By Theresa-Marie Wilson
The long awaited Grover Beach Lodge is still on the books, but it could be pushed back for a third time and will likely be missing a big component.
It has already been more than three decades in the planning and processing phase, but the Grover Beach City Council is gearing up to approve a one-year extension before construction begins at the end of West Grand Avenue.
The project is a joint partnership between the City, California State Parks, which owns the property, and Pacifica Companies, a development company based in San Diego.
On June 13, the Planning Commission reviewed the project and recommended on a 5-0 vote that the Council approve the project amendment and one-year time extension.
“Recently staff has received from Pacifica a correspondence, which was also inclusive of a construction performance schedule,” said City Attorney David Hale. “Upon review of that and further discussions with Pacific and internal meetings with staff, we have some questions that because of the short period of time we have not been able to resolve adequately enough to come back and give you a staff recommendation.”
The Council supported Hale’s request that the matter be continued to the July 23 City Council meeting.
“I think we should push it back for another month and see what the current negotiations can do to put things in place as they need to be,” said Councilwoman Barbara Nicolls.
Councilman Jeff Lee also supported the idea, “because there have been some modifications to the site plan that the community may not have read or seen in the staff reports.”
The project includes three hotel buildings with a 4,000 square-foot internal conference center and restaurant as well as space for equestrian and recreational vehicle users.
At the heart of the modifications is that the previously proposed 11,130 square-foot standalone conference center would be nixed and the space would be used for additional public parking. Building a conference center at a later date is still an option.
Additionally, the proposed public plaza and new restrooms would be scratched as well as plans to reconstruct the public parking lot adjacent to Fin’s Restaurant. The hotel and public parking lot on the eastern side would be reconfigured to three parking lots — two open to the public and one for the hotel.
Hale advised the Council to refrain from discussion of documents until they had been updated to reflect the changes.
In concept, the Grover Beach Lodge project dates back to the 1980s. In April of 2014, the City Council approved a development application submitted by Pacifica Companies, Subsequently, two appeals were filed with the California Coastal Commission that determined that the appeals raised no substantial issue. The Coastal Commission action ended the discretionary review of the project and it was finally approved in June 11 of that year.
The development application was originally approved for two years and the council has approved one-year extensions in both 2016 and 2017. Pacifica requested this extension based on time needed to “complete the plan check process.”
Although the council generally supported postponing the item early on, the floor was open to public comment.
“New information has come to light today, which staff has not had sufficient time to evaluate, so that’s why the legal council is saying there may be some legal changes,” Mayor John Shoals told the audience. “We understand that you folks have taken time out of your busy schedules to be here tonight, so we are going to open it up an have people make comments.”
Hale advised the council to refrain from discussion about any related documents until they were updated to “what we believe is reflective of our discussions and negotiations.”
Those who spoke were mostly avid horse fans who ride on the beach on a regular basis. Concerns were expressed about spacing in the parking lot for larger vehicles particularly horse trailers, where equestrians would cross the street and once construction begins would accommodations be made for equestrian parking.
“We have looked hard everywhere else, but it is the NIMBY thing — not in my backyard,” said Linda Clark. “This is what we have. This is what we are faced with, and we want to work with it. We do want it to be safe for everybody.”
The lodge is expected to generate up to $15 million annually.