveillance cameras around the property.
Other conditions include equipping the roof for future installation of solar panels, seeking LEED certification for exterior lighting, create a bike rental program and occasionally offering the hotel's community room for local activities at a reduced rate.
The hotel would bring an estimated $300,000 to $500,000 in new transient occupancy tax revenue to a city facing a $5.5 million budget deficit this year. It would also create 30 new jobs.
But a number of commissioners said they were concerned about the clash of those public benefits with impacts on the neighborhood. They criticized the hotel's plain architecture and amplified concerns raised by neighbors about increased traffic and noise to an already congested area.
"The public benefit is the transient occupancy tax, that's it," Commissioner Bill Schultz said. "This is a neighborhood under stress for a long time. People in this neighborhood have been working a long time to make their neighborhood viable."
Building the hotel would require the relocation of the Unity Temple of Santa Cruz, which is renting the site now, and demolition of the church building. The project would require several permits, including building in a Multiple Residential zoning and serving wine and beer to guests in the evening. The hotel would include 119 parking spaces and 1,650 square feet of meeting space.
The commission was also scheduled to review the city's Ocean Street Plan to make improvements along the largely commercial corridor connecting Highway 17 to the beach area. But due to a protracted discussion about the hotel did not begin discussing the Ocean Street plan before press time.
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Copyright (c) 2011, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Calif.
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