DOWNTOWN — A proposal to build a new Travelodge on Ocean Avenue cleared one final hurdle last week when the California Coastal Commission gave the project the green light, allowing construction to finally begin this fall.
The project, which includes tearing down the existing Pacific Sands Motel and adjacent Travelodge to construct a four-story limited amenities motel in its place, will be submitted for plan check next month. Construction is slated to begin in November and conclude in May 2011.
The commission’s approval came with several conditions, including requirements that the project comply with Santa Monica water quality mitigation efforts and conformance with the local archeological resource recovery plan, which means that if any fossils are discovered during excavation, it has to be reported to the appropriate agencies. Property owner Michael Farzam, whose family has been in the hospitality industry for more than three decades, said the conditions were expected.
“They were very fair and standard code requirements so overall we were very pleased with the approval,” he said.
The Farzam family purchased the two adjoining motels several years ago and reviewed a number of options for the sites, including renovation and leaving the properties as is, both of which were found not to be economically feasible. The new Travelodge will feature 164 rooms, a swimming pool, roughly 240 parking spaces and more than 4,600 square feet of ground-floor retail, including along Second Street. The rooms will average about $170 a night, considered affordable compared to other hotels in the area, Farzam said.
The project met some challenges over the years, including fighting an appeal by a neighboring building owner who argued the motel would block the ocean view. Farzam also appealed a Planning Commission decision to only allow a one-story bridge linking the motel’s main building to the annex, seeking instead a three-story bridge. The council last year denied the former appeal while upholding the latter.
Farzam also successfully fought a mitigation fee mandated under an ordinance that penalizes developers for removing affordable accommodations. The council waived the fee.
“Overall it was a lengthy process but we feel that the project has a lot of positive merits and positive public benefits for the community and the area,” Farzam said. “Even with all the long-term hurdles that we had to achieve, we’re still very happy and grateful that the project has been approved.”
RVs can stay
A campaign to rid the presence of recreational vehicles during early morning hours on Venice streets was dealt a blow last week when the commission denied a handful of permits establishing Overnight Parking Districts while upholding appeals on some that have previously been approved.
Parking restrictions have historically been difficult to pass in the coastal area because of concerns of maintaining beach access for the public.
The appeals were filed by long-time Venice resident Peggy Lee Kennedy and about 30 other people, arguing that the districts, which would have restricted parking from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. in the Oxford Triangle, Presidents Row and Villa Marina areas, would have inconvenienced everyone from rental property owners to those residing in RVs.
“There’s a lot of people who would be inconvenienced by this and there was no real study done by the city on all the populations that would be affected by this,” Kennedy said.
Many Venice residents have called for overnight restrictions on the vehicles for years, complaining about the loss of parking spaces and certain unsavory actions, including urinating in public.
The decision by the commission came as a surprise to Mike Newhouse, the president of the Venice Neighborhood Council, which has endorsed the Overnight Parking Districts.
He added that the beach is not in use during the proposed hours in which the OPD would be in effect.
“I know I have been down there late at night when I was younger and the police would roll by and say sorry, you can’t be here,” Newhouse said. “For all practical purposes, I don’t know how this is impeding access.”