Portofino Hotel working way back to Planning Commission

ENCINITAS — A proposed renovation of a hotel in Old Encinitas is slowly making its way back to the Planning Commission. 

A spokeswoman for the ownership group behind the conversion of the Portofino Beach Inn on Coast Highway 101 into a 44-room upscale boutique hotel said that the group resubmitted plans in early January. 

City Planner Roy Sapa’u confirmed the city has received and is reviewing the new plans. 

It has been almost eight months since the ownership group, 101 Hotel, Inc., last appeared before the commission, which tabled the project after residents raised concerns about traffic that the project would divert onto a residential street that runs parallel to Coast Highway 101.

After pushing the hearing off until June, July and then September, the city and applicant decided to take the hearing off the calendar to give the developer more time to redesign the project.

The previous project iteration called for visitors to enter the hotel on Melrose, where a valet service would park cars off site. 

Neighbors and other opponents argued that increasing traffic along the street violated a document that governs development in the city’s downtown area known as the specific plan, which they said specifically called for less traffic on Melrose.

101 Hotel spokeswoman Tammy Temple said Jan. 29 that the project has been completely redesigned to restrict entrance to the property to only Coast Highway 101. An electronically controlled gate in the rear of the property would limit the Melrose access point to cars exiting the hotel.

The valet service has also been eliminated, which means that cars will be parked on site. 

“We had to go back to the drawing board and rework the entire project based on the direction of the Planning Commission and feedback from the community,” Temple said. 

The result, Temple said, is that fewer cars will be on Melrose. 

“All of the parking takes place on site, which significantly reduces any impact onto Melrose,” Temple said. 

The redesign also eliminates west-facing balconies that were part of the original design, and adds additional screening and soundproofing elements in the project’s rear. Residents were concerned that hotel guests would use the balconies for parties, and the noise would impact nearby homes. 

Typically, after a project is resubmitted, the city will take 30 days, allowing for each department to review and provide comment to the applicant. Following the review, the city will set a date for a commission hearing. 

Temple said the group is hoping to be back before the commission in March. 

“This project started in January 2015, it has been a lengthy process,” Temple said. “It hasn’t been easy, but ultimately the developer wants a positive project in the eyes of the city and one that the community embraces. Hopefully the project gets approved and people are proud of it.”

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