Room Riot

In 2016, P.G. voters approved a zoning change that would allow a hotel at what is now a retail site. A different developer’s proposed project fell apart before public hearings.

Developers of a proposed resort hotel on the site of the American Tin Cannery already knew they were going to have to jackhammer their way through solid granite bedrock to create underground parking for the 225 rooms, 20,000 square feet of retail space, a restaurant, bars and meeting spaces above. They’re now finding another hard-as-rock barrier to success: resolute residents upset over the removal of 79 trees and the possibility that the hammering will harm a nearby colony of harbor seals.

“We’re convinced that the excavation and construction for the two-year duration of this development will drive the harbor seals away from Hopkins [Marine Station Beach],” Thom Akeman told the Pacific Grove Architectural Review Board on Dec. 15. (Akeman, with his wife, Kim, is a docent with BAY NET, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Volunteer Network.)

While some seals would be able to find new homes, he feared others would perish during construction.

In the weeks leading up to the ARB meeting, a group of residents held weekend protests over the removal of trees, including 52 Monterey cypress, among other issues. A protest leader, Kimberly Brown, started a petition demanding a smaller project. As of Dec. 22, it had collected more than 3,100 signatures on change.org.

The ARB meeting lasted three-and-a-half hours, with residents calling in other objections including the scale and height of the resort, the architecture, impact on neighboring homes and traffic. A few business people lobbied for the project, including Michelle Knight, a co-owner of Adventures by the Sea, who reminded ARB members the removed trees would be replaced with 126, and who called replacing the current tired and underutilized outlet mall a “major visual enhancement” that could become a “real jewel we can all be proud of.”

Four of the five ARB members voted in favor of keeping all three buildings on the site – developer Comstock Homes, operating as Pacific Grove Manager LLC, proposed keeping only the sawtooth-roofed cannery building at the corner of Ocean View Boulevard and Eardley Avenue. The ARB also wanted to save trees, reduce the overall scale and height, and prohibit excavation under the buildings closest to the beach.

The project is tentatively scheduled to be heard by the P.G. Planning Commission on Jan. 14, although a redesign by the developer could result in a postponement to a later date.

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