CARLSBAD — Residents from the Hanover Beach Colony made numerous recent pleas for help at a Carlsbad city council meeting regarding multiple concerns with their new neighbor, the Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort & Spa.
Since the hotel opened its doors in late June, this 112-home family community has experienced negative impacts on Ponto Road such as an increase of commercial and guest vehicles, speeding, noise levels and foot traffic in their neighborhood.
The pleas occurred during the general public comment portion of a council meeting where city council members only listen. But Mayor Matt Hall directed staff to collect a comprehensive list of concerns from residents.
Since then, residents and city staff have met to discuss the concerns.
Sandra Ferguson, who lives at the Hanover Beach Colony, said the worries initially began when hotel building permits were pulled around 2005.
“The level of concern has all come to fruition tenfold,” she said.
One of the major problems occurring is that residents, hotel guests and commercial vehicles are now all utilizing Ponto Road, a small street.
“We understand the city wanting a hotel and the tax revenue it will bring our beautiful beach town,” Ferguson said. She continued, “However, to not build a separate entrance into an upscale hotel, and instead use an existing small road into a community speaks volumes for Hilton Hotels’ blatant lack of respect for the residents of Carlsbad, and their focus on bottom line profits.”
According to Ferguson, from the very beginning, all her family wanted was assurance that the hotel would be built responsibly. Calculations provided by Ferguson relay that one home sits approximately 100 feet from the hotel.
And as early as 5 a.m., Ferguson said, commercial delivery trucks beep as they back into a loading dock or elsewhere in the neighborhood.
Ferguson pointed out she never minded the idea of a hotel.
“Sadly, we naively thought it would be built with an understanding of cooperation, as well as mutual respect. That has not happened from this hotel,” she said.
While the noise level and traffic has increased, the core issue is on safety for its children and adult residents.
Ferguson said the hotel garage, which sits on the east side of Ponto Road, has no stop or yield signs. Cars are speeding by at 30 miles per hour and higher.
“This is a family friendly neighborhood and now my children are forbidden to go near Ponto Road,” Ferguson said.
Rod Nash, another Hanover Beach Colony resident, agrees with Ferguson about the rise in traffic and slowing the speed limit on Ponto Road.
Additionally, he’s spotted commercial trucks looping through their community.
Despite Hilton’s free garage parking, some hotel guests are instead using Leeward Street in Hanover Beach Colony.
“We see people all dressed up with a present in their hand and they literally walk right through this community and walk across the street to the hotel,” he said.
Like Ferguson, Nash said the hotel planning and design wasn’t built as well as it could have been.
“I have faith in our system, hoping that it will get corrected,” Nash said.
Debbie Fountain, housing and neighborhood services director, said city staff met with residents in mid-July. A list of concerns and proposed ideas to resolve the issues were collected.
Regarding Ponto Road, Fountain said this street was identified as the access road for both the residential and tourist-serving commercial property.
City staff has met with the hotel’s manager and owner regarding neighborhood worries.
“They are already working on some solutions to some of the concerns, such as limiting delivery hours, educating the drivers that they are not allowed to stop or park on Ponto to deliver, and other similar type of operational fixes,” Fountain said.
When contacted for comment, Robert Moore, vice president and general manager of the hotel said that they are looking forward to being a good neighbor and working harmoniously with the City of Carlsbad to resolve as many of the concerns as they can for the Hanover Beach Colony homeowners. “Our goal is to have a long and fruitful relationship with all of our neighbors,” he added.
Ferguson said she is cautiously optimistic.
“The city appears to be working with us to look at the very serious issues being encountered by Hanover Beach Colony,” Ferguson said, adding how she hopes the city and developer correct the dangers that currently exist.