Holiday Inn project approved after heated debate

After more than an hour of heated deliberation during Monday’s City Council meeting, Council voted 5-2 to approve a 260 room Holiday Inn hotel project on the corner of Forest and Leavesley roads.

The contract demands that the developer pay for road improvements in which city staff will direct and Caltrans will implement, because a report by city staff claims that the addition of a hotel in that area will create a dangerous turn for trucks who don’t have enough room to turn without going over the yellow line. 

The trucks already have a difficult time turning, the city acknowledges, but city staff said that it is currently not unsafe. Staff said the addition of hotel traffic is what will make the intersection dangerous. 

Councilman Dion Bracco disagreed. 

“There is an existing problem there now,” Bracco said. 

James Suner, the project’s developer, has accepted to pay for the road improvements, but is leery of letting Caltrans oversee the project with no time frame or accountability. 

Councilman Bob Dillon empathized with Suner.

“It seems like we’re all familiar with state agencies dragging their feet forever and a day. I’m okay with an 18 or 24 month timeline,” Dillon said. 

Councilman Perry Woodward expressed worry for the off chance that something were to happen during the project,  the hotels would never be completed, and the city would be forced to finish an unnecessary road improvement project. 

The spirit of contention continued even over little details unrelated to the topic of the main discussion, such as how much the hotels will benefit the city. 

Suner claims that the hotels will create 100 jobs, not including construction jobs, and generate $1 million in tax revenue for the city.

Tom Haglund shot down that statement, saying that the tax revenue from 260 rooms would not be anywhere near $1 million. 

Despite the extended debate, Council ended up approving the project, indicating that the city would take the lead over Caltrans for road improvements.  Councilman Peter Leroe-Munoz and Councilman Perry Woodward voted against the project.

The project includes a 180 room hotel, an 80 room extended stay hotel and a four-story parking structure. 

Also during Monday’s meeting:

With hardly any comment, Council approved the sign ordinance task force with Councilman Peter Arellano and Bracco to end up the committee on a 7-0 vote.  

After the hotel plan discussion dragged the meeting on late into the evening, a weary Council approved a $300,000 budget amendment for the initial funds to update the General Plan on a 7-0 vote. The entire update is predicted to cost more than $1 million and take two years to complete. 

Council voted 7-0 to approve budget amendments for the fiscal year 2012/2013 which leaves more than $50,000 in general fund surplus. 

Leave your comments