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Coastal panel to hear request for Harbor Island hotels

The California Coastal Commission on Wednesday is scheduled to hear a request from the Port of San Diego to amend its master plan to allow three hotels, instead of one, to be built on East Harbor Island.

The existing Port Master Plan allows for one hotel of up to 500 rooms on Subarea 23 of East Harbor Island. The amendment would allow up to three hotels of no more than 500 rooms combined in two areas.

The amendment would also allow a public access promenade extension and traffic circle realignment on Harbor Island.

The Port of San Diego in March approved Sunroad’s plans to build a four-story 175-room hotel on one of Sunroad's leaseholds at 955 Harbor Island Drive overlooking the 600-slip Sunroad Marina on Harbor Island.

The hotel is designed with meeting and fitness space, common areas, an exterior pool and surface parking.

Unite Here Local 30, a union attempting to force Sunroad to hire only union contractors, has been trying to block the project. A battle with the union in 2005 caused Gaylord Hotels to withdraw from plans for a 1,400-room hotel and convention center on the Chula Vista bayfront.

If approved by the Coastal Commission, the amendment would allow for up to two additonal hotels besides the proposed Sunroad hotel. The Sunroad hotel would replace a locker building and parking spaces; existing marina offices would remain.

Sunroad Resort Marina has a 50-year lease with the port district for a 600-slip marina on East Harbor Island that will expire in 2037.

According to the Coastal Commission staff report released last week, staff would like the amendment to address parking management to protect public recreational opportunities and to require taking part in the Port’s shuttle system.

Coastal Commission staff recommended the hotels not block public access to the bay and require conforming to size limits so that buildings would not exceed 70 percent of each project site.

Two key discrepancies remain between Coastal Commission and Port staff: providing on-site low-cost visitor amenities and the timing of the promenade construction.

The Coastal Commission staff report says the amendment “does not adequately protect coastal access and the right of access on public tidelands.”

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