A six-unit motel project on 10th Street in Hermosa Beach, which integrates a historic beach bungalow into its design, was approved by the Hermosa Beach City Council at its Tuesday meeting.

The project includes the construction of a new three-story detached, more than 2,700-square-foot, motel with five units at 70 10th Street. The building will be constructed on the lot south of a 1,841 square-foot residence that will be converted into a sixth unit.

While there have been concerns from neighbors about potential parking impacts, the project was praised by the City Council for protecting “those things that define our community,” according to Councilmember Jeff Duclos.

“There is no historical protection for residential properties in our city... even our commercial properties, with very few exceptions, unless it is imposed by the property owner,” Duclos said.

In 2016, developers proposed demolishing the 1911 single-family home to make way for an office building.  In 2018, a proposal to retain the house, but build an office building behind it was shot down because of the lack of parking spaces.

With a 3-1 vote, with Mayor Stacey Armato voting no, the City Council on Tuesday overturned a Hermosa Beach Planning Commission decision in August denying the current motel project and its parking plan. Councilmember Hany Fangary, who lives in the neighborhood, recused himself from the vote.

According to Community Development Director Ken Robertson, because of city codes, motels in Hermosa Beach are required to have one parking space per unit. In order for the development to meet parking requirements, their parking plan includes four on-site spaces, including one tandem space, and plus payments of fees in-lieu of providing two spaces on-site.

According to developer Dean Thomas, they proposed various strategies to deal with the parking issue, which were approved by the City Council.

The options include providing two on-site neighborhood electric vehicles; require that two vehicle-free units be provided whenever the property is more than 65 percent occupied; provide discounts for all occupants that are vehicle-free; remove the ancillary registration office or concierge room; work with local real estate broker and property management firm and local cleaning service offering drop-off or pick up cleaning staff; and require key-less entry for all rooms which he said would reduce the need for 24-hour on-site staffing.

Thomas thought that a hotel will be much less of an impact in terms of parking than a retail establishment.

“Instead of a coffee shop or yoga.. there will be a limited amount of people visiting the area,” Thomas said.

Armato was not convinced that various parts of the parking plan would work and voted no because she was concerned that “it will bleed into a residential neighborhood.”

Of those who spoke about the project Tuesday, most were in favor because the project preserves some “historic integrity” of Hermosa Beach. The city has said the 1911 residence is considered a “significant historic resource” as defined under the California Environmental Quality Act. The residence is a contributor to an “eligible historic district of beach bungalows.” 

“It's keeping all the character, it's enhancing the community, it's adding to the local businesses because there will be more people there,” said one resident.

Business owners added that visitors could bring much-needed foot traffic during the daytime hours.

But several residents decried the potential parking issues and the fact that the old beach bungalow has turned into a “party house.”

Thomas, who grew up in the South Bay and earned his real estate license in 1979 when he was a senior at Redondo Union High School, said after the meeting that over the 3-plus years working with the city and neighbors, they developed something “wonderful for the community.”

“I think for the next century, people are going to be able to enjoy that beach bungalow and the boutique inn that we provided,” Thomas said. “We appreciate all the neighbors concerns and we addressed the concerns as best we can.”

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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