A proposed motel project that keeps intact a 1911 single-family home has been denied for a second time by the Hermosa Beach Planning Commission.
The project, located downtown, south of Pier Plaza, at the southwest corner of Hermosa Avenue and 10th Street, was struck down at the commission's June 18 meeting because of parking and traffic impacts. The commission agreed to a continuance and the developers said they would go back to the drawing board.
The three-story 2,744 square-foot motel would have five new units built behind the 1911 home. The home would be remodeled to contain a registration office and a sixth motel room. The project allowed four on-site parking spaces beneath the second floor of the new building. The developer would then purchase two street parking spaces.
“I think it's under-parked, I think it's in a very congested area where we already have concerns,” said Commissioner Marie Rice.
Six parking spaces are required for the project.
The commission also denied a project from the same developers in August 2018.
That project would have converted the 1,841 square-foot-single family home into a single-unit motel and then added a 2,700 square-foot, three-story retail/office space building. The 2018 project was unanimously denied by the commission as it included only four parking spaces. The project needed 12 spaces, according to a staff report.
Developer Dean Thomas said they would bring another plan before the commission but it would probably be a similar project when it came to parking. The four parking spaces planned would include one tandem spot and another to fulfill ADA requirements.
Thomas said when it comes to parking the “only legal conforming use right now is the residence” after the city had rezoned the property to commercial.
“The parking on the lot doesn't accommodate the existing historical structure that we're trying to preserve.” Thomas said. “That's a huge dilemma, so actually nothing can open there except for a single family at least.”
Thomas' “silent partner” expressed his frustration at the meeting, saying they were “jerked around” by the commission after three years working on the costly project.
“What is it you want done with that property?,” Scott Jarus said. “Would you like us to just paint the house purple with dots on it and make it an eyesore so you all can just look at it every day as it is? I don't think so.”
He added, “At this point, if possible, I'd tear the building down and put a fence around it and you can decide what you want to do with it later.”
Thomas said their original proposition was to tear down the 108-year-old residence, but they spent $150,000 for an EIR to study its historic significance.
“It's really a benefit to Hermosa Beach to have that historical resource preserved,” Thomas said.
Associate Planner Nicole Ellis said the 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.” No physical changes are in the new plan in order to maintain eligibility as a historic district.
“The applicant chose to preserve the historic integrity of the structure and... reuse the building as one of the motel units,” said Ellis, adding that the project “will not have a significant impact on the environment.”
Several residents also raised concerns about parking and traffic issues.
Carol James, who lives on 10th Street, said traffic is already “outrageous,” and driveways are already being blocked by people parking illegally.
“It's like the 405 Freeway on 10th street during like rush hour, it's back-to-back people driving around looking for parking spaces,” James said.
“We're not against development, but we want to require adequate parking,” said another resident.
While the commissioners praised the developers efforts to keep the historic integrity of the building, which is not a requirement from the city, they could not give the go-ahead for the project.
Commissioner Rob Saemann said it was probably the best economic interest for them to raze the building.
“I'm a firm believer in property rights ... that's entirely up to you,” Saemann said.
But Saemann added, “What we're trying to do is to improve the parking in Hermosa every chance we get an opportunity.”