Hotel Durell (copy)

An artist's rendition of the proposed Hotel Durell, facing the intersection of Central and Fountain avenues, in downtown Pacific Grove. 

There were both curses and cursing at the Pacific Grove Planning Commission meeting on May 17.

Around 40 residents showed up to plead with planning commissioners to reject a proposal to build the Hotel Durell, across from the Pacific Grove Public Library and next to the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum.

One woman promised commissioners she would curse them every time she passed the hotel should it get built.

Another man came to the podium to warn of dire consequences for the city’s future if officials allowed that “goddamn hotel” to be constructed.

The angry remarks left commissioners disappointed in their neighbors.

“I don’t appreciate threats,” said Commissioner Mark Chakwin. “As a lifelong soldier I’ve been threatened on three continents, but never in Pacific Grove.”

More than one of the five commissioners present said they had carefully studied the project and city ordinances, and could find no valid reasons to deny it. (Two members of the seven-member commission were absent.)

Only one commissioner, Robin Aeschliman, said she was voting no based on the design proposed by architects.

Echoing comments of other residents, she said the three-story hotel building looked more like a roadside hotel found off of Highway 101.

“Why should I sell my community’s soul to approve this project?” she asked.

Aeschliman did vote in favor of certifying the environmental impact report, however. That motion passed unanimously 5-0. The project itself received a 4-1 vote.

Hotel Durell started years ago as a 225-room project, and was winnowed down to 125 rooms by last year.

In April, developer Nader Agha said he was having his architects remove five rooms, among other changes.

Residents opposing the hotel have 10 days to appeal the decision, which would toss the decision in the laps of the Pacific Grove City Council.

And yet, even if the council approves the hotel, it will sit on the city’s water wait list until more water credits become available.

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(1) comment

Inge Lorentzen Daumer

A smaller boutique hotel would be welcome at this historic site in Pacific Grove. The current design of a Hotel Durell is what is unacceptable! The Pacific Grove Architectural Review Board sent this proposed project on to the Planning Commission with no concrete specifications (only generic comments of stepping back, reducing mass and size) and no approval of design... it's called "passing-the-buck". The Planning Commission is really unable to approve design, separately, as long as it complies with our land use ordinances for a Use Permit. This is the problem! The Planning Commission should have sent the project back to ARB for design changes and did not do so. Robin Aeschliman expressed eloquent sentiments...in the current design, it is "selling our community's soul".

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