Project Bella 1.1

Every room at Project Bella—a working title—would have a view of Monterey Bay.

The election is all but final: With 3,764 votes counted—about 40 percent of Pacific Grove's registered voters—Measure X is prevailing at a roughly 60-40 margin.

When the first round of results came in around 8:15pm, also showing a 60-40 margin in favor of the measure—which would allow the American Tin Cannery property to be re-zoned to become a hotel—the Yes on X gathering at Fandango restaurant erupted with cheer.

A beaming Bill Kampe, Pacific Grove's mayor, soon took hold of a microphone and recounted the journey thus far, and how the city has long wrestled with the idea of how to make better use of a property that was once used as a sardine cannery, and which is now a struggling shopping center. 

"I haven't heard anyone say they like it how it is, and I haven't heard anyone say we should start canning sardines," Kampe said, drawing laughter from the crowd. 

"It's a remarkable story," he added. "This is going to make a difference for our city."

The vision for the property, which is around the corner from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is to convert it to a world-class luxury hotel. The project, which is being proposed by developers Domaine Hospitality Partners, LLC, has a working title of Project Bella, and is envisioned to be one of only a handful of LEED Platinum hotels in the U.S.

The Measure X campaign has been unusually divisive for sleepy P.G., and some of its detractors—including a man with a man bun—were caught on video a few weeks ago stealing or knocking over "Yes on X" signs in front of the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce.

One of those perpetrators, Luke Coletti, who was caught on video taking down signs—which he later admitted to police—wrote in an email that he has been informed by City Attorney David Laredo today that no charges will be filed. 

Coletti told the Weekly last week that he believed the signs were put up illegally, as the chamber sits on city-owned property. Laredo later decided the chamber can use the property, which it leases from the city, however it sees fit.  

Opponents of the measure argued P.G is already inundated with tourists, and that another large hotel on the Peninsula threatens to undermine P.G.’s quaint, small-town feel.

Additionally, some expressed concern the hotel will be served by water from an already overdrafted Carmel River.

And while some have questioned the economic projections of the developers, a recent third-party fiscal impact report commissioned by the city projected the hotel will add $3 million-$4.1 million annually to P.G.’s general fund.

At the Yes on X party last night, P.G. Chamber of Commerce President Moe Ammar said the people of Pacific Grove have spoken. 

"I want to remind everybody this was a citizens' initiative driven by volunteers," he said. "I hope the people, whether they were for or against it, get behind the will of the people." 

P.G. Interim City Manager Ben Harvey, who is set to become P.G.'s permanent city manager at this evening's City Council meeting, came to the party just after 8:30pm, and said he had been waiting at City Hall to see if anyone would gather there for the election night.

"Not a soul," he said. 

Once he arrived to the party, however, people immediately gravitated toward him, extending their hands for a celebratory handshake.

"The city is supportive of the election results," he said, "and we're very excited to move to the next step with Project Bella now that the voters have spoken." 

Harvey said he's bullish on the project's potential. 

"This opens the door for a huge project for Pacific Grove," he said "It's an unparalleled location, and it puts P.G. on the map."

The election's final results will certified in 28 days or less. 

Even with the victory, several hurdles remain for Project Bella, including the environmental review process and obtaining a coastal development permit.

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