PASO ROBLES — After an hour and a half reviewing the four phase, four hotel, Destino Paso Report proposal Tuesday, the Paso Robles Planning Commission voted unanimously to review the project further due to traffic issues at Highway 46 East and Airport Road, where the buildout is proposed.
Paso Robles City Planner Susan DeCarli made the presentation to Commissioners Shannon Agredano, Doug Barth, Scott Brennan, Thomas Burgett, Sheree Davis, John Donaldson and chairman Bob Rollins. The project submitted by owner Karen Stier will subdivide property at 335 Airport Road with four phases of development.
The first phase includes a 136-room, full-service hotel on lot 4. This hotel is planned to be a high-quality hotel that would include a restaurant, bar/lounge, ballroom and outdoor patios and gathering areas. The second hotel on lot 3, across Destino Paso Way, which is nearest to the primary hotel, is intended to be an extension of the primary hotel. The other two hotels are anticipated to be smaller, more boutique-oriented hotels. DeCarli began by giving a brief history of the project.
“The Destino project was originally approved in 2009 with the outline for two hotels with 291 rooms,” she said. “Then in 2011 the project was reviewed again with the change of a four-phase, four-hotel project and again in April of 2016 with mitigation additions for wildlife preservation. Then, staff was directed to come back tonight with traffic mitigation provisions.”
The big issue that arose for the commissioners was reviewing traffic mitigations without the assistance of City Engineer John Falkenstien, who was not in attendance. In addition, a letter was sent to the Planning Commission from Cal Trans that outlined issues with the traffic mitigation options proposed for this project that Falkenstien had not seen.
DeCarli said the letter had only arrived a few hours before the meeting and included a request to amend the traffic mitigations options. The options proposed included: closure of southbound left turns at Highway 46E and Airport Road, directing traffic to make u-turns at either Union Road or Golden Hills Road.
“As noted in the TIA, the applicant would be permitted to complete and occupy the first hotel of 136 rooms; however, improvements would be required to allow completion of hotels two, three and four,” DeCarli said. “Mitigation Measure TR-1 would result in the closure of the existing southbound left-turn movement from Airport Road to 46E. This will impact existing traffic patterns.”
She added, “Mitigation Measure TR-2 would require the construction of a Huer Huero Creek crossing. Cal Trans asked that the southbound lane not be closed and recommended that the lane be extended
to include both right and left turn lanes.”
Commissioners talked about development tipping points with regard to traffic. Rollins and Brennan
expressed concerns with approval because the number of units in phase one of the Destino project could potentially cause a project down the road to pay higher traffic impact fees to the tune of $1.6
“Say a project comes in after phase one is built and before phase two has broke ground and it tips this area over its growth cap, requiring the potential incoming project to pay peak traffic impact fees rather than Destino,” Rollins said.
After each commissioner reiterated the same concern, Commissioner Burgett asked, “Do we really need another hotel?” He went on to say that he had called every hotel in the area that day assuming that many would be booked up for the Harvest Festival weekend, one of the area’s busiest weekends of the year.
“I called all of them and found that ... all of them had rooms to spare,” he said. “Is there anything we can do to look at if this project is even viable with all these competitors?”
Rollins said the Paso Robles City Council is the body that determines if a project is in keeping with the Paso Robles general plan and if it is viable economically.
“What we do is review and advise, not determine economic viability, however much some of us may feel this is the wrong direction,” Rollins said.
Commissioners decided unanimously to direct staff to come back with more information about traffic mitigations, growth that is approved in the area already and locations that have the option to build out in the future to determine overall impact to Highway 46 East and Airport Road. To learn more about the project, visit prcity.com.For the complete article see the 10-14-2016 issue.
Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-14-2016 paper.
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