Council rejects appeal of luxury hotel approval


A boutique luxury hotel project with multiple bars can proceed as planned, the Encinitas City Council unanimously agreed Wednesday, Sept. 18, as it rejected an opponent’s appeal of a city Planning Commission decision.

However, council members said they would be adding two new requirements, given nearby residents’ concerns about the development plans. First, the hotel’s owners must hold annual public meetings for the first five years after the facility opens to ensure that neighbors’ concerns about rooftop noise and roadway traffic congestion don’t become a reality. Second, they must install noise-sensing equipment in a rooftop entertaining area to monitor sound levels.

Councilwoman Kellie Shay Hinze, who described the proposed hotel as a “really wonderful” project for the Leucadia community, put forward the annual public meeting requirement, saying the owners needed to make certain they are good neighbors. Her mother and some of her friends live near the project site, she said.

“At the end of the day, the buck really stops with you,” she told the hotel’s developers.

Real estate consultant Erik Gilmer,who described himself as the public “face of the ownership group,” said the owners would have no trouble with the annual public meeting requirement or the noise-sensing equipment.

“We’d love to have that conversation—we don’t want to have issues,” Gilmer told the council.

Put forward by a group of Encinitas investors, the development plans call for transforming the old Portofino Beach Inn—a now-closed, rundown, crime-ridden lodging operation at 186 N. Coast Highway 101 next to the HapiFish sushi restaurant. The new hotel, which is to be called The Ray, would be an upscale, tiny hotel with 35 rooms, a restaurant, several bar areas and a rooftop deck with a small pool.

A divided city Planning Commission approved the development plans in May in a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Bruce Ehlers voting no and Commissioner Al Apuzzo abstaining due to a conflict of interest.

It was the commission’s second review of the plans for the site.

— Barbara Henry is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune