San Diego’s plan to turn a rundown hotel near Imperial Beach into temporary housing might first require a showdown with the Coastal Commission.
A City Council committee voted Wednesday to support purchasing the hotel. The project is part of a city initiative spearheaded by the city attorney’s office to provide diversionary treatment to people convicted of nonviolent misdemeanor offenses.
The Coastal Commission this month said the project runs the risk of violating its requirement that cities preserve cheap hotel rooms near the state’s beaches and bays. City Councilman David Alvarez had sent the state agency a letter alerting it to the project.
In a letter, the Coastal Commission said the city could be forced to replace every hotel room it takes off the market. The city doesn’t have the budget for that, so such a ruling would effectively kill the project.
City staff doesn’t seem concerned.
The city attorney’s office said it doesn’t believe the project requires Coastal Commission approval, since turning the hotel into transitional housing wouldn’t intensify the site by creating a need for things like more parking. City Councilwoman Barbary Bry also emphasized that only 20 percent of the hotel rooms at the site serve tourists – alluding that the rest are instead used for things like prostitution. An SDPD representative said there were 73 service calls at the hotel since the start of 2015.