SECOND STREET — A 2011 e-mail from a relative of the owner of the Huntley Hotel expresses concern about the impacts of affordable housing near the luxury hotel, in stark contrast to recent statements denying such sentiment.
Officials with the Huntley say that the e-mail does not represent the views of the hotel itself, and that the individual was “trying to be helpful.”
In a June 2, 2011 e-mail, Farzin Aghaipour tells a lobbyist that redevelopment plans for the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, located across the street from the Huntley, include affordable housing on a lot immediately adjacent to the Huntley.
“The traffic and low-income housing consequences are also highly undesirable from a business and social perspective for the surrounding community,” Aghaipour wrote.
He requested a referral for legal services, and asked the recipient of the e-mail — the identify of whom could not be confirmed by presstime — to lobby for the hotel.
“You were the first person that came to mind upon learning of the Fairmont plan,” Aghaipour wrote. “I was hoping we can possibly retain you for our governmental affairs/lobbying needs.”
The e-mail came to light roughly a week after Huntley officials issued a strongly-worded statement denying opposition to affordable housing in response to a flyer by Ocean Avenue, LLC. — the company that owns the Fairmont Miramar Hotel — accusing representatives of making derogatory statements about the housing in a public meeting held in 2010.
Shiva Aghaipour, vice president of the hotel, said in a statement on June 28 that the flyer was full of “lies and half truths” and “fabricated quotes.”
“The Huntley has been clear in numerous public meetings that affordable housing is NOT an issue,” Shiva Aghaipour wrote then.
On Monday, Shiva Aghaipour described the 2011 e-mail as part of a smear campaign against the Huntley.
“As we stated, Mr. Aghaipour is a relative of the owner of the Huntley Hotel who was acting on his own to try to be helpful,” Shiva Aghaipour said. “His statements do not represent the Huntley’s position, and he was not ‘in charge’ of finding people to represent the hotel.”
The Miramar flyer references a comment allegedly made by a Huntley Hotel representative during a 2010 meeting at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, one of the first times that the proposed development was seen by the public.
The Daily Press reached out to several people who attended that meeting, but while they agreed that the overall tone of the meeting was vicious, they either could not recall the comment or they could not pinpoint who said it.
The two hotels have been engaged in a cold war for several years over the proposed redevelopment, which is expected to go before the City Council sometime next year.
A political organizer with connections to the Huntley’s consultant Sue Burnside, Rohnda Ammouri, was revealed as one of the brains behind the Stop the Miramar Expansion group, which put out at least two flyers opposing the Fairmont Miramar project.
Ocean Avenue, LLC. released two flyers in June, the first attacking owner Sohrab Sassounian for his opposition to the project and the second pointing out possible monetary consequences to the school district and other entities if the redevelopment plan is rejected.
The first flyer was met with public recrimination, with many people writing into the paper to call it “racist” for its use of a grainy picture of Sassounian. Ammouri helped opponents craft statements with that language, according to an e-mail exchange between herself and an opponent of the project.