From tin can factory to outlet mall, the American Tin Cannery in Pacific Grove has been morphing from one identity to another for over a century as economics and the Monterey Bay have changed. The latest proposed transformation into a resort hotel is finally underway and open to public comment after a false start a few years ago.
About a dozen residents turned up at an environmental impact report scoping meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at the Pacific Grove Community Center for a chance to comment on plans to build 225 hotel rooms, 20,000 square feet of street-level retail, restaurants, meeting rooms and 304 valet parking spaces over 5.9 acres less than a block from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The proposal by CCS Pacific Grove Manager, LLC, part of the Southern California developer Comstock Homes, has been in the initial planning stages for over a year. The company delivered a set of plans to the city in June. An updated set of plans was presented in September, and a notice of preparation of an environmental impact report was announced on Nov. 6.
The city is accepting written public comments through Dec. 13, on what potential impacts should be addressed in the report, including: aesthetics; air quality and greenhouse gases; biological resources; cultural, tribal and historic resources; geology and soils; water; noise; transportation and others.
Residents expressed several concerns at Tuesday’s meeting, including what one called the "massive" size of the resort. As proposed, it would include two wings, one along Ocean View Boulevard and one just up the hill over what is now Sloat Avenue, significantly changing the look of the shoreline. (The city and CCS are in negotiations over Sloat Avenue between Dewey and Eardley, which would be removed if the plans are approved.) The resort would also impact the view from Central Avenue, and along side streets Eardley Avenue and Dewey Street.
“It doesn’t feel like P.G. to me, it doesn’t look like what P.G.’s character is and what is so attractive about P.G.,” said Lisa Ciani.
Ciani also expressed concern that noise from construction would negatively impact the harbor seals that use a nearby beach next to the Hopkins Marine Station to birth pups in early spring. Noise impacts on nearby neighbors, both during construction and once the resort is in operation, was also a concern of residents, as was traffic circulation.
The project will most likely be controversial among residents as it moves forward through the EIR process and later as the developer seeks approvals and permits.
The last proposal to build the hotel known as Project Bella was mired in controversy from the beginning when it was announced in 2015 until the project fell apart a couple of years later. The city was left with around $100,000 in non-reimbursed expenses and complaints from residents about how city officials handled the project, a situation that became the focus of a Monterey County Civil Grand Jury investigation.
Written comments on the new proposal are being accepted by the lead agency contact, Rob Mullane, contract project planner for the city, either by mail or through email, email@example.com.
A draft EIR could be ready for public review as early as May, with a final EIR possibly ready around September or October and subsequent public hearings through the end of 2020.