Letter: Watch for Cleo Hotel Project


A massive new hotel is being planned to replace the Holiday Inn and the adjacent 14 West Boutique Hotel. Both properties are owned by the developer. The schedule for review and approval of Concept is coming fast. Staking of Cleo Project Oct. 25.City staff report to city Planning Commission Nov. 2 on city website. Public review and comment at Planning Commission meeting Nov. 7.

So we, the public, will have but 14 days to analyze staking and five days to review the city staff report.

Here are the major issues based on the documents now in city hall.

Most notable is the planning request for a major variance of allowable rooms.Code dictates a max of 80 rooms. They want 112 rooms. That’s a non-trivial 42 percent over code.Note: The current Holiday Inn has 54 rooms (in two-level structure) and boutique has 14 rooms. Total now of 58 rooms.If they get that variance, look for more massive hotels in Laguna Beach. To achieve 112 or even 80 rooms will require multiple stories (they want four) and massive buildable lot coverage, over 90 percent. Thus, compromising Open Space requirements.This is four stories plus roof equipment. Height variance still not defined. Additional issues are: a roof top pool, entertainment area, and rooftop bar and restaurant…meaning noise and light/ illumination pollution. Three-level underground parking for 200 plus cars entrance on Cleo…where Ralph’s driveway and Truck delivery offloading is already an issue.

They have described this hotel as an “innovation.” Yes, to maximize developer profits, bed tax, and tourist flow through.No regard for residents, neighborhoods and the traditional old Laguna Beach feel and ethos.
It gives a new and negative definition to “commercial mansionization” and negative impact of intensification.Please inspect the site after it is staked (October 25), review the City Staff report to the Planning Commission (Nov 2) and attend the Nov 7 Planning Commission public meeting. And please, if you find any of this Cleo Project objectionable, speak up or forever live with this travesty and more to come with this as being legally precedent setting.


Bob Brannon, Laguna Beach


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  1. Very well, I will post my questions about the Cleo Project here as well.
    Q1. From the Laguna Creative Ventures website, the Cleo Project states a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 1.68 and 223 parking stalls. Does this FAR value include the parking areas? Is the parking area value included in the total site area?
    Q2. To what degree will the seven developments address the mobility system that services those developments, will you adhere to existing parking requirements or drastically reduce them? To what value?
    Q3. The plans for multi-story structures call for mixed use buildings, what are the parking requirements planned for these?
    Q4. Will the seven developments comply with Complete Streets Policy providing transit, bike, pedestrian alternative to an otherwise car-centric design?
    Q5. Where are the EIR reports and Traffic Analysis to support these projects beginning with Cleo?


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