Okays “Affordable” Coastal Hotel
By Jorge Casuso
September 14 – The City Council Tuesday night
determined an average room rate of $172 a night is “affordable”
for lodgings on Ocean Avenue, with or without the waffles.
The decision paves the way for the redevelopment of the half-century-old Travelodge
and Pacific Sands motels, which total 87 rooms, into a new four-story 164--room
hotel comprised of two buildings and a connecting guestroom bridge over the
2nd Street alley.
By deeming the proposed rates “affordable,” the owners won’t
have to pay an affordable lodging mitigation fee of $1.3 million for demolishing
the current motels, where rates can be little more than $100 a night in the
“I don’t worry this will become a $300 (a night) motel,”
said Council member Robert Holbrook. “I think its fair to be at the rates
When the council established the mitigation fee as part of an ordinance approved
in 1989, the Pacific Sands average room rate was between $40 and $45 a night
and the Travelodge’s between $65 and $80.
But, in addition to inflation, much has changed in Santa Monica since then
– the Promenade was launched becoming a regional and international destination
and luxury hotel rates rose to $400 and $500 a night, council members said.
“I don’t think this room rate fixed for time” is fair, said
Council member Pam O’Connor. “It’s just a different era. It’s
Worried the new rates would not be affordable for many families, Council members
Ken Genser and Kevin McKeown opposed an amendment to allow the higher rates.
“This is a lost opportunity on the council’s part to preserve
affordability,” McKeown said.
“Although $172 may be affordable for this location, it’s an average
rate, not a maximum rate,” said Genser.
The 4 to 2 vote to approve the proposed rates as affordable came after council
members exchanged stories about motel rates in Utah and Nevada and whether affordable
lodgings provided such amenities as muffins or waffles.
The council then voted 6 to 0 to certify the EIR and deny a neighboring property
owner’s appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of the four-story
The neighbor had appealed “primarily on the basis that the hotel should
not be permitted to block views of the ocean from the public viewing decks at
the Santa Monica Place mall,” according to the staff report.
As part of the main motion, the council also voted to allow the hotel owners
to enclose the three pedestrian bridges in glass to keep noise from neighboring
In addition to the guestrooms, the 45-foot-tall structure also will include
retail shops on Ocean Avenue and 2nd Street, a publicly accessible plaza garden
on Ocean Avenue and 110 additional non-required parking spaces in a 330-space
According to the owners, the hotel will not have “multiple room suites,
a restaurant, a bar, conferencing facilities, a gym, a spa or similar
amenities typically found in more upscale or luxury hotels.”