Encinitas allows new luxury resort to expand its alcohol service hours

The new Alila Marea Beach Resort.
The new Alila Marea Beach Resort.


Commissioners revise decision made in January


Leucadia’s new luxury beachfront resort should be allowed to serve alcohol up to two hours later into the evening at its outdoor pool and firepit area, three city planning commissioners unanimously decided Thursday, Aug. 5, easing a restriction they made just eight months ago.

Commissioners said they’d had second thoughts about their earlier decision, which they made in January just a few months before the Alila Marea Beach Resort opened.

“I actually feel we got into micromanagement territory,” Commissioner Kevin Doyle said as he explained why he was now supporting the resort owners’ request to change the original 8 p.m. cutoff time to 10 p.m. for the poolside area.

Commissioner Susan Sherod said a new city staff report indicated that the 8 p.m. cutoff was more strict than the 10 p.m. noise restrictions that people in the nearby Sea Bluffs community face.

“It looks to me like we’re holding this hotel to a tougher standard than the surrounding residences,” she said, adding that she didn’t think it was fair that a homeowner in Sea Bluff could have a mariachi birthday party until 10 p.m. but the hotel had to stop serving cocktails by the pool at 8 p.m.

Chairman Bruce Ehlers initially said Thursday night, Aug. 5, that he was “on the fence” about allowing poolside alcohol service to be extended an two extra hours because he worried that future owners of the property might abuse the privilege, but ultimately said he would support the proposal. Since the commission’s initial permit approval, he has toured the property and discovered that there’s enough “white noise” from the ocean waves hitting the shore to mask any noise concerns that might result from people drinking in the pool area, he said.

The commission’s vote was 3-0; Commissioner Steve Dalton recused himself due to a conflict of interest and the fifth commission seat is currently vacant.

Larry Jackel , the representative for the Alila Marea resort, told the commissioners that the resort owners accepted the commission’s initial cutoff time in January because they didn’t have much of a choice; they were trying to get the hotel open quickly and they needed to have the alcohol issue resolved before opening day. However, he said, the commission’s 8 p.m. cutoff appeared to have been based on an unrealistic fear rather than reality.

Alila Marea is a high-end, classy property that would never allow boisterous, alcohol-fueled poolside parties to disrupt either the neighboring residents or fellow hotel guests, he stressed.

Doyle, who said he recently stayed three nights at the resort, said he agreed with Jackel’s position and added that he would even be willing to consider changing some of the property’s other alcohol-service restrictions at a future date.

“I think any noise that happens here is going to be self-regulating,” he said, mentioning that a number of the resort’s high-end rooms are located near the pool area and their occupants are likely to complain if noise becomes a problem.

The 130-unit, bluff-top resort at the far northern end of Leucadia contains several restaurants and bar areas. In January, planning commissioners approved alcohol service hours of 8 a.m. to midnight for many of the resort’s indoor locations, but they backed a 1 a.m. stop-service time for one large area that’s tucked deep inside the resort complex.

For most outdoor locations, except the pool area, commissioners barred alcohol service after 10 p.m. The pool area faced a more strict restriction because it’s in an area that’s closest to the Sea Bluffs residential neighborhood and commissioners said at the time that they worried about the neighbors complaining about hotel noise.

However, on Thursday, Aug. 5, the only Sea Bluff resident who provided public testimony to the commission said he had “absolutely no problem” with the hotel’s request. In fact, he said, he’d taken to deliberately opening his windows when the hotel hosted a wedding ceremony near its pool area so he could hear the ceremony better.