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Port sues coastal commission for nixing hotel

500 rooms on Harbor Island short on low-cost options

In a July 5 legal complaint, the San Diego Unified Port District, the agency responsible for managing the San Diego Bay and surrounding tidewaters, has accused California Coastal Commissioners of overstepping their boundaries by striking down, for a third time, a plan from Sunroad Enterprises to build 500 hotel rooms on Harbor Island.

In May of this year, California Coastal Commissioners voted 11-to-1 against granting the port a master plan amendment which would have cleared the way for construction to begin. Commissioners felt Sunroad Enterprises and the port district had failed to include an adequate number of low-cost hotel accommodations as required by the state coastal act. According to coastal commission staff, currently only 237, all of which are located at the Chula Vista RV resort, of a total of 8,035 overnight accommodations are considered low-cost options. During the meeting commissioners indicated it would grant approval if the port and Sunroad amended their proposal to make 25 percent of the 500 rooms affordable. The port, however, says that number would no longer make the project economically feasible.

The battle over Sunroad's hotel is not new. In 2015 coastal commissioners denied a previous version of the plan due again due to a lack of affordable overnight accommodations. At the time commissioners directed the port to include more low-cost hotel options at or under $106 per night. The port responded by filing a lawsuit against the $106 per night policy. A state court judge ruled that the commission had in fact abused its authority in trying to set specific policy for the port district.

Since the ruling both sides have failed to come to agreement on how many and how much low-cost overnight accommodations should be included, resulting in the current lawsuit.

Superior Court judge Ronald Styn will consider the matter at a future hearing.

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Proposed Sunroad hotel. According to coastal commission staff, only 237 of a total of 8,035 overnight accommodations are low-cost.
Proposed Sunroad hotel. According to coastal commission staff, only 237 of a total of 8,035 overnight accommodations are low-cost.

In a July 5 legal complaint, the San Diego Unified Port District, the agency responsible for managing the San Diego Bay and surrounding tidewaters, has accused California Coastal Commissioners of overstepping their boundaries by striking down, for a third time, a plan from Sunroad Enterprises to build 500 hotel rooms on Harbor Island.

In May of this year, California Coastal Commissioners voted 11-to-1 against granting the port a master plan amendment which would have cleared the way for construction to begin. Commissioners felt Sunroad Enterprises and the port district had failed to include an adequate number of low-cost hotel accommodations as required by the state coastal act. According to coastal commission staff, currently only 237, all of which are located at the Chula Vista RV resort, of a total of 8,035 overnight accommodations are considered low-cost options. During the meeting commissioners indicated it would grant approval if the port and Sunroad amended their proposal to make 25 percent of the 500 rooms affordable. The port, however, says that number would no longer make the project economically feasible.

The battle over Sunroad's hotel is not new. In 2015 coastal commissioners denied a previous version of the plan due again due to a lack of affordable overnight accommodations. At the time commissioners directed the port to include more low-cost hotel options at or under $106 per night. The port responded by filing a lawsuit against the $106 per night policy. A state court judge ruled that the commission had in fact abused its authority in trying to set specific policy for the port district.

Since the ruling both sides have failed to come to agreement on how many and how much low-cost overnight accommodations should be included, resulting in the current lawsuit.

Superior Court judge Ronald Styn will consider the matter at a future hearing.

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